Sometimes, buying local can be as easy as walking outside, crossing the street and knocking on your neighbor’s front door. I did just this—and a whole lot more—last weekend, when I attempted to cross names off my Christmas gift-giving list without once stepping foot into a mall.
While we’re not quite done shopping, in less than 48 hours my boyfriend and I have managed to amass a growing array of presents that were either made locally or sourced from stores that make smart decisions when it comes to what they sell—in other words, not plastic crap with the lifespan of a tsetse fly.
As noted before, the first stop was an easy one. My neighbor and her husband had teamed up with another crafty friend to sell original paintings, jewelry, vintage hand-dyed slips, journals made by repurposing cool old books, homemade bath salts and more at a one-night-only “Handmade Holiday Shop,” and we ended up perusing the goods long after our wine glasses were empty.
Although we didn’t really need a bag to carry the journal and feathery brooch we purchased for two of my nieces, we accepted our friend’s offer because the bag, as she noted, was “pretty cool.” That decorated paper conveyance would serve us well the following day, when we filled it with even more arts and crafts.
Saturday morning, after filling our bellies at the monthly Swedish Pancake Breakfast at Norway Hall, our first shop-stop was Allied Arts’ 33rd annual Holiday Festival of the Arts. For more than an hour, we wandered both separately and together among the works of the 100 or so artistically inclined vendors, each of us surreptitiously sliding items into our shopping baskets every once in a while.
When I say the Holiday Festival of the Arts has something for everyone, I’m not kidding. There’s art enough to fill every wall in your home—and your yard. Once there, you’ll find original paintings, prints, handmade clothing, smoked salmon, jewelry galore, pottery, photography, tin art, works of beauty made from wood, glittery glass, ecologically conscious underwear, earrings made out of lichen, walking sticks, things that smell good, puppets, stuffed animals created from repurposed fur coats, hand-bound books, custom-made crossword puzzles, fiber art and…well, the list goes on. (Since the arts-oriented festival is open daily from now until 3pm on Christmas Eve, I’ll probably go back to make sure there’s nothing I missed on the first go-round.)
As we brought our secret-for-now purchases to the cashier, I spotted a row of cards made by students in Whatcom County. It was noted that the sale of these cards—which are a paltry $2.50 apiece—helps Allied Arts support their art education project. And, since they were all cannily creative and colorful, I slipped a couple in my basket, thinking the one of a quartet of beets would look good framed.
Although my boyfriend declared his shopping list was complete after the Allied Arts gathering, I wasn’t finished. Still to come were stops at Make.Shift’s weekend-long craft sale, the Whatcom Museum’s awesome gift shop, Backcountry Essentials, DIGS, Everyday Music, and more. We stayed away from the mall, and all was right with the world.
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