It's easy to make the season merry and bright when you head downtown to Portland's holiday wonderland. In just a few square blocks, you'll find indie makers selling handcrafted goods, festive holiday events that bring together the whole community and, if you're lucky, Sasquatch himself (who can be spotted biking and walking downtown this season).
Every night this week, celebrate Chanukah at the Menorah Lighting at Director Park downtown. Most Festival of Lights events begin at 5:30 p.m.
If you still have holiday shopping to do, don't miss the PDX Pop-Up Shops in the Pioneer Square mall and the Standard Insurance Center building. Until Dec. 24, these temporary homes for local makers and designers showcase unique gifts you can't find at typical retailers. We're particularly enchanted with dfrntpigeon, the at-risk, youth-run urban lifestyle brand that creates wearable fashion and lasting change, as well as Animal. Plant. Mineral., the indie retailer that handcrafts statement goods from minimally processed cashmere, leather and brass. Don't miss Portland Saturday Market Indoors (where you can browse handmade soaps and dreamcatchers without the umbrella typically necessary for the open-air landmark) and The Chic Coop, which semi-ironically displays its signature jewelry and handbags in a setup resembling a henhouse.
If you're hoping to receive some of those locally made gifts, drop a strong hint when you visit Santa. Saint Nick is posting up at the Pioneer Square mall seven days a week until Christmas Eve (giving him enough time to make his rounds across the globe, naturally). Bring Fluffy and Fido for a special Santa visit on Monday evenings, or come on Thursdays to see Hipster Santa himself—just don't forget to ask for his recommendations for the best fair-trade beard wax. He may even tuck a can of it in your stocking.
And as downtown Portland's special gift to you, park for free this Sunday at SmartPark garages. You'll just need to validate your ticket at Pioneer Place or Boys Fort (which, BTW, was a PDX Pop-Up Shops darling before launching its brick-and-mortar location). How you use your $5 kickback—gifting it to the bell-ringers, treating yourself to an extra-large candy cane—is up to you.