Having trouble picking out gifts for your loved ones? Skip the mall and opt for something creative and unique by doing your holiday shopping at one of Boston’s many great winter markets or craft fairs.
Enjoy local music and sip hot chocolate while you browse through everything from scented candles in Somerville to punk music memorabilia in Allston. (Plus, you'll be supporting local business.)
Here are our top 13 picks for local markets coming up ahead of the holidays that will make you think twice about standing in lines on Black Friday:
Holiday Artists Market at the deCordova | Open through Dec. 31 | Lincoln
Take a quick day trip out of the town to Lincoln and visit the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum to shop a display of over 30 artists’ ceramics, metalwork, home decor and more. And make a day out of it — if you've never been to the deCordova, check out the museum’s galleries and stroll through the sculpture park while you're there.
Holiday CR[EAT]OR Market | Weekends from Nov. 24 to Dec. 23 | Boston
The Boston Public Market is hosting special pop-up shops showcasing festive goods and treats on Saturdays and Sundays alongside its regular vendors. Pick up locally-made small batch chocolates and caramels or handmade jewelry for a special someone, and knock out some holiday meal planning while you’re at it.
SoWa Winter Festival | Nov. 30 to Dec. 2; Dec. 7 to 9 | South End
Visit one of Boston’s favorite markets in its winter installment for handmade gifts — or make your own with special holiday workshops. Festivities also include craft cocktails, a Boston Nutcracker photo booth and live music. Don’t worry about the cold — unlike SoWa’s warmer season open markets, this one is indoors and under a heated tent.
Allston-Brighton Winter Market | Dec. 6 to 9 | Lower Allston
Head to the Harvard Ed Portal on Western Avenue during this four-day artisan market in its second year. The market not only features a selection of vendors, but also includes food, live music, a beer garden and even interactive art, so there will be plenty to keep you entertained while you shop.
Great Scott Holiday Market | Dec. 8 | Allston
Pick up some vinyl and vintage clothing for the friend who’s too cool for mainstream gifts at this beloved Allston haunt. The special holiday market will also include coffee and doughnuts, served at the bar of course.
Boston Women’s Market 50Makers Holiday Hall | Dec. 8 | South End
Find a great gift while supporting women makers at the South End’s Marriott. Women-owned businesses from across New England will be in attendance, selling ceramics, jewelry, textiles, candles and more. While you’re there, you can also check out some lady a cappella singers and visit the hot chocolate bar.
Union Square Holiday Stroll | Dec. 8 | Somerville
Small shops and restaurants will open their doors in this bustling Somerville hotspot for one special night. Saunter through the square under glittering lights, take your kids to visit Santa and make sure to stop by Bow Street Market — a courtyard featuring over 30 vendors. A full schedule of participating businesses will be provided at a later date (check back here).
Artisan Asylum's Winter Open House | Dec. 8 to 9 | Somerville
This community fabrication center is a nonprofit space for creators, hosting artists in 160 studio spaces. This market doubles as an open house, making it a great opportunity to check out this unique art space while picking up some special gifts. It also features a number of interactive activities throughout the weekend, including robot battles, a children’s scavenger hunt, 3D-printer demonstrations, visual programming language workshops and more.
Harvard Square Holiday Fair | Dec. 8 to 9; Dec. 14 to 16; Dec. 20 to 23 | Cambridge
There are three weekends to check out one of the area’s oldest running holiday markets at St. Paul’s Church Hall. Craftsmen from across New England will showcase all kinds of art under one roof, complete with a festive holiday soundtrack to put you in the spirit.
East Boston Open Market | Dec. 9 | East Boston
Visit The Eddy on the waterfront in East Boston for a selection of local vendors, along with other activities to enjoy while you shop. This market is family, and dog, friendly so feel free to bring all your shopping assistants along. The event also features music, food trucks, a bake sale and gift wrapping, so you can take your presents home ready to place under the tree.
CraftBoston Holiday Show | Dec. 14 to 16 | Boston
CraftBoston’s special holiday exhibition at the Hynes Convention Center is one of the largest in the Boston area, featuring over 175 vendors from the city and beyond. Browse fine art from jewelry to furniture and chat with artists about their crafts. (Tickets are required to attend.)
JP Holiday Flea | Dec. 15 | Jamaica Plain
Shop fun and affordable gifts from antiques and rare books to pottery and zines at the Spontaneous Celebrations community building in Jamaica Plain. Know someone who needs a bike fixed up or a blouse taken in? Give them the gift of a holiday favor. This market will also feature live tailoring and alterations, as well as local repair services.
South Boston Holiday Market | Dec. 15 to 16 | South Boston
Over 120 artists, designers and chefs from across New England will gather at the Innovation and Design Building for this artisan market’s fourth year. If you get hungry from all that shopping, this market also features four container restaurants — a new trendy dining model much like a food truck, sans wheels.