Gift Guide: Philly lights up and turns it out for the holidays

Philly is in full festive-yuletide-jingle-bell swing, giving locals, visitors and shoppers a lot to see, do and purchase for the holidays. Yes, you could (and probably will) hit the malls, shopping center, internet and other modern temples of retail worship, but it would be a shame to not experience some good old-fashioned Philadelphia flair in the days leading up to whatever holiday lights your candles this year.

No matter to what section of the city the season takes you, there are plenty of attractions and stores to capture your imagination, brighten your sense of holiday cheer and lighten your wallets and purses. So get some warm and comfortable shoes and your coat and let’s get to it.  


If you want to surround yourself with fine art this season, head to the Penn Museum, as the arts and tourist attraction is offering a range of special gift ideas and events. The museum’s shop features a wide range of jewelry, clothing, accessories, crafts and other gifts, including games, books and more. Also, the shop is offering discount days Dec. 14-23, with 10-percent off regularly priced items for visitors and 25-percent off for Penn Museum members. Visit or call 215-898-5093 for more information.

You can also give family or friends the gift of a private museum tour to explore 10,000 years of human history and choose from a variety of topics. This can include exploring the new Middle East Galleries, the female-focused “Queens, Warriors and Archaeologists: Women in the Penn Museum” or a deeper look at cultural heritage and loss with “Cultures in the Crossfire: Stories from Syria and Iraq.”

If you want to journey through the picturesque neighborhood around the museum, hop on the train for a Trolley Tour Dec. 14-17. Riders take in three Fairmount Park historic homes (Laurel Hill, Lemon Hill and Woodford), which are spectacularly lit up in unique yuletide decorations. Call 215-684-7840 to reserve a seat.

For information about tour options, contact [email protected] or call 215-746-8183.


Old City gets into the holiday mood with Historic Holiday Nights, a unique holiday happy hour from 5-8 p.m. every Thursday through Dec. 28. More than 50 participating boutiques, shops, art galleries, museums, restaurants and cafés will treat visitors to special sales, discounts, promotions, seasonal cocktails and special events. Get all of your holiday shopping, eating and drinking done in one place.

Old City will offer up unique blink-and-you’ll-miss-them gift-buying opportunities as well with some pop-up shops. Florist Papertini and PhilaLandmarks host a holiday pop-up shop at The Hill-Physick House, 321 S. Fourth St., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 9-10 and 16-17. The Rev. Michael Alan’s original artwork will be featured along with unique handmade gifts and crafts.

Home Brewed Events hosts a Vintage Holiday Party 7-10 p.m. Dec. 13 at Powel House, 244 S. Third St., featuring old-timey drink recipes and historic beer styles to sample throughout the evening, along with light local fare and live music provided by Evan Cory Levine.

If you are looking for some festive sights while wandering around Old City, Historic Holiday Nights offers “Illuminating Liberty” at the Museum of the American Revolution, 101 S. Third St. Through the New Year, the exhibit will display colorful new window illuminations, inspired by Philadelphia artist Charles Willson Peale. For more information, visit


Christmas Village has moved to Love Park this year but the Christmas Village Carousel is in City Hall Courtyard through Christmas Eve. The merry-go-round runs alongside the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market, which is also curated and organized by Christmas Village organizers. The Holiday Market transforms Dilworth Park into a holiday-shopping wonderland through Jan. 1 with more than 50 artisans, designers, crafters and confectionaries from the region offering gifts and holiday foods in festively lit tents topped with Herrnhut Stars.

Visitors can shop for unique gifts and products that can’t be found at the average shopping mall, including ornaments, toys, apparel, jewelry, decorations, home goods, artwork and more. For more information, visit


Manayunk’s main drag is packed with numerous eye-catching stores and eateries so, naturally, it has a lot to see and do to coincide with the holiday season. On Dec. 14, Main Street hosts a Men’s Shopping Night, where men will get an extra-personalized experience when shopping for their significant others.

The holidays get super-fashionable with Style Me Manayunk 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 10, a pop-up store and event in partnership with LILA Fashion International featuring fashion and accessory vendors, live music, food and more.

On Dec. 21, procrastinators can experience the holiday-shopping adrenaline rush of Dashing Through the Stores, where local retailers offer an enticing range of grab-and-go gift ideas — plenty for shoppers to load up their sleighs with festive presents.

While you’re in the area, check out Sardine Clothing Company, 4101 Lauriston St., a studio and store specializing in “upcycled” and repurposed clothing. The company takes discarded and thrift-store T-shirts, pants and sweaters and cuts them up to re-fashion and transform them into something far more eye-catching and original than they were before. Better on your back than headed to a landfill. For more information, visit  


We hope to see some of you out there getting festive in the streets of Philly. Stay warm, happy and safe. Happy holidays!