Another holiday season looms, and you’re already panicking about what to get everybody. Novelty Christmas sweaters aren’t going to cut it this year, you want to see actual surprise on your loved one’s faces as they unwrap their presents, and not of the “gee thanks, you shouldn’t have” variety. Fortunately, you have Chicago’s huge holiday craft fairs to give you a crash course on creative gift-giving. More than just shopping spots, they’re perfect for a day out with the family, so you can get in the spirit while you cross name after name off your list–multi-tasking we can all embrace. Here are three great holiday craft fairs in Chicago with something for everybody in your life, no matter what they’re into.
Old World Family Fun- Nov. 21-Dec. 24
Pack your little guys into their coats and take them to Christkindlmarket, a kid’s holiday paradise. Visiting Christkindlmart, the most family-friendly of all craft fairs, is like stepping inside a Christmas tree. There are dreamy displays of foil-wrapped chocolates and glittery ornaments in every direction. Come on opening night, and a huge fireworks display will add yet more glitter to the night. Based on a German holiday tradition that dates back to the 1500s, Christkindlmarket has musical and performance events for the whole family. You’ll find yourself forgetting it’s cold out when you shake your hips along with the Barefoot Hawaiian dance troupe (it makes sense when you see it). And whether or not they believe in the jolly old elf, your kids will be wowed when they meet Christkindlmarket’s glamorous namesake, Christkind – a beautiful blonde angel with golden wings and an enormous golden crown – who brings holiday gifts to kids in Germany, and maybe Chicago as well …
Deep DIY – Dec. 6 and 7
The Renegade Craft Fair is chock-full of the awesomely quirky gifts that you can hardly believe are handmade. Held at the elegant, lofted-timber Bridgeport Art Center, it’s where you’ll find kooky sea glass jewelry, hand-printed indie band posters, and maybe even macrame plant hangers for that special friend who still lives in the ’70s. While you’re at it, pick up festive holiday candles to change the heart of your favorite Scrooge, and beautiful handcrafted paper to wrap it all in. Though based in Chicago, this highly curated DIY market is so well received that it now packs up, caravan-style, and heads around the country and then to the U.K. every holiday season. Bring the kiddos along for some super-hip facepainting action and samples of local artisanal food and drink.
Start Up Style – Dec. 14
At HoliDose, the aesthetic is a little less crafty and a little more high-end – think couture, design-conscious housewares, and slightly experimental gadgets. Dose is the place to find the ultimate little black dress for anyone who refuses to be caught in the same outfit as someone else, or a bright, patterned bow tie: the height of geek-chic. They also showcase food entrepreneurs, so the aroma of gourmet baked goods will have you waffling (pun intended) between an overwhelming desire to eat everything in sight and an overwhelming desire to buy everything in sight. Tickets to this one-day event include a free adult beverage, so you can sip on a little something-something while you and the young’uns take a break to watch hot local bands play in Dose’s crazy iron stairwell. Uber-cool Dose has food, art, start-up, and craft weekend markets all year long celebrating their mission to “make love, not junk” – so consider this an introduction to a possible year-round weekend lifestyle. After this, you may never give a gift card again.