It happens every year. Just when you've recovered from Halloween, the retailers of the world unite to give you a real scare (spooky music, please)--the Holiday Shopping Countdown. Friday, thousands of shoppers will tuck the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers in the freezer and, charge cards in hand, trudge dutifully to the local mall to begin the quest for the Perfect Gift.
But lo--we bring you tidings of great joy. When you're ready to stray off the beaten path, there will be plenty of other merchants, galleries and craftspeople waiting to tempt you. Here are just a few.
ARTS AND CRAFTS
Stroll through a 19th-Century-style American marketplace at the Harvest Festival, Friday through Sunday, Nov. 23 through 25, at the Anaheim Convention Center (800 W. Katella Ave.). Nearly 400 artists and exhibitors in period costumes will be on hand to demonstrate and sell wares ranging from holiday wreaths and handcrafted wooden toys to tapestry handbags and leather goods. Cloggers, jugglers and bands performing traditional American music will provide the entertainment, and foods of a variety of American regions will be sold. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Tickets: $2.75 to $5.75; under 6, free. Parking is $5. (714) 999-8900.
Knott's Berry Farm's Ghost Town Christmas Crafts Festival (8093 Beach Blvd., Buena Park) is an old-fashioned country fair featuring gifts and entertainment from Christmases past. Friday, Nov. 23, through Dec. 24, artisans in 1880s garb will demonstrate and sell their crafts in the street of Ghost Town. At a Santa's Workshop, kids can visit with the Big Guy and sample some baked goodies from Mrs. Claus' Kitchen. Carousel figure carver W. P. Wilcox will show off his skills in the Ghost Town Crafts Barn. There will be daily performances of the Dickens' holiday classic, "A Christmas Carol," in the Bird Cage theater. Opens at 10 a.m. daily, closing times vary. Admission is $2 for adults, free for children under 12. (714) 220-5200.
Heads-Hands-Hearts, a coalition of local female artists, will sell their works Sunday, Nov. 25, through Dec. 31 at the Alta Co. (506 31st St., Newport Beach), a coffeehouse and gallery. Items will include hand-woven scarves, jewelry, hand-decorated wrapping paper and clothing, watercolors and photographs. (714) 675-0233.
The Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce will present its 14th annual Christmas Festival Dec. 2. Shopkeepers on West Coast Highway between Acacia and Hazel streets will have open houses, and there will be food and wine tastings, other refreshments and entertainment by big bands, clowns, jugglers, mimes, carolers and others. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Shuttle service is provided along the route. (714) 673-4050.
Objects and foods used in holiday celebrations around the world will be sold at the Bowers Museum (2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana) during its Multicultural Holiday Festival Dec. 15, noon to 2 p.m. on Dec. 15. Activities will include a Las Posadas procession and a Chinese dragon mask workshop. Tickets: $10 per family or $5 per person. (714) 972-1382.
If you'd like a beautiful Christmas tree without the fuss, the Las Damas del Mar auxiliary of the Children's Home Society of California will auction professionally decorated trees at its benefit dinner-dance Nov. 30 at Irvine's Radison Plaza Hotel. Proceeds will benefit the society's family and adoptive services statewide. Tickets: $75. And while you're in the holiday mood, you might contribute a gift for a needy youth, which the group will distribute at its Children's Christmas Party. (714) 542-1147.
Farther afield, the Long Beach chapter of the society will present a Christmas Fantasy, a dinner-dance that will feature an auction sale of gift items and decorations and also 300 travel and entertainment packages. The event is Saturday, Nov. 24, at the Ramada Renaissance Hotel. Tickets: $65. (213) 432-3391 or (213) 596-9187.
The next day, the group will have its Festival of Trees, a tree auction and family Christmas party with holiday entertainment and snacks. Tickets: $7.50. (213) 597-8938.
The Jack and Jill Guild of Children's Hospital of Orange County will have its 19th annual Christmas Boutique and Home Tour Dec. 7. It will include tours of four luxurious homes and a boutique featuring gourmet food packages, gift items and holiday decorations. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Tustin Hills Racquet Club (11782 Simon Ranch Road, Santa Ana). Not open to children younger than 11. Tickets: $18 to $20 for the tour and boutique; $5 for the boutique only (limited hours apply). (714) 532-8675.
The Orange County Philharmonic Society will have a holiday boutique at its House of Design (2009 Victoria Drive, Santa Ana) through Dec. 9. Kitchen and gourmet items, children's toys and more will be offered by local craftspeople and interior design shops. Proceeds benefit the group's youth programs. Tickets: $12 (includes home tour). (714) 553-2431.
FOR THE KIDS