Pack Santa’s Sack Along the French Market District Colonnade

December 07, 2021
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! My girlfriend, Sarah, and I always vow to give back to our community we love by doing all of our holiday shopping with local businesses. We love supporting the shops who give back to the city where we live, work, and play…this year more than ever. Our favorite wonderland is the French Quarter, so we always look forward to a shopping extravaganza there during the holidays. We shop till we drop, stop for lunch, and shop some more.

We always get started on our holiday list on a day that gets our festive spirits fired up: the day they have the St. Nick Celebration in Dutch Alley with a host of holiday entertainment from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This year, we will go on December 11, so we can shop all day and enjoy seeing St. Nick and the excited children lap-sitting and whispering in his ear in anticipation of the season. When we need a little boost, we always stroll to Café du Monde for café au lait and beignets, a French Market tradition since 1862.

We usually start at the French Market’s diverse flea market with treasures from around the world. We find clothing, art, jewelry, crafts, spices, hot sauces, and souvenirs for everyone on our list. It offers a local experience with a bustling market full of food, arts, and crafts. From food to local wearable art, the market is full of locals catering to locals and tourists alike; it’s a diverse market and one of our favorite places to browse and people-watch.

We stroll down Decatur Street, sample creamy Creole pralines at Aunt Sally’s Praline Shop, Southern Candymakers, and at Evans Creole Candy Factory and debate the merits of each. Mmm, they are all so delicious and earn a place on our holiday dessert bar! Our favorite one-stop shop is Dutch Alley Artist’s Co-Op, which features the original works of 25 regional artists. It is a gallery of local fine arts and crafts, owned and staffed completely by its member artists. It is a destination for both tourists and locals who wish to see and purchase beautiful, handcrafted local art directly from local artists. Original paintings, ceramics, glass, jewelry, textiles and mixed media are displayed. While staffing the gallery, artists explain and share their many different creative ideas and mediums, bringing the art to life. We enjoy talking to many of the artists about their craft and always purchase gifts there. The gallery is located in the heart of a Louisiana Cultural District, so there is no sales tax on their handcrafted, original art. Outside the door, the calliope on the Riverboat City of New Orleans rings out as the red streetcar rattles down the tracks.

We wander along Decatur Street to explore uncharted territory. Lalosh Silver features wearable works of jewelry art in copper, sterling silver, and brass! We always explore their original handmade jewelry and wide selection of stones and gems. Lalo Flores can craft your unique piece of jewelry while you wait or take custom orders and ship them to you. We pop into Pop City to browse the locally produced clothing, art, books, and housewares, then dive into N’awlins Sports for some Saints gifts for our favorite “Who Dats.” Finally, we indulge our grandchildren in The Little Toy Shop, a family-owned toy store that has been in the French Quarter for more than 60 years. It’s the perfect place to find high quality toys and collectible dolls. Santa will be bringing some special gifts this year that will be treasured for many generations. Speaking of which, I bet we look like delighted elves when we enter Merry Christmas & All That Jazz with a wide variety of ornaments and gifts found only in New Orleans. Our trees will be spectacular this year! Baby One NOLA has beautiful clothing for our littlest grandchildren, and at What’s New, we find fleur-de-lis platters and other local serving ware. We browse wonderful paintings at Galerie Cayenne, which features fine art by internationally renowned artist, Shakor, with his mix of contemporary and classical painting techniques. We usually buy beautiful hand-painted nightgowns for my twin granddaughters at Head to Toe, and find one last treasure for my hubby at Voodoo Harley Davidson to make the final check on our holiday shopping list.

We always end our day by strolling up the ramp by the Café du Monde to the elevated plaza known as Washington Artillery Park for the amazing view of the muddy Mississippi River, Jackson Square, and St. Louis Cathedral and take selfies with the iconic background. A lone sax player entertains on the Moonwalk promenade below. We enjoy the cool breeze and watch the Steamboat Natchez plow through the busy waterway. This year more than ever, we will feel grateful to live in a diverse and historically rich city and vow to return to our favorite bend in the majestic Mississippi River again soon, and watch it cradle the French Quarter.