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Now Open: The 120+ Holiday Shops At Bryant Park

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Are you in the holiday spirit yet? We know, we know; nothing is more annoying that going into a Duane Reade to find the deodorant aisle confusingly squashed in with the cleaning products so that Christmas wrapping paper can dominate half the store. This, and crowded Fifth Avenue sidewalks, are not our favorite images of the impending holiday season, but The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park are.

Like the markets that clog the squares of European cities every winter, the Bryant Park holiday shops are a maze of mini-stores, all in booths customized by the vendor with wood floors, decorative lighting, and even small TVs. Selling everything from the usual plaster-of-Paris ornaments to cute Tyvek wallets (in Dynomighty's booth), the shops are a perfect destination for browsing and last-minute, hurried gift buying.

We moseyed through the maze yesterday evening, and noted a few things you might want to know before getting sucked in as well:

· As of yesterday, all of the booths aren't yet open. We spotted people still setting up their tables in their shops, merchandising and prepping, while other booth remain dark and completely empty. We suppose some retailers will only begin to rent their spot closer to Black Friday.

· Some of the biggest booths belong to big names. For instance, if you enter the maze of shops from the northeast, the first booth you encounter?and it's a large one? is Sabon, the soap purveyor. You'd think they'd already be happy with their presence around the city, but soaps being easy stocking stuffers and all... You'll also find a large Max Brenner chocolate shop; just when we thought we'd gotten rid of him from the East Village, he pops up here.

· The Holiday Shops have a Twitter. Of course. We suggest following them for announcements on further booth openings and special events.

· The Shops are open until January 3, 2010. Daily hours are: Monday thru Friday 11am–8pm; Saturday 10am–9pm; Sunday 10am–6pm.

· The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park [NYCGo]