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Holiday craft fairs the perfect place to shop for gift-giving items

BY SELENA FRAGASSI | FOR SUN-TIMES MEDIA

Black Friday. Cyber Monday. When did holiday shopping turn into its own holiday?

Thankfully there’s another, more relaxing option: the craft fair.

Before you dismiss it as a cesspool of the knitted throwaways your grandmother makes, you’ll be happy to know that “a new generation has gotten involved and invigorated the whole enterprise,” says Nancy Gardner of The Chicago Art Girls, a group of independent women artists that hosts a pop-up shop 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. December 13-14 at Alexander Graham Bell Elementary School (3730 N. Oakley).

Circa Ceramics Candles
Circa Ceramics Candles

“Art and craft fairs offer consumers the opportunity to connect directly with the makers of work they are interested in and have a more personal shopping experience. … And there’s an awfully lot of good work being made,” Gardner says, referencing the Rapt in Maille chain jewelry, modern Circa Ceramics and entertaining dioramas by Red Belly you can find here ranging in price from about $10 to $600.

CAG though is just the start of this popular event; here are four more craftacular events this month with a rundown of what you can expect and artists to take notice of when you go.

Renegade Craft Fair

Handmade goods are just the beginning of this long-running shopping weekend, which now gets more room at Bridgeport Art Center. A new partnership with Martha Stewart Living means demos like learning how to make a screen-printed tote. DJs from Reckless and CHIRP will be spinning tunes while you browse one-off stationery, jewelry, toys, apparel and housewares, nosh on goods from Intelligensia and Black Dog Gelato and commemorate the experience in the free Magnolia Photo Booth.

Look out for: The HiFi Case — stereo systems built into suitcases and hatboxes

December 6 & 7 at Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 35th St., 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Free; renegadecraft.com

One Of A Kind Show

Be prepared — you’re going to find as much for yourself at One Of a Kind as the people on your gift list. With more than 600 international vendors, this four-day meetup is one of the largest indoor craft shows in the country with a number of price points for all budgets. In addition to the Etsy pavilion and a gourmet food section, you’ll find leather goods from Moxie & Oliver, house décor from 3-Switch and ceramics from Miss Millie. Stick around for the fashion shows, music performances and a new Goose Island Beer Garden.

Look out for: Late Sunday Afternoon — upcycled scarves made from salvaged fabrics

December 4-7 at Merchandise Mart, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thurs, Fri; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sat; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sun, $12; oneofakindshowchicago.com

Bucktown Holiday Art Show

It’s the longest running holiday art show in Chicago (now in its 16th year) where work is both juried and for sale. Not only can you feel good about your fab finds but you can also do good for the community by entering a raffle and silent auction that benefits After School Matters. Shop more than 100 featured artists, including Maike’s Marvels’ wire jewelry, BeMo Designs’ crocheted fashion, Prohibition Spice Co.’s bold flavors and woodworking masterpieces from Jason Thomas.

Look out for: Reuse First — candles in repurposed liquor bottles

December 13 & 14 at Holstein Park Fieldhouse, 2200 N. Oakley. 12 to 5 p.m., $2; bucktownpromotions.com

HoliDOSE

The ever-popular DOSE market is like the department store of indie goods with chefs, bakers, artists and designers showcasing in one modern hub. More than 100 “dosers” will be present with unique items like wreaths from Field & Florist, vacations from Mr + Mrs. Smith, artwork from Chris Uphoes, even wild Alaskan salmon from Big Blue Bay. Find something for everyone in one spot and then get it wrapped by the pros behind INDO design (donations go to the Snow City Arts organization).

Look out for: Rare Bird Preserves — full flavor, small batch jams

December 14 at Venue One, 1034 W. Randolph. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., $8 (in advance); dosemarket.com

Selena Fragassi is a local freelance writer.