If you’re one of those gift-buying people who buys socks and coffee grinders for people at the holidays, this column is not for you. You’ll have absolutely no interest in going to Laguna Beach’s annual “Winter Fantasy Festival” on the Sawdust Festival grounds because you would find too many creative, one-of-a-kind gift ideas for the people you love.

Time to Ho-Ho-Holiday Shop!
The Laguna Beach Winter Fantasy Festival is underway this coming weekend with 170 artists’ booths. It runs officially Nov. 18th and 19th, Nov. 25th, 25th and 26th, and then each weekend in December through the 17th.

Pricing continues to be extremely reasonable: $8 adults, $6 seniors, $4 for kids ages 6-12, and FREE for kids 5 and under. If you’re planning to drop in more than once, pick up the “season pass” for just $10. It’s easier to get the tickets online, but you can also stand in line for on-sitr purchase. 

Your Entire Holiday in a Single Visit
I love the Winter “Sawdust” more than our summer affair, the Sawdust Art Festival (which I happen to like a lot). Aside from 170 artists’ booths in this cool outdoor setting, you have a “Towne Square (sorry grownups, this is kid-size only), live bands and chorales, wandering carolers, plenty of hot, steamy drinks (along with quality beer and wine) and, of course, Santa for all those last-minute requests.

For me, the Winter Fantasy Festival is most memorable because the majority of artists focus on gift-giving items.You’ll still have gargantuan paintings and sculptures here and there, but you’ll see a greater supply of handmade jewelry, scarves, reasonably priced framed photos and paintings, pottery and Raku, garden accessories and everything else gifty-minded.

Favorite Gift Ideas
I, for one, go to the Winter Sawdust to purchase beautiful hand-blown Christmas ornaments for my clients and friends – they make great hostess gifts, too. Chris Jeffries, my favorite tree ornament artist there, sends out email notices when the baubles have “discount days,” too

I’ve also purchased many Raku pots from Mike Brennan as gifts for delighted clients and close friends. (In fact, after about 12 or so purchases, I finally purchased my own Raku pot this summer!) They are spectacular bonuses for any lucky recipient on your list.

Regardless of the number of years I’ve lived here, I make a habit of visiting the Winter Fantasy Festival every year. It simply offers new and always-evolving solutions for your gift-buying list. I’ll see you there this weekend!

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