If you’re one of those types who buys socks and coffee makers 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” on the Sawdust Art Festival grounds because you would find WAY too many amazing, creative and one-of-a-kind gift ideas for the people you love.

The Laguna Beach Winter Fantasy Sawdust Festival opens this weekend, Nov. 20, with 170 artists’ booths and all sorts of other stuff (more on that in a minute). It’s only open FOUR weekends, so get this on your calendar!

Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the following dates: Nov 20/21, Nov. 26/27/28 (Thanksgiving weekend), Dec. 4/5 and Dec. 10/11/12

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Honestly, I love the Winter “Sawdust” more than our summer affair – the Sawdust Art Festival (which I happen to like a lot). Now … granted … I’m an admitted Christmas/holiday freak. Throw me under twinkle lights  with a hot cup of wassail and there can be no happier human being … but even if your more Ebenezer Scrooge-like or Grinch-like in your attitude over the holidays, you’re STILL going to find something to enjoy at the Winter Sawdust.

The Winter Sawdust invites its summer artists back, and this year, they’ve added 44 new artists to the festival. The great thing, though, is that most of the artists focus on gift-giving items this time around. 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, windmills, garden accessories and just about everything else creative under the sun. (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.)

Aside from 170 different artists’ booths in this cool outdoor setting, you have a petting zoo, a holiday playhouse (sorry grownups, this is kid-size only), jiving live bands and chorales, wandering carolers, plenty of hot, steamy drinks (along with quality beer and wine), food everywhere and, of course, Santa front and center for all those last-minute requests.

There’s more . . . lots of workshops and classes to learn how to make cool stuff as gifts, too. This weekend, for instance, it’s Jeweler Denise Conradsen on Saturday, Nov. 20, from 3:30-5:30 p.m. teaching anyone 6 years and older how to make beaded wire ornaments (MUCH classier than Shrinky Dinks).

Laguna Beach residents get in free on opening day (Nov. 20) AFTER 3:00 p.m. till closing, and the community tree lighting ceremony takes place at 5:30 p.m.

Pricing otherwise is extremely reasonable: $6 adults, $5 seniors (65+), $3 kids ages 6-12, FREE for kids 5 and under. Or, buy a whopping $9 season pass to have access at any time over the 3-week period as your gift-list grows.

Do me one favor, though! Bring a new toy with you for the Toys for Tots Holiday Toy Drive. (It’ll keep you off Santa’s coal list, too.)

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