Downtown business owners are hoping free beer and snacks will encourage men to do their Christmas shopping a little earlier this year.

"A man's shopping day is usually Dec. 24," said Chris Clarke, owner of Sunrise Soap Co. at 29 N. Beaver St.

To help them beat the last-minute rush while attracting sales to local stores, York City shop owners are hosting Men's Night Out from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11.

Shopping can be as easy or difficult as the men make it, Clarke said.

"They can make it easy on themselves, tell me what they want to spend and come back 10 minutes later, and we'll have it all packed and ready to go," she said.

Ladybug Baking Co. owner Jessica Brooks said her bakery and cafe will offer guys a chance to "take a burden off the special mate in their life."

The bakery at 33 N. Beaver St. sells various dessert trays that can be ordered the night of the event and picked up later for the holiday, reducing the amount of baking their loved one has to do.

Hilary Arthur, owner of Arthur & Daughters at 49 N. Beaver St., said she'll be providing personal shopping during Men's Night Out. The professional stylist and boutique owner said partners can leave a wish list in her store ahead of time, and she will help men shop from that list to find great items at all price points.

"A great gift is one that's personal, special to the receiver and thoughtful," Arthur said.

Arthur & Daughters and Ladybug Baking Co. are participating in the event for the first time.

The second year: Men's Night Out began last year, and the turnout met expectations, said organizer Caroline Morris.

Morris owns Kimman's, a specialty gift store at 57 N. Beaver St.

"The guys had a blast. The attention was all on them," she said.

Melissa Grove, owner of Sweet Melissa's Dream at 38 N. Beaver St., has higher expectations this year.

"Last year was fine, but I think this year will be better. More men know about it. There's more of a buzz," she said.

More importantly, a larger number of women are aware of the event, and they have been filling out wish lists in the store, Grove said.

"They will be the ones to encourage the men to shop," she said. "And I think the shorter shopping season will create a little more last-minute panic."

There are 27 days in the holiday shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas -- six days less than last year and the shortest amount of time since 2002.

Grove said she will help shoppers find something their mate likes instead of something their mate needs.

"Buying something they like makes a better gift. It says I know you, and I love you," she said.

--Reach Candy Woodall at