Autumn is not over yet. Leaves rain down in a gentle wind and crunch lightly under our feet but, looking up, one sees gingkoes, maples and elms still in the game. We hang between the glorious gore of Halloween and the tranquility of Thanksgiving.

While nature is telling us to take it slow and enjoy these days of fading sun and brilliant color, advertisements tell us it is time to shop. Even Evanston is getting into the act early, holding the tree-lighting ceremony almost a week before Thanksgiving again this year, encouraging businesses and shoppers alike to shop early and often.

Sooner or later, everyone heeds these admonitions, heading off with list in hand to buy for the holidays. Our suggestion: Give the gift of Evanston.

Evanston shoppers should take a cue from Santa Clause: check that list twice and see what can be bought in Evanston. Even better, list-makers should consider shops rather than specific gifts. Rather than going off on the hunt with a specific toy, hors d’oeuvre or hostess gift in mind, shoppers can browse Evanston’s unique shops, restaurants and services offered here.

Central Street, Dempster/Dodge, Noyes Street, Downtown Evanston, Dempster/Chicago, Main/Chicago and Howard Street – the many shopping districts of Evanston do not offer the cookie-cutter varieties of outlets and megamalls. But they speak of thoughtfulness, whimsy, delight in giving and receiving – those things that make the holidays sparkle.

With its wide array of cultural programs and the lively café and restaurant scene, Evanston offers not only tangible gifts but experiential ones: theater performances, concerts, art exhibits, walks by the lake or in a park, the guilty pleasure of a mid-morning coffee date or a leisurely weeknight dinner.

In addition to such gifts of friendship and intimacy, there is a place for the kindness of strangers: A check written to a foundation, a social service organization, an arts group or another not-for-profit can provide not just an immediate benefit but can also help the organization leverage the ever-scarcer public grants and funds.

Buying in Evanston or doing the holiday shopping in Evanston reverberates on many levels: It promotes economic development, adds to certain tax revenues and helps Evanston organizations tend to the young, the old, the creative and the vulnerable in the community.

This year, give the gift of Evanston.