’Tis the season for champagne dinners, martinis under the mistletoe, hot cocoa and hostess gifts. Here are our top picks on where to eat, drink and shop merry this holiday season.
Fifth Avenue South’s Christmas Walk and Tree Lighting
Book a table at Avenue 5—which recently poached David Nelson from Truluck’s as its new executive chef—for front-and-center seats at the annual Christmas walk and tree lighting. Just be sure to use the valet on the back side of the Inn on Fifth, as the street will be blocked from car traffic starting at 2 p.m.
Mereday’s Brasserie at Bayfront’s Holiday Sparkle Dinner
If the downtown hullabaloo is not for you, reserve seats for this four-course wine dinner from Chef Charles Mereday at his Bayfront brasserie. The $100 tickets also cover a welcome reception with hors d’oeuvres, valet parking, and a live and silent auction to benefit the Zonta Foundation of Naples. Call (239) 261-2586 to reserve.
Naples Historical Society’s Christmas Gala
The annual festive tradition includes dinner under twinkle lights in the Norris Gardens at Palm Cottage—and plenty of tartan cummerbunds. For tickets, call (239) 261-8164.
Chabad and Preschool of the Arts’ Community Chanukah Festival
The area’s biggest festival of light will bring a taste of New York to Cambier Park starting at 5 p.m. with street carts selling soft pretzels, hot dogs, latkes, delicatessen favorites and more.
English-Speaking Union’s Christmas Dinner Dance
Black tie is preferred for this genteel evening at the posh Port Royal Club. It benefits the Naples branch of the national organization dedicated to fostering the shared culture and friendship between Britain and the United States. For tickets, call (239) 774-5586.
Bleu Rendez-Vous French Bistro’s French Champagne vs. French Sparkling Dinner
Although not intentionally festive in tone, anything with bubbly feels festive to us—especially when it involves a cocktail reception and four-course dinner with sparkling pairings, including two glasses of brut authentique. To reserve an all-inclusive $95 seat (yes, that’s counting the bubbles, tax and tip!) at this celebrated Sanibel restaurant, call (239) 565-1608.
Bonita Springs Area Chamber’s Mistletoe and Martinis
From 5-8 p.m., it’s a chance to unwind with fellow professionals. The networking event will feature hors d’oeuvres, festive tunes from a local band and a cash bar at The Colony Golf & Country Club. Tickets are $75, and the chamber is asking that each guest bring a wrapped present for a child served by the Bonita Springs Assistance Office.
Tony’s Off Third’s Merry Champagne and Sparkler Tasting
Preregister here for a night of 19 hand-picked bottles of bubbles from local wine aficionado Sukie Honeycutt. Each $25 ticket includes a $10 coupon off anything from the wine and pastry shop (throw in a famous coconut snowball and it will really feel like Christmas).
The Local’s Holiday Cooking Classes
Brush up on your basting, gravies and other culinary know-how needed to prep for the holidays with two classes from Naples’ top locavore chef, Jeff Mitchell—“Holiday Specials” on Dec. 5 and “Not Just Your Holiday Ham” on Dec. 19. Each $50 midday event includes a three-course meal and wine.
The Ritz-Carlton’s Holiday Food Festivities
The constant here is the life-size gingerbread chalet that’s a feast for the eyes any day you happen to walk wide-eyed into the lobby. If you’re not cooking on Christmas Day, a table at the Grand Ballroom Buffet ($149 per person) is a lavish spread with whatever holiday roast speaks to you—ham, turkey, lamb and prime rib. And for the children in your life, who can forget the Teddy Bear Tea with Santa? There are two seatings Dec. 12, 13, and 19-23 and one on Dec. 17 and 18 for the $59 per person holiday tradition with cocoa, Christmas sweets and stories. For reservations to all events, call (239) 598-6644.
The Village on Venetian Bay’s Holiday on the Bay Saturdays and Annual Boat Parade
There isn’t a better time to book a table for dinner at one of the Venetian Village’s many acclaimed waterfront restaurants than Saturdays throughout the month of December and on Tuesday, Dec. 15, for the boat parade (vessels of all shapes taken on Christmas-y colors with thousands of strands of lights adorning them). On each of the aforementioned nights from 5-8 p.m., the charming outdoor commercial center brings in Dickensian carolers, trumpets faux snow through the air and offers free photos with Santa in front of the decked out evergreen on the plaza near Fish Restaurant.
Campiello’s Natalizie Menu
If Christmas doesn’t feel like Christmas without panettone, until Dec. 30 Campiello is bringing back its Natalizie menu, which includes sophisticated twists on festive favorites throughout the Boot. (FYI, fellow D’Amico Third Street restaurant The Continental has a by-request holiday cranberry libation all month, too.)
Bonefish Grill’s Winter Menu
The upscale seafood chain is hoping to hook holiday-minded eaters at its four local spots—Naples, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers and Cape Coral—with expanded lunch and dinner hours and a new seasonal menu (highlights include a crab-crusted orange pompano and a winter white cosmo).
Trinity Gourmet’s Holiday Delicacies Sale
I—your resident food editrix—personally love the tasty treats from Trinity Gourmet as well as the personalities who prepare them each holiday season with love. Read more about the philanthropic products made from scratch—and stop by Trinity-by-the-Cove on Sundays after services to purchase the goodies.
DeRomo’s Gourmet Market’s Gift Basket Shop
DeRomo’s has already established itself as a go-to for Italian delicacies and sweets. It recently opened a store dedicated solely to gift baskets across the courtyard from the sit-down restaurant—it’s just the one-stop-shop needed for last-minute holiday hostess gifts.