Finding Christmas Spirit at Santa’s Secret Workshop

Christmas is in the air! Christmas is literally, everywhere! The trees are up, the stores are busy, and we are all frantically checking our lists. At times, it can be a challenge to ‘get into the spirit of Christmas,’ let alone get all those things checked off the list. Last weekend, the girls and I found just the place to get ready for this season of giving.

We found Santa's Secret Workshop! We did a little window shopping along the way too!
We found Santa’s Secret Workshop! We did a little window shopping along the way too!

Tucked away on the second floor of the Masonic Temple on Lake Avenue in Storm Lake Iowa, is Santa’s Secret Workshop. For nearly three weeks in December, an otherwise empty space is transformed into a store with a very special purpose. Kids can do their own Christmas shopping, and the proceeds help fund service projects at Storm Lake St. Mary’s School.

Since 2008, Santa’s Secret Workshop has provided smiles and fun, not only for the little shoppers, but the volunteers, too. Last year alone, more than 220 children went shopping for their loved ones. While I had heard many wonderful things about it in the past, this year was the first time we experienced the splendor of Santa’s Secret Workshop for ourselves.

Before making the trip downtown, I told the girls about Santa’s Secret Workshop and asked them if there were any gifts they needed to get. They thought for a moment, and then one little one piped up, “‘So-and-so’ (I’m not spoiling the surprise of ‘who’ just yet!!) always gets me a gift, I want to get them something too.” A few seconds later, the other little one added, “‘Another so-and-so’ gets me a gift, I’ll get one for them.” The people they picked surprised me. It warmed my heart to know they were really thinking about the giving rather than receiving for a moment.

The girls emptied their piggy banks to buy gifts at Santa's Secret Workshop. It turned out to be a great lesson on counting money too!
The girls emptied their piggy banks to buy gifts at Santa’s Secret Workshop. It turned out to be a great lesson on counting money, too!

Just as we were bundled up and ready to leave, the girls ran to their room. When I found them, they were emptying their piggy banks (I didn’t have the heart to tell them that I had planned to foot the bill).  After a quick math lesson, they each stuffed $5 (the flyer noted that gifts ranged from $1-$5) into a purse, and we were set to go.

Once we found Santa’s Secret Workshop (follow the signs), we were asked to make a list of who the girls needed to purchase gifts for (one of my girls added another person to her list at the last minute ‘so they wouldn’t feel left out’) and how much money they had available. The girls were then led into the shopping area by a St. Mary’s volunteer. They shopped for and even helped wrap their special gifts. The girls and the other little shoppers emerged from the store beaming, carrying their precious gifts and a stuffed animal they were able to pick out just for themselves. With help from their shopping volunteer, the girls paid for their purchases. One spent every cent she brought, and the other, the one with two people to shop for, had $3 left over. With gifts in tow, we spent a little time checking out some of our other favorite Storm Lake stores.

Shopping at Santa's Secret Workshop
The girls with their shopping helper. They had such a great time picking out special gifts!

There are three extra gifts under our tree this year. And though they could get lost in the sea of other presents we have to give, they are my most favorite. I cannot wait to watch my girls proudly give those gifts to three very special people this Christmas.

Maybe it was watching my girls selflessly empty their piggy banks, or maybe it seeing them radiate with excitement about the gifts they had chosen, or maybe it was witnessing a group of high school students volunteering their time to offer an amazing opportunity for children, but I couldn’t help but feel full of Christmas Spirit at Santa’s Secret Workshop. We will gladly put Santa’s Secret Workshop on our list again next year!

Done Shopping!
The girls with their gifts! They haven’t stopped talking about the gifts they chose and the fun they had at Santa’s Secret Workshop!

So, if you have young children or grandchildren, take a few moments to shop at Santa’s Secret Workshop in Storm Lake, Iowa. It is full of Small Town Iowa Fun and Christmas Spirit! Your last chance to check it out this year will be Saturday, December 19th from 10 AM to 2 PM. You won’t want to miss this amazing opportunity!

And while you are downtown, take a moment or two to check out some other great shops like we did. My girls particularly enjoyed visiting the birds at Celia’s Antiques, checking out the toys at Sugar Bowl, eating doughnut holes at the Storm Lake Bakery, and finding treasures at Kristi’s Kandies & Heirlooms. Find a list of other Storm Lake businesses here. There is plenty of Christmas Spirit to be found in downtown Storm Lake this holiday season!

Merry Christmas!

*Check out more photos from our shopping adventure here.