Holiday markets: Find unique gifts at these alternative shopping spots

Finding the perfect holiday gift can be a daunting task, but it gets easier when handmade and locally crafted items are together in one location. Instead of perusing the mall or chain stores for an object or piece of clothing everyone has, search the winding alleys of the city's holiday markets, which are crammed full of unique trinkets, snacks and toys.

These shops can be found across the city from the markets at Union Square and Columbus Circle to the Brooklyn Flea, and the Astoria and FAD markets.

To make it even easier, we've put together a list of where you can get in the holiday spirit and find the best gifts below:

Winter flea and holiday market (Nov. 25-26)

Brooklyn Flea is opening its holiday market this weekend with 60 vendors selling handmade goods and food from the Smorgasburg market and a bar. If you RSVP, you will be entered to win $200 to shop at the flea, $50 in Smorgasbucks and a $50 bar tab. (10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Industry City, 274 36th St.,

Give-back Gift Shop (Nov. 27-29)

In time for Giving Tuesday, this interactive pop-up shop in Bryant Park will feature charitable gifts, farm animals, water and relief kits for families, with proceeds going to World Vision's programs around the world and the United States. You'll be able to pet a goat, learn about the need for clean water, build a relief kit for homeless people, go inside a Mongolian ger and learn about child sponsorship in a virtual reality station. (11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.,

Garment District Holiday Market (Through Dec. 24)

The Garment District Holiday Market made its debut on Broadway this season. The lineup includes local chefs and homegrown retailers, like Honeygramz, Jianbing Company, Posh Pop Bakeshop, WOOPS! macarons and I Am Here Brooklyn. Installations of mannequin "trees" decorated with garland and ornaments by designer Miles Dallas line the market as well. (11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, closed on Thanksgiving, between 39th and 40th streets and 40th and 41st streets on Broadway,


Holiday Handmade Cavalcade (Dec. 8-10, 16-17)

Formerly the Etsy NY Street Team, the NY Handmade Collective is back again with unique and locally crafted gifts from more than 70 independent vendors based in the Tri-State area. Expect earrings, ceramics, knitwear, candles, leather products, tree ornaments, art and more. (11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Dec. 8 to 10, at the corner of Broadway and Great Jones Street, and 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 16 and 17 at the Brooklyn Historical Society at 128 Pierrepont St.,

Turnstyle Underground Market (Through Dec. 31)

More than two dozen independent merchants have joined Turnstyle's 38 permanent shops in the subway corridor beneath Columbus Circle. On your way home from work, you can stop and pick up some Hell's Kitchen Hot Sauce, skincare from Limegreen, 787 Coffee from Puerto Rico and more. (11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, between 57th Street and Eighth Avenue,

Winter Village at Bryant Park (Through Jan. 2)

When you're not sharpening up your ice skating skills at the park's ice rink (which is free), browse the Winter Village shops. There are more than 150 different stalls selling handmade crafts, artisanal food and goods from around the world, including rugs, jewelry, yogawear, ceramics, body lotions and teas. (11 a.m.-8 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends, 40th and 42nd streets between Fifth and Sixth avenues,

Union Square Holiday Market (Through Dec. 24)

With more than 100 merchants, the Union Square Holiday Market provides a plethora of creative gifts for your shopping needs. The possibilities are endless -- from handmade jewelry and leather belts to accessories made from recycled plastics. Take a break from browsing and grab a snack from one of the food vendors, because who doesn't work up an appetite while shopping? (Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.,

Columbus Circle Holiday Market (Nov. 28 to Dec. 24)

At the intersection of Columbus Circle and Central Park, another shopping hotspot can be found. This market has something for most everyone on your list. Among other items, you'll find handmade wooden puzzles, artisanal chocolates and clothing for men, women and children. Everything is handmade, made in the U.S. or Fair Trade, organizers say. (10 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and Saturday; until 7 p.m. on Sundays, Columbus Circle, at 59th Street and Central Park West,

Grand Central Holiday Fair (Through Dec. 24)

Kill two birds with one stone while traveling through Grand Central Terminal. On your way home from work, take advantage of the roughly 40 vendors selling wares in Vanderbilt Hall. There are gifts for him and her, and for kids on two and four legs. (closed Thanksgiving Day; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays, 89 E. 42nd St.,

Oddities Holiday Market (Dec. 2-3)

Peculiar items like medical ephemera, curiosities, taxidermy and one-a-kind jewelry and gifts are up for grabs at this market for those who are "dark at heart," according to organizers. Krampus and "Dirty" Santa Claus will make guest appearances for photo ops, too. A portion of all VIP and door ticket sales will go toward Housing Works Inc. (11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Brooklyn Bazaar, 150 Greenpoint Ave.,

Astoria Market (Dec. 3, 10 and 17)

This weekly market transforms into a holiday haven for three Sundays. Head to Astoria to shop from around 40 vendors selling an array of handmade wares including jewelry, stained glass, ceramics, knitwear, leather boots and baked goods. (noon-6 p.m., Bohemian Hall, 29-19 24th Ave., Queens,

Grand Holiday Bazaar (Dec. 2-24)

The Grand Bazaar's weekend market is transforming into a hot spot for the holidays. Peruse holiday-specific goods from more than 100 vendors, including Voilà Chocolat, ornaments from The Mermaids Dream and more. (Open weekends from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., 100 W. 77th St., Manhattan,

FAD Market Holiday Edition (Dec. 2-3, 9-10, 16-17)

FAD Market's "Holiday Edition" can be found at three different Brooklyn locales each weekend in December from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and promises to show off "thoughtfully curated" items from more than 180 independent designers of art, jewelry, clothing, bath and body care, and more. And, for the first time, it will host a holiday artisan food market with more than 40 vendors of handmade chocolates, sweets, baked goods and more. That will be held on Dec. 16 and 17 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Invisible Dog Art Center -- 51 Bergen St. (Dec. 2-3 at the Brooklyn Historical Society at 128 Pierrepont St.; Dec. 9-10 at the Invisible Dog Art Center; and Dec. 16-17 at City Point's Prince Street Corridor at 445 Albee Square W.;

BUST Craftacular Holiday Craft Fair (Dec. 9-10)

Who knows what handmade gems you'll find at the indie-minded market from the femme-minded magazine? The Craftacular will take over the giant Brooklyn Expo Center, where you can browse the wares of more than 150 crafty sellers of knitwear, food, vintage goods, art and more than 40 DIY workshops, demos and lectures. Activities include getting rid of your demons with past life regression classes, belly dancing and live music. (11 a.m. to 7 p.m., 79 Franklin St., Brooklyn, $3 at the door,