Our Guide to the 2016 Holiday Promenade

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IT'S GOING TO BE really tough to beat last year's Promenade. There were so many great foods, drinks, and activities at each shop, and as if conditions couldn't be more perfect, a big snowstorm hit Des Moines just in time for the evening of the event which took holiday spirit from an 8.5 to an 11. We're not sure it that it really gets any better than that, but for the sake of our bellies & holiday spirits, we gotta give it a shot.  

For those of you who have never been, the Promenade (pronounced "prom-eh-nod") is a beloved event in the East Village that commences the beginning of the holiday season in Des Moines. Shops stay open late, deck their halls with wreaths and lights, and the best ones offer sweets, cocktails, and specials to encourage the community to come out and celebrate winter's arrival. (And don't forget the free horse-drawn carriage rides, live ice sculpting, carolers strolling the streets, ice skating, Santa, and tree lighting!). We're pretty big purists when it comes to holidays, usually insisting on waiting until after Thanksgiving to start watching Home Alone and listening to Last Christmas on repeat...but the Promenade is the one event that makes us feel totally fine about getting festive a week early. 

The only problem: the overwhelming feeling that you're going to miss out on something with so much happening everywhere you look. To help you out, we've created another little guide of our favorite things to do at Promenade so you can map out your itinerary for the evening. Enjoy! Ps. Whatever you do...go early, stay out late, and come hungry and thirsty (trust us). 




1. Buy gifts at Domestica

Seasonal beers, snacks and a Bozzprints pop-up shop will be ready for you at Domestica, one of our favorite shops in the East Village. If you have creative friends and family, this is the place to go for all your gifting (and the best motivation to get your shopping done early!). So, grab a drink and get your night started by perusing their lovely curated selection of prints, cards, books and accessories. You won't be disappointed by all of the fun items waiting to be discovered in this Des Moines staple.

VISIT:  418 East 6th Street
EAT & DRINK:  Seasonal beers & snacks
SEE:  Bozzprints pop-up shop


2. Meet the mixologist at Bruce Owen Jewelry Design

You may not need any new earrings or necklaces right now, but what you do need is a fresh cocktail handmade by Jeff Naples (aka The Beard Behind the Bar). Watch him work his magic with unique ingredients and you might even learn a thing or two about mixology. Ps. for you ladies reading, take note – Bruce designs stunning engagement rings. Feel free to drop this link to your future fiance...you'll thank us later.

VISIT:  307 East 5th Street
DRINK:  Cocktails by The Beard Behind the Bar
SEE:  Jewelry & cocktail demos


3. Drink white sangria at Preservation

Preservation is a priority stop for multiple reasons. Atmosphere, people, drinks, shopping...this place really covers every Promenade need. The store is always so thoughtfully curated with an artistic eye and the staff is super kind. This year, they're serving Cranberry & Rosemary White Sangria and handmade caramels, and they've got new items in stock for your winter wardrobe including their pre-holiday Collection, watches by Komono and holiday jewelry by Vanessa Mooney. Yesss.

VISIT:  321 East Walnut Street
EAT & DRINK:  White Sangria & Caramels
SEE:  Preservation's Pre-Holiday Collection


4. Groove at Salon Spa W

After you've knocked back a few holiday libations, head over to Salon Spa W for music and treats. Our friend Lyndrum will be spinning indie electronic and deep house music from 5 – 9 (loving this song on his playlist), and though he swears he won't be playing any Christmas tunes, we think this stop will still get you into the holiday spirit with the festive sips & sweets they're offering throughout the night. 

VISIT:  400 East Locust Street
EAT & DRINK:  Cocktails & sweets
SEE:  Lyndrum DJ


5. Get your PBR at Hill Vintage & Knits

It's a Christmas Miracle! The ladies at Hill Vintage & Knits are bringing you everything on your wishlist: wine, PBR, and Little Debbie snacks. Do you really need more convincing than that? If so, here's this: stop by HVK and you'll also enjoy 20% off all vintage items and a little one-hit wonder dance party for the best Promenade yet.

VISIT:  432 East Locust Street
EAT & DRINK:  Wine, PBR & Little Debbie Snacks
SEE:  Vintage clothing & dancing


6. Explore at Fontenelle Supply Co.

The guys at Fontenelle curate hand-crafted goods for the Midwestern man in your life, and tonight they'll be showing off all their products at the grand opening of their new store in the East Village. You'll want to be the first to see their new space (just check out how cool it looks) and shop their collection of DSM hats, leather goods, boots and more. 

VISIT:  524 East Grand Ave
SEE:  A brand new EV shop


7. Eat cupcakes at Pink Print Company

If you take one step inside this shop, you'll immediately know why it's such a favorite in the area. White walls filled with cards and stationery and shelves adorned with beautiful wrapping paper and gift items pretty much guarantee you can close your eyes and choose something your loved one will appreciate. This year, Pink is celebrating two years in the East Village with wine, beer and cupcakes, plus a little treat with every purchase. Hurry in, and get your iphone charged and ready..this shop is your Instagram dream come true (no shame).

VISIT:  350 East Locust Street
EAT & DRINK:  Wine, beer & cupcakes
SEE:  Gift items (& get a treat w/ purchase!)



8. Relax at Gong Fu

With all the commotion Promenade brings, it only makes sense to take a little break at Gong Fu Tea, one of the most serene spots in the East Village (tied with Eden). Step in to this quiet space for samples of their quality tea, cookies, and lots of nice, relaxing vibes before you head back out into the streets for more action.

VISIT:  414 East 6th Street
EAT & DRINK:  Tea samples & treats




9. Party at 8/7 Central

This shop throws the best parties, and their Promenade shin-dig will be no exception. We think their event info sums up best what you can expect, so we'll let them take it from here: "...Awkwardly stand in the corner and make small talk with people you just met, bump into someone you've known for
a while and catch up with them, go get more wine, get into a real conversation, leave for a little while to gawk at the crowds, check out the new Fontanelle Supply Co. shop next door, come back
to our party because you realized you forgot to pay for the t-shirt you printed, try to find someone
to pay, find someone offering you a shot of Fireball instead, burn your mouth on some pizza pockets that just came out of the oven, tell everyone that you need to get going, have one final shot of Fireball, dance just a little bit, tell us about your awesome idea for a t-shirt you just came up with, have another final shot of Fireball, and catch an Uber home!" 
Sounds like a plan to us. 

VISIT:  520 East Grand Ave
EAT & DRINK:  "Walking Tots" (see here) & Summerset wine
SHOP:  Hand-crafted ornaments ($20, pre-order here) & holiday shirts




10. Savor the season at Eden

Last but not least is everyone's favorite Promenade stop. If it's cold outside, it's sure to be warm in Eden. The ambiance (& smell) alone of this charming boutique is worth the stop any time of year, but you won't want to miss it tonight when the sweet Eden family welcomes guests with delicious spiked eggnogs, cookies and prosecco to celebrate the start of a great winter. Though this is really the ideal spot to end your night, you'll want to arrive as early as you can to take advantage of all the great offerings and energy before you continue frolicking down the East Village streets.

VISIT:  418 East 6th Street
EAT & DRINK:  Prosecco, cookies & spiked eggnog
SHOP:  Holiday scents & children's gift items


Drinking, eating, shopping...sounds like the perfect Friday night. If you still need a few more places to round out your evening, we'd recommend stopping by Amour for homemade punch, goodies & giveaways, Wanderlust for food, drinks & a $50 gift card drawing, Dornink for wine, chocolate & discounts, Cooking with Alessandra for a special gift certificate sale, and Ephemera for their always-tasty homemade sweets & sips. 

The Promenade will officially begin at 5pm and go until 9pm. Parking is available on the street as well as in the City Hall lot and in the Capitol Complex Parking Garage near the State Historical Building. **ALSO complimentary horse-drawn carriage rides will be available from 5:30 – 8pm. Santa will be at Brenton Skating Plaza from 6 to 6:30pm, and then he will be at LifeServe Blood Center until 8pm. Click here to see more info on the Promenade's Facebook event page.

RELATED: Our 2015 Holiday Promenade Guide