The holidays—they are a comin’. Alarming as it may be, we’re only a few fallen leaves and a couple of school breaks away from the height of the holiday season. This year, avoid the masses at the malls and raid one of the local art and gift shows for some early gift grabbing. With a wide selection of well-curated arts and crafts, you can also gather ideas for creating your own handmade gifts. With show dates as early as mid-October, you will stress less since you shopped early. Best of all? The following shows emphasize local artisans and benefit various aspects of our community. What better way to get in the spirit of the season than by grabbing gifts that give back?

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Support a School:

NUMC Preschool Holiday Gift Show
With close to a hundred vendors and nearly thirty years in the making, the NUMC Preschool Holiday Gift Show is a showcase for local artists, gourmet food purveyors, hand crafted home gifts, and yes- monogrammed, smocked, and otherwise Southern-ized children’s apparel. You’ll be able to find something for everyone on your list (including the pooch), plus pick something up for your own stocking from one of the local jewelry exhibitors. Bonus: with an entertainment line-up including carolers from area school choirs, your kids can get their jingle jam on while you put a dent in your shopping list. Or, round up the girls for the show’s Ladies Night Out event on Thursday, November 14th from 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Happy, happy, merry merry!

Details: 2799 Northside Drive Nw, Atlanta, Ga 30305, November 14 from 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., November 15-16 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Admission $3 ages 13 and older, Free for 12 and under

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Paidea School Fine Arts and Craft Show
If art is in your heart, head to Paidea for a selection of fine art, funky art, eclectic art, and holiday art. All proceeds go to benefit the art program at the Paidea School, and whether you have jewelry on your wish list, unique glass-blown ornaments on your agenda, or a wall just begging for an oil painting masterpiece, you can find it here.

Details: 1509 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Atlanta Ga, 30307, November 16, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and November 17, 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Admission and parking are free

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Support a Charity:

Junior League of Cobb-Marietta Mistletoe Market
If it’s girlfriends you’re shopping for, it’s to the Mistletoe Market you must go. Think of this as hostess-gift heaven, with an emphasis on accessories, jewelry, home and garden decor, and gourmet snacks. Replete with a Girls Night Out preview party on Thursday from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., the JLCM Mistletoe Market is ideal for picking up your “just out of college or newly engaged” niece, cousin, or friend’s stocking stuffers, as well as your “keep a cabinet full of these” hostess gifts. All net proceeds from the event are used to support the community partners of the JLCM.

Details: Cobb County Civic Center on October 10 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., October 11 9:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m., and October 12 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Admission is free

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Work of Our Hands Artists’ Market at the Cathedral of St. Philip
This unique artists market showcases some of the region’s best artists alongside the work of new talent, encouraged through the outreach mission of The Work of Our Hands. This organization promotes arts and crafts in people who have been “marginalized by socioeconomic, mental health and intellectual challenges.” The bottom line: go. You’ll find unique arts and crafts that you won’t see anywhere else, and you’ll be supporting a great cause.

Details: 2744 Peachtree Road NW, Atlanta, Ga, 30327, November 21 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (opening reception, $15), November 22-23 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (free admission), and November 24 from 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. (free admission)

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Support a Community:

Chastain Park Arts Festival
One part community festival, three parts art show, the Chastain Park Arts Festival is a sure bet for the littles if you need to get a little shopping in with your playground time. Vendors of everything from fine art to whimsical crafts will line Park Drive, and you’ll score some extra shopping time by promising to take the kids to the children’s area after scoping out the last booth. Just don’t forget to bring your stroller!

Details: Chastain Park along Park Drive, November 2 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and November 3 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Free Admission

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Brookhaven Arts Festival
Similar to the Chastain Park Arts Festival, the Brookhaven Arts Festival is a community gathering (accessible by MARTA!) that showcases regional and local talent. Its outdoor location lends itself to a festival-ish feel; however, the Brookhaven Arts Festival takes the “Art” part of its name very seriously. Don’t miss this if you’re in the market for that perfect piece of work to hang over your mantle.

Details: on Apple Valley Road, directly behind the Brookhaven MARTA Station, October 19 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., October 20 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Free admission

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What Atlanta holiday market do you like to hit? Got any gifts that give back? Tell us about it below!

—Shelley Massey

Photos courtesy of Creative Commons via FlickrJunior League of Cobb-Marietta via Facebook, Work of Our Hands via Facebook, Chastain Park Arts Festival via FacebookBrookhaven Arts Festival via Facebook