No offense to department stores, but sometimes we prefer gifts of the small-batch, artisan-made variety. Avoid mass-produced merch—and impress recipients—with goods from the top holiday markets and pop-up shops around town. Unlike some of Boston’s best stores, at most of these seasonal bazaars you'll find a diverse assortment of items, from art and accessories to food and furnishings, under one roof. So you can blitz your shopping list with plenty of time for a festive dram in one of the city's best bars afterward.
RECOMMENDED: See the full Christmas in Boston guide
Best holiday markets in Boston
Cultural Survival Bazaar
Here’s one easy way to avoid the mall: Buy all your gifts from international artisans and free-trade vendors. Happening in both Boston and Cambridge, the Cultural Survival Bazaar features the work of hundreds of indigenous artisans as well as cooperatives. Many of the artists, including weavers, jewelers and basket makers, will be on hand to talk about their work; entertainment includes live music, Native American storytelling, and craft demonstrations. Prudential Center, Belvidere Arcade, 800 Boylston St, Back Bay (617-441-5400 ext. 15): Fri Dec 11, Sat Dec 12, 10am–10pm; Sun Dec 13, 10am–8pm. Harvard University Center for Government and International Studies, 1730 Cambridge St, Cambridge: Sat Dec 19, Sun Dec 20, 10am–6pm. Free.
ArtROX! Holiday Pop-up Shop
Sponsored by Discover Roxbury, the temporary Dudley Square space invites visitors to shop very local, with Boston-based artists hawking paintings, photography, jewelry, home accessories and more. The second leg of the 12-day pop-up opens the weekend before Christmas, making last-minute gift shopping a little less harried. 22 Warren St, Dudley Square, Roxbury (617-427-1006). Through Dec 4, Dec 18–22; noon–6pm.
Eat Boutique Holiday Market
This one just keeps getting better. The month-long Eat Boutique Holiday Market sells artisanal foods, cooking tools, cookbooks, kitchen linens and beauty products from more than 70 regional vendors. Makers will be on hand to deliver samples in person and offer cooking demos, and special events include an oyster and bubbly happy hour with Island Creek Oysters, gift-making workshops, and multiple book signings. 267 Western Ave, North Allston (617-752-1105). Through Dec 20. Wed–Fri 2–8pm, Sat 10am–8pm, Sun 11am–5pm; free.
SoWa Holiday Market
The annual SoWa Holiday Market invites you to get all your shopping done in one fell swoop. More than 70 top-shelf vendors hawk a diverse array of wares, including hand-thrown ceramics (Elizabeth Benotti), jewelry (Joyo, Violet Fawn), artwork (Fiber and Water, Carland Cartography) and myriad edibles (Dove and Fig, Union Square Donuts). At the least, it’ll tide you over until the SoWa Open Market reopens in May. Benjamin Franklin Institute, 141 Berkeley St at Appleton St, South End. Sat Dec 12, 11am–6pm; Sun Dec 13, 11am–5pm; $5, children under 12 free.
Combining two of our favorite things, shellfish and shopping, oysters-and-beer destination Row 34 is hosting a series of Sunday pop-ups throughout December to encourage Bostonians to eat and buy local. The events feature the wares of Fort Point artists such as ceramicist Gabrielle Schaffner, jeweler Wendy Bergman and textile designer Fiona Stoltze, displayed inside the restaurant’s Cooler Room. Shoppers also get to indulge in Row 34 bites and bevvies. Dec 6, 13, 20, 4:30–6:30pm; free.
It’s Etsy come to life. For three days, you can browse the booths of 175 exhibitors selling limited-edition baskets, ceramics, textiles, furniture, jewelry and leather goods at the city’s biggest holiday crafts fair, CraftBoston. And here’s this year’s big bonus: On December 11, Nick Offerman, currently in town performing in Confederacy of Dunces, will deliver a talk on handmade objects called “Sawdust and Mirth.” Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston St, Back Bay (617-266-1810). Dec 11–13. Fri, Sat 10am–6pm, Sun 11am–5pm; $15, seniors $13, students $12, children 12 and under free.
Chrismukkah at SoWa
The new three-day market lets you shop all your favorite local vendors under a massive heated tent in the heart of the SoWa district. All your favorite South End stores will be represented at Chrismukkah, including Olives & Grace, December Thieves and Pioneer Goods, as well as photographers, food makers, florists, jewelers and clothing designers. The kickoff coincides with the December First Friday, amped up with lights and music, and food trucks will be on hand all three days to satiate famished shoppers. Oh, and free admission and parking for all! 450 Harrison Ave at Thayer St. Dec 4–6; Fri 5–9pm; Sat, Sun 10am–5pm; free.