Christmas is just over a week away, which means this is the last shopping weekend before the holiday! Whether you love it or loathe it, make your holiday gift giving a little less stressful with one simple tip: avoid the big box stores. Instead, do your holiday shopping at a local artisan market. Not only will you be buying items that are unique and handmade, but you'll be supporting independent designers and small, sustainable businesses. Hit the jump to see our top six artisan markets in the city for holiday shopping!
The vendors in Grand Central began hawking their goods last week, and they will be occupying the station’s historic Vanderbilt Hall until Christmas Eve. Now in its 12th year, the market offers a superb variety of more than 70 vendors. You’ll find handmade gifts, jewelry, toys, home decor and more. Bonus: the fair is elegantly decorated for the holidays, you don’t have to brave the cold to peruse the stands, and you can admire the Transit Museum‘s beautiful Holiday train show! (15 Vanderbilt Avenue, Grand Central Station, open Mon. – Sat. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
Housed in two dozen recycled shipping containers, Dekalb Market is possible the coolest market in the Big Apple. While they are open year round, this weekend, the Downtown Brooklyn market will be launching a special Holiday Market, complete with a Santa Clause photo booth and wintery activities, like roasting marshmallows over a fire. Dekalb Market has 50 weekend vendors and 50 container vendors, ranging from handmade jewelry and screen printed t-shirts to homemade cupcakes artisanal jams — you’re sure to find something for everyone on your list. Plus, the market will be selling Christmas trees! (138 Willoughby Street, Brooklyn, open daily 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.)
With the ice skating rink and brightly lit Christmas trees, the holiday market at Bryant Park is one of the most festive in the city. More than 120 vendors set up shop in the temporary booths at the end of October and will be selling their goods through January 8th. The independent artisans are from around the world, with a large selection of local craftsmen. You’ll find sustainable shops like Organic Wares and Engage Green as well as a few more well-known names like Max Brenner chocolates. (Sixth Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets, open Mon. – Fri. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
Located right off of Central Park, the Columbus Circle Holiday Market is a favorite for many, bringing more than 100 vendors. You will find plenty of handmade wares, and dozens of eco-mined shops, and this year, there will be a unique booth selling only handmade children’s clothing and toys, all made by local New York designers. Called ‘Lil New Yorker, the booth will be selling handmade wooden puzzles, gingerbread houses and kits, French truffles, mother and daughter apparel, shearling and more. This market also has some of the best booths devoted to foodies. (Entrance to Central Park at 59th Street and Broadway, Nov. 30-Dec. 24, Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
No matter the time of year, local artists and designers are always selling their wares in Union Square, but the holiday market, now in its 18th year, has become a favorite for many New Yorkers. While many of the red and white stands sell your traditional holiday trinkets, there are dozens of local artisans and interesting vendors selling handcrafted gifts, ranging from local handmade leather belts and glass tree ornaments to bags made from recycled plastic and original artwork. (14th Street at Broadway, Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
image © Kerri MacDonald
The year-round Brooklyn Flea wrapped up its outdoor season and has moved to its winter location inside the beautiful One Hanson Place. Open every weekend, the market is a one-stop shop of local designers and vintage craftsmen. You can find everything from old typewriters letters and antique furniture to artisanal pickles and hand sewn scarves. Even if you don’t feel like shopping, stop inside for a quick bite from one of the Flea’s tasty food vendors like the Milk Truck or Red Hook Lobster Pound. (One Hanson Place, Brooklyn, open Sat. & Sun. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)