You’ve survived Thanksgiving. Now, it’s time to start thinking about how to party until the year's end. Whatever holiday you celebrate, there’s plenty of good food, drink, and fun to keep away the winter chill. Here are some of the best ways to kick off your merrymaking with loved ones throughout December.
Shop 'Til You Drop
There are many great markets popping up throughout the holiday season, but I’m particularly excited for two of them — both of which are free to attend.
Sauced Night Market is returning to the Chicago Athletic Association (12 S. Michigan Ave., Loop) on December 6 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. with live music, a photo booth, and more than 50 vendors. Grab a taco from Taco in a Bag on your way in, and shop for everything from jewelry to candles to handcrafted knives.
On November 30, head to Uptown for Chicago Market's Holiday Pop-Up — the under-development co-op will be welcoming over a dozen local businesses into its future space, and guests can shop for everything from chocolate to sustainable meats.
If you’re not interested in cooking on Christmas or Hanukkah, head to Bistronomic (840 N. Wabash Ave., Gold Coast). From December 2 to December 10, the French restaurant is offering a three-course, prix fix Hanukkah dinner ($39). On Christmas Eve, it's serving both a brunch ($35, including bottomless mimosas) and a dinner that includes sweet potato gnocchi with Maine lobster, prime beef short ribs, roasted rack of lamb, and baked Alaska ($70). Make reservations now.
Lights and Deals
Zoolights at Lincoln Park Zoo is a beloved holiday tradition, but don’t forget to make your dinner plans before or after you tour the beautiful display. If you want to dine near the zoo, a handful of restaurants are offering special Zoolights deals.
Naoki is offering the Snow Monkey, a special warm cocktail made with Japanese whiskey and spiced pear liquor ($9). You also get free hot cocoa when you mention that you've come in from the zoo.
Next door at Mon Ami Gabi, buy a gift card, or 10 (they make great stocking stuffers), and get free hot chocolate to warm your insides. There's no excuse not to be filled with cocoa.
Learn the Art of Gingerbread
Decorating a gingerbread house is incredibly fun but also kind of intimidating. That’s why it's helpful to have a teacher — and chef Ashley Torto of the Waldorf Astoria is here to be your gingerbread guide. Torto is hosting two classes on the festive activity on December 15 ($35). She'll guide you, step-by-step, to embellish the edible house of your dreams — don't fear, it'll already be pre-built.
Drink with Dwight
If you’re interested in a slightly more adult holiday activity, head to Replay Lincoln Park (2833 N. Sheffield Ave.). The bar is bringing back its incredibly popular The Office-themed pop-up from November 30 to December 31. Look forward to special drinks and décor (with lots of photo opportunities) as well as trivia nights and DJs. Any fan of Dunder Mifflin absolutely needs to make this part of their holiday lineup.