The Holiday Shopping Guide
209 stress-free ways for Bostonians to survive and enjoy the most hectic time of year.
Stylist J. Sybylla Smith maps out three itineraries for satisfying all the people on your list. For contact information for all of the places listed in this article, click here!
1. The marathon weekend in Boston and Natick
Saturday Morning: The South End
1. Flour: Grab breakfast by 9:30, when street parking should be ample. At 10,
move the car to the underground garage at the Atelier/505.
2. Brix Wine Shop: Find the cleverly packaged Brix Six celebration pack ($75) for the entertainer on your list.
3. Michelle Willey: The PAL indoor/outdoor battery-operated radio by Tivoli ($199) will leave techies drooling.
4. Looc: Good gifts for girly girls: Buy here for your daughter or her babysitter. 5. Michele Mercaldo: Contemporary jewelry to win the heart of your partner ($100–$4,000).
6. Uniform: Any man on your list will covet a cashmere rugby shirt by Canterbury of New Zealand ($198).
[sidebar]Saturday Afternoon: Charles Street
7. Bin 26 Enoteca: Stop in for lunch, no reservations required.
8. E. R. Butler & Co.: Take home a stunning sterling ivy vine necklace by Gabriella Kiss ($1,750) for your favorite aunt.
9. Good: Score excellent gear for gadgetphiles, like radiometers—shimmering clear ornaments activated by heat and light ($45–$75).
10. North River Outfitter: Smathers & Branson needlepoint belt with Santa’s sleigh ($165) will please the prepster brother.
All Day Sunday: the Natick Collection
11. Park: Arrive early to park in front of Neiman’s, or spring for valet ($7 for four hours).
12. Apple Store: Your teen will love you for a touch-screen video iPod (from $299).
13. Neighborhoodies: For a group or family gift, design your own hoodie, which can be stitched in three hours.
14. Pit stop: Breaks are for sissies, but if you must: Melt, the center-mall crêperie.
15. Bose: For a dad or hubby, choose a portable sound dock ($399), speakers for his laptop ($399), or the V30 HD Lifestyle system ($2,999).
16. The finish line: Celebrate with a burger at the Met Bar & Grill—you most certainly have earned it.
2. One hour on Newbury Street
1. Park: Aim for an on-street space on Boylston between Clarendon and Berkeley.
2. Louis Boston: Ercolano inlaid-wood cuff links box ($250), a blazing-red Fornasetti snack tray ($485), and a pair of white antler sconces ($1,095 each) take care of your gay uncle, a client to impress, and a favorite friend.
3. Relic: Embroidered T-shirts for the nephew ($50–$250).
4. Fresh: Body products and candles for the niece, nanny, or teacher ($12–$250).
5. O & Co.: Trio of infused olive oils ($59) for the family foodie.
6. The Upper Crust: Refuel with a quick slice, and back to the office you go.
3. Five hours in Cambridge and Concord
Stop One: Harvard Square
1. L. A. Burdick: Caffeine up while mulling over your list. Take away mouse and penguin truffles ($30–$46) for the doorman, postal carrier, or school secretary.
2. Museum of Useful Things: The Frabosk porcelain cappuccino creamer ($32) or the geeked-out Factory multitool pocket knife ($34) will satisfy the architect, ad agent, or postmodernist pal.
Stop Two: Huron Village
3. Didrik’s: Get the set of three Orrefors crystal votives ($100) for your mom or sister-in-law.
4. Raining Cats & Dogs: Don’t forget the critters!
5. Matthew Feldman: The person who has everything won’t have Jennifer Banks’s handcrafted vase ($3,100).
Stop Three: Concord Center
6. Park: In one of the ample municipal spaces.
7. Fritz & Gigi: Handmade kids’ sweaters ($50–$100) and the shop’s exclusive wooden marble chute ($60) will please wee ones.
8.–10. The Concord Bookshop, Brine’s Sporting Goods, the Toy Shop of Concord: They’ve been outfitting bookworms, jocks, and tots for generations. 11. French Lessons: Eberjey lingerie ($35–$70) for your fiancée.
12. Comina: Beveled glass trays with antique fabric–inspired detail ($345 each) will suit your crafty cousin.
13. The Cheese Shop: Call in dinner-to-go by noon on Wednesday, and pick it up Friday evening. While you’re there, scoop up Schokinag’s dulce de leche ($12) or Chilean fruit jars by Carica ($9) for coworkers, trainers, tutors, and piano teachers.
Stop Four: Davis Square
14. Reward for a mission accomplished: One cupcake from Kickass Cupcakes ($2.75) near Somerville’s Davis Square.
Still stumped on gift ideas? Go on to the next page!
Or, Just Stay Home
Local websites that let you score big from the couch.
1. For guys and girls: stelsinc.com. For him, low-top sneakers by Spring Court; for her, jewelry by Iosselliani and clutches by Angel Jackson. Shipping time: Three days.
2. For tots: mbeans.com. Puzzles, travel games, and the $500 Quinny stroller du jour. (Okay, that last one’s for Mom and Dad.) Shipping time: One business day.
3. For the well groomed: michaudcosmedix.com. Makeup and skin-care gift sets by skin type, product, and brand, which include Japonesque, Kate Somerville, and Michaud’s own line of mineral-based makeup. Shipping time: Two to three days.
4. For homebodies: lekkerhome.com. Ekobo knife blocks for the modern kitchen; portable cocktail sets for eggnog on the go. Shipping time: Five to seven days.
5. For pets: polkadog.com. Squeaky toys, vintage-inspired collars, and gourmet snacks will keep those tails wagging. Shipping time: Two to three days. —Daisy Shaw
Still Stumped? The Single Gift Guaranteed to Please Everyone
And to think this truly one-size-fits-all pick comes in two options, to boot: The VIP card from Exclusive Valet allows for free parking at more than 40 high-end restaurants, including B & G Oysters, the Beehive, and Hamersley’s Bistro ($225–$1,000 for three months to a year, exclusivevalet.com). Its counterpart from Ultimate Parking is accepted at sophisticated eateries like No. 9 Park, Grill 23, and Radius ($1,500 for a year, ultimateparking.com). —Sarah B. Crane
For eight great gifts of grub, go on to the next page…
The Gift of Grub
Because after a day of pounding the sidewalks (or conquering the mall), what you need is a calm setting, some restorative food, and a good stiff drink.
By Erin Byers Murray
Photos by Diana Levine
The serene setting and coddling service have a transporting effect. Stash your bags with the hostess and slip into a luxe banquette.
Good Food: Yellowtail crudo with vitamin C–heavy Meyer lemon boosts the immune system.
Stiff Drink: The Vesper martini. (One Huntington Ave., Boston, 617-412-4600)
2. Eastern Standard
Late in the afternoon, grab a booth or watch the hurried pace of Kenmore Square from the high-backed chairs in the lounge.
Good Food: Apple cider and fennel bring free radical–killing antioxidants to the mussels and frites.
Stiff Drink: The Au Provence. (528 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-532-9100)
3. Hamersley’s Bistro
This corner boîte makes for an inviting rest stop after a day of slogging through the South End.
Good Food: Healthy fats and vitamin E in the pear, hazelnut, and endive salad ease shopping- (and alcohol-) induced hangovers.
Stiff Drink: The grapefruit gimlet. (553 Tremont St., Boston, 617-423-2700)
4. Bristol Lounge
With its roaring fireplace, deep chairs, and handsome décor, the Bristol exudes wealth. What better place to celebrate frivolous spending?
Good Food: The wild salmon is packed with omega-3s to soothe frazzled psyches.
Stiff Drink: The pomegranate–green tea martini. (200 Boylston St., Boston, 617-351-2037)
Chef Mary Dumont’s fresh and local menu suits a dining room marked by cozy banquettes and soft, flattering lighting.
Good Food: The mild white Casco Bay cod is loaded with nerve-mending omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins.
Stiff Drink: The Mulling It Over. (44 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-868-2255)
6. Indigo Bar and Grill
At this new low-key spot, cure buyer’s remorse with a wood-grilled, whole-wheat pizza or any of the barbecue dishes.
Good Food: The blood orange and ginger syrup drizzled over organic beets will settle any stomach knots.
Stiff Drink: The Dark ’n’ Stormy. (15 Walnut Rd., South Hamilton, 978-468-2400)
7. Sel de la Terre
The dim table lamps and white-washed walls of the new Natick outpost shut out the buzz of the mall beyond.
Good Food: The grilled chicken features folate-rich avocados and good-for-the-soul bacon.
Stiff Drink: The Nantucket Red martini. (Natick Collection, Natick, 508-650-1800)
8. Gargoyles on the Square
After an afternoon cruising around Davis, take a load off and enjoy picture-window views.
Good Food: An antioxidant-rich Concord grape demiglace on the Best Parts of Lamb extends your post-shop repose for hours.
Stiff Drink: The hot toddy. (219 Elm St., Somerville, 617-776-5300
For precious Boston parking tips, go on to the next page…
Fork out for the garage, or take your chances by the curb? Avoid the gamble with our handy tip sheet for finding a spot wherever you are.
By Jason Schwartz, Illustration by Joe McKendry
One Quarter Gets You
Watch Out For
$45 fine for double-parking
$75 for no-stopping/standing violations
40 fine for parking in resident-only spaces
$25 meter violation (Brookline meter maids are notoriously omnipresent)
$150 fine for parking in a handicapped space
Central Parking (1085 Boylston St.): $5 per half-hour, up to 90 minutes; $17 daily fee after that
Charles Street Parking Garage (144 Charles St.): $10 first hour; $15 two to three hours; $19 five to seven hours
FAL Limited Parking (34 Cooper St.): $10 daily; $15 nights and weekends
There’s only one—the Harvard Parking Associates garage—and only bother if you’re looking for overnight parking ($28).
No garages here, but at $2.50 a day the least expensive street parking is alongside the library in the Cameron Street lot, off Washington Street.
Best Bet for Street Parking
Head for the Newbury Street extension, off Massachusetts Avenue and adjacent to the Pike on-ramp. A lot of people don’t know it exists, so open spaces are more abundant.
Finding on-street parking here is tougher than finding an honest politician—head straight for the subterranean (and giant) Boston Common Garage near Charles and Beacon streets.
Try Fleet Street. Past that, says one former North End resident, “sell your car—it’s violent.”
Use the lot behind Boca Grande taqueria (1294 Beacon St.). Bonus: easy burrito access.
While the Cameron lot may be cheapest, the Tailby lot on Linden and Crest has nearly 70 mor
Self-Parking Cars Earn Above-Average Marks as Holiday Helpers
Only one thing can eliminate the agony of parallel parking, and that’s a car that can be driven sideways. Until it’s developed, we’re left with the Infiniti EX35’s new 360-degree cameras and the Lexus LS 460’s self-parking mode. We tested both.
1. With a few button pushes, the Lexus really did park itself—although it worked only in roomy spots I could have conquered easily on my own.
2. The Infiniti was more helpful: Its AroundView monitor system produced a bird’s-eye view of the car’s immediate surroundings, making parking feel like a video game. Still, I was a better (and faster) parker when using more-familiar features: a craned neck and my own eyes. —Jason Feifer
For two ways to give back this holiday season, go on to the next page…
Be Good, for Goodness’ Sake:
Options for volunteering without breaking your shopping flow
1. The CambridgeSide Galleria’s holiday gift-wrap booth, which raises tens of thousands of dollars each year for homeless shelter Rosie’s Place, takes volunteers for three-hour shifts (Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from Thanksgiving to 12/12; every day from 12/12 to 12/24. 617-318-0218, rosies.org).
2. For those who can spare even more time, the Women’s Lunch Place on Newbury Street—celebrating its 25th year of providing homeless and low-income women with home-cooked meals—seeks volunteers who can commit two hours at least twice a month to assist with meal preparation or help women with résumés, housing applications, and benefits claims (67 Newbury St., Boston, 617-267-1722 x16, womenslunchplace.org). —A.L.
Go on to the next page to learn about the man who hangs a half-million holiday lights…
If all else fails, rekindle the holiday spirit by taking a hint from a guy who just wants to help Boston—all of Boston—lighten up.
Jamaica Plain’s Dominic Luberto is a man who will let nothing—neither snow nor protesting neighbors nor municipal ordinances—dampen his holiday spirit. And while you might not appreciate that quality if you live next door, what with some 500,000 lights blazing on his castlelike home from 4:30 p.m. till 11:45 p.m., October through January, you have to applaud his dedication to spreading good cheer as far as he possibly can. (The Guinness people have already called.) For three years, Luberto has treated the stringing of lights as a temporary full-time job for himself and his two-man crew, and paid out nearly $2,000 a month to NStar, which last year added a new transformer to accommodate the extra load. In 2006, he told a reporter, “I do it for the kids. I enjoy it so much that I keep going. I never stop.”
This year, Luberto is topping his half-million-light spectacle with a 10-foot-high, 650-pound gold-painted crown that took him 46 days to construct. Inspectors say this sort of thing requires a permit. Residents of surrounding houses say he’s completely bananas. “I’m living next to Vegas,” one has said. “My dogs won’t walk past it,” says another. But Luberto, undaunted, has time for neither red tape nor naysayers—“grinches!” he calls them. At press time, he still had 360,000 lights to install and only 42 days to do it (which is why you’re looking at last year’s pre-crown incarnation). “I don’t rest,” he says. Nor, it would seem, will most of J.P., at least not until 2008. Happy holidays! —Alyssa Giacobbe