While shopping for back to school supplies with my daughter, we couldn’t help but be excitedly distracted by the newly set up display of Halloween and fall decorations. It was 90 degrees outside, yet here was a huge reminder that although it still feels like summer in San Diego, the holidays are right around the corner.
I don’t know about you, but I get really excited to go Christmas shopping. I truly find the joy in searching for that perfect gift and watching my family open what I have picked out for them. Every other year we travel back to Wisconsin to spend the holidays with family. The years we stay here in California, my list of people to buy for is pretty short (kids, husband, and grandparents), because we are not present for the big gift exchanges. And my shopping experience is pretty boring, as I buy most everything online to be shipped straight to the recipient. When we do travel home, my list is long (usually we buy for about 18 people!) and the type-A personality in me loves crossing off each person on my list.
While some people plan and plot their way through the large chain stores on Black Friday, consider searching for the perfect gift(s) at one of San Diego’s many vendor fairs. Vendor fairs typically have a large variety of handmade goods for sale including jewelry, candles, pottery, artwork and more. An added bonus, you have the opportunity to support small business and momtrepreneurs.
My favorite booths are those selling homemade food. Who doesn’t like to stop for a free sample? Consider using a jar of homemade barbeque sauce as a starting point for someone you know who likes to grill, and then add a book about grilling to round off the gift (Build Your Own Burger by San Diego’s own Jeff Rossman is on my wish list this year). Jellies and jams are also a favorite for the holidays, as you can pair them with baking mixes, utensils, serving trays, an apron and more.
Gifts for the kids are abundant as well. Marshmallow shooters, crotched hats, and tutus are popular items you will find at vendor fairs. And don’t forget to keep your eye out for something small for your child’s teacher!
Purchasing one of-a-kind items from a vendor fair reminds the gift recipient that you were really thinking about them at the time. Even if gift cards are more you style, keep an eye out for something small that will add a personal touch to your gift.
Before diving into the list of events available to you this holiday season, here are a few tips to attending a successful vendor fair:
- Arrive at the beginning of the event, or near the end. The beginnings of events are cooler and less crowded, making it easier to see what each booth is selling. Vendors have more energy and will be able to pay more attention to you as a customer. Plus you will have the best selection of products to purchase, as many items are one of a kind. Near the end of the day, the crowds thin out again, making it easier to navigate from booth to booth. Many vendors are willing to make a deal on remaining items. Always ask if they offer a discount for bundling.
- Bring cash! Small bills are preferred. Many vendors accept credit cards, although some do not. It’s an awful feeling to fall in love with an item, but have to walk away from it because the vendor only accepts cash. Also, most prefer cash to avoid paying a percentage of profits to the card processing companies. You might even get them to go down on their price a dollar or two by offering to pay cash instead of credit.
- BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag). Not only are reusable bags environmentally friendly, they can hold more than plastic bags can. Some cities are banning vendors from using plastic bags, forcing you to hold all of your goodies in your hands. If you are doing some major shopping, grab your child’s wagon or stroller to hold your items, or ask the vendor if they will hold your purchase for you until you return to pick it up. Just make sure you provide your phone number so that they can reach you in case you can’t remember where their booth is located.
San Diego Vendor Events 2016:
24th and 25th Oceanside Harbor Days
24th and 25th Julian Apple Festival
21st, 22nd, and 23rd Del Mar Harvest Festival
4th San Diego Moms Blog’s Mom Prom
4th and 5th Made Market San Diego
5th and 6th Bates Nut Farm Christmas Arts, Crafts & Vintage Market (first event)
25th, 26th, and 27th Bates Nut Farm Christmas Arts, Crafts & Vintage Market (second event)
2nd and 3rd Queen Bee Boutique Oceanside
2nd and 3rd Bates Nut Farm Christmas in the Valley
2nd and 3rd Balboa Park December Nights
About the Guest Author, Jessica Stremer:
Originally from Wisconsin, Jessica and her husband have lived in San Diego for going on 6 years. She is a military spouse and stay at home mom to two beautiful little girls, ages 5 and 3. In addition, Jessica is hard at work growing her company Five O’Clock Jelly. She enjoys spending time outdoors and continually exploring all that San Diego has to do and offer.