Think beyond white lights: Pre-party at Lucca Great Finds (5332 Ballard Ave. N.W.; 206/782-7337), stocked with handmade paper, tasteful table decor, and a ceiling full of stunning chandeliers. Next door at Camelion Design (5330 Ballard; 206/783-7125), find holiday ornaments made from pussy willows, birch bark, and natural feathers.
Insta hors d’oeuvres: A little winter rain doesn’t keep anyone away from the Ballard Farmers Market, bursting this month with dark leafy produce, handicrafts, sustainable meats—and easy appetizers like Taylor Shellfish Farms oysters, Estrella Family Creamery cheeses, and pâté from Sea Breeze Farm. 10–3 Sun; Ballard Ave. N.W. at 22nd Ave. N.W.; 206/250-0609.
Stick around for dinner
The tables by the fire at local hot spot Bastille Café & Bar ($$$; 5307 Ballard Ave. N.W.; 206/453-5014) may be booked, but now there’s a bunch of other great spots in Ballard to grab a bite—and warm up.
Japanese: A steaming bowl of udon topped with light, crunchy shrimp tempura is just what you want when you walk into Moshi Moshi Sushi. Nab a seat at the bar, beneath a huge blossoming cherry tree made entirely of lights. $$$; 5324 Ballard; 206/971-7424.
Thai: Thaw out over a vat of delightfully sweet and sour tom yum noodle soup at vegetarian restaurant Jhanjay. End with warm black sticky rice pudding and soothing cups of ginger tea. $; 5313B Ballard; 206/588-1469.
Mexican: Tamales, a holiday tradition in Mexico, became popular centuries ago because they’re portable. But one bite of the sweet black mole pork version at La Carta de Oaxaca glues you to your chair. $; closed Sun; 5431 Ballard; 206/782-8722.
Italian: At Staple & Fancy Mercantile, Ethan Stowell’s latest restaurant, choose the “staple” menu ($$$), with plates like tagliarini with pistachio pesto, or the “fancy,” a four-course family-style meal ($45) created at the kitchen’s whim. 4739 Ballard; 206/789-1200.
French: The oyster-loving characters in the Lewis Carroll poem inspired the name of the Walrus and the Carpenter, a relaxed oyster bar with a strong whiff of France. Try the smoked trout. $$$; closed Sun; 4743 Ballard; 206/395-9227.