German Village is one of the most atmospheric historical neighborhoods in the nation, and when a dusting of snow falls, you really do feel like you're in 1875. Mechanical noises are quietened, the brick streets slow cars way down and residents and visitors tend to take to walking more than driving. . If you're looking to get a jump on holiday shopping, this is a great neighborhood to do it in. Here are the shops you shouldn't miss:

The Book Loft - Long known for its 32 rooms filled to the gills with books, The Book Loft is a Columbus institution. It's easy to get sidetracked inside - or even lost - but every turn brings you face to face with more books to browse. Lest you think this place is JUST about books, you'll also find one of the largest puzzle collections in the city - just look at the top shelf in most rooms.

Caterina - Caterina combines a European homegoods shop with a fine art gallery. Polish pottery, French linens, German hand-carved Christmas ornaments - there's so much to browse here. Wander upstairs to the second and third floors for paintings from local artists.

Helen Winnemore's In operation since 1938, Helen Winnemore's is a fine craft gallery, which focuses on the work of American artisans. From blown glass vases, carved walnut kitchen utensils, jewelry, toys and scarves, this place is a great place to find unique gifts.

Hausfrau Haven - This is both a wine shop and a wine bar, so you can treat yourself while you're looking for the perfect gift bottle. The staff is friendly, down-to-earth and knowledgeable, and there is a great selection of funny greeting cards as well.

Katzinger's Delicatessen - Much more than a sandwich shop, this is a great place to shop for the foodie in your life. Imported and local olive oils, vinegars, cheeses, preserves and more can be found here. If you're invited to a holiday gathering, you'll be able to find the perfect hostess gift here.

The first Sunday in December, German Village dims its electric lights and sets out thousands of candle-lit luminaria along its brick streets and through Schiller Park. Shops stay open until 10 p.m., and horse-drawn carriages are available to help you get from one end of the village to the other. Carolers and food vendors are peppered through the neighborhood, and Schmidt's Fudge Haus always sets up a cart to sell warm spiced almonds. Village Lights is a magical time to visit German Village.