Best Holiday Essentials

These Best of Indy selections will see you though a month of parties, gift-shopping, and entertaining at home.


Best Holiday Candles / Herbal Art owner Brian Paffen is an expert mixologist—he just blends scents instead of 7&7s. His handmade soy votives, which burn for up to 22 hours, come in quirky fragrances like Fig and Olive Oil, Spicy Vanilla Stalk, Natural Bay Leaf, and—giggle alert—Reindeer Poop (actually, it’s pine, evergreen, and balsam). >> 11650 N. Lantern Rd., Ste. 205, Fishers, 317-418-8227,


Best Girls Night Out / As if dulcet sips of New Day Meadery’s handcrafted honey wines and ciders (the Breakfast Magpie is black-raspberry heaven in a glass) weren’t enough to take the edge off after a long day, at “Mead & Knead” every Wednesday evening, the Fountain Square spot adds chair massages from Focus Therapeutic to its minimalist tasting room with fresh pops of yellow. How sweet it is. $10 for a glass of wine or cider and a 10-minute massage. 1102 Prospect St., 317-426-5721,


Best Holiday Family Fun / Longing to reclaim the old-fashioned spirit of the holidays? You’ll find it at Conner Prairie by Candlelight, when workaday 1836 Prairietown is beautifully transformed by starlight and the glimmer of 130 lanterns. Costumed interpreters in each home tell stories of historic holiday traditions as a fire crackles. After the tour, visitors can sip hot chocolate and nibble gingersnaps at the town doctor’s holiday party, or sing carols around the bonfire. >> Dec. 7–8, 14–15, 21–22; 13400 Allisonville Rd., Fishers, 317-776-6006,


Best Party Frocks / Maybe it seems like a given at this point, but Saks Fifth Avenue continues to offer a head-turning selection of soiree-worthy looks, including dozens of flirty (and affordable) cocktail dresses; a whole display devoted to sparkly New Year’s numbers; and elegant, paycheck-sinking gowns from the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Versace. >> Fashion Mall, 317-816-0171,


Best Seasonal Concerts / The IMA celebrates the arrival of every season with an unpredictable and delightful concert. Next up: Winter Solstice on December 20, when visitors can play light-up drums as a harpist performs in the Lilly House and ice-carvers chainsaw in the season. >> 4000 N. Michigan Rd., 317-923-1331,


Best of Carmel / Just released, Walter Knabe totes feature some of the famed artist’s designs printed on linen-lined, leather-trimmed canvas bags. They go for $150 at Knabe’s studio in the Indiana Design Center. 200 S. Range Line Rd., Ste. 217, Carmel, 317-574-9800.


Best Juice Cleanse / Brie bender, eggnog overkill—whatever you’ve done this time, Natural Born Juicers can help you rejuvenate with a regimen of 18 fruit- and vegetable-based concoctions made from organic, raw, and unpasteurized ingredients. Some flavors are more palatable than others, but each day’s finale—almond milk with vanilla and agave nectar—will make you feel like a sinner again. >> $135 for a three-day beginner cleanse. City Market, 317-797-4254,


Best Blowouts / To take your locks from lackluster to glamorous fast, head downstairs at Carmel’s Salon 01 to its sunny, orange-and-white, nine-chair blowout bar. Starting at $30, the service—shampoo, condition, tension-sapping scalp massage, and style—can range from silky tresses with subtle bounce to a modern take on Dynasty bouffants. You can usually snag a same-day appointment during the week. >> 200 City Center Dr., Carmel, 317-580-0101,


Best Craft Supplies / Rising from the ashes of abandoned Martha Stewart projects and expired Etsy ambitions, Indy Upcycle sells castoff arts-and-crafts materials and—here’s the cool part—lets customers name their own price. (Half-off retail is a good place to start, and subtract more for used items, like partial tubes of paint.) Clear bins full of secondhand materials line the walls, organized by pastime—scrapbooking, quilting, drawing, jewelry-making, etc. Load up on yarn, stock a kids’ craft room, and ponder the use of oddities like player-piano parchment scrolls. If your next project doesn’t work out, you know where to donate the supplies. >> 628 S. Range Line Rd., Carmel, 317-643-2278,

Photos by Tony Valainis; illustrations by Ben Kirchner.

This article is a web-exclusive companion to our Best of Indy cover package in the December 2012 issue.