Where to Do Your Christmas Shopping in Baltimore

The Chop has become something of a Grinch of late. This year our holiday strategy was to go out to sea and stay there until the weather warms up. But one thing and another and we’re still not aboard a ship and lo and behold here it is Thanksgiving week, so The Holidays are here, like it or not.

One of the perks of being at sea in December is that you don’t really have to do any Christmas shopping. Friends and family are pretty understanding about that kind of thing. But maybe you’re not planning on spending your Christmas season floating around on 50,000 tons of steel. Okay, you need to get some shopping done.

If you’re like us the thought of spending full weekends bouncing around from big-box to big-box fighting highway traffic and the stroller patrol makes you want to overdose on egg nog. But shopping can be incredibly easy if you know where to go. Below are six great choices (in no particular order) for shopping, and if you’re diligent and not too picky you can likely knock out most of your list in any one location.

Sideshow. We did a whole post about Christmas shopping in the AVAM’s gift shop in 2010. It’s still one of the best places in town and as a bonus they sell fancy wrapping paper and high quality cards as well, to make your gift stand out a little when it’s sitting atop a large pile. Best for: extended family, especially nieces and nephews. 800 Key Hwy

Atomic Books. Of course Atomic makes the list. Bookstores are great for Christmas shopping because there’s a book out there for everyone. Even people who aren’t big readers may still enjoy a coffee table book, or something humorous. Plus Atomic’s full of stuff that’s not books as well, like collectible toys and T shirts. Its location at the end of The Avenue means that even if you can’t find something here you can pop into Trohv or 16 Tons/Doubledutch or any of the dozens of other shops. Sort of like the Avenue at White Marsh except, you know, authentic. Best for:good friends, neighbors. 3620 Falls Rd

Any Restaurant in Town. Restaurants sell gift certificates, dig? If you like the idea of spending money locally at small businesses this is the absolute best bang for your buck. It’s not only something you buy once- the recipient has to come back to redeem it, possibly spending more money and making a night of it taking in a movie or show along with dinner. As a bonus if you buy a few separate ones and run the total up the manager might comp you a meal as well. Best for:buying for a couple to kill two birds with one stone. Visit Baltimore restaurant finder

The Gallery. Yeah, it’s kind of a cop out choosing a mall as the best place to do Christmas shopping, but for city people the Gallery is our mall. You don’t have to get a Zipcar and go into suburban hell. Most people forget it’s there, but perhaps they should keep it in mind. With shops like Johnston and Murphy, Banana Republic, Coach and Brooks Brothers you’ll find better quality goods here than you will at Canton Crossing. Best for: people who like gifts from malls. 200 E Pratt

Bmore Flea. We went out to the first Bmore Flea at Penn Station a few weeks ago and we give it a big thumbs up for holiday shopping. There was a little bit of everything on offer from apparel to art to crafts and accessories. It happens again this Saturday and the final one is December 6. Best for: hipsters and the fashion forward. 1500 N Charles

Belvedere Square: The idea of making your own gift basket is an underrated one. Custom baskets make outstanding presents and when you’re filling them with things you pick out from all over you can control exactly how much you spend. When you hit your budget, round out empty space with something cheap like popcorn. The Market at Belvedere Square is a great place to stock a gift basket with gourmet goods, and as a bonus you can head up York Road to Wells’ for some of the best wine and Liquor selection around. Best for: co-workers, secret santas, foodies. 540 E Belvedere Ave