Talking Shop

Nobody’s going to be taking any chances this holiday shopping season. Purse strings are tight, and a rosier future seems possible but still far away. But this mid-November weekend is bursting with thoughtful, homegrown and unique shopping opportunities at non-commercial venues where your hard-earned discretionary budget won’t be wasted. Imagine these possibilities:

The well-loved shabby-chic Gifts for Yule holiday craft and gift sale returns for its eleventh year by turning over a new leaf in a new location, the spacious and airy Phipps Tennis Pavilion, 3300 Belcaro Drive. And the biggest upside of the venue change, notes fair organizer Sam Robinson, is the extra space: She’s been able to add a few select new vendors, including fancy letterpress stationer Lilywillow Paper & Press, hand-painted puzzle-maker Treeline Toys, Tennyson Street’s French Flat (bringing with them a new container-full of freshly unpacked French collectibles and modern antiques) and more. And the delicious and creative eats from food stylist Erica McNeish will be definitely be back, along with additional noshables by Devil’s Food to handle the hungry overflow. But not to worry, Robinson adds: This cozy sale won’t get too big for its hand-sewn britches or lose one drop of its former folksy charm. Shop from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday; admission is free. Go to www.giftsforyule.com.

Folkloric crafts and Chicano-themed art will be overflowing at the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council, 772 Santa Fe Drive, when the Luminarias de la Guadalupe and Christmas Mercado show opens, featuring handmade gift items from member artists, including beautiful retablos, crosses and Guadalupe images and sculptures. The sale opens today and continues through December 20, long enough to please shoppers on the Santa Fe art district’s December 19 luminarias walk; get information at 303-571-0440 or www.chacweb.org.

Also kicking off today is the annual Denver Botanic Gardens Holiday Gift and Garden Market, an extravaganza of garden-related goods, from hand-bottled herb vinegars and gourmet jams and jellies to artful wreaths and flowery fragrances; new to the sale this year is a selection of festive holiday plants, ready to give or deck your own halls. Peruse this always-crowded market from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow, or 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday; admission to the sale (and the gardens!) is free. The Denver Botanic Gardens are at 1005 York Street; visit www.botanicgardens.org or call 720-865-3500.

Up in Golden, the always eclectic and stellar Foothills Art Center Holiday Art Market gets a trial run during the sneak-peek early shopping event, 5:30 to 8 p.m. tonight at the center, 809 15th Street. Along with its usual marvelous collection of Colorado-made arts and crafts in all media, the market, which continues through December 30, comes in tandem with a variety of special events, many of them family-friendly, including a series of holiday movies for evening shoppers and weekly kids’ activities in December. Admission is free (there is a small charge for the children’s projects); details at www.foothillsartcenter.org or 303-279-3922.

The TACtile Arts Center Holiday Gift Show promises to be a veritable treasure chest of wearable art, fiber art and other handmade gifts by center members, many of whom are among the top of their class in Colorado and beyond. Whether knitted, woven, hand-dyed, beaded, quilted or embroidered, the wares here are always of the best quality — and beautiful, to boot. The gift show opens today and continues through January 10 (the center, located in Tamarac Square, 7777 East Hampden Avenue, is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays); shop and mingle with the makers at an open house from 5 to 8 p.m. on November 19. A portion of sales will benefit TACtile, a nonprofit; visit www.tactile.org or call 720-524-8886 to learn more.

And finally, the East End Arts District gets into the spirit tonight with Winter Festival 2008, a mass open house and cheery artwalk through downtown Aurora, around East Colfax Avenue between Clinton to Geneva streets. Gallery maps and free transportation by pedicab will be available for patrons, or take a hike and rest your dogs on a variety of recently installed public-art artists’ benches. Along the way, you’ll find plenty of affordable art at more than twenty galleries and venues, including miniature works at Greymatters Co-op and fine-art prints at Red Delicious Press. And at downtown Aurora stalwart Kim Harrell’s East End Applied Arts, ceramic vessels by May Cay, jewelry by Kara Worthen, landscapes on paper by Meredith Nemirov and paintings by Theresa Anderson will all be featured for the holiday season. Visit www.eastendartsdistrict.org for details.
Nov. 14-Dec. 20, 2008

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd