Holiday shopping is such a chore. It's not even the crowds or the long lines — it's just the plain monotony of staring at a shelf full of junk and trying to decide if any man ever really needs one more tie. The key, then, is to make shopping more of an activity. To make it an event. But how?
It's easy, you dummy. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, a whole slew of events take place for no other purpose than to sell you nifty, one-of-a-kind gifts. They're mainly of the crafty, handmade, DIY persuasion, which is good because it keeps you away from mass-produced schlock, keeps your dollars local, supports all those creative types who deserve it and ensures you'll be able to find one really sweet tie.
First up is this annual event hosted by Inside Detroit and Detroit Synergy focusing on Detroit's mom-and-pop shops. Now in its eighth year, the event is geared for shoppers from the entire metro area who might not be familiar with all of Detroit's diverse retail offerings. This year, Shop Detroit is being held in conjunction with Small Business Saturday, an initiative spearheaded by American Express to encourage folks to take some time between Black Friday and Cyber Monday to support the indie businesses in their community. Shop Detroit enlivens the process with giveaways, specials and more. Participating stores include everything from longtime institutions such as John K. Kings Books to newer spots such as Goods and Leopold's Books to museum shops including MOCAD and the Charles Wright Museum. Shop Detroit takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26; check-in at the Inside Detroit Welcome Center, 1253 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-962-4590 or register in advance at detroitsynergy.org.
Low Dough Art Show
If you can only stomach shopping if you're also stomaching beer, then this barroom art fair may be your best bet. Local artists Rob-O, Beth Amber, Jerry Shirts and Amanda May offer up creative wares all priced to move at less than $50. Even better, Sharks Never Sleep, the McFlys and D-Day create the sonic accompaniment that make this 8 gazillion times better than visiting a mall. And for the broke and cheap, purchase a ticket for the art raffle for a chance to win, rather than buy, a gift. From 7 till 10 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29, at PJ's Lager House, 1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-961-4668; $3 cover.
Detroit Urban Craft Fair
Next up is the granddaddy of the Motor City's handmade events, the Detroit Urban Craft Fair. Now in its sixth year, the DUCF packs together so many artsy and crafty types you just might need to go both days to see it all. Locally made ginger fizz soap, mojito-flavored lip gloss, Detroit-centric clothing, Marie Curie magnets, hand-drawn paper goods, repurposed vintage jewelry, purses, paintings, prints, candles, nightlights, hand puppets, shoes ... the list goes on and on. Basically, everything you never knew you wanted to buy for people who never knew they wanted it (but will love it). The DUCF takes place Saturday, Dec. 3 and Sunday, Dec. 4 at the Masonic Temple, 500 Temple St., Detroit. For info, see detroiturbancraftfair.com.
New last year, DIYpsi expands to a second day giving Washtenawers twice the handmade shopping fun. The show offers a diverse array of vendors slinging goodies sure to please everyone on your list. Even better, you can slam a beer or two while you peruse the various DIY offerings. Filling a definite hole in the West Side craft scene since the Shadow Art Fair switched up its winter event from an art fair to a costume ball, DIYpsi takes place Saturday, Dec. 10 and Sunday, Dec. 11 at the Corner Brewery, 720 Norris St., Ypsilanti; 734-480-2739; info at diypsi.com.
Also returning for a second year is Ann Arbor's Tiny Expo, billed as the city's "biggest little indie arts & craft fair." Founded by four Ann Arbor-area artists, Tiny Expo features more than 25 vendors selling affordable and original creations, as well as offerings not typical of your average craft fair, from the likes of the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Sobercove Press, J. Trees Wine, RoosRoast Coffee and more. Also expect lip balms, salves and other herbal goodies from Artemisia Herbals; singular floral arrangements and containers from Pot & Box; card and prints courtesy of Elevated Press; posters by the Silent Giants and plenty more. Food, libations and film screenings courtesy of the Ann Arbor Film Festival add to the festive atmosphere. Tiny Expo takes place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, across from the Kerrytown Farmer's Market at 327 Braun St., Ann Arbor; tinyexpo.com for info.
Rock and Rummage
Holiday Shopping Show
By now, a single theme is clear — if you want holiday shopping to be fun, make sure alcohol is involved. Rock and Rummage is perhaps Detroit's original boozy buying experience, a traveling flea market of rock memorabilia, vintage items and more, all hawked in various bars throughout metro Detroit. The holiday show brings together 17 Rock and Rummage vendors offering the usual rock 'n' roll fare, including records, DVDs, posters, retro collectibles, clothing, books, jewelry, handmade goods and all manner of hard-to-find, super-cool surprises. Each night of the two-night shopping extravaganza will feature a variety of different vendors, so you might want to stop in for a beer and browse both nights. Just sayin'. Friday, Dec. 9 and Saturday, Dec. 10 at the Painted Lady Lounge, 2930 Jacob St., Hamtramck; 313-874-2991.