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Five Cool Places to Start Your Holiday Shopping

Don’t hate us because we’re talking about the holidays. We want you to try to keep it local this holiday season: homemade, handmade, independent, and unique are what it’s all about.

by Carrie Havranek

Oh, hi there. Remember us? It’s been a while. We at the LPG have been busy getting the next Easton guide to the printer. But we’re back, just in time to share five cool places for holiday shopping.

First, a disclaimer. We all know about malls, strip, large, and outdoor-walking-type or otherwise. We know about the interwebs. But in order to build a real sustainable community, it’s always a nice idea to keep your money local. This list provides ideas that may have escaped your radar.

1. I mention this first because it’s this weekend. The Lehigh Valley Chapter of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen (which of course includes women) is holding its annual holiday bazaar at the Swain School in Allentown, on Saturday, November 6, 10am-6pm and Sunday, November 7, 11am-4pm. Admission is a mere $3. You’ll find 25 local artists selling handmade everything, making for a unique shopping experience bound to bring unique gifts. Thanks to Susan Newquist of Red-Tail Designs for the heads up about this great event.

2. Farmers Markets! This may not seem obvious, but guess what? You can buy fun, nonperishable food-related stocking stuffers (honey? soap?) at the Easton Farmers Market and Emmaus Market, both of which are running till Thanksgiving. Act quickly. Each successive week, it gets colder and fewer vendors are likely to keep coming. So your days are numbered.

3. Downtowns. Yes, we’ve got ’em in spades. Bethlehem has two downtowns selling everything from recycled housewares to chocolates and more. Emmaus has a great cookshop, La Belle Cuisine; Easton’s Mercantile Home just moved into a gorgeous space that allows owners Ron and Ken to stretch their creativity. I know there are more.

4. Chriskindlmarkt. I wouldn’t be a Lehigh Valley resident doing her good duty without point out that our very own middle-European style Christmas market takes place every year in downtown Bethlehem for many weeks leading up to Christmas.

5. Galleries. Ok, so maybe you’re noticing a trend toward handmade, unusual, gifts that aren’t mass produced. Easton’s Connexions has affordable art and handmade items; Bethlehem’s Banana Factory, Monsoon Gallery, and more offer a range of art; Bach and Company in Emmaus does more than just sell art–it frames it, too.

Where’s your favorite, independently owned and operated place to buy holiday gifts in the Lehigh Valley?