In an effort to thwart the onset of holiday chaos, we bring you money- and time-saving hints that will help quiet your inner Grinch and allow you to make the most of this merry month.

Shop in peace
Starting the second week of December, NorthPark Center opens up and closes down 30 minutes to an hour before and after its normal operating schedule. Stave off the hustle and bustle by taking advantage of those early mornings and late evenings. Find hours here.

Eat, drink and be merry
Partake in a holiday feast or feed hungry party guests without touching a frying pan — these places do the cooking for you, even on a holiday.

Snuffers 3526 Greenville, 214.826.6850, snuffers.com.
Scratch the traditional Christmas-day fare and opt for the legendary bacon, chive, jalapeno-packed cheddar cheese fries, or a double pizza burger — just remember to ask Santa to leave some Rolaids in your stocking.

St. Martin’s Wine Bistro 3020 Greenville, 214.826.0940,
stmartinswinebistro.com.
Wine and dine, even on Christmas day, with a three-course set-price holiday feast that comes with valet, live entertainment and wine.

NorthPark Center 8687 N. Central Expressway, 214.361.6345, northparkcenter.com.
The shopping shuts down at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, but the following day, the center’s restaurants will be open for business. Contact individual restaurants for hours and specials.

It’s  a wrap
Save some cash and energy by letting these stores handle the gift-wrapping.

Paperie & Co. 5339 E. Mockingbird, 214.821.8811, paperieandco.com.
Swing by Monday-Friday 5-8 p.m. with any gift purchased at Mockingbird Station (along with the receipt) and they’ll wrap it up all pretty — no charge.

THE store 10233 E. Northwest Highway, 214.553.8850, thestoreinlh.com.
Anything bought here includes complimentary packaging, so you can leave with gifts that are under-the-tree ready.

All I want for Christmas is a cool boutique
Make your list, check it twice and check out these haute neighborhood stores stocked with unique gifts. The biggest perk over the mall: You won’t find as many cumbersome crowds or parking problems.

Talulah Belle 2017 Abrams, 214.821.1927, talulahbelle.com.
“Talulah Belle knows what I want.” This neighborhood boutique has business cards with that statement printed on one side and blanks on the other side for women to fill in their favorites from its racks and shelves. The men in their lives can simply call the store, and an employee will pull up the card, retrieve the items, and gift-wrap them. There’s no need to even walk inside — Talulah Belle will accept credit card numbers over the phone and will even walk the gifts to your car.

Mockingbird Station
On Wednesday evenings beginning at 5 p.m., locally owned shops such as Centre, Movida and Bittano (along with six other Station stores) will offer special discounts ranging from 10 percent to 20 percent off merchandise (mockingbirdstation.com).

H.D.’s clothing company, 3014 & 3018 Greenville, 214.821.8900, hdsclothing.com.
Between Dec. 1 and Jan. 6, receive a 1 percent discount for each canned food item you donate (up to 25 cans for a 25 percent discount).

Epic AppareL 3699 McKinney,  866.491.EPIC, shopepic.com
For the city girl in your life, shop this modish West Village spot. Pick up groovy jewels, accessories and designer duds ranging from cheap to steep. Hint: Ask about the Advocate 20 percent discount.

Re-sale roundup
Used gifts might have been a “no-no” in the past, but these days it’s perfectly acceptable — hip, even — to tap consignment stores for one-of-a-kind finds.

Plato’s Closet 6325 E. Northwest Highway, 469.232.2204, platosclosetdallas.com.
Choose from hoodies, boots and brand-name bargains for the tweens, teens and hipsters in your life.

Buffalo Exchange 3424 Greenville, 214.826.7544, buffaloexchange.com.
Get cash for those zippered jeans you wore in the ’80s —  they’re all the rage again (but don’t even think about trying to squeeze into them) — then choose from cool recycled accessories, men’s and women’s clothing.

Curiosities 2025 Abrams, 214.828.1886, getcuriosities.com.
Nowhere else around can you browse such a wonderfully whimsical collection of out-of-this world finds for the fascinating folks in your life.

Second Chance Treasures, 9034 Garland, 214.660.9696.
Treasures and trinkets galore are in store at this one-stop shop for hand-picked consignments including antiques, jewelry, furniture and more.

Giving advice
The secret to a great gift basket — the container can be a part of the gift, but doesn’t have to be. Whether you choose a traditional basket or go for an expensive bowl, either one will need some flair. (1) First ball up tissue paper into your container. (2) Then, fill the container to the rim. Cover the top with crinkle paper or, my preference, green Spanish moss. Start with your heaviest item, perhaps a nice bottle of wine, and find its place for the perfect balance. (3) Pull a hole through your cover and push it into the tissue. (4) Repeat for each item until done. The tissue will keep things from getting away from you (glue dots are great helpers, too.) (5) Add your greenery last, to make sure you fill in any holes. When choosing your greenery, go with a theme that complements the packaging of the wine. Add your bow. If you don’t do bows, buy one at Michael’s. Your basket should compare to a centerpiece, which means it looks good from all angles. —from Amy Jacobs and Rosalyn Costanzo, Give Me a Break, concierge services, givemeabreak_dfw@sbcglobalnet.

Gifts from the art
Surpass the storefronts all together and go straight to one of our White Rock area-artists in residence.

Lottie Minick Metal Glass Mosaics, lottieminick.com.
One-of-a-kind garden art in glass, metal and mosaic make Minick’s designs a seasonal treat.

Urban Folk Pottery 214.324.2854, urbanfolkpottery.com.
Artist Angela Gallia delicately crafts works including music boxes, wall art and gorgeous platters for those with a taste for the finer things.

Studio 1532 214.327.5860, studio1532.com.
Silversmith Linda Tisdale offers up exquisite bracelets, necklaces and jewelry you can’t find anywhere else.

Locate many more area artists at dallasartsrevue.com

You can make self-standing stockings — grab a pair of those cute colorful rubber boots (at Stein Mart or Ru
e 21) and fill ’em with goodies. —Marie Clifford, neighborhood resident

Gift craft
Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote,  “The only gift is a portion of thyself.”

Studio Arts 214.827.1222, studioartsdallas.com.
At Studio Arts Dallas, kids, adolescents and adults can learn to create. Sign your loved ones up for lessons, or unleash your inner artist and make uniquely “you” gifts for friends and family this season.

Splendor in the Grass 1900 Abrams, 214.824.2777, beadsofsplendor.com.
Take a class on bead decorations for three different sizes of resin trees, a project for the whole family and a great gift for a loved one with limited space.

“Put together a T-shirt painting kit from one of our neighborhood arts and crafts stores for a family you love. Purchase inexpensive T-shirts all the same color in the right sizes for each family member. Add a variety of fabric paints or fabric markers (light colored shirts work best with markers). Include a list of quotes or jokes for them to consider for their personalized T-shirts.” —Erin Georgie, neighborhood resident

O Tannenbaum
Make time for one of these tree-lighting ceremonies, guaranteed to bring on the Christmas cheer.

Snider Plaza Dec 3, 7 p.m., 214.361.4898 or sniderplaza.net.

Casa Linda Plaza Dec. 3, 5 p.m.
Take pictures with Santa for $5; proceeds go to For the Love of the Lake.

Light Up Lakewood at the Lakewood Shopping Center Dec. 5, 6-9 p.m.
The center’s retailers entice holiday shoppers with horse-drawn carriage rides, high school students singing Christmas carols, a chance to sit on Santa’s knee, and festive hors d’ouevres.

City of Dallas Tree Lighting Ceremony Saturday, Dec. 13, 6 p.m., Fair Park.
Stick around afterward from a free showing of “The Polar Express on the grassy field of the Cotton Bowl. For a list of other holiday activities, visit fairpark.org.

A Christmas story
Sure, the Meyerson is great, but if you want to surpass the high-price tickets and crowds, you can still enjoy festive holiday entertainment here in our neighborhood.

Woodrow Wilson holiday fine arts program 100 S. Glasgow, 972.502.4400, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 7 p.m.  A free performance featuring the Variations, Counterpoint and other Woodrow choirs, as well as the Woodrow Wildcat Band, the Woodrow Orchestra, Ballet Folklorico and the Woodrow Steppers, plus JROTC Drill Squad, Sweethearts Drill Team, Fire and Ice Pom Squad and the Woodrow Cheerleaders.

Sing we now of christmas East Dallas Christian Church, 629 N. Peak, 214.824.8185, edcc.org, Sunday, Dec. 21, 6:30 p.m. A program featuring The Singing Girls of Texas, Brass Fusion and the East Dallas Christian Church chancel choir.

Get parking lot privy
Trying to find a parking spot during the holidays is enough to turn you into a Grinch in no time flat. Here are just a few insiders’ tips to know before you go to Mockingbird Station:

• A lesser-known underground garage is on the north side of the property.
• A newer parking lot/garage can be accessed by the Central Expressway service road.
• During the holidays, the Station provides complimentary valet near the Angelika steps on Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays during shopping hours.
• There’s almost always room at the DART parking lot across from the Station.

—Courtesy of Mockingbird Station general manager, Pam Baker

Here comes Santa Claus
Forget standing in long lines or paying an arm and leg just to see the big man in red — if you want to visit Santa Claus, these are the best neighborhood places and times to catch him.

NORTHPARK CENTER, Level One between Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, 8687 N Central Expwy, 214.361.6345, northparkcenter.com. Enjoy free story time with Santa Claus Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m and 5 p.m., and Sunday at noon — no waiting in lines required.

PHOTOS WITH SANTA, Ebby Halliday Lakewood Office, 6441 E Mockingbird, 214.826.0316, lakewood.ebby.com. Get a free photo with Saint Nick on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2-5 p.m.


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