Didn’t feel like battling the Black Friday hordes just to max out your credit card on generic, mass-produced products at (probably fake) discounts? Us either. Instead, mark your calendars for these Denver holiday markets; you’ll score unique, locally made gifts and might actually have fun in the process (think adult beverages, DJs, hands-on craft stations, and more). Or, you know, you could have an epic throw pillow battle over that last zebra print comforter in aisle 18 at Walmart. The choice is yours.
FUSEdenver Holiday Market
When: Sunday, December 1, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Where: Exdo Hall, 3545 Larimer St.
What: Five dollars gets you in the door at this party—DJ Caramello will be spinning the beats while you sip on specialty cocktails—where it just so happens you can mix and mingle with more than 30 designers and artisans. Kiddos 10 and under can tag along for free.
Why: “FUSEdenver shopkeepers are varied and all their products are manufactured domestically. Ultimately, it’s an opportunity to put dollars right back into Denver’s economy—and what better time than the holidays?” —Cristina Muñoz, founder
Plus: Just Polish will be on hand (pun intended) giving out free mini manicures.
Tip: Splurge for the VIP ticket ($9), which includes a tote to cart away your finds and a complimentary Bloody Mary or mimosa.
When: Friday, December 6, 4–10 p.m.
Where: VFW Post 2461, 1350 South Broadway
What: This third annual showcase of all things man-made (literally) is sure to appeal to shoppers of both sexes. Boyfriends/husbands: Grab a beer and chat up the dude behind Bussard Design‘s one-of-a-kind wood-and-wire necklaces. Ladies: Grab a beer and let the boys at Boulder’s Nineteen Forty help you choose a custom bow tie for dad or grandpa.
Why: “Ninety percent of the work at most craft fairs is done by women, so they tend to have a feminine focus. Guys don’t necessarily enjoy getting taken there. So we decided to start one guys would really enjoy as well.” —Stu Alden, Ink Lounge Creative founder
Plus: Vendors will be vying for your vote in the event’s “Mucho Macho Stache-Off”—categories include Best Western, Best Wax Job, and Best Effort.
Tip: Be one of the first 50 people in the door to receive a “man sack” with goodies such as free drink tickets and koozies.
Horseshoe Holiday Market
When: Saturday, December 7, and Saturday, December 14, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Where: Denver Pavilions, 16th Street Mall and Glenarm Place (UPDATE: Because of the low temps expected, the markets will be held indoors inside a vacant building next to Forever 21 on 16th and Welton)
What: More than 70 local vendors make this carefully juried market a great place to make a serious dent in your shopping list. Watch for mobile boutiques to make an appearance as well.
Why: “Each market will have a unique line up of amazing art, craft and vintage vendors. There will also be gourmet food vendors, you can sip hot cocoa while you shop, and there will be lots of festive activities at these European-style markets.” —Amy Yetman, owner and director
Plus: The kids will stay entertained with a photo booth station, tunes from the Rocky Mountain Steel Drum Band, and Whole Foods’ DIY gift-making stations.
Tip: Shop early at a Colorado biz for a chance to score one of 700 rolls of complimentary gift wrap from Denver designers.
—From Top: Photos Courtesy Stu Alden, Ray Montes, Stu Alden, and Amy Yetman
Follow copy chief Jessica Farmwald on Twitter at @JessicaKF.