7 Tips for Navigating Holiday Craft Shows

#Indianapolis — Now that the countdown of weeks until Christmas is in the single digits, ’tis the season for holiday craft shows in Central Indiana. Between now and  early December, you can find a craft show — or several — every weekend.

One plus of holiday bazaars is that you can get unique gifts and decor that you won’t find at Target or other big box stores. The majority of the items are hand-crafted and you can feel good about supporting an independent artist or crafter. 

 Bird feeder vendor at Gingerbread ChristmasIf you plan to shop at holiday craft shows this season, consider these tips:

1. Pace yourself. At most holiday bazaars there will be multiple beaded jewelry booths, ornament sellers, and vendors selling handmade clothes for American Girl dolls. Circle past all the booths once before making a purchase. That necklace in the first booth that is perfect for your sister might not be as perfect as the one in the 17th booth.

2. Bring cash. Although many vendors will accept credit and debit now, there are still some who operate on a cash-only basis. Plus, if you bring the amount of cash you have budgeted to spend, when the cash is gone you know your shopping is done.

3. Leave the strollers (and the kids) at home. I love kids. I have three of them myself. But trying to navigate a stroller through throngs of holiday shoppers is not fun for you, the kid or anyone else.

4. Bring a friend. While holiday bazaaring sans kids is recommended, the activity is much more fun with a friend or two. Make a day of it and enjoy lunch together, too.

5. Be patient. Those throngs of holiday shoppers I mentioned above? They are going to be there. You may have to wait to get through a hallway or to see an item on display. Leave the bah humbugs at home (with the kids).

6. Respect the craftsmanship. Know going in that these events are not flea markets or garage sales. The majority of the people selling wares at holiday craft shows are artisans and craftsmen. They have thoughtfully set their prices based on their investment of time and materials. It’s ok to ask if they would take a lower price, but don’t be offended if  they won’t — and don’t offend them by offering a ridiculously low amount.

7. Take business cards. Many vendors will have business cards available. If you aren’t sure that you are ready to make a purchase, but you are very interested in an item, take a business card. Write down a description of the item on the back of card and contact the vendor later. Be warned, however, that merchandise may sell out or the vendor may not be able to complete a custom order in time for the holidays.

Vendor plugs in a lighted wreathHere are just a few of the many local shows to check out:

Indianapolis Holiday Mart
November 12-16, 2014
Indiana State Fairgrounds
Admission: $15 at the door, $10 with advance purchase at Marsh Supermarkets

Westfield Band Boosters Annual Holiday Craft Show
Saturday, November 22, 2014
9am – 4pm
Westfield High School — 18250 N. Union Street, Westfield
Admission: $2; Kids ages 12 & under are free

INDIEana Handicraft Exchange
Friday, December 5, 2014

Harrison Center for the Arts — 1505 North Delaware Street, Indianapolis
Admission: Free
Plainfield Tri Kappa Gingerbread Christmas
Saturday, December 6, 2014
9am – 3pm
Plainfield High School Fieldhouse – 1 Red Pride Drive, Plainfield
Admission: $3