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:
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.
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, 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.