A New Twist on Home for the Holidays

A display rack holding colorful men’s bow ties
Colorful bow ties from The Andover ShopPhotograph courtesy of The Andover Shop
Gingerbread eggnog and other tempting hot seasonal drinks

Yes, the holidays will look a bit different this year.Just the same, it’s hard to keep Harvard Square down. The decorations, the twinkling lights, the charming storefronts—it’s still possible to get your fill of seasonal cheer, even in a distanced way.

Shopping: Tick everyone off your list with Cambridge’s annual Small Business Saturday, a citywide initiative on Saturday, November 28, spotlighting plenty of Harvard Square shops. Visit in person or browse from the comfort of your couch; the most important thing is to support our beloved stores. Snag rare records from Armageddon Record Shop (online and in-person); outfit your favorite prepster with wares from The Andover Shop (online and pick-up); sweeten someone’s day with treats from Cabot’s Candy (online and in-person); and more. See a full citywide list, helpfully organized by neighborhood, at bit.ly/Cambridge-Small-Biz-Sat. Remember to give your favorite haunt a boost by sharing your purchases on social media with the hashtag: #ShopCambMa. Customer loyalty, especially right now, is the gift that keeps on giving.

If you’re looking for the perfect quarantine board game for snowy nights, consider this: Monopoly launches a Cambridge edition in November. (Move over, Park Place; Brattle Street is here.) This edition uses locally themed squares and arrives on shelves with plenty of time for gift-giving. Learn more at toptrumps.us.

Traditions: The beloved Christmas Revels celebrates the winter solstice and its fiftieth anniversary with a cornucopia of archival musical, dance, and other treasures. Sing, dance, and celebrate from your own home; visit revels.org/shows-events/virtual-xmas/ for plans.

Raising a Glass: Landmark cocktail lair Grendel’s Den hosts an internet happy hour throughout November and December; visit virtually on Wednesdays at 5 p.m.—a welcome midweek break—to spend time with special guests, ranging from local notables discussing health, arts, and history to longtime Grendel’s denizens holding court. It’s a familiar dose of friendliness, especially around the holidays. Visit grendelsden.com to learn more. 

Or bundle up and visit Nubar’s patio on Friday evenings throughout November for socially distanced concerts with Longy School of Music faculty, staff, and students—wool blankets provided. The music starts at 6:30 p.m. Learn more at nubarcambridge.com. Meanwhile, classic special-occasion destination Harvest lights up its 40-seat fireplaced patio all winter long with a seasonal menu: peppermint hot chocolate, gingerbread eggnog, and individually sized s’mores. The menu launches in November; reserve for lunch or dinner at harvestcambridge.com.

Keeping Spirits Alive: Although holiday plans remain in flux, there are always two key ways to show your support for the Square, near or far. Visit harvardsquare.com for an updated list of neighborhood events as details become available and cambridgelocalfirst.org to browse a list of locally owned businesses that benefit from your goodwill—during the holidays and all year round.


Corrected 10/26/20: Because of incomplete information, the original text suggested that a small group from The Christmas Revels would be filmed performing in Sanders Theatre. In fact, no performers have been or will be in Sanders, due to pandemic restrictions. They will be taking footage without people only. We regret the error.

Read more articles by: Kara Baskin

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