10Best's Charleston Christmas Shopping Guide for 2015

Photo courtesy of Caviar & Bananas
Photo courtesy of Clare Sweeney
Photo courtesy of Clare Sweeney
Photo courtesy of Historic Charleston City Market
Photo courtesy of Clare Sweeney
By Clare Sweeney, Charleston Local Expert

What's not to adore about Charleston at Christmastime? Take in the sights, sounds, and scenes of a bustling southern town during the holidays with a shopping trip to the Holy City. You're in for a treat: the weather is (typically) warmer here, tempting you to stroll our historic streets and make the most out of your Christmas shopping mission. There's something for everyone in Charleston's varied shopping scene, with an emphasis on locally-made products.

Christmas shopping in Charleston is a dream: warm(er) weather, walkable streets, and friendly city markets make it easy to find a gift for anyone on your list. Second Sundays on King, a newer Charleston tradition, marks a monthly occasion where vendors provide special deals and King Street–the city's main shopping thoroughfare–transforms into a pedestrian-only area for much of its length.

When it comes to Charleston-made souvenirs that honor lowcountry traditions, you'll want to visit the Charleston City Market, while the Charleston Holiday Market, held in Marion Square, offers jewelry, artwork, and other handmade treasures. Any foodies on your list? Shop Charleston treats at Caviar & Bananas and Southern Season gourmet groceries, or pick up a stunning cheese plate–and all the accoutrements–from Goat. Sheep. Cow. Kids books and toys are in close company on Upper King at Blue Bicycle Books and Magnifilous Toy Emporium, while home goods and adult beverages go hand in hand at The Commons and The Charleston Beer Exchange–both located just off of Broad Street.

10. Southern Season
Photo courtesy of Southern Season

Southern Season is now in Charleston, in addition to its locations across North Carolina and Virginia, including Raleigh, Charlotte, Chapel Hill, and Richmond. This food and gift store offers a massive selection of local and regional goods and goodies, perfect for the Southerner, or lover of Southern cuisine and culture on your Christmas shopping list. Expect to find cookie and cake mixes, candy, coffee and tea, beer and wine, and gift bags and baskets of all kinds, packaged and prepared for any type of recipient for any occasion. Join Southern Season in Mount Pleasant, just a short drive from downtown, for cooking classes and other events, including Gingerbread House Decorating!

9. Caviar & Bananas
Photo courtesy of Caviar & Bananas

Shop every type of foodie gift imaginable at this gourmet grocery-meets high-end gift shop. After grabbing a build-your-own salad or sandwich for lunch, shop a large selection of wines, teas, and coffee, as well as small-batch sauces, smoked salts, cookies, and other local Charleston favorites. There's plenty of local goodness to be tried and tasted here, and Caviar & Bananas' assortment of beers, wines, and chocolate, as well as cocktail mixers and accessories, make the perfect gifts to bring to a spirited holiday dinner. Do you know a Caviar & Bananas fanatic? Pick up a branded tote bag or gift card--the ideal Christmas gift for dedicated C&B shoppers.

8. Blue Bicycle Books
Photo courtesy of Clare Sweeney

Do you have any reading lovers on your Christmas list this year? Don't miss stopping in at Charleston beloved little new, used, and rare book store on Upper King. Just look for a bike rack out front, a blue bike stacked with a few used books, and the shop cat sitting in the window. Here, you'll be surprised by how far back this tiny shopfront extends, and the extensive nature of their book collection, as well as just how knowledgeable their staff is about their stock. The book offerings at Blue Bicycle Books are affordable for all budgets and relevant to all genres.

7. Charleston Beer Exchange
Photo courtesy of Charleston Beer Exchange

Think you know a thing or two about beer? These guys know it better. Hit up the Charleston Beer Exchange and treat yourself--or a friend--to a rare foreign beer or one of Charleston's best local brews. In fact, CBX is one of our top recommendations for gift shops in Charleston. They also sell an awesome variety of glassware and beer accessories (including a growler holster-carrier) for all the beer nerds in your life. Try making a visit to the Charleston Beer Exchange towards the end of your visit, after you've had a chance to sample a few local beers at restaurants around town. Chances are, you found a Charleston beer or two that you like, and chances are, CBX has them in stock.

6. Goat. Sheep. Cow.
Photo courtesy of Goat. Sheep. Cow.

Who doesn't love cheese? Or better yet, who doesn't love wine and cheese and fresh baked breads and chocolate? Goat. Sheep. Cow., named for the producing animals of their cheese varieties, supplies everything you need to throw a Christmas or other holiday gathering, or to prepare a gift basket of items for a friend or loved one. Goat. Sheep. Cow. is located just off of historic Broad Street on quiet Church Street, and is owned and operated by friends and business partners Trudi Wagner and Patty Floersheimer. The cheese selection, along with the artistically arranged cheese boards, is unbeatable in both flavor and presentation!

5. Second Sunday on King
Photo courtesy of Second Sundays on King

This joyous tradition of closing King Street down to car traffic and making way for pedestrians and sidewalk seating began in 2010. Since then, thousands of locals and visitors alike come out to shop, eat, drink, and stroll down King Street on the second Sunday of every month. The pedestrian privileges last from 1-5pm on Second Sundays year round, and nearly every restaurant and shop takes advantage of the occasion with ample outdoor dining and Sunday specials. Come Christmastime, Second Sundays on King encourage participating stores to join in the festivities of the season with even more store specials and decor.

4. The Commons
Photo courtesy of Clare Sweeney

This chic home goods store is easy to miss, hidden in a picturesque little courtyard just off of Broad Street downtown, but not easy to forget. The Commons, owned by two friends with a background in textile design, is an inspiring collection of handmade home goods art in the form of ceramics, woodwork, candles, metal work, woven goods and more. All products in The Commons are made in the U.S., and the store keeps a close relationship with its artist-vendors. The products are pricier than those you'd find at commercial, chain home goods stores, but that's the idea behind The Commons: paying a higher fare for goods and gifts that are made in your community, and made to last for generations.

3. Magnifilous Toy Emporium
Photo courtesy of Magnifilous Toy Emporium

Visit the Magnifilous Toy Emporium on Upper King Street for Charleston's biggest and best collection of toys, tricks, and games for imaginations of all ages! Husband and wife team Blane and Nancy Sommer opened this lively toy shop in 2012, and have seen customers from Charleston and all over the world ever since opening their store. Here at Magnifilous Toy Emporium, kids and parents who are doing their Christmas shopping, will find gifts of all varieties, including games, puzzles, stuffed animals, books, and even some classic historic toys such as Jack in the Box, Lincoln Logs, Pick Up Sticks, and more.

2. Charleston City Market
Photo courtesy of Historic Charleston City Market

The Charleston City Market is our top recommendation for local Christmas and holiday shopping in the Holy City. Head here early to beat some of the crowds, and peruse the hundreds of vendor stalls within this covered historic market. Equipped with public restrooms and a Caviar & Bananas restaurant location, shopping at the market is a fun and convenient experience for the whole family. The Charleston City Market is sure to offer the foodie, craft, or souvenir gift you're looking for, as their vendors boast an unseen variety of products and wares. The City Market is also conveniently located close to carriage tour companies and several excellent restaurants, both casual and fine dining.

1. Charleston Farmers Market
Photo courtesy of Clare Sweeney

Head to the Charleston Farmers Market and Holiday Magic Market December 6th through 21st, Saturdays and Sundays 9am to 4pm for holiday themed festivities, tree lighting, locally made gifts, music, and more! This longstanding Charleston tradition is not one to be missed, and is frequented by both Charleston locals and regular holiday visitors to the city. Here, you'll find something for everyone on your list, from the enthusiastic foodie to creative children, cooking lovers, and even your four-legged companions. This Holiday Magic Christmas Market also shares its Marion Square space with some of Charleston's best Christmas displays, including fully lighted palmetto trees.