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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:

Sustainable Holiday Pop-Up Shop (Dec. 21-27)

Sustainable brands are gathering together for their own
Photo Credit: This Candle Company

Sustainable brands are gathering together for their own holiday pop-up on Mott Street with a curated selection of products like candles from This Candle Company, and apparel, shoes, accessories, candles, and beauty supplies from Karen Thomas, Alejandra Burguette, Ali Eichenholz, Espinache, Jeffrey Burroughs, Lina Mayorga, Perennial, Collection Co., Johanna Dinardo and others. (10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, 252 Mott St., facebook.com)

Urban Zen/International Folk Art Market (Dec. 6-29)

This international marketplace will have more than 40
Photo Credit: Urban Zen

This international marketplace will have more than 40 artisans from places like Colombia, India, Thailand, Madagascar and South Africa in one space (Donna Karan's Urban Zen), selling things like baskets, carpets, silk and woven clothing, dyed tapestries, Bandhani textiles, Zulu pottery and more. (Monday through Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m.; Urban Zen, 705 Greenwich St.; eventbrite.com)

Union Square Holiday Market (Nov. 15-Dec. 24)

With more than 100 merchants, the Union Square
Photo Credit: Urbanspace

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., urbanspacenyc.com)

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

At the intersection of Columbus Circle and Central
Photo Credit: Laura Fontaine

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 United States 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, urbanspacenyc.com)

Holiday Handmade Cavalcade (Nov. 24-25, Dec. 3-9, 15-16)

Formerly the Etsy NY Team, the NY Handmade
Photo Credit: NY Handmade Collective Team

Formerly the Etsy NY Team, the NY Handmade Collective is back again with unique and locally crafted gifts from more than 60 independent vendors based in the tristate area. Expect earrings, ceramics, knitwear, candles, leather products, tree ornaments, art and more. (11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Nov. 24-25 at the Invisible Dog at 51 Bergen St. in Brooklyn; 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 75 Ninth Ave. in Manhattan; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Dec. 15 and 16 at the Brooklyn Historical Society at 128 Pierrepont St., handmadecavalcade.com)

Young & Able holiday pop-up (Nov. 2-Dec. 23)

New York Makers has teamed up with Pop
Photo Credit: Sara Yoon, Pop Up Nation

New York Makers has teamed up with Pop Up Nation to shine a spotlight on gifts and items from women-owned businesses this holiday season. More than 100 female designers will have their wares on sale, including clothing, jewelry, ceramics, beauty products, stationery and more. (noon to 8 p.m. daily, Brooklyn location to be announced, shopyoungandable.com)

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park (Through Jan. 2)

When you're not sharpening up your ice skating
Photo Credit: Bryant Park Corporation / Colin Miller

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, wintervillage.org)

Grand Holiday Bazaar (Nov. 25-Dec. 3)

The Grand Bazaar's weekend market is transforming into
Photo Credit: Grand Bazaar NYC

The Grand Bazaar's weekend market is transforming into a hot spot for the holidays. Peruse handmade, holiday-specific goods from more than 150 vendors, plus 100 percent of the profits go to four local public schools with more than 4,000 children. (Open weekends from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., 100 W. 77th St., Manhattan, facebook.com)

FAD Market Holiday Edition (Dec. 15-16)

FAD Market's
Photo Credit: FAD Market

FAD Market's "Holiday Edition" can be found at three different Brooklyn locales each weekend in December from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and promises to show off "one-of-a-kind" items from more than 150 independent designers of art, jewelry, clothing, bath and body care, and more. (Free, the Brooklyn Historical Society at 128 Pierrepont St., fadmarket.co)

Sugar x Spice Holiday Makers Market (Dec. 16)

More than 30 independent vendors from the borough
Photo Credit: Brooklyn Bazaar

More than 30 independent vendors from the borough will be selling their handmade wares, including apothecary, home goods, jewelry, comics and zines, feminist art prints, handmade and customized clothing, tarot and spiritual goods, at the Brooklyn Bazaar. There will be special gift bags for shoppers when they arrive, a wintry photo booth, a free card-making station, and a festive cocktail bar. (1 to 6 p.m., 150 Greenpoint Ave., sugarxspicemarket.com)

Grand Central Holiday Fair (Dec. 12-24)

Kill two birds with one stone while traveling
Photo Credit: Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin

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. Those who mention the code "amNY" in person or use it online will get 10 percent off their purchase at the New York Makers Booth. (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., facebook.com)

Astoria Market ( Dec. 2,9,16)

This weekly market transforms into a holiday haven.
Photo Credit: Astoria Market

This weekly market transforms into a holiday haven. Head to Astoria to shop from dozens of 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, astoriamarket.com)

BUST Craftacular Holiday Craft Fair (Dec. 8-9)

Who knows what handmade gems you'll find at
Photo Credit: BUST Craftacular

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 200 crafty sellers of knitwear, food, vintage goods, art and DIY workshops, demos and lectures. (11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Brooklyn Expo Center, 72 Noble St., Brooklyn, bust.com)

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