So we've made it past Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday, but if you are like me, you still have the bulk of your holiday shopping to do. It should go without saying that you ought to check out annual Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market in Dilworth Park and the Christmas Village in LOVE Park.
But sometimes you have to make a beeline to specialty stores for those on your list with specific tastes. Here are my merry picks. Side note: If you live in the 'burbs and are worried about trekking into the city, you can get most of my finds online.
This year, Egan Rittenhouse — in the lobby of the Rittenhouse Hotel — is a winter wonderland complete with sparkling Popsicles, unicorns, ceramic kitties dressed in their holiday finest, and snow globes galore. Owner Kate Egan went to town with Glitterville, the crafty home decor company helmed by whimsical Tennessee artist Stephen Brown. But if you aren't interested in holiday-only themed gifts, no worries. There are everyday luxe items like curvy Middle Kingdom vases and plant-based Rodin oils that are the ultimate in face, hair, and skin moisturizing. If you aren't sure what to take to the in-laws' swanky holiday party, try an Egan Rittenhouse floral arrangement; they are as lovely as they are rustic.
>> READ MORE: Best women's boutiques in Philadelphia
The vibe of Center City's newest bookstore, Shakespeare & Co., is the best kind of cozy. But to be a great bookstore, not only does the vibe have to be sublime, the books have to be, too. And they are. Think John Grisham's The Reckoning, Michelle Obama's Becoming, Tana French's The Witch Elm, and Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (oh, how I love that one) But there is even more gift-centered fabulosity. Behind the cafe is the Shakespeare & Co. Espresso Book Machine that prints bookstore-quality paperbacks for you on demand. That means your favorite copy of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol or your grandmother's best recipes can be bound into a real book for about $15.
Once upon a time, Art in the Age was a co-op offering indie menswear like Brooklyn Circus. But experiential shopping trumps clothing. Add a craft cocktail and you have a winner. That said, the Old City specialty shop — that, to my chagrin, has the most spankin' bar area — is now the go-to place for novelty alcohol. Those who know booze will likely enjoy one of Art in the Age's six varietals: three cordials and three infusions that owner Steven Grasse distills at Tamworth Distilling in New Hampshire. Other gifts for the persnickety lush in your life include vintage glassware for about $10 a vessel and make-your-own cocktail kits that average $135 a pop but that might just be worth it as each box contains the artisan ingredients and tools to make, for example, your favorite whiskey drinks, from old-fashioneds to mint juleps.
Moon + Arrow follows several karmically sound rules of business. Items must be fair trade, eco-friendly is a nonnegotiable, and, most important, everything is made by an artisan. Owner and jeweler Chelsea Pearce is most proud of the Moon + Arrow private-label pieces. The dainty baubles — all under $100 — are fashioned from brass, sterling, and gold fill and include hoop earrings, all manner of bangles, and just-for-the-holidays zodiac necklaces. Cloudy bottles of essential oil-based perfumes line Moon + Arrow's shelves, too. Candles from local chandlers like the Malvern brand Zoet Bathlatier are among the biggest sellers at this time of year because, after all, who doesn't love a candle?
Sure, Lapstone & Hammer owner Brian Nadav carries classic footwear brands: Nike, Puma, Asics, Vans, and Converse. But that's not the reason to flock there for the sneaker geek in your life. It's all about those brands' limited-edition sneaks: Triple White Nikes, Golf Le Fleur Chuck Taylors in burlap, and Emory Jones Pumas. Three years old, Lapstone & Hammer is a direct, albeit cooler descendant Philly urbanwear vendor O.G. City Blue. In addition to the tennis shoes, Lapstone + Hammer focuses on chic menswear and is the exclusive retailer of Visvim, Rhude, John Elliot, and rising star Pittsburgh designer John Geiger.
Those of us searching for the ideal gift to help loved ones set (and keep) New Year's intentions should swing through the Sable Collective, half of Syreeta Scott's North Philadelphia natural hair salon, Duafe, In this spiritual, funky, and magical space, one can find sage and Palo Santo, journals and gemstones, candles and a swanky selection of note cards that express love, awe, and encouragement. And let's not forget the rack of vintage clothing that was good enough for your mama (or your mama's mama) and that is special enough for you.
Yogis need lots of things: tanks that don't rise mid-handstand, durable leggings that fit like a second skin for splits, water bottles and bracelets to focus on when the warrior pose gets too hard. Not only can you take classes at Sue Pinto's yoga studio, Rebel, in Chestnut Hill, you can also shop popular-on-the-mat labels like Spiritual Gangster, Alo, Koral, Strut This, and Splits 59. Whether stocking stuffers or under-the-tree treasures, these gifts are packed with good vibes.
All the clothing and accessories in Joanne Litz and Dennis Wolk's 1,000-square-foot Queen Village boutique is made on the premises. That means the tie-dyed dresses and tunics (most of which have pockets, yeah!) and leather accessories (think handbags, knapsacks, book covers) are fashioned right in front of you. Prices are fair to middling, ranging from $28 for a silk scarf to upward of $789 for a roomy leather satchel. Litz also turns crystals into statement jewelry that starts at $35. Trying on the handmade capes, sweaters, and shrugs was like wrapping myself in a hug, and, in all honesty, aren't hugs the best presents ever?
Whether it's a Deck the Hall and Oates, a Rocky-themed Christmas card, the famous Philadelphia LOVE logo printed on a canvas tote, or a stemless wineglass, Paper on Pine owner Cindy McDonnell is all about the Philly swag. But if Philadelphia is not your thing — and we can't imagine why it wouldn't be — there's a host of new-wave feminist and socially conscious knick-knacks for the rebel in your life. Think Ruth Bader Ginsburg mugs and Frida Khalo calendars.