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Have yourself a merry, Philly holiday season | Morning Newsletter

The best sips and sweets.

    The Morning Newsletter

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‘Tis the season, yes, and thank you for reading our special holiday edition.

No time of year strikes us better than the Peak Holiday Time in Philly to get serious about the sips (whiskey) and the sweets (cookies.) We’re rummaging through the oddball stuff at Kindy’s, and then drinking cocktails fireside.

We’ve also turned to a few of our colleagues to get their picks for a delicious, joyous holiday week.

— Ashley Hoffman (@_AshleyHoffman,

Today we’re touring Kindy’s Christmas Factory Outlet in South Philly, one of the city’s most definitive holiday stores — and experiences — where cheer has spread with full force.

“At this upside-down Christmas Shoppe, this hardscrabble holiday warehouse store that’s as nostalgic as the Macy’s light show and as unnerving as the Dickens Village, it feels just as likely that you could run into Santa as you could Krampus around any corner,” our reporter Stephanie Farr writes.

We made a list of things you’ll find there and checked it twice. Pre-lit palm tree? Check. Faux cardboard fireplaces? Check. Inflatable pig and a Santa with a tinsel bow tie? Check, check. Just don’t expect frills.

What you should know today

🥃 We’re following our restaurant critic Craig LaBan to the honey-colored bottle described as “no burn, just Canadian silk” in his guide to the best holiday whiskey.

🐻 “Know any good toy stores?” “Yes sir.” Movie reference! (Hint: 🏠 😱) Right this way for the best toy shops in town.

🌲 Philadelphia Ballet’s The Nutcracker is back for the dreamers. Twirl into our behind-the-scenes photo gallery.

🍭 And for more visions to dance in your head, check out this handcrafted, centuries-old treat in this mesmerizing video.

Where should you warm up fireside? So glad you asked because we have the 20 best places to cozy up to a fully functioning fireplace for a toasty time.

🔥 + 🥃 The One That’s Like an Outdoor Ski Lodge: Three words: Peanut butter whiskey. That’s what they put in the hot chocolate here. And they have local winter beers and mulled cider, too, at Assembly Rooftop Lounge.

🔥 + 🎀 The One With the Nostalgic Atmosphere: The fireplace in Philly’s oldest continuously operating tavern used to be necessary at McGillin’s Olde Ale House. Expect 1,000 feet of garland, 3,000 lights, and hundreds of ornaments and bows.

🔥 + 🌮 The One With the Tacos: Curl up by the modern fire pit with a menu that scored high praise from Craig LaBan at Condesa.

🔥 + 🍺 The One With the Good Beer List: Tuck into a local beer by the double-sided wood-burning fireplace at Devil’s Den.

These are the best bars and restaurants with fireplaces.

What we’re doing over the holidays

“Making a cup of hot chocolate and going for a stroll through the Miracle on S. 13th St. holiday light show is one of my favorite ways to spend holiday evenings. I tend to go more than once a season, too!” — Jillian Wilson, Service Editor, who you know from our Things To Do newsletter and may have seen out eating pizza or tacos... or out too late at her neighborhood bar.

🍷 “Le Caveau is just... cozy and effortless, like your favorite winter sweater you never want to take off. Whether or not I’m in the holiday mood, Le Caveau and sister spot Good King Tavern transport me to a different place and time, with the help of charcuterie, draft negronis, French hot dogs (you read that right) and fun events — in December, Tuesdays are dubbed Night Class, where they’d pour Champagne and other bubbles to ‘study.’ My favorite kind of homework, and there are two more such ‘classes’ on the books.” — Deputy Food Editor Joseph Hernandez. When he’s not on the hunt for cozy spots to nurse a glass of wine, he can be found waxing poetic about wines that pair well with crying.

🍜 “My family does Thanksgiving big, so on Christmas, we tend to fall back. For the past few years, instead of traditional holiday favorites, we skip the Christmas ham and have gone for spicy Sichuan cuisine. Our go-to has been being tourists in our own town for a night by taking a stroll through Spruce Street Harbor Park and then Han Dynasty for dinner.” — Kerith Gabriel, Newsletter Editor.

🍪 And I’m home alone for Christmas like my personal hero Kevin McCallister from Home Alone, but you’re never alone in Philly. I’ll be cookie swapping with my neighbors, and I can’t stop baking the chocolate chip cookie sandwiches adapted by Philadelphia artist Marian Bailey from our list of cookie recipes from locals. — Ashley Hoffman, yours truly, Newsletter Strategist.

🧠 Holiday Trivia Time 🧠

Christmas Village has become a Center City holiday tradition — one that has moved quite a few times between Dilworth Park and LOVE Park. Today’s question: Do you know the first year Christmas Village opened here in Philadelphia? Check out this throwback story to find out the answer.

Photo of the day

👋🏽 Thirsty for more? I’ll be back with the news on Sunday. (Yes, that was another Home Alone reference.)