Think you can get through the next few weeks without hitting the mall or setting foot inside a big box store? Yes, Virginia, this is possible. It isn’t necessary to empty your pockets soullessly on plastic junk and electronics just to make that space under the ChristmaHanuKwanzaa bush look as good as the one over at the Joneses'. You’ve got this, and we’re here to help. Go here:
Peace in the Universe
DAVA (Downtown Aurora Visual Arts), 1419 Florence Street, Aurora
December 7 through January 12
Opening reception: Thursday, December 7, 4 to 7:30 p.m.
DAVA’s mission to mentor at-risk kids in Aurora through hands-on art and creative job-training programs turns into a lesson in retail industry every year for the holidays, when artist-mentors and their students create beautiful handmade gifts for the nonprofit’s annual holiday show. This year’s Peace in the Universe lays out everything from kid-designed mandala rocks, shadowboxes, mobiles and more, alongside “curioscapes” by Jessica Ellis; ceramics, papier-mâché sculptures and paintings by Cal Duran; and sewn and cross-stitched soft sculptures by Frankie Toan. Hit the opening reception for the best selection, and give some talented kids a boost.
Holiday Fine Arts Festival
Art Gym Denver, 1460 Leyden Street
December 7 through 23
Opening reception: Thursday, December 7, 5 to 8 p.m.
More than forty studio members at the Art Gym strut their stuff at the Fine Arts Festival, an extravaganza of affordable works that range from art prints and handsmithed jewelry to holiday goodies baked in the facility’s commissary kitchen. See what’s cooking at the busy shared workspace where artists gain access to tools and multi-disciplinary studios for a fixed fee.
MATTER's 17th Annual Print Sale & Party
MATTER, 2134 Market Street
Friday, December 8, 6 p.m. to midnight
Rick Griffith, the community-minded mastermind behind the MATTER design studio, has noticed the changes in the neighborhood since MATTER opened on Market Street nearly twenty years ago. But always a man of action, he’s taken it as a cue to open the Shop at Matter, “a real store” with regular hours and a shop clerk on duty. This year’s MATTER Print Sale & Party will double as a sneak preview of new merch, though it’ll also be non-business as usual, with what Griffith calls the “whole food, drink and come-join-in thing,” which inevitably includes his famous fish-tank mojitos, letterpress printing demos and creative spins — this year emanating from a pair of curated jukeboxes. After-party at Work & Class.
Highlands Square Boutique Walk
Highlands Square, West 32nd Avenue and Lowell Boulevard
Friday, December 8, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, December 9, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, December 10, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Things get jolly on West 32nd Avenue over a long weekend of checking out all the favorite Highland boutiques and specialty shops lining the street. Enjoy merchant open houses with treats, discounts and giveaways while treasure-hunting for holiday gifts and maybe something for yourself.
Art in the Highlands Northside Holiday Market
The Sanctuary, 3101 West 31st Avenue
Friday, December 8, 4 to 7 p.m.
Saturday, December 9, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
If you’re looking for handmade in Highland, this cozy Northside market is just a hop, skip and a jump over from Highlands Square, if you’ve got the energy for both. Support independents by buying affordable original art and handmades, from scented soaps, jams and jellies to pet accessories and baby wear for all the littles in your life.
Burner Unique Boutique Holiday Bazaar
The Fusion Factory, 3563 Walnut Street
Friday, December 8, noon to 6 p.m.
Saturday, December 9, and Sunday, December 10, noon to 7 p.m.
Makers and artists from the Burning Man/raver community serve others of their kind — and anyone with an adventurous spirit — at this annual holiday bazaar, where you’ll find loads of costumery, fake-fur Muppet coats, disco-wear and kitty ears, as well as handmade jewelry, glow accessories and delish cottage-industry foodie items. A beautiful case of friends helping friends.
Handcrafted Holiday Market
Mud & Madder, 712 Main Street, Longmont
Friday, December 8, 6 to 9 p.m.
Saturday, December 9, noon to 5 p.m.
Say hurray for the Colorado makers of Etsy at Longmont craft emporium and incubator Mud & Matter on the town’s main drag: The Handcrafted Holiday Market is an official participant in the national Etsy Made Local promotion, meaning you’ll benefit from related giveaways and free activities in addition to having the opportunity to shop a great selection of beautiful, one-of-a-kind and sometimes practical stuff. If you believe that nothing compares to holding an item in your hand before you buy it but still love Etsy’s endless variety, hightail it to Longmont.
HaHo Holiday Market
Forge970, 970 Yuma Street
Saturday, December 9, and Sunday, December 10, noon to 5 p.m.
$5 donation at the door (no one will be turned away)
Now firmly ensconced in new permanent digs at Forge, the Handmade Homemade, already a monthly event, expands to two days for a grand holiday edition. With a different roster of twenty or more maker/vendors each day (many of them HaHo members who create work in the same building where they sell it), this is a market worth hitting each day, and because you buy direct from the artists, it’s a win-win all the way around. Gift possibilities run the gamut of what people can make with their hands, from food items to terrariums; enjoy food trucks both days, live music on Saturday, and on Sunday, get a stick-and-poke tattoo by Uproot Tattoo or see pottery demos by Highline Pottery. And here’s a plus: Dogs and families are welcome.
Yes Please Makers Market
Yes Please, 3851 Steele Street, Unit C
Saturday, December 9, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Earlier this year, apparel screenprinters Tanner Barkin and Taylor Palmie of the Moore Collection, and Kiwi Schloffel, creator of the cheeky, in-your-face Craft Boner greeting-card line, decided to shack up their studio/businesses together in a north Denver warehouse. For this inaugural holiday season, Yes Please, the retail storefront of the operation, is hosting fifty vendors (beginning, of course, with Moore Collection and Craft Boner); children, dogs and spouses are welcome. What better time to get to know Yes Please, a year-round local venture that’s off the beaten path.
Ujamaa Holiday Market
New Hope Baptist Church, 3701 Colorado Boulevard
Saturday, December 9, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Admission free, RSVP online
Inspired by the idea of Cooperative Economics, the fourth principle of Kwanzaa, the Ujamaa Holiday Market has a quarter-century run under its belt, without any sign of letting up. With a focus on local small businesses, books, educational workshops and supporting the people in your own neighborhood, it’s the best place in Denver to stock up on gifts and supplies for the African-American celebration of Kwanzaa, which begins on December 26 and runs for seven days and nights.
RedLine Denver, 2350 Arapahoe Street
Sunday, December 10, noon to 10 p.m.
Truly interested in supporting your local artists? If there’s one market you’re going to hit this season, Freak Mart is the one. Spearheaded by Denver artist and RedLine resident Molly Bounds and other resourceful friends, the DIY art market caters to all ages, with grassroots handmade merchandise, including fine art of all kinds, prints, zines, patches, wearable art and other creative miscellany. The list of who’ll be there is too long to print, and the artists make a 100 percent profit on all sales. Stick around for the live music, video installations by Chris Bagley and a photo booth by Taylor Boylston.
R Bazaar Holiday Market
Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning, 1373 Grant Street
Tuesday, December 12, 4 to 8 p.m.
The Denver nonprofit We Made This provides refugees with the means to support themselves through sewing- and job-skills training. But it’s at shows like the R Bazaar that the organization’s mentees, who hail from third-world communities in Bhutan, Nepal, Burma, Eritrea, Togo, Congo, Sudan and Somalia, get to meet their public and sell the wares they’ve created. Support local refugee microbusinesses and knock some names off your list. Go small for the holidays this year and make a difference in someone’s local economy.
Witch Collective Midwinter Market Series
Boxcar Gallery, 554 Santa Fe Drive
Wednesday, December 13, and Thursday, December 14, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Friday, December 15, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
The Witch Collective continues to hold the maker movement aloft in a special way, building community and bringing people together to share the benefits of local commerce. The Witches close out their season of holiday markets over three evenings at Boxcar Gallery. The event includes a fancy elixir bar for handcrafted beverages and tarot readings in addition to more than twenty vendors (vendors may vary from day to day), and you’ll spread some good in the world if you buy something: Ten percent of all proceeds will benefit the Transformative Freedom Fund, a Colorado-based organization that works to remove financial barriers to accessing transition-related health care for transgender people.
Horseshoe Holiday Market Belmar
Belmar, 464 South Teller Street, Lakewood
Saturday, December 16, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday, December 17, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Horseshoe is aiming high this year, with not one, but two big holiday markets, plus a completely new kind of enterprise — a sixty-vendor Horseshoe retail store, open Thursdays through Sundays until Christmas, adjacent to the Belmar ice rink. That inroad into the Lakewood shopping center also includes Horseshoe’s second major winter market on December 16 and 17, a seventy-booth blowout with all your favorite makers and vintage vendors. Get lucky.
Denver Punk Rock Flea Market: Holiday Edition!
Fox Street Compound, 725 West 39th Avenue
Saturday, December 16, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The rocker in you will love the PRFM, an alternative market catering to the leather and metal crowd with a load of retro, DIY, punked-out oddities, clothing, jewelry, patches, pins, gear and novelties. Après-shopping, get ready to pogo yourself into a stupor at the after-party, a four-band dance-off from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the Seventh Circle Music Collective, 2935 West Seventh Avenue.
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Rosehouse Holiday Market
14 South Broadway
Sunday, December 17, noon to 5 p.m.
Rosehouse, a growing concern on South Broadway specializing in herbal remedies; handcrafted, chemical-free lotions and toiletries; work by local artists; and unusual plants, terrariums and plant supplies, will try its hand at holiday-marketing with a small but potently curated alternative vendor showcase. Looking for a gift that’s really, really special and tailored to someone with a wild soul? You can’t go wrong at Rosehouse.
XXX–Mas Craft Fair
MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street
Friday, December 22, 5 to 9 p.m.
Members free; $5 after 5 p.m. for all others
MCA Denver lets you do holiday gifting your way: Make-it-yourself upstairs at a naughty Black Sheep Friday “holiday balls” crafting party with the Ladies Fancywork Society and Fancy Tiger Crafts, or head to the museum basement, with cash in hand, for the XXX–Mas Craft Fair, where you can buy stuff ready-made by a dozen MCA-cool vendors. That’s right: not just cool — MCA-cool. Events are first-come, first-served.
Last-Minute Gifts at RiNo Made
RiNo Made in the Source, 3350 Brighton Boulevard
Sunday, December 24, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For crying out loud, if it’s Christmas Eve and you’re just reading this, it’s your own damn fault. But salvation is here: The RiNo Made store in the Source is showcasing excellent last-minute gift goodies from RiNo makers until 3 p.m., but then you’ll have to skedaddle. On the other hand, if you’re one of those Boxing Day bargain-hunters who likes to hit the stores the day after Christmas, RiNo Made will be handing out deep discounts on merchandise from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. December 26.