Holiday Helpers

Getting creative for Christmas


In past years, “avoid the mall at all costs” has come to be my Christmas credo. Downtown mainstays and local arts and craft fairs get my business these days, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

While you won’t find an Xbox or an iPhone onsite, Allied Arts’ 33rd annual Holiday Festival of the Arts offers a whole lot more—unique, locally produced items sourced by the longtime arts organization’s many members. Whether it’s a handmade fur hat, jewelry, paintings, photography, ceramics or chocolate truffles you’re looking for, you’ll find them, and more, at more than 100 booths. Additionally, live music and art demos take place throughout the festival, making the experience one that’s festive instead of frantic. And, since they’ve moved closer to the downtown core this year—just down the street from their Cornwall Avenue headquarters—they’ll be a little easier to find. When: 10am-6pm every Wednesday through Sunday through Christmas Eve. Where: 1825 Cornwall Ave. Info:

Another longtime event, the 34th annual Home for the Holidays, started because founder Joyce Hill had a thing for tree ornaments and was fond of going to town on holiday decorations. When Hill began the event in 1982, she hosted it at a home boutique and eight vendors showed up. These days, the event fills the Bellingham Cruise Terminal the weekend before Thanksgiving, and more than 60 vendors show and sell items such as antiques, art and photography, clothing, bath and body products, holiday gifts and decor, glass art and wood gifts and specialty food items. “The vendors who participate have been hand-picked for their creativity,” Hill says. “They are a collection of some of the very best in the Northwest.” When: 5:30-9:30pm Thurs., Nov. 21, 9:30am-9:30pm Fri., Nov. 22 and 9:30am-5:30pm Sat., Nov. 23. Where: Bellingham Cruise Terminal. Info:

If you’d like to expand your range, mark your calendars now for the December 6 Art Walk in downtown Bellingham or the Holiday Art Walk taking place Nov. 29-30 in historic Fairhaven. Amid the horse-drawn carriage rides, visits (and photos) with the Grinch and Santa, and the “Lighting of the Trees” at the Fairhaven Village Green, both Friday and Saturday night will feature more than 20 locales opening their doors to share art, music and a generous serving of the holiday spirit. When: Holiday Art Walk happens from 5-9pm Fri.-Sat., Nov. 29-30. Where: Historic Fairhaven. Info:

Fans of the Pacific Arts Market will be happy to hear that the vendor cooperative is returning to celebrate Christmas again this year. Starting Dec. 6, they’ll be back downtown offering unique items crafted with a range of creative inspirations—including upcycled furniture, jewelry, wooden “goodies,” metal garden art, handmade birdhouses, wearable art made with recycled bicycle components (among other things), Christmas spider ornaments, knitted pieces and more. When: 10am-6pm Dec. 6-8, 13-15, and 20-22. Where: 114 W. Holly St. Info:

In coming weeks, keep your eyes peeled for other suggestions on how to make sure the artists and artisans that populate our county get visitors, and send details to the Weekly if you know someone who’s hosting a quirky, crafty sale that needs some press. Go to the mall if you must, but keep these events in mind when it comes time to cross another name off your list.

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