When it comes to supporting local artists and businesses this holiday season, there are plenty of opportunities in Phoenix to finish your Christmas shopping early this year. These holiday events offer a chance to find the perfect present for everyone on your list, including yourself. From holiday markets set up in town squares to special shopping events and sales across the Valley of the Sun, the options for finding unique gifts are nearly endless in November and December of 2018.
Each year, the Heard Museum in Phoenix celebrates the history of Christmas ornaments and traditions of Native American art with a three-day craft event and sale known as the Ornament Marketplace.
During the event, you can purchase one (or several) of hundreds of hand-crafted Native American-themed ornaments on display, which are available in a variety of styles, media, and colors. 30 limited-edition signature ornaments from featured artist Kee Yazzie, a member of the Navajo Tribe, will also be available for purchase on a first-come basis starting on the first day of the sale.
The Ornament Marketplace will take place at the Heard Museum Shop—located at the entrance to the museum—from November 23 to 25, 2018. Although it's free to visit the Marketplace at the Shop, you'll still need to pay admission if you want to visit the museum itself during the event.
One of the most acclaimed art festivals in the country, the Tempe Festival of the Arts takes place on the streets of downtown Tempe in the Mill Avenue district on the first Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in December each year.
During the event, you can discover the works of over 250 artists from around the world, including original paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and creations of all mediums, sizes, and price ranges. You'll also have access to two stages of live music, an evening of wine-tasting, and a Kids Block that includes a K-12 exhibit.
In 2018, the Tempe Fall Festival of the Arts will be held on Mill Avenue between Third Street and University Parkway, and on Fifth Street between Myrtle and Ash avenues from November 30 to December 2.
If you want to shop for locally-made gifts, you can head to Heritage Square in Downtown Phoenix on December 15, 2018, from noon to 4 p.m. for the annual Hello Handmade Market.
Known as one of Arizona's finest vintage and handmade vendors, the Hello Handmade Market invites guests to browse one-of-a-kind creations crafted by local artisans and boutiques across the states, all for free.
There will also be food and drink vendors on site throughout the day as well as workshops on subjects ranging from calligraphy drawing and embroidery hooping to cooking country Christmas cookies and making your own cookies.
To raise money for local organizations each year, Food City—a locally-owned and operated market at Cesar Chavez Plaza in downtown Phoenix—presents a festival celebrating tamales each year during the holiday season.
During the festival, tamale-makers from local faith-based groups sell their best renditions of this savory Mexican treat, and Food City will also be selling tamales, menudo, carne asada burritos, durros, aguas frescas, and champurrado (Mexican hot chocolate). The two-day event will also offer live mariachis, ballet Folklorico dancers, and other musical entertainment as well as arts and crafts vendors and jewelry makers selling their creations. Celebrity judges will name the Best Tamale.
If you're looking for an item unlike any other for that person on your Christmas list who already has everything, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale hosts a two-day event each year where guests can purchase the works of unique artists and makers from around the region.
Featuring odd creations from art that benefits social change to upcycled home furnishings, UnCommon Market serves as an ideal source of custom-made goods you won't find anywhere else in the world. General admission is required to attend, but kids 12 and under get in free, and you can also pay a little more for a VIP package that includes reserved parking, access to a private lounge, and two drink tickets to use at the vendor stands.
Another great place to find unique gifts for the holidays, the Mesa Arts Festival at the Mesa Arts Center features a free two-day event showcasing original works of art for sale from local, regional, and national artists.
The Mesa Arts Festival will take place on December 8 and 9, 2018, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and will also feature artist demonstrations, a variety of family activities, and live entertainment on three stages. Entertainers for this year include CHROME, C'est la vie, the Circus Americana Stiltwalkers, Losers Way Home Trio, Devon Bridgewater Nuance Quintet, Boxelder Station, The Blues Review Ban, and Rhythm Edition.
On the third Friday of each month, galleries around downtown Chandler invite residents and tourists alike to explore the thriving arts community of the city during an art walk event, but in December, this monthly tradition gets a holiday makeover.
On December 21, 2018, you can head downtown to celebrate the Ugly Holiday Sweater Chandler Art Walk, which encourages guests to wear the most hideous Christmas sweater they can find. During the event, over 35 local artists will display and sell their works in Dr. A.J. Chandler Park West and along North San Marcos Place starting at SanTan Brewing Company and heading south.
Artists will be selling various mediums including jewelry, paintings, drawings, woodworking, and more, with many items priced at $50 or less.
If you can't find something for everyone on your holiday shopping list at the Chandler Art Walk, you might have more luck with the Holiday Bazaar at the Chandler Farmer's Market on Saturdays throughout December.
Held on the west side of Chandler Park from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the market features several regular local vendors as well as special holiday craft vendors that change from week to week. Also, Santa will be available for a complimentary photo, and elves will be walking around the market in preparation for the Family Flicks event that happens in the evening after the market closes.