10 Best Spots for Yuletide Shopping in New Orleans

Photo courtesy of Sam_Catch
Photo courtesy of Beth D'Addono
Photo courtesy of Beth D'Addono
Photo courtesy of The Historic New Orleans Collection
Photo courtesy of Beth D'Addono
By Beth D'Addono, New Orleans Local Expert

Christmas time is a great time to be in the city of New Orleans, where shopping opps abound and a thriving artists' community creates truly one of a kind gifts. 

Whether you are venturing down Royal, strolling the Garden District or have taken the streetcar Uptown, there is a shop on this list that will have the perfect gift. Buying jewelry for that special someone? Need a Mardi Gras mask for face or wall? How about a culinary antique that will delight the cocktail lover? There are art markets held just about every weekend, as well as two permanent markets, The French Market and the Frenchmen Art Market open year-round for savvy shoppers. 

It's all here and more, as New Orleans gets into the holiday spirit with a festive groove on. T'is the season for carolers to sing in the Square and trees and windows asparkle with seasonal bling.  Whether you're shopping for gifts or presents for yourself, these 10 stores deliver the goods.

New Orleans is great for Christmas shopping because so many local artists create wonderful crafts and artwork that you couldn't find anywhere else in the world.  Oyster earrings, New Orleans street tiles, water meter replicas and hand-stitched hats and tutus await as you head for the indy stores.

10. Faulkner House Books
Photo courtesy of Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

Faulkner House Books is a full service new and used book store located in the French Quarter in a property where William Faulkner himself penned his first novel. The store specializes in literature unique to the city and by authors who lived or wrote here. It's a great place for new and experienced collectors to find limited and first edition prints of books by Faulkner, Tennessee Williams and other classics. The staff is supremely knowledgeable and can help find or even recommend a good read. Sifting through the dusty classics and finding a signed first edition has been known to happen here.

9. Nuance/Louisiana Artisan Gallery
Photo courtesy of Nuance

Owned and operated by glass and metal artist Arden Stewart, Nuance offers handmade Louisiana crafts in the Riverbend section of uptown. Pottery, blown glass, unique jewelry and fleur de lys mementos line the inside of the cute little shop. Located on the the far end (from the Quarter) of the St. Charles Streetcar line, Nuance offers shoppers a great escape from the bustle of French Quarter perusing. Spend a day Uptown, and enjoy this gem of a store as well as a handful of restaurants and bars nearby. If you find something you fancy, purchase knowing that you are supporting the local art community of New Orleans.

8. Lucullus
Photo courtesy of Sam_Catch

This fascinating shop specializes in culinary antiques, from antique china and silver settings to rustic farmhouse implements and accoutrements for the ritualistic serving of absinthe. There is vintage barware galore, cookbooks of all kinds, country French sideboards tables for dining and wine-ing, iron tools and curiosities for the kitchen. A fantastic spot for browsing, Lucullus focused on everything foodie, from lush paintings that look good enough to eat to imported table linens, silver candlesticks and flatware and English china so translucent it glows. The shop is owned by Patrick Dunne, a Martha Stewart fave and the author of Epicurean Collector.

7. French Market

Originally a Choctaw trading post, the French Market dates back to 1791, one of the oldest documented farmer's market in America. Organized like a giant swap meet, you can find inexpensive silver jewelry, $5 sunglasses, stuffed animals for the kids and all kinds of tasteless items made from alligator hide. You can try your hand at bargaining – depending on the shop owner's mood and how much you're planning to buy, you might get a deal. Although many of the items for sale are imported from China or elsewhere, the prices are good and you'll find some local artists depending on the day. The food offerings are better than any mall food court.

6. Fleurty Girl
Photo courtesy of Fleurty Girl

Fleurty Girl is an popular clothing store with many locations in New Orleans (Magazine St. and the French Quarter among others). Their main specialty is screen printed tees that feature New Orleans witticisms, cliches and pop culture references that make the shirts trendy yet timeless. Owner Lauren Thom started Fleurty Girl out of her house a few years ago, and her shirts have now become a staple around town. Beside shirts, there are hats, boots and other accessories, many featuring the New Orleans Saints football colors black and gold. Though the store is named Fleurty Girl, many of there shirts come in a unisex style as well.

5. Razzle Dazzle
Photo courtesy of Razzle Dazzle

Razzle Dazzle is located on famed shopping street Royal in the French Quarter, bling central and home to all kinds of New Orleans-centric eye candy.. The storefront is known for the elaborate vignettes that fill the windows, beckoning passersby in to shop. A wide range of gift items include New Orleans-themed doodads like Mardi Gras masks, jewelry and home decor items. Guests lose themselves among the over-the-top inventory, and often spend time chatting with the jubilant staff on hand. This is a great place to go to find original New Orleans art, with prices a bit less than what you might see when visiting a gallery.

4. Southern Food and Beverage Museum
Photo courtesy of Beth D'Addono

Come to this long awaited museum along Central City's Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard and find a cavernous new 16,000-square-foot space with an ambitious mission. The museum is home to an exhibition kitchen in the rear, a soon to open restaurant, Purloo by chef Ryan Hughes, a fab gift shop for foodies up front, and a series of central exhibits called Gallery of the Southern States of Taste. Here you can see a somewhat higgledy-piggledy series of displays dedicated to the food culture of 15 Southern states and the District of Columbia. The museum's home is part of the conversation. Formerly an old Dryades Street Market that dates to 1849, the building's terrazzo floors still bear the dividing marks of the original vendors' stalls. The Rouse's Culinary Innovation Center by Jenn-air/Whirlpool, a demonstration kitchen in the rear of the building, sits where the fish market used to be.

3. Frenchmen Art Market
Photo courtesy of Beth D'Addono

A beacon of locally made art and jewelry on Frenchmen Street since 2013, this evening market is open from Thursday through Sunday from 7 pm to midnight or 1, depending on the crowds. Right next door to the Spotted Cat and in the heart of the Frenchmen Street nuttiness, this brightly lit marketplace boasts a revolving roster of serious artists creating everything from whimsical sculptures made from flatware to Impressionist style streetcar scenes and inventive offbeat t-shirt designs. This is where locals in the know buy their gifts and art for wall and wearing. Check out the fun feathered hair barrettes.

2. Historic New Orleans Collection
Photo courtesy of The Historic New Orleans Collection

A must for lovers of the city and for history buffs, the Historic New Orleans Collection connects the dots in more than three centuries of New Orleans lore. Don't miss a stop at The Shop at the Collection, the perfect spot to get unique, local gift items, exclusive reproductions of maps, prints, gorgeous books published by THNOC, and one-of-a-kind pieces by local artists. A great spot if you're looking for authentic Louisiana and New Orleans gifts. After shopping, check out the collection - a museum, research center and publisher, the collection was founded in 1966 to preserve the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. Located in a historic complex of French Quarter buildings, the Historic New Orleans Collection also includes an impressive staffed research center – for doing some checking up on famous residents like voodoo queen Marie Laveau, should you get the urge. The research archives are especially focused on documents relating to the Battle of New Orleans and the War of 1812 in the South, including rare books, maps and plans that collectively tell the story of one of the greatest military upsets of all time. You can also tour the historic Williams home, which is full of gorgeous Louisiana antiques and a collection of Chinese porcelains.

1. Bon Castor
Photo courtesy of Beth D'Addono

Bon Castor, which means "by hand," is the funky vision of Amy Knoll, who opened her New Orleans shop in the Bywater in March 2012. Situated in the 3200 block, along a hopping stretch of Burgundy, next to the wonderful Webb's Music, restaurant Suis Generis and Bud Rip's bar, Knoll's shop showcases handmade crafts, repurposed textiles and fashion statements, gifts and jewelry, all made by local hands. What might you find at this cheery spot that showcases a fluid array of work by 80-plus artists and artisans? Beautiful dresses from Esther Rose, asymmetrical minis with unhemmed edges, tulle and sequin fringe. Repurposed art, like New Orleans-centric Scrabble tile earrings and vinyl records turned into whimsical clocks by Bayou St. John artist Judy Gamache Digeorge, who also makes gorgeous hand-etched metal jewelry and takes custom orders. It's all fun and quirky and offbeat, which means Bon Castor perfectly New Orleans.