.Give Local—Marin’s holiday offerings

The holiday season has officially arrived, bringing with it a sense of festive cheer that is impossible to deny. 

The days are growing shorter, the nights colder and the community is abuzz with anticipation for the celebrations which fill the last months of the year. 

With the holidays just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about the gifts you’ll give your loved ones to celebrate the season. And, with holiday shopping on everyone’s minds, now is as good a time as any to call out the capitalistic elephant in the room when it comes to winter holiday spending. Consider spending your hard-earned money within the community and support local artists, makers and business owners in the process by shopping locally for the holidays.

Also keep in mind Small Business Saturday, a relatively new holiday situated conveniently between Black Friday and Cyber Monday which celebrates holiday shopping on a local scale. This national event was first celebrated in 2010 and has since become a large counter-movement to commercial consumerism. Instead of funneling your holiday funds into Amazon, Small Business Saturday encourages people to support the backbone of America: small businesses and the people who run them. 

From bookshops to boutiques to restaurants, Marin is full of unique shopping options for Small Business Saturday. But where are the best places to shop local?

Open Air Artisan Faire and Makers Market 

The Open Air Artisan Faire and Makers Market at the Mill Valley Lumber Yard is held every second Saturday of the month and is set to take place from 11am to 5pm, Nov. 12 and Dec. 10. This open-air craft fair features work from both local and American artisans. Visitors are encouraged to grab a coffee, tea or festive beverage before shopping the day away at the 10-plus makers’ booths and unique retail shops, specially designed to encourage local serving, entrepreneurial and artistic businesses. This market also offers eateries, live music and a safe space to bring children and pets along for local holiday shopping. 

The Open Air Artisan Faire and Makers Market is located at the Mill Valley Lumber Yard at 129 Miller Ave. For more information, call 415-326-5111 or visit their website at millvalleylumberyard.com.

Outdoor Antique French Market

The Outdoor Antique French Market of Marin takes place every second Sunday in San Rafael and will be open from 9am to 3pm, Nov. 13 and Dec. 11. This market allows locals to experience the atmosphere of a French street market without the hassle of traveling all the way to Europe. At the Outdoor Antique Market, attendees can take a festive Sunday stroll through aisles of antiques, collectibles, books, vintage furniture, jewelry, retro décor, vintage shabby chic and much more. Guests can expect to listen to live French music, grab a crêpe and come home with a treasure or two to gift to loved ones this holiday season. 

This market will take place at the Veteran’s Auditorium Parking lot on Civic Center Drive in San Rafael. Admission and parking are free. For more information, visit the website at thefrenchmarketmarin.com.

Downtown San Rafael’s Parade of Lights & Winterwonderland

The Annual Parade of Lights and Winterwonderland on Shop Small Saturday is set to take place in San Rafael from 1 to 5pm, Nov. 26, with a lighted classic car parade at 5:30pm. This one-block event will host a makers’ marketplace, winter costume characters, carolers, food trucks and entertainment for all ages. And, throughout downtown San Rafael, Shop Small Saturday will be celebrated with merchant treats and discounts, a window decorating contest and an elf hunt. 

For more information about the Parade of Lights & Winterwonderland, visit the website at downtownsanrafael.org.

Margaret Todd Holiday Crafts Faire

Novato’s Margaret Todd Holiday Crafts Faire will span across Dec. 2 and 3 in Novato, Friday from 6-9pm and Saturday from 10am-4pm, offering locals a chance to browse over 55 booths with a wide range of holiday crafts and other gift ideas, including jewelry, ceramics, wreaths, ornaments, bath and body products, specialty foods and more. Attendees can pick from the plethora of unique gifts and support local artists at the same time. 

The Holiday Crafts Faire takes place at the Margaret Todd Senior Center. Entertainment and food will be available throughout the event, and Santa is expected to make an appearance on Saturday, giving families and friends a chance for a holiday photo-op. 

The Margaret Todd Senior Center is located at 1560 Hill Rd. in Novato.

Artisan Craft Fair & Holiday Market

After a two-year hiatus, the Artisan Craft Fair & Holiday Market is returning to the Point Reyes Station from Dec. 2-4 with festive offerings to celebrate the fair’s 50th anniversary.

Those who attend this event can expect to find fine arts and crafts from favorite local artisans. Festivities will kick off on Dec. 2 with a hearty fare of Straus Organic Eggnog and baked goods by Papermill Creek Children’s Corner. On Dec. 3, the fair will feature Japanese food by a local vendor, Kinoko. 

The Artisan Craft Fair & Holiday Market takes place at The Dance Palace Community Center at 503 B St., Point Reyes Station and will feature handcrafted treasures from local West Marin makers. Email [email protected] for more information.

If none of these festive holiday markets and faires has the perfect gifts for your loved ones this holiday season, you can always visit locally-owned businesses and buy your gifts from them as well. Marin County is full of local food products such as wines, cheeses, chocolates and more. 

The same can be said for beauty products and luxury bath and body items. And don’t forget local bookstores and cinemas too. The gift of giving is a wonderful thing and, when you shop local and buy your holiday gifts from a business in the community, the impact is much wider than anyone could expect. 

When you shop locally, the money you spend stays within your community, and the carbon footprint of your gift buying is reduced by cutting out the shipping middle-person (plus your gifts are guaranteed to arrive on time if you buy them outright instead of relying on unreliable holiday shipping). Not only are you giving a unique, local gift to a loved one; you are also giving a gift to the local shop—the gift of patronage, support and community.

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