By Gillian Burdett

Searching for a thoughtful, one-of-a-kind gift for that special someone this holiday season does not need to be a chore. You can avoid the mob at the mall, skip the mass-produced, often made in China, gift selections, and fill your holiday gift list with items purchased directly from local artists and crafters. Shopping holiday markets is less frantic than a day at a crowded, over-heated mall, and often they are quite festive with holiday music and refreshments. An added bonus, shopping locally directly benefits your community and supports the arts. Here is our roundup of the best holiday markets in Connecticut this December.

Artistry: American Craft Shopping for the Holidays
Guilford Art Center
411 Church Street
Guilford, CT 06437

The Guilford Art Center’s holiday market is now open. New artists, local and national, have been added for the 2017 event. This is the place to find unique, handcrafted items. Personal shoppers are available to help select the perfect gift from the displays of handcrafted jewelry, ceramics, toys, leather and fiber goods, specialty foods and much more. The Artistry shopping event is open seven days a week through Jan. 7, 2018. Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with Thursday hours extending to 8 p.m. Sunday hours are 12 to 5 p.m.

Farmington Valley Arts CenterOpen Studio
25 Arts Center Lane
Avon, CT 06001
(860) 678-1867

Shop the studios of more than 70 artists at the Farmington Valley Arts Center. The Center has scheduled Open Studios for three consecutive Saturdays, Dec. 2, Dec. 9 and Dec. 16,  just in time for holiday shopping. Choose from a wide selection of fine art and artisan crafts, including pottery, jewelry fiber and furniture, created by local, regional and nationally renowned artists. The Open Studio sessions are held 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Be sure to bring cash; not all artists are able to process credit or debit cards.

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The Dudley Farm Holiday Open House and Market
2351 Durham Road
Guilford, CT 06437
(203) 457-0770

More than 30 vendors are setting up shop at the historic Dudley Farm for three days, Saturday, Dec. 2 and  Saturday, Dec. 9, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 10, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. This year’s offerings will include handmade crafts, fibers, jams, jellies, honey and maple syrup. Fresh evergreens, including wreaths and trees, holiday decorations and fresh baked goods will also be available. Father Christmas will be there to meet with the children, and the open house includes caroling and dulcimer music to create the feel of an authentic, old-fashion Christmas.

Greenleaf Pottery Holiday Open House
240 Chapel Road
South Windsor, CT 06074

Veteran potter John Macomber is opening his studio Dec. 2  through Dec. 10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for holiday shopping. The award-winning artist specializes in functional stoneware, art you can incorporate into your daily life. His line includes complete place settings, rustic pitchers, soup tureens, unique drinking mugs and beautifully glazed bowls. In celebration of his 42nd year in business, the artist is offering a free wine cup to all customers in December (while supplies last.)

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