Skip the mall this year. Trust me, it can be done.

December 3, 2013 | Advent

A lot of  my friends  and family members are already wrapping Christmas gifts, which I find truly astounding because I haven’t even started shopping. Haven’t bought a single gift. Haven’t even thought about buying a single gift. But I can tell you this, when I finally do start shopping it will not be at either of the local malls. I’m not a mall person, especially during the holiday season, and I like to support local businesses. So my goal every Christmas is to avoid the mall at all costs, to buy only within the confines of my own town, or, when absolutely necessary, online. I still have young kids, so some things have to come from the big guns and not from local artisans.

BUT, if you’re looking for beautiful gifts that come with a side of personality and charm, beauty and creativity, there are so many wonderful options right where you live. For my local readers, here in New York’s Capital Region, I wantto highlight a few that are worth a look, a visit, a purchase. So here we go…

I’m going to start with the Hamagrael Handcrafted Craft Fair, happening this Saturday, Dec. 7, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Hamagrael Elementary School, 1 McGuffey Lane, Delmar. More than 90 vendors will be offering handcrafted goods such as jewelry, artwork, clothing and more. Admission is free. There will be live music, as well as lunch items from Cafe Nola and Crazy Herbs Texas Barbecue. Click HERE for more information.

Here are a few of my favorite local artisans/vendors:

The beautiful soaps you see in the photo above are from Tandj Soaps by Theresa Novish. I’ve given them as gifts, and when I really feel like treating myself, I buy some of the Nag Champa-scented soap (my absolute favorite). I’ve got a frankincense and myrrh waiting upstairs to be unveiled during this holiday season. Yeah, I’m weird about using my good soaps. I’ve written about that HERE  — if you, too, tend to save soap and bath gel for special occasions and need a push to break that bad habit. When you’re picking up soaps, be sure to grab a wooden soap dish for only $5. We bought some online only to have them leave rust spots in our brand new showers. We switched to the ones from Tandj, and they are perfect. Theresa has an Etsy shop HERE, but she also has a brick-and-mortar store in Troy at 271 River Street.

OLG windowYou may remember that a few weeks ago, I purchased a beautiful piece of art — Our Lady of Guadalupe created out of salvaged architectural pieces. That was from Anita B. Designs, another local company. They have a beautiful selection of pieces in all sizes and subjects. Something for everyone. In addition to their Etsy shop, they’ve got a Facebook page HERE.

If you want a one-of-a-kind piece of Jewelry, visit Peyster Street Designs. My friend Ricky Talmage makes such beautiful earrings, necklaces and bracelets. I can never pass her table at the weekly farmers’ market or any other craft fair without stopping and gazing longingly at her creations. Just stunning.

You’ll find all of the local artisans I just mentioned at the Delmar Farmers Market, running every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the Bethlehem Middle School up until the week before Christmas. Plus you’ll find lots of other treasures there — wonderful baked goods, cheese, produce, mosaics, more jewelry, and on and on. Too much good stuff to list. And you can pick up a delicious lunch and listen to some live music while you shop.

Way better than fighting for a parking space at Crossgates and hitting a fast food joint in the overcrowded food court, don’t you think?

And don’t forget to hit all those local shops, from I Love Books and Peaceful Inspirations to in-town restaurants and services. If you have to give a gift card, try to make it local too.



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