The Halloween ghouls have all slunk back into their closets for another year, and that means -- you guessed it -- the holiday shopping season is upon us. And the urgency is amped up in 2013, thanks to an early Hanukkah (the first candles are lit on Thanksgiving eve this year).
But that doesn't mean you have to go head-to-head with the mall hoi polloi and fight over who gets the last bathrobe on the floor. Lucky for us, local artists and crafters have been creating for months in preparation for the holidays, finishing works so unique that they're actually worth fighting over -- and you can feel good about giving their creators your money, since craft markets and holiday shows are all about keeping it in the community.
Here's a calendar to help you navigate your way through some of November's most interesting gift-shopping opportunities; stay tuned to Show and Tell for a second installment in December.
Little Treasures: Affordable Art From Prominent Artists Daily, through December 31 Paris on the Platte Free
Five Denver artists -- Evan Anderman, Stefan Geissbuhler, Tadashi Hayakawa, Sandra Kaplan and Lisa Purdy -- are banding together at Paris on the Platte to offer artworks, including photography, paintings and collage, with each piece selling for $300 or less. The show goes until the end of December, punctuated by two artist receptions on November 14 and December 19, both from 5 to 7 p.m. Drop by, browse and have a glass of wine -- you might find something special for the art-lover in your life. Lakewood Arts Council Holiday Craft Show 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Mondays, through December 23 Lakewood Arts Council Community Art Center and Gallery, Lakewood Free
Crafts and fine art alike have already hit the shelves for the season at the Lakewood Arts Council, where the annual Holiday Craft Show continues through December 23, but it officially kicks off tonight, November 7, from 5 to 7 p.m. with a Holiday Open House. What will you find? Fine art and locally made crafts, including soaps, pottery, ornaments and other handmades, as well as gift baskets and holiday goodies.
Clay-artist clubs and guilds across the Front Range open up their inventory for big sales every holiday season, and there are a slew of them happening this weekend and next. This is your chance to pick up a handsome platter or cheerful hand-thrown mug for a reasonable price while supporting local artists at any of the shows listed below.
La Cocina, the current show at Museo de las Americas, is already a homey tribute to the idea of families gathering together around tables, with its re-created Mexican kitchen and displays of handcrafted pottery and tiles. But for a couple of days, museum patrons, collectors and connoisseurs can actually take home a little piece of the exhibit's inherent warmth and craftsmanship in the form of authentic Tonala pottery from the Herencia Milenaria co-op in Jalisco, Mexico. Pair that with the beautiful folk art and jewelry sold year-round in the Museo's shop, and you can easily cross a few names off of your list by the time you leave.
Chris Loffelmacher, the man behind the Denver Public Library's Fresh City Life program, is also a talented knitter in his spare time. You'll find his gorgeous and sassy scarves, hats and shawls, along with jewelry, candles and other unique items from a whole stable of local artisans, at this Paris-themed market that lightens your shopping experience with Gallic treats, coffee and cider and, at 1 and 2 p.m., a soundtrack of live romantic cafe-style accordion music. Ooh la la!
An Ironwood Pop-Up Shop at Goldyn Opening reception, 6-9 p.m. November 14; remains open through mid-December Goldyn Free
Frequenters of the South Broadway hipster shopping drag already know Ironwood, a shop like no other, where the curated merchandise ranges from creatively potted succulents and terrariums to crystalline gems and rocks, electric framed butterflies and other curiosities. But this season, Ironwood will pop up on the north side, too, inside Goldyn, a trendy Highland boutique.
Continue reading for more holiday markets. Denver Botanic Gardens Holiday Sale Preview party, 5 to 8 p.m. November 14 Sale, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. November 15-16 Denver Botanic Gardens Preview, $15; Sale, $7 to $8 gate admission (members and kids ages 15 and under free).
The Denver Botanic Gardens puts on one of the most consistent gift markets in town -- with a botanical bent. Alongside booths selling housewares, handbags, clothing, jewelry and knitted pretties from more than forty vendors, you'll find the DBG's own herb vinegars, jars of Colorado honey and garden decor for sale.
Another long-running show, the Foothills marketplace is sprawling and loaded with handmades both affordable and pricey, all created in Colorado with loving care by more than 100 artists. If you can't find anything here, you're not looking hard enough!
For something a little different, this show in an Englewood salon combines handmade toys and toy-inspired art that you can buy on the spot. But it's not just for kids: This is a show your inner child can appreciate. Get started at an opening reception on November 21.
The L'Esprit boutique might be a side trip for folks on this walking tour of six homes in the Crestmoor neighborhood, all decorated to the rafters for the holidays, to benefit the Central City Opera. But if you just want to see what goodies and gifties they're selling, stop by Christ Church United Methodist, where the admission is free for browsers.
The Junior League of Denver puts on this big three-day craft and gift fair that's laden with one-of-a-kind sweaters, bags and hats, jewelry and accessories, housewares and gourmet foods. For the full experience, RSVP in advance for special events throughout the run, such as a wine mixer, a champagne breakfast for earlybird shoppers and a flashy preview party.
Continue reading for more holiday markets. MAD Hatter Tea Party Trunk Show! 2 to 8 p.m. November 22 EvB Studio Free
Berkeley neighborhood ceramic artist Marie EvB Gibbons will open the door at her little studio under the eaves of the Oriental Theater to offer affordable ceramic works, from whimsical found teapots and figurines repurposed with funny faces to richly beautiful textural wall pieces. It's always an adventure walking into Gibbons's homey space.
It's all about German holiday culture at this perennial market in downtown Denver, where you can munch on a pretzel and buy German chocolate and sausages, old-world gift items and hand-carved ornaments. The perfect complement to the adjacent Southwest Skating Rink, which opens for the winter on November 30, Christkindl is also a great place to warm up with hot chocolate or hot mulled wine.
This rural side trip yields goodies to sample and buy, including small-batch artisan goat cheeses and yogurt and homemade jams, as well as vendors offering organic turkeys, pre-made bakery desserts, organic sides and rich truffles, all on an old-fashioned working goat farm. Afraid of the cold? They'll be grilling cheese and jam sandwiches over a wood fire, too. Bring the family and meet the kids.
Arvada Center Holiday Craft Fair 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. November 29 and 30 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. December 1 Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, Arvada $5 entry per day (free for patrons attending theater productions and "Friends of the Center")
The first of two annual holiday shows at the Arvada Center, the Holiday Craft Fair is quick and big (150 artists are featured). But the center likes to brag that its craft shown is a stress-free breeze for buyers, far from the madding crowd. It also helps that the selection is thoughtfully juried, so you can't go wrong, whatever you pick.
Down in RiNo by the railroad tracks, Wazee Union is a little off the beaten track, but as a thriving community of artists and small creative businesses, the warehouse and its maze of studios is well worth checking out. Artisans from inside and outside alike will be hawking their wares at this one-day open-entry market, and you can feel good about patronizing the market to support National Small Business Saturday. It's the new Black Friday, without the unpleasant hassle.
DIBS, an aggregate of local boutiques around town, will gang up for another year on Small Business Saturday to offer a goodie-bag drawing and other special events, from tastings and pop-up shops at the kitchen store Hazel & Dewey on South Broadway to a raffle and giveaways at Jolly Goods on Tennyson Street. Rakun on Santa Fe Drive will be fundraising for Street Kidz and hosting Denver Handmade Alliance artists and movies for kids, and at I Heart Denver, in the Denver Pavilions, every purchase will win you a mini Denver pride kit if you mentions DIBS. Lastly, shoppers can get a passport card stamped at all participating stores for a chance to win more goodies.
Sugar Plum Holiday Market 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. November 30 and December 1 Parkside Mansionhttp://www.voiceplaces.com/denver-boulder/parkside-mansion-2928124-l Free
If you're looking for charm, Sugar Plum is the place to find it; set up in the nooks and crannies of the Parkside Mansion west of City Park, it oozes charm simply by way of ambience. But the fine workmanship of its vendors seals the deal: Many of these folks are veterans of the artisan-market scene in Denver, who serve up their wares with a flea-market panache.
2013 Christmas Festival and Marketplace 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. November 30-December 1 Carousel Pavilion at the Historic Elitch Gardens Theatre Free
An all-around family-friendly holiday event with Santa, fire truck tours, a reading of "The Night Before Christmas," carolers and more, this benefit toward renovations for the Historic Elitch Gardens Theatre will also feature a holiday market with local artisans and crafters, as well as fresh Christmas trees, wreaths, garland and poinsettias.
Stay tuned to Show and Tell in December for a second round of holiday markets.
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