On the to-do list this week: Revel in the final week ‘til Christmas — whatever that means for you. Last-minute shopping? Check. Counting down to Dec. 26? Also check.
We’ve collected our best Philly tips all in one place here. Stay healthy, stay safe, and get vaccinated.
2021 New Year’s Eve parties in Philadelphia by Amber Burns
18+ holiday markets in the Philly area by Michelle Reese
The best holiday light shows in Philly by Nick Vadala
2021 Philadelphia holiday events calendar by Amber Burns and Lauren McCutcheon
20+ places to get Christmas cookies in Philadelphia by Michelle Reese
The best bars and restaurants with fireplaces in Philly by Nick Vadala
» Ask us a question through Curious Philly: Inquirer.com/askus
Holiday weekend planner
Here is one highlight from our weekly events calendar:
🎄Holiday Lights at Historic Fair Hill (Seasonal / in-person / free / kid-friendly) All is merry and bright at historic Fair Hill in Germantown. Don’t miss this display covering five acres with over 10,000 holiday lights and a fire pit for winter warming. (Free, Dec. 19-25, 5-8 p.m., 2901 Germantown Ave., historicfairhill.com)
The holiday season is as lovely as it is stressful. Holiday shopping, baking, hosting, and making festive memories for family and friends can be exhausting. We’re here to help with all of your last-minute holiday needs and to (hopefully) make the season a little easier on you.
Here’s our holiday gift to you: Five ways to have a headache-free holiday.
🎄Still need a Christmas tree? (It’s OK if you do.) We have a guide to the best places in the region to get one. At these spots, you can cut your own tree or choose from a selection of pre-cut varieties. Staff will find the tree that’s perfect for your space, and many will help secure the tree to your car, so all you have to do is decorate it when you get home.
🍪 No time for Christmas cookie baking? That’s also OK (I haven’t baked one cookie all season). There are many, many places in the region where you can pick up fresh batches of Christmas cookies without the headache of actually grocery shopping, baking, and cleaning up. Here’s where to go for the best cookies in Philadelphia, including spots for traditional Italian cookies, classic chocolate chip cookies, assorted cookie boxes, vegan options, and more.
🎁 Need to finish (or start) your holiday shopping? At this point, delivery from certain online shops may not be guaranteed in time for Christmas. Plus, it’s always ideal to support local businesses when you can. We have a holiday gift guide with a range of curated local gifts, including items for the home cook, gift cards for fans of dining out, tickets for sports fans, presents from Black-owned businesses, and more. We also have a list of holiday markets, as well as our guide to the best gift stores in the region.
✨Want some instant festive spirit? OK, so, it’s Dec. 16 and you haven’t embraced the festive offerings in the Philadelphia area? Well, we have an easy, no cost way to get into the festive spirit. Visit one of the free holiday light shows in the region to feel the magic of the holiday season — plus, even if you’re busy, many of these light shows can be explored in five minutes or less.
🍴Hosting a party and need some cooking help? Cooking for a holiday is a lot of pressure. But, there are many places you can go in the Philadelphia region for some cooking help. We have a guide to the best spots to pick up party trays and platters. There are places ideal for pre-made cheese boards, sandwich trays, platters of dips like hummus and baba ghannouj, and much more.
The Feast of the Seven Fishes is a favorite tradition for many Italian-American families in the region. It’s traditionally a Christmas Eve celebration that packs seven different kinds of fishes into one tasty dinner. That much food is a lot of work, though, and if you’re looking to celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes (whether you’re Italian or not!), there are restaurants throughout the region that are serving up fish-focused dinners in celebration of the holiday. Here’s where to go out for the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve and a few of our picks, below.
Cry Baby Pasta. The Foy family keeps their dine-in feast streamlined with three courses, plus dessert — but you’ll still find seven fishes here. The meal starts with lobster arancini, fried calamari, clams casino, salmon rillettes, and scallop tortellini, followed by a grilled octopus salad with capers and currants, and, finally, crab tagliatelle in a creamy red pepper sauce. Plus, it all ends sweet with a dessert sampler featuring rainbow cookies, eggnog budino, and chocolate peppermint bites.📍 627 S. 3rd St., 📞 267-534-3076, 🌐 crybabypasta.com, 📷 @CryBabyPasta
Fork. Ellen Yin’s flagship restaurant Fork has a multicourse Christmas Eve menu with clam toast with tarragon, scallop crudo, monkfish terrine, squid escabeche, and torched mackerel with trout roe. For the main dish, choose between a whole roasted branzino, or a N.Y. strip with marrow bone, and wrap it up with Christmas cookies and buche de noel. Not enough? Add some oysters on the half shell with rosé mignonette or a house-made charcuterie board for an additional charge.📍 306 Market St., 📞 215-625-9425, 🌐 forkrestaurant.com, 📷 @ForkRestaurant
Bistro Romano. Bistro Romano’s Seven Fishes menu on Christmas Eve includes uni butter on toast, fluke crudo with habanero, squid salad, lobster “cappuccino” (a poached lobster with whipped crème fraîche), spaghetti and clams, and roasted rare tuna. But there’s also a vegetarian option with carrot soup, semolina cavatelli with broccoli rabe, and truffle mushroom risotto, as well as a meatier version featuring N.Y. strip, black pepper macaroni with pancetta, and gnocchi with prosciutto cotto.📍 120 Lombard St., 📞 215-925-8880, 🌐 bistroromano.com, 📷 @Bistro.Romano
Last winter, Curiosity Doughnuts (the fan-favorite, James Beard-nominated doughnuts with shops in the Princeton and Spring House Whole Foods) had a super-popular pop-up shop at ITV on E. Passyunk Ave. On Wednesday, it returns to the neighborhood with a cash only pop-up at River Twice restaurant. The lines are guaranteed to be long, (like, a block long) but somehow these doughnuts are really worth it.
📖 A quotable moment
Thanks for reading! We’ve got lots more great holiday tips coming at you this month (including New Year’s Eve parties, ball drops, and fireworks). But in the meantime, here’s a little quote to keep in mind as we head into the most festive week of them all.
“Living in the moment is a gift. That’s why they call it the present.” - Ted Lasso