Here's Where to Get Your Holiday Swag in Austin This Year



The holiday season is upon us – and with it, the quest to find the perfect gift for everyone on our list. But why just head to the mall? Austinites generally like to do things a little bit different, and chain stores aren't really our thing. Even if you need to hit up a brand-name store, some spots are just more fun to do so – and offer dining, events or entertainment to keep you merry while filling your gift list.

While Austin might have a plethora of retail shopping choices, these spots are all but guaranteed to help you find the right gifts for your family, friends, co-workers, holiday donations and anyone else on your shopping list. From uniquely Austin venues to upscale boutiques and fair trade stores, our list of the 10 Best holiday shopping spots can help you make the most out of your shopping excursions – and just might help save your sanity, as well.



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The German-Texan Heritage Society offers shoppers hand-made, imported crafts including plenty of Christmas themed decorations such as nutcrackers and ornaments. It is a festival atmosphere with traditional German Christmas music, tables full of handcrafted items direct from the Erzgebirge region of Germany, a visit by both our historic American Santa Claus and the traditional German Sankt Nikolas with gifts for the children, a hospitality serving of Glühwein (hot spiced wine), coffee, apple cider/juice and gingerbread cookies and plenty of German style baked goodies for purchase. Lunch served by Frank-Purveyors of Artisan Sausage. All purchases are Sales Tax Free on this special day. The market will take place in 2015 on Saturday, December 5 from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM. Free Admission.


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South Congress Avenue


 

Made newly trendy with an influx of hip boutiques, galleries, and restaurants, this district was once populated by more alternative, retro spots. Now, it's drawing attention with chic independent establishments and getting traffic from celebrities and folks with more disposable income. With a mix of hippie-like places and newly gentrified venues, today's SoCo offers thrift stores and music clubs, coffee shops and sushi joints, kitsch and culture. The offerings make it a great place to find everything from handmade jewelry and artwork to high end fashion; antiques to modern home decor; and everything in between. Pop-up vendor tents provide more shopping, and there are plenty of places to grab a meal or listen to music to complete your experience.


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For a fun holiday shopping experience, check out the Wildflower Center's Wild Ideas Shopping Event. Shop for holiday gifts and enjoy our beautiful winter gardens. Featuring book signings, food samples, artists and artisans. Held on December 4 - 6, 2015, this free event offers numerous vendors with original handmade items including paintings, jewelry, silk creations, natural soaps, cards and other gifts. There are also several events over the three days including a toffee tasting, origami demonstration, book signings, ornament inscribing, wind chime music and much more. Friday & Saturday the hours are 9am to 5pm; and Sunday from noon to 5pm.


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West End


 

We all have that bookophile on our list for holiday shopping -- and maybe it's us as well. At any rate, BookPeople is a must on any shopping venue list. BookPeople has been the leading independent bookstore in Texas since 1970. Located in the heart of downtown, BookPeople has been voted best bookstore in Austin for over 15 years. BookPeople was voted Bookstore of the Year by Publisher's Weekly in 2005. With visits from some of the most interesting and important authors of the past 43 years, as well as by Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. But it's not just for books. BookPeople also offers a large selection of items from local "Keep Austin Weird" merchandise to handmade jewelry, cards, home decor, fun and wacky stuff and all sorts of gifts. They also have a cafe that provides a full range menu of coffee drinks, sodas, sandwiches, and desserts, including vegan and gluten-free options.


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Situated in a beautiful park-like setting, The Domain features 100 upscale and mainstream retail stores and restaurants, almost half of which are exclusive within the market. A sampling of retailers includes high-end boutiques such as David Yurman, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany & Co. and Austin's only Neiman Marcus, as well as more traditional retailers like American Eagle Outfitters, Banana Republic, Express and more. Restaurants include favorites like Daily Grill, Maggiano's Little Italy, McCormick & Schmick's, NoRTH and many more. It's a great place to get a lot of retail shopping in one place, and they have many holiday events going on such as horse-drawn carriage rides, Breakfast with Santa, Meeting Santa, holiday light shows, live music and much more. You can also destress from the holidays with Yoga on the Lawn and other cool activities.


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Hot music, fine art, and cold beer make the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar the place where Austin shops in the giving season. The show is actually two events in one: an art fair and music festival with a vibrant community-driven vibe. Visitors can explore an amazing array of handmade items from 160+ artists while enjoying live local music and sips from a full bar. On exhibit will be everything from statement-making collectible pieces to modestly priced stocking stuffers. While Texas artists predominate, there are a select few carefully chosen from around the country. The Armadillo stage showcases some of Austin's favorite musical talent, with live, intimate performances at least three times a day. Featured musicians range from new and emerging stars to local legends, to Grammy winners.


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South Austin


 

TreeHouse is a new kind of home improvement company; one dedicated to Sustainability, Health, Quality and Responsibility. The company believes the building, upkeep, and operating of homes should create the smallest disruption to the natural world possible and cause no permanent harm to its vitality. They offer quality products that meet their high standards. Believe it or not, TreeHouse is an awesome place to do holiday shopping. Sustainable toys for the kids on your list include The FUTURE Collection, Tegu's first "theme-based" sets of magnetic wooden blocks. For the coffee connoisseur, check out The Portland Press, a french press for a Mason jar, made in and around Portland, Oregon. Growlers, hammocks, birdhouses, cool retro light fixtures and much more are also in their Holiday Gift Guide - guaranteeing that you will be giving some of the favorite gifts of the season.


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Cherrywood Art Fair is an art filled two-day event showcasing local artists, live music, kids activities and great food in a free, family-friendly environment. Everyone will find something to love at the Cherrywood Art Fair. Since its 2002 inception, the Fair has served as a destination for discerning holiday shoppers seeking unique and artful items from Texas artists and makers. Find the perfect gift for friends and family or treat yourself with hand-crafted goodness. Do some art, pet foster dogs with Austin Pets Alive, watch Michele Francis & the Aerial Sugar Squirrels fly through the air, check out family friendly circus arts with Sky Candy, kiddie and adult make-overs at the hair braiding and face painting booths, meet Artie the robot dog + much more.


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As one of the world's oldest and largest fair trade organizations, Ten Thousand Villages has spent more than 60 years cultivating trading relationships in which artisans receive a fair price for their work and consumers have access to distinctive handcrafted items. After years in the SoCo shopping district, the Austin Ten Thousand Villages store recently moved to Burnet Road. Ten Thousand Villages is an exceptional source for unique handmade gifts, jewelry, home decor, art and sculpture, textiles, serveware and personal accessories representing the diverse cultures of artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. The company encourages artisan partners to use environmentally friendly processes, sustainable natural resources and recycled materials to ensure each product offered has been crafted responsibly.


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The Blue Genie Art Bazaar is a unique holiday art show returning for its 15th year through December 24th at the Marchesa Hall & Theatre. The Bazaar features handmade artwork & gifts from over 200 local & regional artists, with a portion of proceeds going to Make-A-Wish® Foundation. The annual four-week holiday shopping exhibit will run seven days a week from 10 am to 10 pm during those times (except closing at 6 pm on December 24). All items featured at the bazaar must be handmade, resulting in unique paintings, photography, prints, jewelry, clothing and other gifts. Free Art Sweepstakes that give customers a chance to win special artwork, and Tote Tuesdays that provide customers with a free tote with purchase each Tuesday (while supplies last) are just some of the offerings this year. Parking & admission are FREE of charge. Full bar with snacks. Cash & cards accepted.


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Meet Shelley Seale

Shelley Seale is a freelance journalist and author in Austin who has written for National Geographic, USA Today, The Guardian and Texas Monthly, among others. She loves yoga, indie movies,...  More About Shelley

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