CRAFTS AND CLAUS: Read any book describing a celebration from, oh, about 1900 to the beginning of books, and you're bound to read about gifts that were made by someone's hand (and very often made expressly for the giftee). Knitted scarves and embroidered vests and ceramic cups and other presents, presents that now seem homespun and charming to our eyes but were very much the thing in past centuries, dominated a child's birthday or a yuletide gathering. We still give those kinds of presents of course, much to the delight of the person we're treating, but finding a good made by a specific craftsperson's hand, and meeting that person one-on-one, is a rarer thing.
THANK GOODNESS... so many solid art and craft fairs spring up near the holidays, and happy days, one of the country's best examples, and longest-runners, and most Santa-nice, happens to be in Southern California. It's in Laguna Beach, to be specific, it's a colder-weather cousin to the summertime Sawdust Art Festival, and it's called the Winter Fantasy. Are there booths of blown glass and feather-laden earrings and earthen mugs and watercolors of the ocean? So many, and so quaintly situated in the alfresco, tree-dotted, sawdusty-floor setting.
PLUS... Santa's about, quite often, as people are making their one-of-a-kind holiday gift purchases. Not only Santa but holiday touches'll be hither and thither, lending the already picturesque grounds cheer. As for the buying-of-interesting-things opportunities? There are over 175 artists in all, so you very likely will find that made-by-hand goodie for the lover of deeply considered gifts in your life. The dates? The Winter Fantasy fa-la-las each weekend from Saturday, Nov. 22 through Sunday, Dec. 21.