Mini Main Street is a children's holiday shopping experience where businesses bring in merchandise from their stores, marked down to be priced at even dollar amounts of $10 or less, for children to purchase.

Children in pre-K through 5th grade can shop for Christmas gifts at McPherson Main Street's Mini Main Street event, held this year from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 3 at the McPherson Community Building, 122 E. Marlin St.

"This will be our 14th year," said McPherson Main Street Executive Director Ann Engel. "It's a fun thing. It's crazy, but it's fun."

Mini Main Street is a children's holiday shopping experience where businesses bring in merchandise from their stores, marked down to be priced at even dollar amounts of $10 or less, for children to purchase.

"Different merchants bring in merchandise to the community building," Engel said. "The kids buy gifts for their teachers, parents, brothers and sisters."

Volunteer elves wearing special hats and nametags assist the children in finding the perfect gifts for anyone on their list.

"There are 100 elves that help the kids shop," Engel said. "They walk up and introduce themselves. Some of these people I have every year."

The volunteers range in age from seniors to teenagers who remember the fun they had at the event when they were younger. Students from McPherson College and Central Christian College will also spend time guiding children as they shop.

"It kind of creates an atmosphere of home for them," Engel said.

When they come to Mini Main Street, children visit a check-in station, where parents can decide whether stay or leave the building. Engel suggests giving children an hour to make their selections. Some families arrive together and switch children, in order to have the secrecy of the gifts preserved while still having a familiar face nearby.

"It's just fun to watch the little kids come in," Engel said. "Some of them are just bouncing around — they're so excited to have this secret gift that they get to take home and put under the tree."

She expects between 300 and 400 children will attend Mini Main Street this year.

"It's a lot of kids in that three-hour time period," Engel laughed.

After going through the check-out point, children take their selections to a gift-wrapping station. Engel estimated volunteers wrapped more than 1,700 gifts last year. The gift bags, tissue, labels and ribbon are all compiled by Engel, who asks for donations of the materials from individuals and businesses.

"I go all around and try to buy everything I can the minute they go on sale," Engel said. "If you save bags after Christmas, we will use them next year."

Santa will visit Mini Main Street, and children can eat cookies and make crafts after their shopping is done.

"It's funny, They are so serious about what they're picking," Engel said. "Of course, some of them are thinking 'maybe Mom would really like this toy car.'"

The shopping is what children like best, excited for the opportunity to have the independence to choose what they want to give for Christmas.

"When they go home, they put a gift-wrapped present under the tree that they picked out," Engel said. "And they did it themselves."

This year's Mini Main Street vendors include: ArtShirt Gear for Sport, Brooklyn & Co., Clayworks, Creative Hairlines Spa and Salon, Graber's ACE Hardware, McPherson Hospital Gift Shop, Save 'N' Share, Simply Good Overstocks, Stout Printing Apparel & Promo, The Bookshelf/Hidden Closet, The Cook's Nook, Twice Told Tales, Venable Jewelers and The Village Geek.

Admission to Mini Main Street is free, but purchases can only be made with cash.

For more information about Mini Main Street, visit http://www.visitmcpherson.com or call 620-241-7430.