A number of handcrafted items can be found at several holiday arts and crafts shows slated to take place in the Southland in the next couple of months.
Sure, you could head to your local supermarket for a Christmas wreath or bird feeder. Chances are, though, you'll not only spend more, but your wares will reek of mass production.
That's where local craft and vendors shows come in.
"People like the homemade things," said Karen Carroll, who chairs Our Lady of the Ridge's annual craft and vendor fair along with Mary Liston.
"I think people like to find unique things, and you'll find more unique things at a craft show than you could find in a store."
Our Lady's free fair, which will take place Nov. 13 at the Chicago Ridge school, is just one of dozens of local craft and vendor shows that Southlanders can peruse to find knickknacks and essentials for around the home.
The craft shows, which often are accentuated by things such as raffles, bake sales and the like, are a win-win for both vendors and buyers, Carroll said.
"We're reasonably priced, plus we do draw a good crowd so (vendors) have a captive audience," she said. "They have a lot of people coming in. If they have something someone's looking for, then they can have a really good day."
Carroll said the school's fair has grown through the years despite the fact that most area residents have been tightening their belts.
"I've seen the number of crafters increase," she said. "We sell it out almost every year now.
"When I first started doing it, we didn't. We probably had around 50 (vendors). Now we probably have about 75 or 80, so that's gone up quite a bit."
But the recent downturn in the economy has affected sales, according to Carroll.
"The last two years, I would say, as a thermometer, just because of the economy, most (vendors) haven't done very well," she said.
"But they told us that it wasn't our fault. (Sales are) down everywhere. It'll be better this year just because I think things are turning around."
There is a plus side, though. The sagging economy hasn't had an effect on the crowds Carroll sees.
"Attendance has always been really good," she said. "We have a really good location on Ridgeland (Avenue) and 109th Street, and we're at a light so we never really have had a small crowd."
Even if they only come to window-shop, Carroll said attendees love coming to craft shows.
"Last year, there weren't less people. They just spent less money," she said.
Jason Freeman can be reached at (708) 802-8808 or email@example.com.
A number of arts and crafts shows are set to take place in the Southland in the next couple of months.
Here's a look at a few that are on the way.
ST. ALBERT THE GREAT CATHOLIC SCHOOL'S PARENT ASSOCIATION'S HOLIDAY FAIR CRAFT AND VENDOR SHOW - St. Albert the Great Catholic Church's Rogers Hall (church basement), 5555 W. State Road (80th Street and Central Avenue), Burbank, (708) 424-7757 or (708) 612-0807: This event will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 6.
Shoppers, crafters and vendors are encouraged to participate. Space availability starts at $25 on a first-come, first-served basis.
MOUNT CARMEL HIGH SCHOOL'S MOTHERS' CLUB'S HOLIDAY CRAFT BAZAAR - Convocation Center, 6410 S. Dante Ave., Chicago, (773) 324-1020: This annual event will run from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Nov. 18.
"Get the jump on your holiday shopping early with one-of-a-kind gifts in (a) relaxed and festive atmosphere," officials said.
Chicago-area vendors and artists will offer unique products including picture frames, mirrors, jewelry, body products and soaps, garden ornaments, serving platters, glassware, wraps, scarves, and holiday decorations.
Free admission includes complimentary snacks and soft drinks. There also will be wine available for purchase. "Please bring your family and friends," officials said.
SPEED SPECIAL EDUCATION COOPERATIVE'S HOLIDAY SHOPPING EXTRAVAGANZA - Special Education Joint Agreement School District 802, 1125 Division St. Chicago Heights, (708) 481-6100: This Nov. 18 event will feature free admission.
Parents and staffers will sell purses, candles, jewelry, embroidered items, painted glasses, Market Day, photography, Avon, dog beds and more.
UNION STREET GALLERY'S "DO IT YOURSELF" GIFT EXTRAVAGANZA - 1527 Otto Blvd., Chicago Heights, (708) 754 2601: This event will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. Nov. 19 to kick off the holiday shopping season.
Eloquence Inc. and Bobby Kahn Design Jewelry have put together this event, with a portion of the proceeds to be donated to the South Suburban Family Center.
Attendees can enjoy signature cocktails and hors d'oeuvres while shopping, mingling with local artisans and supporting a great cause.
Gifts include pillows, quilts, handbags, jewelry, candles, aromatherapy, home decor and accessories, bookmarks, cards, vintage jewel encrusted picture frames and mirrors, art glass, drawing, watercolor, and kids backpacks.
Artists participating include Margaret Burns-Westmeyer, Christine Charter, Barb Mason, Jessica Hinterman, Heirloom Wear and Accessories, Christina Calderone and Cheryl Ann Downs.
Teddy & Simone, Janette Hartman, Kathy Chapleau (Marley Candles, Mokena), Kelly Kolodziej, Carol Davidson, Cathy Fladeland-Elli and Friends, Sandy Newell/Mary Ann Papandrea, and Kim Albert-Bosco are additional artists participating in the event.
OUR LADY OF THE RIDGE'S CRAFT AND VENDOR FAIR - 10859 S. Ridgeland Ave., Chicago Ridge, (708) 945-9405: This annual event will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 13.
More than 50 crafters and vendors will participate in this show, which also will feature food, a bake sale and a raffle. New this year will be a cake walk.
In lieu of an admission fee, you can bring a nonperishable item to stock the food pantry or make a freewill donation to the St. Vincent de Paul Society at the door.
Crafters can download a registration form at ourladyoftheridge.org.
JACOBS WELL CHURCH VENDOR FAIR - 3450 W. Maple St., Evergreen Park, (708) 636-5653: This third annual fundraiser benefiting Christmas 4 Kids will take place from 4 to 9 p.m. Nov. 6.
There will be more than 30 vendors, raffle baskets and a bake sale. Attendees also can bring in unwanted gold and get cash. The first 250 to enter will receive a Christmas 4 Kids goody bag.
Admission is $5. New toy donations are welcomed and will be used for children in need.
Christmas 4 Kids began serving children in December and established itself as a nonprofit in May to expand its mission of serving children in Evergreen Park. The organization solicits public and private sector support for funds to serve the needy children in the Evergreen Park community.
MOST HOLY REDEEMER PARISH'S CRAZY FOR CHRISTMAS VENDOR FAIR - Briody Hall, 9536 S. Millard Ave., Evergreen Park, (708) 425-5354: This event will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. Nov. 10 and features a $5 entrance fee.
The more than 30 vendors include Arts by Ashley Sullivan, Artzings, Avon, Because I Like It, Candles by Theresa, Celebrating Home, Christmas Decor by Georgette, Chocolates by Leslie, the Classmate Ltd., Ella Bella Bows, Ella's on Drake, Fudgie Wudgie, Lauren Enright Photography, Lazee Sunday, Lia Sophia, Lil Biddy Bows, Longaberger, Miche Bags, North Face/UGGs, Pampered Chef, Rebecca Cards, Reliv, Running Excels, Scentsy (wickless candles), Shakalee, Stella and Dot, Tastefully Simple, Wear Your Joy, and Whimsy.
There will be more than 30 raffles. Also, old gold can be turned in for cash on site, and there will be a chance to win an iPod nano or an Apple iPad.
OUR LADY OF LORETTO CATHOLIC CHURCH'S WOMEN'S GUILD'S CHRISTMAS ARTS, CRAFTS AND HOME PARTY - Parish hall, 8925 S. Kostner Ave., Hometown, (708) 423-4206 (Pat Walker, after 6 p.m.): This annual event is set for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 28.
A variety of handmade crafts will be available. And home party representatives will be on hand with merchandise for sale. A diner, bakery, pictures with Santa and raffles also will be part of the day. Admission is free.
Exhibitor spaces also are available for a nonrefundable entry fee of $35 per spot. Information: ourladyloretto.com by clicking on Upcoming Events.
UNITED METHODIST WOMEN'S HOLIDAY LANE CRAFT SHOW AND POTATO BAR - United Methodist Church of New Lenox, 339 W. Haven Ave., New Lenox, (815) 485-8271: This annual event will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 12.
This show will feature the work of 17 crafters and vendors, a speciality shop, a bake sale and a second-time-around shop. The potato bar luncheon will include two sittings at 11 a.m. and 12:15 p.m.
Tickets are $7 for adults and $2 for ages younger than 6 when purchased in advance. Carry-out tickets are also available.
CHRIST LUTHERAN CHURCH'S HOLIDAY CRAFT BAZAAR AND BAKE SALE - 14700 S. 94th Ave., Orland Park, (708) 349-0431: This annual show will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 5 and 6.
The bazaar will feature handcrafted items for Christmas, autumn and year-round as well as home-baked goods. Light refreshments also will be available.
PALOS HEALTH & FITNESS CENTER'S HOLIDAY SHOPPING EXTRAVAGANZA - 15430 West Ave., Orland Park, (708) 226-0555: This event will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 8.
"Get your holiday shopping done early," officials said. "There will be many local vendors and crafters to satisfy everyone on your shopping list."
Attendees also can receive membership enrollment specials and discounts in the spa and pro shop.
SANDBURG HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC BOOSTER CLUB'S FALL CRAFT SHOW - 13300 LaGrange Road, Orland Park, (708) 671-3100: This annual show will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 20 and 21.
This year, the show has grown to be the largest in Sandburg history with more than 360 booths.
The club accepts only the finest crafters into the show. Vendors come from six states, primarily by word of mouth.
Many have been a part of the show for years.
The event features crafters specializing in jewelry, accessories, candles, furniture, holiday decor, and food items such as Potica nut rolls, homemade jams, sauces, dips and candy, to name a few.
There are also much requested vendors such as Tastefully Simple, team sport signs, cosmetics and handbags.
Concessions, smoothies, coffee and a bake sale will be available all day.
Admission is $4, with ages 13 and younger getting free admission. There will be free parking at the school and a free shuttle bus for off-site parking when the lots at school fill up.
This is the main fundraiser for the club, which donates substantial money to the athletic department to purchase a variety of items benefiting the entire student body.
The club also annually awards 16 $1000 scholarships to outstanding athletes, annually.
"With something for everyone on your list, come by and get your holiday shopping done all in one place," officials said.
ST. ALEXANDER PARISH'S HOLIDAY CRAFT AND VENDOR SHOW - St. Alexander School Gym, 7025 W. 126th St., Palos Heights, (708) 448-0408: This event will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 19. Admission is free.
QUIN SCHOOL'S PTA'S CRAFT-VENDOR FAIR & BAKE SALE - 7825 W.103rd St., Palos Hills, (708) 598-5500: This inaugural event will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 6.
ST. HELEN WOMEN'S PHILOPTOCHOS' HOLIDAY, CRAFT, GIFT AND FOOD FAIR - Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church, 11025 S. Roberts Road, Palos Hills, (708) 974-3400: This 25th annual bazaar will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 6 and 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 7.
There will be more than 3,000 square feet of vendor space with both holiday and non-holiday wares. The group's private label coffee also will be unveiled. For every 12-ounce bag of coffee purchased, you will receive a raffle ticket for a Cuisinart programmable coffeemaker.
"Come and browse and get a jump start on your holiday shopping," officials said. "While you are here, come and enjoy delicious homemade Greek pastries, breads and tantalizing Greek chicken, gyros, pastichio, spanakopita and other delicious foods to eat on the premises or take home to enjoy. This is really a treat."
Representatives from Oak Lawn business Reichman Jewelers, which has been in operation since 1908, will buy old unwanted gold and jewelry for cash on the spot.
SAVIOR DIVINE LUTHERAN CHURCH'S HOLIDAY CRAFT FAIR - 88th Avenue and 100th Place, Palos Hills, (708) 598-0700: This event will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 6.
There will be a variety of handcrafted items including jewelry, wood pieces, crochet pieces, sewn items, candy and photography as well as Avon, Tastefully Simple and Tupperware representatives.
Several raffle prizes will be offered.--Winners need not be present. Also, you can bring a nonperishable food item for a local food pantry and receive a free gift while supplies last.
A hot dog lunch may be purchased from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the kitchen will offer drinks for sale.
"Get a head start on your holiday shopping," officials said.
(UPDATED 11/11) STAGG HIGH SCHOOL MUSIC BOOSTERS' ARTS & CRAFTS FESTIVAL - 111th Street and Roberts Road, Palos Hills, (708) 361-8298: This event will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 13 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 14.
Admission is $2 for adults, free for children. Lunch and food sampling will be available. There also will be raffles and entertainment amid the arts, crafts and vendor booths. Information: staggmusic.org.
(UPDATED 11/10) ST. MARY CHURCH AND SCHOOL'S HARVEST CRAFT AND VENDOR FESTIVAL - 227 Monee Road, Park Forest, (708) 747-1600, (708) 748-6686: This seventh annual event will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 13.
There will be crafters galore, candles, quilts, gourmet goodies, raffles, a bake sale and the Council Cafe where you can purchase sandwiches, drinks and what's billed as famous walking tacos. Information: stmaryparkforest.org.
ANDREW HIGH SCHOOL MUSIC PARENTS' FALL CRAFT SHOW - 9001 W. 171st St., Tinley Park, (708) 925-6544: This 24th annual extravaganza will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 6 and 7.
More than 175 crafters will display a variety of arts and crafts on the main floor of the building. Concessions also will be available. And parking is free. Adult admission is $3, and ages 13 and younger can attend for no charge.
SOUTHWEST COMMUNITY SERVICES' A DAY OF HOLIDAY SHOPPING - 6775 Prosperi Drive, Tinley Park (across the street from CarMax at Oak Park Avenue and Prosperi Drive), (708) 429-1260, Ext. 1243: This event is set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 4.
There will be vendors, crafters, raffles and concessions at this wheelchair-accessible event, which includes free parking. Designer purses, jewelry, candles, olive oils, wines, food items, craft items and more will be available.
Also, the Gold Refinery will pay top dollar for unwanted gold and silver from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Officials said there will be "an amazing selection of unique gifts at a wide variety of prices to fit your holiday budget." Admission is $2.
Donations will benefit Southwest Community Services, which aims to provide services that empower individuals with diverse disabilities to maximize their development and independence.