No, it's not really a place to shop--except for one wonderful thing: Vera's Lemon Cookies. Even if you don't sit down and eat at Maggiano's (but why wouldn't you?), this is one place to find the perfect gift for those people for whom there seems to be no perfect gift. While the lemon cookies make a nice addition to a winter holiday table, they work equally well at any time of year. They're a not-too-heavy Thanksgiving treat, perfectly pastel for Easter, and they're an easy and delicious way to say thank you to hosts, co-workers, distant relatives, bosses and anyone else you may want to treat to just a little something.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Delicious, crescent-shaped lemon cookies are perfect for all the hard-to-buy-for people on your list.
Christine's expert tip: You can order Vera's Lemon Cookies to go in a nice container.
All the best things in the world are not electronic, though it often seems that way. There is still a place on our shelves and in our hearts for thought-provoking, brain-challenging, hand-eye-coordination-requiring items. Think jigsaw puzzles, puppets, books and science toys. The truth is, children and adults still delight in those objects they can touch and manipulate not on a screen but in here-and-now multi-dimensional reality. The Wizard's Chest in Denver's Cherry Creek North neighborhood is the place to find those objects, including wind-up toys and a vast assortment of magic tricks. Originally inspired by the fantastical world of J.R.R. Tolkien, the store keeps fantasy and whimsy very much alive. There's a sizable costume, makeup and accessories collection, too, so if the holidays include dress-up, this is your place.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: It's the place in Denver to find games, puzzles and cool toys, and it's just plain fun.
Christine's expert tip: The shop does an entire weekend of board gaming to celebrate National Game & Puzzle Week, starting the Friday after Thanksgiving.
One of Denver's most attractive neighborhoods for shopping and dining, Cherry Creek North boasts endless options for the perfect romantic date night. Dinner for two at one of the area's restaurants can transport you and your partner to a mini vacation right here in Denver. After spending the day the several independently owned shops, boutiques and galleries choose a restaurant to dine at. Top suggestions include Opus Restaurant for fine dining, La Merise for authentic French cuisine, Le Rendezouv for an intimate lounge atmosphere, NoRTH Italia for seasonal Italian dishes, Pikkas Peruvian Cuisine & Pisco Bar for a casual and festive meal, and trendy new spot Hasu Asian Bistro. One of Denver's most attractive neighborhoods for shopping and dining, Cherry Creek North boasts endless options for the perfect romantic date night. Dinner for two at one of the area's restaurants can transport you and your partner to a mini vacation right here in Denver. After spending the day the several independently owned shops, boutiques and galleries choose a restaurant to dine at. Top suggestions include Opus Restaurant for fine dining, La Merise for authentic French cuisine, Le Rendezouv for an intimate lounge atmosphere, NoRTH Italia for seasonal Italian dishes, Pikkas Peruvian Cuisine & Pisco Bar for a casual and festive meal, and trendy new spot Hasu Asian Bistro Expert Tip: Treat your sweetie to something sweet at Sugarlicious, a colorful candy shop that will fulfill all your sugary dreams. Another option that locavores will appreciate is nearby Enstrom Candies, where treats are made in Colorado. They're known for their addictive almond toffee.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: The 16-square-block area of stores, boutiques and restaurants offers variety and a sense of old-fashioned neighborhood shopping.
Christine's expert tip: Expert Tip: Treat your sweetie to something sweet at Sugarlicious, a colorful candy shop that will fulfill all your sugary dreams
A locally owned and operated business, Silk Road carries artisan jewelry, gifts for the home, unusual clothing and baby items sourced from local artists and artists from around the globe. Shopping here is very much a multicultural experience, making it the perfect place to find a gift for that person in your life who seems to have everything. There are items from far-flung distant cultures and distinctive gifts made right here in Denver and Colorado. The owners, Baki and Karla Akpinar, were inspired by their love of travel and their own multicultural family, and the store reflects that passion and diversity. There are plenty of ornaments and holiday items to choose from, but Silk Road is a treasure any time of year.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Silk Road brings the cultures of the world to Denver.
Christine's expert tip: While this can be a tough neighborhood for parking, the west alley behind the store is a "secret" spot so check that out before you start hunting.
Cherry Creek Shopping Center has 160 stores for lots of holiday shopping power. More than 30 of these stores are exclusive to this center, meaning you won't find them anywhere else in the metro area. That includes such names as Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, Kiehl's Since 1851 and Swatch. Add to that the annual holiday extravaganza. This year, it's all about Disney's mega hit Frozen. In the interactive Ice Palace you can sing "Let it Go" just like Elsa (well, maybe not exactly like Elsa), see scenes from the movie, create a Frozen handprint, take a photo with Olaf on his ice throne and measure up against the Are You as Tall as Sven and Olaf feature. The Ice Palace gift shop features Frozen everything, and, of course, you can visit Santa at the Ice Palace, too.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: If you can't find a great gift here, you're not really trying.
Christine's expert tip: Get to the center right when it opens for the best selection as stores restock and replenish overnight; as the day goes on, supplies often dwindle.
Denver Art Museum has two stores. The North Building shop is family oriented and perfect for parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents who want to give the little ones in their lives toys, games, activity kits and books that delight and educate at the same time. The shop in the Hamilton Building attracts art lovers with art-inspired fashions, jewelry and accessories. What stylish man doesn't want a tie with a Salvador Dali-inspired mustache print? Stock changes to reflect the museum's major exhibits, and this season the exhibit is Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century, a dazzling look at one of the most famous jewelers in the world. The slip-cased book that goes with the exhibit is a beauty--to keep or give as a gift. Perhaps the best gift of all for anyone in your life is a membership to DAM, one of Denver's true gems.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Denver Art Museum's retail shops carry high quality, art-centric and unusual items.
Christine's expert tip: During the run of Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century, the museum features a Jewelry Studio with artist demonstrations and stations where children and adults can try making jewelry of their own. The exhibit runs until March 15, 2015.
At no time is Larimer Square more festive and welcoming than in November and December. The inviting combination of history and holiday cheer makes this city block shine especially bright, and it's not just the cascade of lights arching over the street. Upscale, contemporary shops tucked into well-preserved buildings provide a perfect juxtaposition of Victorian charm and haute style, and the range of goods means you can check off much of your list in one convenient place. Larimer is home to a number of Denver's best restaurants, lounges and bars, so when shopping wraps up, sit down and enjoy the excellent food, drink and atmosphere.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Historic Larimer Square is decked out in cheerful lights and its eclectic stores offer gift choices for young and old.
Christine's expert tip: Procrastinators, rejoice. There's free parking at Larimer Square on December 24th.
This is a seriously fun annual event. To celebrate the season, the JW Marriott Denver Cherry Creek, Second Home Kitchen + Bar and Cherry Creek North are hosting four Pop-Up Holiday Trunk Shows in the lobby of the JW. Each week features a handful of local merchants, including O2, Title Nine, Dan Sharp Luxury Outerwear, Eccentricity, Oster Jewelers, Mariel, Simply Moore Makeup Artistry and Inspyre Boutique. The trunk shows, which are sponsored by La Marca Processco, are held from 9 a.m. to noon on the following 2014 dates: Black Friday, Nov. 28; Friday, Dec. 5; Friday, Dec. 12; and Friday, Dec. 19. There's no need to drive anywhere after you shop. Make the day and evening special by checking into the JW in the heart of Cherry Creek with the JW's Cordially Yours package, good through Jan. 31, 2015.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: The annual trunk shows bring several merchants and their latest products directly to holiday shoppers.
Christine's expert tip: Don't shop and drive. The JW's Cordially Yours package is good until Jan. 31, 2015, and includes a bottle of Grand Marnier and chocolate truffles.
Denver's authentic German Christmas market transports visitors to the old country and the famous Christmas markets that have been part of Germany and Austria for centuries. It brings together the sights, sounds and tastes of Europe, from traditional wooden toys to German food hot off the grill and performers entertaining the crowds with music and dancing. It wouldn't be an authentic German market without beer and Gluehwein, a spiced wine popular during the holidays. Patrons meandering past more than 40 vendor booths will find such treats as handcrafted ornaments, chocolates and candies, toys, artist-made jewelry and authentic German beer steins that make quaffing a cold brew a treat year-round. Denver Christkindl Market is an excellent place to pick up one-of-a-kind gifts, but it's more than that. It's a full-on holiday experience for the whole family, complete with festive food and drink and European and American entertainment.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: It's the quintessential holiday shopping experience in Denver, modeled on the great Christmas markets of Europe.
Christine's expert tip: Bring your Gluehwein mug from last year and get this year's refill for just $3.
If you want truly unique, this is your place. This year's 19th Annual Ornament Extravaganza is just one of reasons to visit Blake Street Glass Studio. The multi-hued, exquisitely crafted holiday pieces, including ornaments, menorahs and dreidels, aren't just beautiful, though that would be reason enough to buy them. As in years past, 10 percent of each ornament's price will benefit Children's Hospital Colorado. The official dates of the extravaganza for 2014 are Saturday and Sunday Dec. 6-7, and Saturday and Sunday Dec. 13-14. Saturday times are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The public, however, is welcome to browse for holiday items or other artwork anytime the studio is open, as well as to watch the artists at work. Glass pieces include perfume bottles, tables, sculptures and more. Descriptions don't do this artwork justice. You have to see it in person.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: You will not find more beautiful ornaments anywhere, and it's a bonus that they also benefit the children of Denver.
Christine's expert tip: 10 percent of money from ornaments sold goes Children's Hospital Colorado's general fund