The holiday shopping season begins in earnest on this nasty day after Thanksgiving, and though Small Business Saturday is tomorrow, it doesn't mean you can't keep right on shopping local and handmade -- now and all year long. And how can you resist, anyway, with all of these alternatives still to come? Keep reading for a roundup of December's first wave of holiday markets.
See also: BALLS! V: A Holiday Spectacular
FUSEdenver brings together an elite selection of local and all-American vendors a few times a year, but the holiday market, which blends a smart blend of art, design, food and fashion pop-up shops, is FUSEdenver at its best. There is an admission fee to attend the exclusive event, but amenities -- from a cash bar to complimentary mini-manicures and photo booth -- are included in the price.
Here in Colorado, being crafty carries a double meaning: Whether we're hand-making beer or knitting woolen scarves and canning jams, we're out to excel. Avery Brewing's CrAft & CrAfts merges both craft movements by combining shopping for local, handmade gifts and -- natch -- Avery brews. That includes a special tapping at 3 p.m., featuring the strawberry-infused Strawberry Wit Belgian-style white ale. Buy up, and drink up, too. Proceeds benefit the Women's Bean Project.
Denver Potters bring together a stable of more than forty artisans, including jewelers, woodworkers and glass artists in addition to the organization's base group of clay artists for this annual show.
After a few bouts in the traditional craft-fair arena, screen printer Stuart Alden of Ink Lounge saw a need for a market that would appeal to men, as well as the usual shop-till-you-drop women who frequent handmade sales. So he and his wife and business partner Nicky put together Holiday Mancraft, which not only showcases handmade gifts for men, but also work created by crafty men. It's quickly become one of the best markets of the season and is moving this year to a bigger venue. The icing on top? They added a full bar. Wares include everything from pickles to art prints.
Firefly is Boulder's go-to craft market in any season, gathering together a stellar collection of handmade vendors from around the region. This bustling fair makes shopping easier by providing a free self-wrap station where you can wrap and go, live music and food and drink for sale.
16th Street Holly Days 11 a.m.-6 p.m. December 6 16th Street Mall
Denver Holly Days @ McNichols 11 a.m.-5 p.m. December 7-8 McNichols Building
This year's Holly Days comes in two installments, timed to attract crowds already coming downtown to enjoy the Parade of Lights. Friday's market is an outdoor boutique of exhibitors with seasonal items and one-of-a-kind gifts on the 16th Street Mall; Saturday and Sunday, the fun moves indoors at the McNichols Building for an expanded roster of shopping for seasonal items and other family fun, including live music, free hot chocolate and the Colorado Gingerbread House Competition.
DAVA's annual holiday show and sale, Sparkling Universe, pairs work by the organization's youth artists with original art by professional guest artists, but due to the high quality of everything in the gallery, it's sometimes hard to tell exactly who made what. Buying handmades here not only supports DAVA's year-round programs for at-risk Aurora kids, but ensures that you'll take home something truly one-of-a-kind for yourself or to wrap up for a loved one.
Twenty Years of Work Studio Sale 6-10 p.m. December 6, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. December 7 Powerhaüs Studio Free
Denver artist Lauri Lynnxe Murphy is cleaning out her artwork coffers by selling a trove of her works from over the decades in the studio. Buying direct from the artist means deals, with prices starting as low as $5; it's a great opportunity to gift yourself or a friend with a piece of original art.
Valkarie, a new co-op gallery in Belmar, is greeting the holiday with a First Friday affordable-works sale spotlighting small works in various mediums by member artists. Buy a tiny jewel of a painting by Katie Hoffman or one of Valerie Savarie's charming paper assemblages for someone you love. If you're a fan of small-works shows, this is a goldmine.
Every Christmas season the Women's Bean Project opens its doors for a holiday fair focused on the prepared soup mixes and food products created by disadvantaged women assisted by the nonprofit organization. Drop by the headquarters for snacks, samples and shopping for great culinary stocking-stuffers, gift bundles and baskets. And bring the kids -- Santa will be in the house from 11 a.m to 1 p.m. on December 7.
To find handmade gifts as local as the surrounding neighborhood, the annual Winter Market at Valdez Elementary is the place to be. Enjoy family entertainment while shopping the unique gift boutique; the school will be hosting a concurrent sale of pre-owned toys and books to benefit educational programs.
If there's a shopping district hipper than South Broadway, we'd be hard-pressed to find it, and the Snap-Up draws the best of the neighborhood together and wraps it up with a big bow to make your SoBo shopping a little bit more festive with a scavenger hunt. Participating shops and restaurants will host open houses and offer special deals, and the event even boasts a Snap-Up headquarters where you'll find gift-wrapping services and holiday refreshments. Merchants will also be collecting new art supplies and cash donations for the Mi Casa Resource Center.
Silversmith and jewelry-maker Kim Harrell has invited artists artists Phyllis Rider and Patricia Baxter Wright for an open studio sale that also features natural beauty products and edibles by MiraLuna.
In just a few years, the Berkeley-neighborhood Horseshoe has quickly become one of the best-attended craft and flea markets in the region. The addition of a holiday version downtown at the Denver Pavilions was an obvious step forward, and this year's has expanded to two days on back-to-back Saturdays. You'll find more than seventy local artists, crafters and vintage vendors at each market, including mobile boutiques, food and drink, a visit by Santa and a DIY booth sponsored by Whole Foods. And no worries about sub-zero temperatures -- the Denver Pavilions has announced that the outdoor market will move indoors in the space adjacent to Forever 21 near 16th and Welton streets, due to an inclement forecast. Shop warmly!
10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 14 Young Americans Center Free
Young Americans prides itself in teaching kids how to steer themselves through the big world of money and finance. That include entrepreneurship, and the bank and educational center's annual marketplace offers youth entrepreneurs ages 6 to 21 and opportunity to sell homemade goodies, original artwork, handcrafted jewelry and more at each of YAC's locations.
Twenty-four Denver artists, crafters and foodies have banded together for this homey two-weekend house boutique. Snack on holiday goodies while you shop, and shop often -- each weekend will feature a different set of artists, bakers and canners. You'll find everything from artisan dog toys to gourmet fudge.
The Park Hill craft studio and school Share Denver is a new kid on the block, and it's entering the fray this season with its first holiday market, offering an array of fabulous work by its talented community of artisan/educators and the craft community at large. Shop here for handmade gifts, clothing and jewelry, baked goods, home décor and more.
See Westword's shopping event listings for more information on holiday shopping opportunities. And stay tuned to Show and Tell for our last market roundup post, coming in mid-December.
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