Holiday shopping doesn't have to be a drag. You just have to know where to look.
There are two big reasons why we're already thinking about it seriously this year: First, this gift-getting season could go down in the books as the earliest commercial shopping blitz in history. The door-busters, for chrissakes, are already being advertised, and -- sigh -- it's not even Thanksgiving yet. And secondly, at least on a smaller level, people have to shop early: Hanukkah begins on December 1, tribe members. The only solution is try and have fun with it. You don't have to give in to the malls and big boxes, at least not yet. And this weekend offers many great opportunities to shop local and support independent artists and vendors. Here are some of the alternatives:
Spun like gossamer by local artist/entrepreneur Sam Robinson, this annual eclectic holiday craft and gift sale is always a delight, with a mixture of antiques, handmades, edibles, folk art, letterpress stationery, clothing, handbags and other things one can't really anticipate. And the delicious and affordable eats by food stylist Erica McNeish make this a double destination -- just try not to get there too late if you want to eat, because the food does run out. Shop Gifts for Yule from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday or 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the airy Phipps Tennis Pavilion, 3400 Belcaro Drive; heads up: This is the last Gifts for Yule in the pavilion, before new tenant Tim Gill takes over the grounds. Admission is free.
Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver Botanic Gardens 2010 Holiday Gift Market, Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York Street: A favorite with Denver gardeners and holiday shoppers, featuring herb vinegars, wreaths, blown-glass ornaments, fragrances, gourmet foods, antiques and collectibles, crafts and more. Plus, free admission to the entire gardens! The sale began today and is open until 5 p.m. tonight. Members-only shopping kicks off the day Saturday from 8 to 9 a.m., following by shopping for everyone from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; on Sunday, shopping is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 720-865-3500.
Foothills Art Center Holiday Art Market, Foothills Art Center, 809 15th Street, Golden: One of the region's largest art markets for 36 years and counting, the Foothills show is known for its quality and variety: A huge stable of 140 artists contributed this year, offering handmade ceramics, woodwork, fine art, jewelry, glass, fiber art and more. The market opens tonight with a preview reception from 6 to 8 p.m., and regular hours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays, kick in tomorrow and continue through the end of December. Admission is free; call 303-279-3922.
Shop 2 the 9s: The Holiday Edition, Eron Johnson Antiques, 389 S. Lipan Street: Here's something completely different: Nine upscale independent Colorado retailers -- Abend Gallery, Brass Bed, Djuna, Eron Johnson Antiques, Garbarini, Shaver Ramsey, Trog de lights, the Vineyard and Wildflowers -- have teamed together for a warehouse sale that also features special guest artisans form around the region. A preview party starts things off today from 4 to 8 p.m., with live music by Paris Swingset and wine tasting, courtesy of the Vineyard; the sale continues from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sunday, through November 21.
Christmas at Our House, Bosworth House, 1400 Josephine Street: The annual holiday gift boutique fundraiser hosted by the Assistance League of Denver wraps up this weekend, but not before tonight's Girls Night Out event from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturday's Last Chance Shopping day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission tonight, which includes a buffet dinner, martini bar, music and fashions by Gold Penny, is $35; get in the door tomorrow for only $5. Call 303-322-5205.
And also open for business this weekend:
Easy as 1-2-3! Trunk Show with Vintage Renewal and Marnie Yates Jewelry: 6 to 9 p.m. tonight, Mona Lucero Design Boutique, 2544 15th Street, 303-458-0090.
Andrea Li Trunk Show: 5 to 8 p.m. tonight, Translations Contemporary Fine Art Dealers, 1743 Wazee Street, 303-629-0713.
Aurora Potters' Guild Pottery and Quilt Show: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aurora Center for Active Adults, 30 Del Mar Circle, Aurora, 303-739-7950.
Eco-Art Market: Open daily except Sundays, through December 19, Smokebrush Center, 218 W. Colorado Ave., Ste. 111, Colorado Springs, 1-719-444-1012. Special events include an open house on December 3 from 5 to 8 p.m., a meet-and-greet with artist Barb Ziek and her Wild Hair alpacas, noon-4 p.m. Dec. 4.
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Mile High Bargain Art Fair: Mondays-Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., through November 14, Gilmore Art Center, 2119 Curtis Street. Featuring thousands of vintage paintings, drawing and prints by listed artists, 1800-1980, and other major pieces. Call 303-483-3422.
Mountain Expressions Art + Craft + Bake Sale: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Pine Brook Community Center and Fire Station, 1905 Linden Drive, Boulder. Fundraising sale for Boulder Mountain Fire.
Check back here next week for updates.