Branching Out: Look beyond the (big) box for your holiday shopping

Laste modified: Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A “Santa’s helper” scouting trip to the mall yesterday left me feeling glum: All the displays of gift items blended together into one generic muddle. But there’s an easy solution to that Grinch-like take on the holiday - the decidedly non-generic offerings you can find at holiday craft shows and fairs. Given the large number of artists who live in the Valley, the pickings are plentiful.Start your shopping this weekend with the open studio event at the Arts & Industry Building at 221 Pine St. in Florence, where you’ll find pottery, clothing, jewelry, paintings and more. The sale runs Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 9 and 10, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.That’s followed by the Snow Farm Seconds Sale in Williamsburg, where some of the region’s top artisans put their slightly less-than-perfect pieces up for sale at big discounts (I’ve gotten beautiful vases there - cheap). The sale runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for three weekends, Nov. 15 to 17, Nov. 22 to 24 and Nov. 29 to Dec. 1. The stock is replenished regularly, so don’t worry that you’ll lose out if you can’t get there the first weekend. The $1 admission charge benefits the scholarship program at Snow Farm, which offers intensive crafts workshops year-round.In Easthampton, the Handmade With Love fair at Eastworks on Pleasant Street takes place Nov. 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The enormous Eastworks building is home to dozens of creative types, and there will be pop-up shops there during the holiday season as well. Also in Easthampton, the Cottage Street Studios sale, a longtime tradition that draws people from all over western Massachusetts, runs Dec. 6, 7, 8 and 14; see its website for hours. And Easthampton City Arts+ is organizing the Small Works Show and Sale from Dec. 5 to 16 at the ECA+ gallery on Main Street. For more open studios and craft events, check the “And …” section of the Hampshire Life Calendar each Friday.