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Elf Yourself! Best Christmas Shopping in Orlando, 2018



They call that briskly shrinking shoulder season between Thanksgiving and Christmas “the Christmas creep,” but it’s a slice of retail that’s already on the endangered list. Some stores get their holiday gear up the day after Halloween. Most people don’t mind the festivity. That’s why we’re including lots of variety in this Orlando shopping round-up. Shoppers with a lean toward tony surrounds and upscale items could do worse than the many fine shops on Winter Park's Park Avenue. Nearby at the Wine Barn, sommeliers are happy to recommend you an ideal bottle at a perfect price point (and a gourmet brick-oven pizza while you consider). And if you're looking to shop in an area rife with post-shopping eats and drinks within walking distance, consider Magpie's Modern General Store, located in charming downtown Sanford, or the many shops of Ivanhoe or Park Ave, where bars and bistros abound!


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Disney's Character Warehouse


Disney merch at 50, 60, 70 percent off?! It's not a fevered dream or a Dole Whip brain-freeze-inspired hallucination. It's the Disney Character Warehouse. In fact, there are two of them, one each in the Orlando Premium Outlets shopping centers. Here, amid shelves that are �" despite employees' best efforts �" often destroyed beyond recognition due to the hoards that mill through looking for great grabs, you will find extremely reasonable prices on all manner of Disney merchandise. Mugs, pins, hats, T-shirts, home goods, plushies, accessories and more. The rub? Much of what you'll find is a tad dated (say, shirts with last year's date on them). The good part? You can bring home souvenir tees for friends and family at a fraction of the price of what you'll pay at the park.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Great finds afoot for those of you with Disneyfans on your shopping list!

A.D.'s expert tip: Don't go in expecting to find the hot, new item you were hoping to grab at the parks. Go expecting great deals.

Read more about Disney's Character Warehouse →


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Mills 50


Gotkarma is one part vintage shop (for clothing, jewelry, furniture and more), one part hippie haven, one part art gallery and one part chill fun. This Mills50 neighborhood shop has impressively affordable price points and truly unique items in stock, which makes it ideal if you're looking for that singular gift for a special person. Be warned, though, it's pretty likely you're going to walk out with something for yourself, as well. What's more, you can feel good about that spend, because a portion of the shop's proceeds help fund the Rising Lotus Children's Village, an orphanage in Kathmandu, Nepal. They're also a permanent food drop for those interested in helping feed local families in need. Gotkarma indeed.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Washburn's warehouse of furnishings are truly one-of-a-kind, ideal for world travelers and those who dream of doing so.

A.D.'s expert tip: Not only are Gotkarma's prices reasonable, they sometimes have "free stuff" box! Be sure to peruse.

Read more about Gotkarma →


The Wine Barn


Wine is one of those things that can be intimidating to shop for. At Winter Park's Wine Barn, dispense with the fear and embrace the expertise of its affable staffers. They'll guide you to your ideal bottles without a trace of hard sell or upsell. In fact, if you have a pricey favorite, they might even find you a wonderful doppelganger for less. Come the holiday season, beautiful baskets are oft available for purchase for those in a bit of a hurry, but if you have a moment, do spend some time perusing. Wines of all colors, from all regions and for all palates abound.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: The Wine Barn makes gift shopping easy. Its on-site pizzeria makes it tasty.

A.D.'s expert tip: Come for the wine, stay for the pizza. The Wine Barn's surprise gem is a brick oven in which some of the city's best pizza is baked to order. Sample some with a sommelier-selected bottle!

Read more about The Wine Barn →


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With only four stores (three in NYC, one in Orlando at the always-fun UniversalCityWalk) online shopping is all that most people can do when it comes to PiQ â€" and while they have an astonishing cyberinventory, we recommend heading to the Orlando outpost and checking out all the amazing unique art, books, jewelry, accessories and more. Always colorful and ever changing, PiQ's merchandise runs the gamut from handmade items to unique pop culture collectibles and often a melding of the two. Designer toys for your coolest comic-fan and killer notebooks for the journal junkie in your life, not to mention a host of fun and funny items for home and work and person. Check them out!

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Super colorful, fun gifts and designer toys will win you the prize for most creative present under the tree.

A.D.'s expert tip: Don't come all the way to CityWalk without hitting up some of the other venues. At the very least, a serious milkshake at Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Kitchen.

Read more about PiQ →


Craft beer and wine and food and furniture and boutiques and antiques and vintage shops and boutiques and sporting goods and art and music and...and...and.... Ivanhoe Village has been called up-and-coming for more than a few years at this point. It's safe to say that while new businesses continue to open, it has most certainly arrived. With a host of shops, from gourmet bakeries and vintage furniture to original art and used records, this is a neighborhood where one could easily spend an entire day browsing, dining, drinking and even enjoying a bit of al fresco relaxing, whether at one of the area's stellar restaurant or bar patios or beneath the shady oak-studded park beside its eponymous lake.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Great for unique finds from home furnishings to stationery to comic-art creations to rare vinyl.

A.D.'s expert tip: On-street parking is widely available but look sharp for the lot just adjacent Washburn Imports (corner of New Hampshire & Orange) on busy evenings. It's pretty ample.

Read more about Ivanhoe Village →


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Audubon Park


A few years back, East End Market made Orlando's already-cool Audubon Park neighborhood a little more so. Artisan foodstuffs such as cheese and produce, craft-level cookies, hot sauce and house-made kombucha notwithstanding, there is much to be found in the realm of the inedible, as well, particularly where holiday gifts are concerned. Freehand Goods, for example, brings together a lovely array of unique handmade goods from t-shirts to leather to bath and body items. Porch Therapy is a haven of horticultural gifts and you'll want to come early so you can bring home a box of Gideon's Bakehouse cookies before they fly from the case (which they do on the daily).

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: East End Market's friendly vibe is well suited for the holiday season and its shop-local mantra makes spending feel extra good.

A.D.'s expert tip: Many of the in-house food purveyors put together beautiful baskets for the holidays. And don't forget to check out the other great indie shops on Corrine!

Read more about East End Market →


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Disney Springs ®


Downtown Disney is the umbrella name for this walkable, lakeside strand of shopping, dining and entertainment within the Walt Disney World complex. And its ongoing expansion into the widely anticipated Disney Springs has brought with it a host of new venues well suited to part you from your cash. Hats and Havianas sandals, an ever-expanding list of Disney merch from clothing to home furnishings and a Marvel fan's dream store are among some of the newest spoils. The kids will have a ball in the Lego Imagination Center, where elaborate brick-works are on display and plenty of hands-on bins let kids hone their engineering skills. Set inside the cavernous World of Disney (kudos to those of you who can escape without dropping at least a few bucks) is the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, where kids aged 3-12 can channel their inner-Tinkerbell (or Jasmine, or Cinderella, or Ariel �" you get the point) with a very polished makeover. Reservations for this popular favorite are strongly recommended, but the ample shopping seems to stretch on forever!

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: With its recent and massive expansion, DS is now home to an abundance of popular brands including Alex and Ani, Anthropologie, Kate Spade & more!

A.D.'s expert tip: Disney Springs' new parking garages are amazing, but even these and the ample lots can fill at peak times. Valet is available.

Read more about Disney Springs →




Winter Park's famed Park Avenue and its surrounds have been delighting shoppers for ages with quaint, cobbled, oak-shaded lanes and top-of-the-line boutiques. Here you'll find names you recognize (Lily Pulitzer, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, etc.) along with scads of locally owned boutiques and galleries for your fashion, home furnishing and even pantry-related needs. Check out Kathmandu, Partridge Paper, Ten Thousand Villages, Frank, the Grove and more! In between the great excuses to spend, the cooling fountains and relaxing benches of Central Park beckon, as do the dozens of resta- for true, tony, small-town immersion during your stay. Whether its spent window shopping or a credit card-igniting spend-a-thon is up to you.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Shopping doesn't get more pleasant than when you're perusing the picturesque purveyors of Park Ave.

A.D.'s expert tip: Make a day of it. This walkable area is rife with shops, restaurants, outdoor spaces and even museums. Plan ahead and maximize your time.

Read more about Winter Park's Park Avenue →


Orlando Farmer's Market
Photo courtesy of Orlando Farmer's Market

Orlando residents have been delighting in this weekly Lake Eola event since 1987 and it just keeps growing. The market features more than 50 vendors all year 'round, creating a veritable cornucopia of Florida fruits and vegetables. Also on tap: plants, jewelry, pottery, paintings, clothing, accessories, locally made specialty food items and more. The market is dog- and kid-friendly; many residents bring the whole family to shop, grab a late breakfast or lunch and even enjoy beer and mimosas (courtesy of Orlando Brewing) in its oak-shaded "biergarten" where a local singer/guitar-slinger entertains the crowd every Sunday with rock and pop classics, sometimes with accompanying musicians, as well.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: One of the nice things about Florida Christmas shopping in Orlando is that you can do it outside. Orlando Farmer's Market is an ideal venue.

A.D.'s expert tip: On-street parking is available but there are multiple garages nearby if you don't feel like circling.

Read more about Orlando Farmer's Market →




Magpie's calls itself a "modern general store," which means you will find things every home needs. Now your needs (or that of the person for whom you are buying a gift) are subjective. Everyone needs soap for the bathroom, for example, and so at Magpie's you can satisfy your loved one's need with beautifully packaged, handcrafted soap that will look and smell and feel lovely on the hands. Jewelry, for some, is also a need. And here you'll find beautiful unique pieces, some of which are very reasonably priced, for primary gifts or stocking stuffers. Also, beautiful, high-quality home goods, tasty snacks for foodies, and more. It's a wonderful store for browsing and one where inventory changes regularly. Around the holidays, though, stock is exceptionally gift-driven with items you're not likely to find elsewhere.

Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: At 10Best, we love shopping local and Magpie's unusual stock makes for phenomenal gifts, none of which need to break the bank.

A.D.'s expert tip: Come back often! The stock at Magpie's rotates seasonally. You're likely to find new things on each visit.

Read more about Magpie's Modern General Store →


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Meet A.D. Thompson

Amy Drew has spent nearly three decades as a professional writer and roughly half her life as a Floridian. The words, she has found, come easier with bare feet and rum.

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