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A Holiday Shopping Guide

Where to go to find unique gifts

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It’s that time of year again. If looming study days and final exams weren’t stressful enough, the Christmas holidays are right behind. With six fewer shopping days this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, everyone’s feeling behind schedule. If you haven’t even begun your shopping, don’t panic. We’ve put together a list of places offering unique gifts—from handmade chocolates filled with caramel to one-of-a-kind jewelry and pottery—even a limited edition 2013 World Series Champion (Red Sox, in case you haven’t heard) cap. So relax. Our shopping guide ensures that you find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. And who knows? You might just find a few things for yourself.

Fairs

Downtown Boston Holiday Market

Where: Downtown Crossing, Summer Street (outside Macy’s). Phone:  617-261-0066.
When: daily through December 28; Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., closes at 2 p.m. on December 24.

Downtown Boston’s biggest holiday market returns for the fifth year, featuring vendors selling one-of-a-kind jewelry, craftwork, clothing, and artisanal foods, along with appearances by Santa Claus and performances by local musicians on Summer Street. Find unique last-minute gifts while wandering the festive streets and scoping out store windows.

By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Park Street.

Harvard Square Holiday Fair

Where: First Parish Unitarian Church, 1446 Mass. Ave., Cambridge. Phone: 413-625-9779.
When: December 6-8, 13-15, and 18-23; Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.

Celebrating its 28th season, this juried craft fair is one of the oldest and most popular holiday events in Boston, drawing nearly three dozen artisans from around New England and globe-trotting importers. Browse through an original and affordable selection of gifts, including jewelry, pottery, tree ornaments, cards and calendars, art, recycled silk, lamps, hand-knit hats, gloves, and scarves. Find a complete list of vendors here.

By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Park Street, and transfer to an outbound Red Line train to Harvard Square. Admission is free, and most vendors accept Visa and MasterCard. There are nearby ATMs for cash-only vendors.

Boston University BU, SoWa holiday market, New England vendors, shopping, food, unique gifts, jewelry, pottery, handbags

The Harvard Square Holiday Fair is one of the oldest and most popular seasonal fairs in the area. Photo courtesy of Harvard Square Holiday Fair

Jamaica Plain Holiday Craft Fair

Where: First Church, 6 Eliot St., Jamaica Plain. Phone: 617-524-1634.
When: Saturday, December 7, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This annual fair features hand-crafted work by more than 50 artists, artisans, and crafters. And you can jam to live performances of holiday songs. With goods from pressed flower art, ceramics, fused glass, and warm mittens to food and baked goods, you should be able to make a dent in your shopping list. Proceeds support both the vendors and Jamaica Plain’s historic Unitarian church.

By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Copley Square, transfer to a #39 bus and get off at the 775 Centre St./The Monument stop. Most vendors accept Visa and MasterCard.

SoWa Holiday Market

Where: Benjamin Franklin Institute, 41 Berkeley St., Boston. Phone: 800-403-8305.
When: December 14 and 15, noon to 6 p.m.

Impress your friends and family with handmade goods by some of New England’s finest independent designers, artists, and craftsmen. Browse through an eclectic array of jewelry, pottery, silk-screen T-shirts, and more indie goods inside this large historic building. Find a complete list of vendors here. Admission is $5, free for children 12 and under.

By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Arlington Street, walk down Arlington to Tremont Street, turn right on Tremont and go one block. Or take an Orange Line train to Back Bay Station and exit via Dartmouth Street, go left on Dartmouth and another left on Appleton Street, and walk to Berkeley.

Retail (arranged alphabetically)

Alan Bilzerian

Where: 34 Newbury St., Boston. Phone: 617-536-1001.
When: 7 days a week; Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

If money is no object, go to this high-end, one-of-a-kind designer boutique for women’s and men’s clothing, shoes, accessories, and jewelry. Make a statement with Alexander McQueen’s embroidered and bejeweled tuxedo-style slipper ($815), or keep warm with an Italian-made men’s black canvas jacket ($995).

By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Arlington Street.

Boston University BU, SoWa holiday market, New England vendors, shopping, food, unique gifts, jewelry, pottery, handbags

Indulge in chocolates filled with caramel, spices, creams, and nuts and fruits at Beacon Hill Chocolates. Photo courtesy of Beacon Hill Chocolates

Beacon Hill Chocolates

Where: 91 Charles St., Boston. Phone: 617-725-1900.
When: 7 days a week; Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday, noon to 5:30 p.m.

If you have a chocaholic on your gift list, this confection shop is a must. Offering an array of chocolates from New England and around the world, Beacon Hill Chocolates has caramels, creams, and exotic truffle collections packaged in keepsake boxes.

By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Arlington Street and walk over to Charles. All major credit cards are accepted.

Cocoanuts

Where: 28 Parmenter St., Boston. Phone: 857-263-7768.
When: Tuesday through Sunday, closed Mondays; Tuesday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

This North End place is perfect for the gourmands on your list. At Cocoanuts, you can create a gift basket filled with sweet and savory gourmet nut mixes, health bars, artisan chocolates, and more specialty snacks, handpicked by store owners who profess to being “athletic snackers.” Plus, enjoy free samples, including French macaroons, when you visit. Cocoanuts is participating in the North End “Buon Natale” Holiday Shopping Stroll, a night of shopping and discounts taking place tonight, Friday, December 6, until 11 p.m.

By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley or Orange Line train to Haymarket, cross the Rose Kennedy Greenway to the North End, walk down Hanover Street, and go left on Parmenter. All major credit cards for purchases above $10 are accepted.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Where: One Faneuil Hall Square, Boston. Phone: 617-523-1300.
When: 7 days a week, hours vary by store.

Filled with shops, booths, and restaurants, the historic marketplace is a great holiday shopping destination and a nice stroll under trees draped with beautiful lights. Stop by the Christmas in New England store for personalized ornaments, toys, and more holiday gifts. You can satisfy a sweet tooth at Quincy Market’s south canopy with cupcakes in a jar at Wicked Good Cupcakes, made famous by ABC’s hit show Shark Tank. With more than 200,000 square feet of retail space and more than 100 shops and specialty pushcarts, featuring work by New England artisans, this is holiday shopping at its best. The surrounding cobblestone promenades offer a constantly changing array of entertainment by street performers and musicians.

By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Government Center.

Boston University BU, SoWa holiday market, New England vendors, shopping, food, unique gifts, jewelry, pottery, handbags

Cocoanuts now offers holiday gift baskets. Stop by the store, email tara@cocoanutsboston.com, or call 857-263-7768 to order. Photo courtesy of Cocoanuts

Fire Opal

Where: 320 Harvard St., Brookline. Phone: 617-739-9066.
When: 7 days a week, Monday-Wednesday, 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Looking to splurge for that special someone this holiday season? Be sure to check out the decorative housewares, artwork, jewelry, accessories, apparel, bags, and other American handmade items at this niche retailer, which has a second location in Jamaica Plain. Give someone a warm, colorful felted wool scarf ($140) by UK fiber artist Katie Mawson or a khaki Kisim Alley backpack ($230).

By public transportation, take a MBTA Green Line C trolley to Coolidge Corner. All major credit cards accepted.

Nomad

Where: 1741 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge. Phone: 617-497-6677.
When: 7 days a week; Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.

Find a wonderful mix of folk art, clothing, accessories, and home décor, all made by fair trade vendors, at Nomad, voted Boston A-List’s best home goods store of 2013. The boutique’s jewelry, pottery, hats, and other items from around the globe make unique holiday gifts for those hard-to-please folks on your list.

By public transportation, take an MBTA #47 bus to Green Street at Magazine Street, then a Red Line train to Porter Square, and walk about five minutes. Nomad accepts all major credit cards.

Boston University BU, SoWa holiday market, New England vendors, shopping, food, unique gifts, jewelry, pottery, handbags

Discover high-end niche products at this Italian-concept store and museum in the North End. Photo courtesy of Officina 189

Officina 189

Where: 189 North St., Boston. Phone: 857-233-4300.
When: Tuesday-Sunday, closed Monday; Tuesday-Friday, noon to 7 p.m., weekends, noon to 8 p.m.

This Italian-concept North End store, founded by Fabrizio Di Rienzo, features luxury products from Italy, including fragrances, Bespoke Bicycles, watches, ties and scarves, handbags, and tech accessories. Part-boutique, part-museum, it seeks to educate patrons about the various products, the manufacturers and the culture and story behind each item. Give a 39-inch burgundy Bello & Preciso watch ($390) or a white Franzi L bag with gold details ($223). Officina 189 is participating in the North End “Buon Natale” Holiday Shopping Stroll, a night of shopping and discounts taking place tonight, Friday, December 6, until 11 p.m.

By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Government Center and walk to the North End. All major credit cards accepted.

Savas Studios

Where: 456 Hanover St., Boston. Phone: 617-728-7775.
When: Tuesday-Sunday, closed Monday; Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., weekends, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Carrying designers from across the country and as far afield as the United Kingdom, this North End urban boutique offers a unique selection of clothing, jewelry, art, and other gift-worthy items. The space also is an event venue and photography and makeup studio, perfect for hosting a private party. Savas Studios is participating in the North End “Buon Natale” Holiday Shopping Stroll, a night of shopping and discounts taking place tonight, Friday, December 6, until 11 p.m.

By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley or Orange Line train to Haymarket and cross over the Rose Kennedy Greenway to Hanover Street. All major credit cards except American Express are accepted.

Shake the Tree

Where: 67 Salem St., Boston. Phone: 617-742-0484.
When: 7 days a week; Monday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Featuring a wide variety of local designers’ clothing, jewelry, bags and wallets, home goods, candles, and baby gifts, this trendy North End boutique is also a great place to shop for stocking stuffers and one-of-a-kind holiday gifts. Shake the Tree has been voted “Best Neighborhood Shopping” by Boston magazine and “Best Hidden Gem” by The Improper Bostonian. It is participating in the North End “Buon Natale” Holiday Shopping Stroll, a night of shopping and discounts taking place tonight, Friday, December 6, until 11 p.m.

By public transportation, take a MBTA Green Line trolley or Orange Line train to Haymarket and walk across the Rose Kennedy Greenway to Salem Street. Shake the Tree accepts MasterCard and Visa, but not American Express or Discover.

Boston University BU, SoWa holiday market, New England vendors, shopping, food, unique gifts, jewelry, pottery, handbags

A founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization, Ten Thousand Villages sells fair trade products from more than 130 artisan groups in 38 countries. Photo courtesy of Ten Thousand Villages

Ten Thousand Villages

Where: 226 Harvard St., Brookline. Phone: 617-277-7700.
When: 7 days a week; Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday, noon to 6 p.m., closes at 5 p.m. Christmas Eve.

This fair trade retailer offers unique nativities, ornaments, garlands, and other festive decorations from numerous developing countries. Accentuate your room with an autumn palm leaf wreath handmade in India ($14), or splurge on an Andes mountain nativity set from Peru ($225). Shop online and receive free shipping on orders over $75. Purchases help support and empower artisans in developing countries, providing them with income for food, education, health care, and housing.

By public transportation, take an MBTA Green Line C trolley to Coolidge Corner. Ten Thousand Villages accepts all major credit cards.

Yawkey Way Store

Where: 19 Yawkey Way, Boston. Phone: 1-800-FENWAY-9 (336-9299).
When: 7 days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Chances are, if you are working or studying in Boston, there’s at least a couple of ardent Red Sox fans on your holiday gift list. Consider giving them a Red Sox ornament ($15) or a holiday-themed Red Sox baseball ($15). You can also commemorate the team’s 2013 World Series win with a limited edition 2013 World Series Champion cap ($30).

By public transportation, take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Kenmore Square. All major credit cards accepted.

Sonia Su can be reached at ssu@bu.edu; follow her on Twitter at @SoniaSu_.

 

1 Comments

One Comment on A Holiday Shopping Guide

  • Hmm on 12.06.2013 at 4:03 pm

    This seems out of touch with what most people can afford.

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