Snuggling Up in the Square

There’s nowhere quite like Harvard Square during the holidays

stack of flannel shirts

PHOTO COURTESY of the andover shop

Twinkling lights, charming storefronts, and cozy restaurants ready with something succulent to warm you up. Whether you’re gathering with friends over dinner or shopping for everyone on your list, the neighborhood delivers with enchantment, comfort, and delight.

If you’re in a gift-giving mood, duck into the Harvard Shop (theharvardshop.com) or the Coop (thecoop.com)—mainstays for comfy sweaters, scarves, and Harvard-themed treats that make perfect stocking stuffers. Nothing beats curling up in a Harvard hoodie by the fire with a good book (and many are available from the Coop’s thoughtfully stocked shelves).

Is there a cocktail party in your future? The Andover Shop (theandovershop.com) sets the standard for tweed coats, jaunty grosgrain bowties, silk pocket squares—and comfy shearling slippers for when the party’s over. Speaking of loungewear: Treat yourself (or someone else) to the silky, soft-but-stylish loungewear at Forty Winks (shopfortywinks.com), where the staff is always happy to guide you to just the right fit. Snap up a candle or two at checkout.

If you’re browsing for someone else, don’t forget to visit Bob Slate (bobslatestationer.com) for original paper and thoughtful packaging to give your gifts that special pop. Speaking of popping: Nothing stuns quite like a bauble from Rebekah Brooks (rebekahbrooks.com), where you’ll find a treasure trove of antique lockets, heirloom rings, and more—plus modern handmade pieces that are subtle, yet stunning. For more eclectic offerings, visit Motto (mottoharvardsq.com) for contemporary artisan-made apparel, accessories, and home goods–or Zinnia (ilovezinnia.com), known for their bright, whimsical jewels. Simply window-shopping? Be sure to linger in front of the merry-go-round at Leavitt & Peirce (leavittandpeirce.com).

Mugs of different colors
PHOTO COURTESY OF MOTTO/ MUGS  BY Yuta Segawa

Then warm up with rich, dark hot chocolate at L.A. Burdick (burdickchocolate.com)—and perhaps snap up a box of chocolate penguins with toasted almond wings for the perfect host or hostess gift. For something a bit stronger, dip into The Charles Hotel’s Noir Bar (noir-bar.com) for a sip of The French Chef—a toasty swirl of cognac, red wine, and mushroom bitters. The gorgeous courtyard Christmas tree and seasonal displays of baked goods and gifts at Henrietta’s Table (henriettastable.com) help to set the mood.

For something more filling, visit the newly revamped Bar Enza, also at the Charles (bar-enza.com), with noted chef Tony Susi (of the South End’s beloved Sage) at the helm. His earthy brodetto (fish stew) and signature bubbly baked fazzoletti with spinach and ricotta are the ultimate warming dishes. For something spontaneous, duck into one of the Square’s many ramen shops for a slurp: Bosso Ramen Tavern, Menya Jiro, Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, or WakuWaku offer quick, flavor-packed bowls for shoppers on the run. Looking for something handheld? Grab a New York-style slice from the brand-new Joe’s Pizza (a Manhattan favorite) or an authentic, crispy empanada from Las Palmas, a bright sliver of the Dominican Republic inside the Garage.

Plate of food
PHOTO COURTESY OF NOIR

Gathering with friends? Indulge with a 90-minute wine tasting at Bonde Fine Wine Shop (bondewines.com), complete with your chosen theme and perfectly paired hors d’oeuvres. Or drop into one of the neighborhood’s beloved annual events to celebrate the season: Everyone Loves Latkes, with delicious nibbles on Brattle Plaza; the Harvard Square Holiday Fair, spotlighting a creative array of indie printmakers, jewelers, knitters, and more; or Sparklefest, marked by a series of fairs, shopping events, and light displays throughout the neighborhood during the holiday weeks.

Last but not least, a Cambridge winter is never complete without the beloved annual Midwinter Revels (revels.org), a yearly tradition at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. Performers stage cross-cultural dances, songs, and stories, both at the theatre and virtually for those who prefer to curl up at home. It’s the ultimate celebration of unity and togetherness, bringing global traditions to our special corner of the world.  

Read more articles by: Kara Baskin

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