The love of playing dress-up doesn't go away when you grow up — not for us, anyway. Mardi Gras in Scottsdale, which has been around since 1974, is where we like to let our imaginations run wild. The store has virtually everything you need to be a hit on Halloween or any other dress-up occasion. Costumes, wigs, hats, accessories, makeup — it's all there. The store rents costumes as well as selling them, in case you don't feel like committing to that Jack Sparrow ensemble. The staff is helpful if you have questions; otherwise, feel free to just roam the aisles and imagine all the fun you could have.

It's probably a good thing that there are only a handful of Phoenix Flea events each year; otherwise, we'd be broke. There's just too much good stuff at each curated outdoor market event — stylish, interesting, beautiful goods from carefully selected vendors both local and national. We get a lot of our gift-shopping done at Phoenix Flea events, because there's pretty much something for everyone. (And we buy plenty of stuff for ourselves.) Add in food trucks, cool locations (past editions have been held at Heritage Square Park and The Colony), and a great community spirit, and it all makes each Phoenix Flea event a must-do.

We're constantly impressed by the creativity and artistry of our local makers. Case in point: Krista Coons of Her Name is Mud. In Coons' Etsy shop, you'll find ceramic pieces that are simple without being boring, whimsical without being corny. The items make great gifts: We've given the plant pokes (bamboo sticks topped with porcelain banners emblazoned with sayings like "Plant Lady" and "Don't You Die on Me") to our green-thumbed friends, and sent the Arizona-shaped Christmas ornaments to out-of-town relatives. We kept for ourselves the delicate ring cones, the porcelain stud earrings dipped in gold, and pins in a variety of motifs.

How happy are we that enamel pins are a thing again? About as happy as we are that some of our favorites are made right here in Phoenix. Owner/maker Brendan McCaskey loves a lot of the same things we do — like the desert aesthetic and pop culture of the '80s and '90s — and his pins reflect that. Our pin board is graced with designs like "I carried a watermelon" Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing, a retro-style Arizona pennant, and a pin signifying our Harry Potter house (it's Ravenclaw, in case you were wondering). We love to check out Jar of Buttons items at local shops and markets to look for the next great addition to our collection.

Biltmore Fashion Park

There was a time when we enjoyed the hubbub at larger malls like Scottsdale Fashion Square and Arizona Mills. But these days, when we're looking for a shopping experience that doesn't want to make us reach for some Xanax, there's only one place we even consider: Biltmore Fashion Park. We can take care of most essentials at stores including Macy's, J. Crew, lululemon, and Sephora, while gift-giving can be knocked out in one trip thanks to stops including Papyrus, L'Occitane, and Cornelia Park. Even strolling down the verdant outdoor pathways past teacup poodles and their owners sipping specialty coffee has a kind of calming appeal. It's true that you might spend a little more, because this mall caters to the high-end shopper, but can you really put a price on maintaining your sanity?

Metro Phoenix is so spread out that sometimes we feel like all we do is drive from one far-flung destination to another. So it's nice when we can just park the car once and get access to a whole bunch of cool stores. Uptown Plaza, on the northeast corner of Central Avenue and Camelback Road, has plenty to do and see. We can find things to decorate our home at Urban Silo Market, Modernique, and West Elm; pick up a chic baby gift at Cricket & Ruby; and fill our closets at Manor, Local Nomad, R&R Surplus, francesca's, and Muse Apparel. And after our car is filled with shopping bags, it's time to either shop for dinner at A.J.'s Fine Foods or grab a bite at one of Uptown Plaza's popular dining options, eateries such as Shake Shack, Lou Malnati's, Flower Child, or Zookz.

We've all been there. You're running to catch your flight with one carry-on bag flung over your shoulder, ready to whip out your mobile boarding pass on your way to battle through security when it hits you: You forgot a card (let alone a present) for your BFF's birthday. Fear not. You don't have to settle for a "I love Phoenix" T-shirt-clad teddy bear and a Walgreens-quality greeting card. Just head for the airport outpost of local favorite Bunky Boutique, where you can score a gift so good your bestie won't even know she was forgotten. High-quality and locally minded merchandise, including letterpress cards, succulent-stamped tea towels, and jewelry from local designers, make this a don't-miss shopping spot for visitors and Valley residents alike. The airport boutique even stocks men's and women's tanks and tees with Bunky's exclusive AZ Love design.

Brass Armadillo

We couldn't live another minute without a pristine penguin ice bucket, and so we headed to The Brass Armadillo Antique Mall. Would they have one? We knew they would — and they did. Two of them, in fact. We also came away with a 1960s brass-and-glass standing ashtray, a plaster cherub lamp, and a set of Scio Pottery Hampton dishware we'd been hunting for ages. Conveniently located just off Interstate 17 and Cactus Road (with another location in Goodyear), and chockablock with gorgeous old stuff, the Armadillo is open till 9 p.m. seven days a week, for those of us who like a late-night hunt for a mint-in-box Oscar the Grouch hand puppet, or a pair of Drexel china cupboards in mint condition. Nicely organized with street signs, the Brass Armadillo's boulevards of merchant boutiques are all neatly arranged and frequently restocked, so repeat trips are a must.

Modern Manor

We looked high, and we looked low, and we couldn't find a 1960s sectional sofa with rounded corners that wasn't either beat to crap or cost a bazillion dollars. And then we stopped by Modern Manor in the Seventh Avenue Melrose shopping district, and ... there it was, for a song. Newly restored, too, re-covered in nubby vintage fabric and precisely what we were looking for. This place is jam-packed with midcentury gems — everything from 1950s table lamps to 1970s television sets (fully restored and working fine, of course). The friendly owners are always on hand to talk armchair this and swag lamp that, and our only complaint is that the pristine stock is so gorgeous, it never sticks around. If you see it, buy it — from Modern Manor.

We wanted a bunch of interior decor from the '60s, and lately, who doesn't? Prices on this never-hotter era of furniture reflect its popularity, and after slogging through every local Midcentury Modern shop in search of a bargain, we wandered into Jane — and struck pay dirt. For less than a grand, we drove away with a good-as-new Herculon sofa and matching armchair, a neat metal-and-teak magazine rack, and a gold-foiled cocktail set that screams "Don Draper!" The staff at Jane is friendly and helpful, and the prices on the pristine merchandise are more than fair. Both of these things make Jane a special standout among purveyors of swinging '60s furnishings.

Best Of Phoenix®

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