Shopping may seem like the last thing we want to tackle during the holiday season. But it should be fun, not just expedient. Before heading to a mall or opening your computer or tablet for something generic that can be had just about anywhere, consider choosing locally handcrafted, unique gifts that are guaranteed to delight the recipient.
Downtown Benicia is a good start—you can find handcrafted goods at many First Street shops—and affordable art in Benicia galleries. Another option is to visit one or more of the many makers’ markets, which are growing in number around the Bay. Makers offer high quality, creative items that make perfect and memorable gifts for friends and family. Depending on the market, you’ll find an impressive array of locally handmade products that include clothing, pillows, jewelry, toiletry bags, travel items, candles, art, textiles, leather goods, home décor, garden items and unusual gifts.
There are two markets here in Benicia—Jingle All the Way Annual Holiday Fair at the Historical Museum and Benicia Main Street’s annual Christmas Parade and Holiday Market on First Street. Both events offer locally handcrafted goods.
At Maker’s Market, which puts on markets in six locations in California, operations manager Heath Owen says that there’s a resurgence in the American maker movement that honors old world traditions in a modern world. Makers Market has four brick and mortar locations throughout the Bay Area, the closest being Walnut Creek and Napa, in addition to their monthly markets (see the website).
Berkeley’s Maker’s Row has a similar mission to support local artists, according to spokesperson Marguerite Munoz, and is “the perfect place to enjoy a slower pace of shopping and to appreciate a curated collection of unique, local offerings in East Bay … a hidden gem that’s made a permanent home in the paseo off Berkeley’s Fourth Street.” It’s also an opportunity to meet the makers and learn their craft.
Santa Rosa is on its 44th year of highlighting local, handcrafted goods by 90-plus artists. Items for sale include holiday décor, home goods, bath and body products, edibles and more. The two-day fair also offers live entertainment, trolley rides, a holiday open house, holiday tree and snowman photos and a kid’s craft area.
In San Francisco, there’s a Pinterest Makers Fair presented by SFMade, where, according to the event site, “38 makers kick off the season with an early gift fair specially curated by Pinterest, for shoppers looking for artisan, locally-made gifts in a unique and festive setting.” Also in the City, check out the annual Fort Mason Renegade Craft Fair. Since 2008, the fair has brought together crafters and artists from around the Bay for a weekend of “exceptional craft and design.”
Here’s a list to get you started on a fruitful (and more relaxed) shopping experience.
Jingle All the Way Holiday Fair, Benicia
Sat. 11/8 & Sun. 11-5
Benicia Historical Museum
2060 Camel Road, Benicia
707.745.5435, beniciahistoricalmuseum.org, @beniciahistoricalmuseum
Benicia Main Street Christmas Parade & Holiday Market
Sat. 12/15, 10am-3pm (market starts after the parade)
707.745.9791, beniciamainstreet.org, @beniciamainst
Pinterest Makers Fair San Francisco
Sat. Nov. 3, 11am-4pm, $5 suggested donation. 651 Brannan Street
San Francisco, sfmade.org/blog/sfmade-holiday-fairs-2018 @SFmade
Renegade Craft Fair, San Francisco
11/10 & 11, Fort Mason Festival Pavilion
2 Marina Blvd., San Francisco
Berkeley Maker’s Row
View Maker’s products Friday, Saturday and Sunday November & December
In the paseo off Fourth Street, Berkeley
347.779.4619, facebook.com/fourthstmakersrow, @makersrowberkeley
Bay Area Maker’s Markets by Makersmarket.us
Broadway Plaza Makers Market, Walnut Creek, 11/11 and 12/8
Santana Row Makers Market in the Park, San Jose, 11/3 and 12/1
Makers Market on the Deck, Los Gatos, 11/10 and 12/8
Makers Market at the Lumber Yard, Mill Valley, 11/10 and 12/8
Makers Market at First Street, Napa, 11/17 and 12/15
Handmade Holiday Crafts Fair, Santa Rosa
44th Annual Fair, Sat. 12/1, 9am-5pm, Sun. 12/2, 10am-4pm
Finley Community Complex, 2060 West College Avenue
$3 per person, kids under 12 free
No pets, service animals only