Thursday, November 20, 2008

Christmas Crafts Show

Today is the beginning of the Annual Signature's Christmas Craft Show at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. This sale has been going on for years and offers a wide variety of handmade items from more than 100 Canadian artisans.

This isn't your average arts and crafts show. You'll find:
- Christmas decor large and small
- creative designs in fashion and fine jewellery
- paintings, photography and other wall art
- sculptures in wood, metal, glass, and ceramic
- clothing and accessories for all ages
- home decor items such as candles
- scented products for you and your home
- gourmet foods such as spice blends, chocolates, baked goods and flavoured nuts and popcorn's
- and more!

The show has a bit of everything! It is easy to become overwhelmed with the vast variety of products that are available, but I've been going to this annual extravaganza for so many years now, that I have it down to a science! Here are my tips for successfully navigating this event:

Make a list - what do you need to buy and who do you need to buy for? I buy Christmas ornaments for all the nieces/nephews and children in my life who are under 18 and/or still living at home. I started doing this over 30 years ago with my sister's kids and am now doing it with their children. They get a handmade ornament every year so that they have enough to decorate a small tree when they move out on their own. This is also easier to buy than trying to keep track of what they like and their sizes! The kids love it and still treasure the ornaments they got over the years! Note: If you are going to do this, you should keep a running list in your gift drawer of what type of ornaments that you bought for each child so that you don't give them the same type of ornament every year. For example: Clay snowman; 2006 - crocheted snowflake; 2007 - wooden reindeer; etc.

Bring credit cards and some cash! - most of the vendors accept some type of credit card, but not all, so bring some cash to avoid disappointment!

Go early! - It tends to get very busy in the late afternoon, evening and on weekends. The earlier you get there, the better chance you'll have to explore and find what you are looking for.

Wear comfortable shoes and check your coat! - As there are over 100 booths, there is a lot of ground to cover. The coat check saves carrying around winter wear and the nominal fee raises money for a worthy local charity.

Bring a bottle of water! - There are several food booths that offer samples of dips, sauces, cakes, confections and snack foods. You will want to cleanse your pallet so that you are ready for the next taste temptation!

Bring a pen, a high mark pen and a clip board - I always take a clipboard to put my program on. When I find a booth that has products that I think I might like to purchase, I mark the booth with a highlight pen so that I know where to come back to. If there is something you really like, many artists will hold it for you for an hour or two of you ask nicely!

Browse everything once! - I make the rounds of all the booths before I buy. You never know what you might find at the next booth or around the next corner! I then take a break and look over the list of booths that I have marked and check my wish list.

I also bring a healthy snack such as fruit with cheese and crackers. I eat this while I am looking over my list and deciding what booths I wish to purchase from. Once I've made up my mind, I go back to the selected booths and make my purchases.

This annual event has been going on for almost thirty years, In that time, I've missed only a half dozen or so. I missed a couple in the 1980's and the first few years of the 1990's after loosing so much of my sight. I started going again in the mid 90's and haven't missed since. I call ahead and the staff print a larger program guide and floor plan for me. This makes it a lot easier for me to find my way around. I love seeing familiar vendors and meeting new creative and talented artisans every year. The quality of the products is amazing and the prices range from under $5.00 well into the 100's. There is definitely something for every ones' taste and budget.

Admission is free, so all you pay is to check your coat and your bus fare or parking. So what are you waiting for? Here is the perfect opportunity to jump start (or finish!) your Holiday shopping with some unique treats and pieces for those special people in your life - and of course a little something or two for yourself!


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