It’s been a weird year, but as always, a number of local businesses are decked out with festive decorations to get you into the spirit of buying more stuff. Deciding a roundup was in order, I scoured Chambana for the best wintery flourishes at restaurants and shops around town.

After seeing a lovely holiday painting on a storefront window, I wanted to focus on these types of seasonal decorations. Window paintings, elaborate chalkboard designs, or other ephemeral types of seasonal art take much more thought and care than just shoving the same old lights, garlands and red balls into the empty planters outside your place of business. I thought I’d find many businesses with yuletide arts, but I found just a few. I’m not rating or ranking any of these beautiful works; each business that created them has really gone the extra mile in this stressful time.


Here it is, the window painting that made me want to do a roundup of holiday window paintings:

An upside down piece of pizza with a star on the point is painted on the window of a restaurant. In white lettering it says Have a Safe Holiday, See You Next Year. Photo by Tom Ackerman.Photo by Tom Ackerman.

If you can’t quite tell what’s going on, I’ll just tell you. Here, on the window of the Green St. Domino’s, they have painted a slice of cheese pizza to look like a Christmas tree, complete with radiant star up top. Truly visionary. Below the crust is a crude brown square meant to be the tree trunk so you can be extra sure it’s supposed to be a tree. Lovingly hand written next to the tree it tells patrons “Have a Safe Holiday,” and “See you Next year!”

This painting is rather difficult to see both day and night (and I wasn’t really thinking about how hard it is to get pictures of windows when I started this column), but I love it. Domino’s may be a chain and not a Champaign-Urbana original, but they’re really stepping up to the plate this season.

The next bit of window art is the biggest in this roundup by far, brought to you by Hopscotch Bakery & Market.

The windows of Hopscotch Bakery and Cafe are painted with holly, hearts, snowflakes, pine branches, and polka dots. Along the windows there are small tables and chairs. Photo by Tom Ackerman.Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Just look at this massive, hand-crafted, and aggressively festive mural of holly, snowflakes, snow balls, and bits of some kind of fern.

In an ongoing effort to remind everyone that they’re a market and not just a bakery, part of this painting includes a list of Hopscotch’s wares, including “sundries,” and “toilet paper.”

Close up of a window with names of items written in stylistic text: scones, tea, coffee, sundries, dairy, flour, eggs, toilet paper. Photo by Tom Ackerman.Photo by Tom Ackerman.

I don’t usually think about hunkering down on a snowy day with a cozy cup of tea and some toilet paper, but I sure wouldn’t like to be without TP this time of year.

You may not think about the Ten Thousand Villages shop in downtown Champaign very often, but I gotta tell you, that place is CHOCK FULL of unique gifts. It’s also got this small but heartfelt message painted on its window.

A store window is painted with a message in red block letters: A bit of cheer in here. Photo by Tom Ackerman.Photo by Tom Ackerman. 

And couldn’t we all do with a bit of cheer in this year full of fear?

On to the always delightful Sam’s Cafe. Sam’s has a whole little comic strip painted up on their window.

A restaurant window has a painting of a turkey and a reindeer wearing a mask. The turkey is saying Photo by Tom Ackerman.

I would think the turkey would look happier about Thanksgiving being cancelled since that means they’re not getting eaten, but nonetheless, a great, and uniquely COVID take on holiday window art.

In normal times, I get my hair cut at the Cost Cutters on Green St. The ladies there have never done me wrong. Well, right now Cost Cutters has my very favorite window art of all. Just look at this guy:

The store front of Cost Cutters. A window has a basic snowman outline spray painted in white. Photo by Tom Ackerman.Photo by Tom Ackerman.

This is the happiest goddamn snowman I’ve ever seen. 2020 might have been a pretty awful year but this snowman is looking toward a brighter future with a smile. It looks like he’s anticipating a big hug (or maybe, like my mother, he’s just trying to persuade me to get a haircut).

A close up of the painted snowman. Photo by Tom Ackerman.Photo by Tom Ackerman.

You’re an inspiration Cost Cutters snowman. We’re gonna make it through this.

Well, that’s all of the window art. Again, I really expected to find more. Maybe this column will spur some other businesses into grabbing some markers and strutting their stuff artistically. There was one more thing I found in my holiday search around town that I wanted to bring your attention to.

Prairie Gardens is an absolutely massive Christmas superstore right now, but of all the many Santas contained within, this one caught my eye:

A life sized Santa decoration is hanging from the ceiling. The figure is looking to the side, and the other arm is dangling at it's side. Photo by Tom Ackerman.Photo by Tom Ackerman.

This full-size Santa appears to be repelling down a chimney, or possibly zip-lining through your window just to pinch your butt. He’s looking pretty coy about it too. Watch out for this butt-pinchin’ Santa this holiday season y’all.

Stay safe and warm dear readers and I’ll see you in the new year!

Top photo by Tom Ackerman.