For a season characterized by carols promising good tidings, sleigh rides, and days on end of dancin’ merrily, the holidays are surprisingly stressful. Between finding a thoughtful gift for each of your loved ones, obligatory office secret Santas, and extended relative Yankee Swaps, there are presents to be purchased and only so many weekends.
But this time of year, all around the city, something magical happens: Holiday shops, craft fairs, and flea markets pop up to alleviate this particular stressor. Below, check out some of our favorites, from Somerville to the South End. Sip on a glass of mulled wine, mingle with friends old and new, and discover a bounty of local artisans—you just might experience the good cheer all of those songs are singing about.
If you need a whole month to get your shopping done…go for the Seaport’s ever-changing pop-up village, the Current. Faster than we could say Boy Brow, the Glossier pop-up has left town, and the holidays are right around the corner. Now, the millennial pink cubes have gotten a paint job and made way for a new assemblage of shoppable goods. Digitally-native Ace & Everett brings their luxe socks to the “Seaport’s first sock lounge,” while Sh*t That I Knit returns to the Current with beanies and more in fun shades like “White Lie” and “On Wednesdays We Wear Pink.” The petite shopping plaza opened up at the start of November, so mosey on over before Thanksgiving, or hurry there for some last-minute buys—this rendition will be open through December 31.
Free, Seven days a week, Nov. 1-Dec. 31, 100 Seaport Boulevard, atthecurrent.com.
If you want to avoid the chaos of Black Friday…sleep in and celebrate Small Business Saturday instead. Sandwiched between Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Thanksgiving leftovers, Small Business Saturday is easily overlooked. But it shouldn’t be, and if you’re looking to shop that weekend anyway, Bow Market’s Etsy Makers of Boston fete is the perfect place to do it—while simultaneously saving on shipping, supporting independent business, and encountering artisan effects from over 50 sellers. The Etsy makers will set up shop from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., while all of Bow Market’s usual draws will stay open until 8 p.m. Plus, its food and drink options (pierogis and wine, yes please) and comedy club let you make a night out of a day of gift buying. If you can’t make it on November 30 but want to stick around Somerville, the 6th annual Union Square Holiday Market will take over Warehouse XI on December 13 and 14.
Free, Saturday, Nov. 30, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., 1 Bow Market Way, Somerville, bowmarketsomerville.com.
If you have a gift list longer than Santa’s…jingle bell hop over to the South End, where SoWa’s vintage market will once again turn into a winter wonderland for a family-friendly weekend. There will be food trucks, artist studios, and, a press release for the event promises, “We’ll even provide the snow if mother nature doesn’t!” Grab a cup of spiked cocoa or mulled wine to make the twinkle lights strung everywhere all the more twinkly, and watch in wonder as a sculptor chisels away at a hunk of ice. Once you’re feeling firmly in the holiday spirit, browse the hundreds of stalls—hosting goods such as cheekily engraved pencils, CBD-infused salves, and authentic chai tea—and artist studios to score locally-made masterpieces for everyone on your list.
Free, Friday, Dec. 6, 6-10 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-8 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 8, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., 460 + 500 Harrison Ave., Boston, sowaboston.com.
If you want to leave with a wrapped present…the Innovation and Design Building has got you covered. Fill your tote bag with canned delicacies from Allium Market, hand poured soy candles from Seawicks Candle Company, sleek stereos from Como Audio, and enticing ware from a dozen-plus other brands. Once you’ve found what you didn’t even realize you were looking for, bring it over to the DIY gift wrapping station and gussy up your gift. Then, pat yourself on the back and relax at the “winter lounge and bar,” which Aeronaut Brewing will be populating with brews and wines.
Free, Friday, Dec. 6, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 7, 11 a.m. -6 p.m., The Innovation and Design Building, 21 Drydock Ave., Boston, idblg.com.
If you feel like turning back the clock…hop on the Red Line and disembark at Harvard. While the square has changed in countless ways in recent years (so long, Out of Town News, Crema Cafe, Tealuxe, The World’s Only Curious George Store, John Harvard’s, and so many others), this holiday market has stuck around for 34 years. Held at St. Paul Parish, the brick church hall at the junction of Bow and Arrow streets, new vendors each weekend hawk goods from around New England and the globe, friends catch up to the tune of a cheery soundtrack, and, the site promises, everyone gets “a taste of the old Harvard Square.”
Free, Dec. 7-8, Dec. 13-15, and Dec, 19-22, times vary, St. Paul’s Church Hall, 29 Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge, harvardsquareholidayfair.com.
If you want to meet the maker…buy a weekend pass to the Society of Arts + Crafts’ fair to end all craft fairs. More than 100 artists from Massachusetts, New England, and across the country will bring their bounty to the Hynes Convention Center. Forget the plastic beads that you used to iron into mosaics or friendship bracelets you used to braid—these handmade treasures range from intricate linocut prints to simple jewelry with a nautical nod. Not only will you likely find a one-of-a-kind present, but you’ll meet the artists themselves in the process. Plus, with many creators showcasing crafts for under $100, you can obtain a piece of original art without breaking the bank.
$12-15 for the entire weekend, Friday, Dec. 13, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 15, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston St., Boston, societyofcrafts.org.
If you can’t resist a good flea market…neither can we. First Church, a Unitarian Universalist congregation in Jamaica Plain, is hosting its quarterly celebration of Massachusetts-made and found treats. This December, the treasure trove will include: illustrated zines, used books, whimsical bow ties, organic dog treats, whale-shaped planters, and oodles of other goods that would make singular gifts. Don’t forget to grab a box (or five) of Thin Mints from the Girl Scout cookies table, and bring along any ill-fitting attire, as a tailor will be fitting and mending clothes right at the market.
Free, Saturday, Dec. 14, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., First Church, 6 Eliot St., Jamaica Plain, jpflea.com.
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