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How do you have fun while holiday shopping?

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Shoppers flooded Ambient + Studio in Atlanta for the Indie Craft Experience Holiday Sale Spectacular on Nov. 21, 2009. AJC/Jamie Gumbrecht

Let’s think for a second about the experience of holiday shopping — the exhausting, stressful, maddening lengths we go to land a good deal or satisfy a list of friends and family who will (surely?) love us no matter what we give them.

Some people will never bat an eye at a line out the door or a pile-up of parents atop an electronic hamster. The thrill of a good deal is enough to keep them happy. (I’m looking at you, Rana.) But I don’t think I’m alone when I say I have no patience for shopping around, even for an awesome deal, if it makes me a cranky mess who can’t get the lyrics to “Jingle Bell Rock” out of her head. This is supposed to be a fun time of year!

How do I combat this? When I’m back in Michigan, I shop with my sisters and mom, who is particularly quick with the jokes and unfailing in her devotion to the gods of the Good Deal. Day-to-day, if I must shop, and if I must shop alone, I’ll take the train or ride my bike. Once my backpack is full, I’m done.

The Indie Craft Experience Holiday Sale Spectacular this weekend had some qualities of every other holiday sale  — the crowd, the huge selection of merchandise, the abundant opportunity for impulse buys — but it could not have felt further from the mall, or better for my stress level.

For this year’s edition of the annual holiday sale, more than 100 vendors gathered to sell hand-made arts and crafts — clothes, wall art, jewelry, organizational supplies, books, accessories, toys. You can see how busy it was in these photos from the Indie Craft Experience sale. A DJ kept the music going and the energy up. I chatted with the creators of the items I bought. When I got hungry, I walked across Ambient + Studio and bought a cinnamon bun from Dulce Vegan.

I couldn’t find something for everybody on my holiday list, but I got some ideas and met some wonderful people. This didn’t feel like a holiday shopping experience at all, and for me, that was a good thing. (By the way, the next live ICE shopping opportunity is at Kraftwork at Young Blood Gallery.)

So let’s help each other out. Share in the comments about how, when and where you manage to have some fun while holiday shopping. Can it be a good experience and time well spent for reasons other than discount or duty?

Maybe you do it by strategizing before you shop, but hitting shopping centers that will offer some entertainment that day, by setting limits on how much time you spend, or by going with an especially fun group of people. Maybe your trick is, simply, shopping online, starting in February or buying only items at craft shows. Whatever it is: I want to know.

I’ll compile your tips and ideas in a post later this week, before Black Friday.

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5 comments Add your comment

[...] Check out this writeup on the AJC and have a peek at their photo gallery. [...]

cristi holcombe

November 24th, 2009
10:00 am

I went to ICE-Atlanta this weekend and thought Mod Meadow Studios was amazing. I blogged about it on my blog http://www.charmhome.blogspot.com here’s the link to go directly to the Mod Meadows Studio post. http://tinyurl.com/ybqnthh xoxo, Cristi

Danielle

November 23rd, 2009
5:09 pm

I was a vendor at ICE this year. It was my first show and I must admit, it was well organized, and very professional. I hope to be back next year! http://beatroad.etsy.com

Jamie Gumbrecht

November 23rd, 2009
3:33 pm

Hahaha, I love the DeKalb Farmers Market, but have made sure to hit it only on weekdays or very late on weekends. It’s like every Saturday is a holiday there.

Christy Petterson

November 23rd, 2009
2:32 pm

Jamie, thanks so much for the write-up about ICE! We had a GREAT turn out! I buy as much handmade as possible (online, in shops and at events) and that automatically makes everything more fun. Everyone has an art sale this time of year (schools, churches, neighborhoods). Another strategy that I enjoy is shopping for specialty food items at the DeKalb Farmers Market and putting together a basket/box of treats. Just make sure you’re strategic about when you go shopping there – it gets crazy!