If you're devising a strategy to make it out of the mall alive this season, stop. With over 60 holiday markets and pop-up shops happening around town before St. Nick's big day, there's no need to brave big-box stores to check every name off your gift list this year. But with dozens upon dozens of local woodworkers, illustrators, potters, and milliners, and tons more to shop, Vancouver's wealth of craft fairs offer a navigation-related challenge of their own.
To assist you in your hunt, we've rounded up a small sampling of the talented makers and small-biz owners we're most excited to scope during this year's holiday-market circuit. Keep your eyes peeled for them at events taking place in and around Vancouver and you may just walk away with the perfect present or a little somethin' for yourself.
Easy Tiger Spa
“Beers, bath, and no bullshit” is the mantra at Easy Tiger Spa, a Vancouver-based startup that takes me time to higher and decidedly chiller heights.
Founded by local massage practitioner Taylor Jukubke, the company produces calming bath salts ($10 for 16 ounces)—Himalayan, Epsom, and Dead Sea combined with rejuvenating essential oils—designed for the modern go-getter. You know the type: your sister Jo who works a 9-to-5 but bartends on the regular for a little extra dough; your BFF Alex who freelances full-time but still manages to kill her cross-stitch side hustle, volunteer with underprivileged kids, and maintain a healthy social life.
If anything, Easy Tiger’s badass branding—think images of tattooed mermaids and product names like Salty Bro—should make it an apt gift for bath-and-body junkies and those looking for something unique in their stocking this year.
Find Easy Tiger Spa at the Toque Craft Fair (from December 1 to 3 at the Western Front).
Local maker Bracken Hanke is the type of kid who will have you questioning what you’ve done with your life. In addition to acting and writer, the 11-year-old Vancouverite crafts a collection of fuzzy décor objects and accessories in an effort to raise awareness of and money for transgender youth.
Available under the name Equal Monsters, Hanke’s collection includes googly-eyed ornaments—the green ones of which give us some serious Oscar-the-Grouch vibes—and cozy toques topped with pompoms, each one with its own set of peepers.
Find Equal Monsters at the Strathcona Winter Craft Fair (November 25 at Strathcona Community Centre).
Pender Gai Books
With ol’ fashioned colouring gaining popularity among adults—the activity is quiet, oddly therapeutic, and a welcome distraction from the crumbling political landscape around us—a new slate of “mature” colouring books featuring everything from the animal kingdom to designer handbags to rapper Drake has emerged in recent years. Now, Vancouver is getting its due with a locally made picture tome ($15) inspired by the city.
Produced by Pender Gai Books, a collective of Chinatown-based artists, the work features quirky illustrations of the city’s most vibrant neighbourhoods, including Kitsilano, Commercial Drive, and Granville Island. Also available are a Vancouver colouring kit—complete with “artisan” pencils—and colouring calendars dedicated to the people, places, and things that make up Canada.
Find Pender Gai at Portobello West (November 25 and 26 at Creekside Community Centre), Deck the Hall Fair (December 2 and 3 at Heritage Hall), and Hastings-Sunrise Holiday Arts & Crafts (December 3 at Kiwassa Neighbourhood House).
Nadine Nevitt & Co.
Nadine Nevitt is a Jill of all trades. In addition to working full-time in fashion, the designer, illustrator, and photographer also produces a range of sweet cushions ($69) adorned with her own art. Nevitt’s works are whimsical and fascinatingly detailed, filled with nods to the West Coast both recognizable and offbeat.
The Sea to Sky features depictions of the Vancouver skyline, orca, and the winding path of its namesake highway, for example, while the Vancity Pretty illustrates everything from the East Van Cross and float planes to Indigenous totem poles and B.C. native Pamela Anderson as a mermaid. Lush foliage, pineapples, and intricately lined mountaintops—all washed in neutral pastels—decorate other pillows and framed prints, too.
Find Nadine Nevitt & Co. at Portobello West (November 25 and 26 at Creekside Community Centre).
Sleepy moons, dinosaurs, cupcakes, and even Insta-approved monstera leaves get the jewellery treatment in fancypop’s range of adorable bling. Handmade from resin, air-dried clay, and embellishments such as beads and charms, the stud earrings, bracelets, and necklaces (from $9) range from the sweet and playful to the glitzy and glam.
We love the s’mores necklace, which comes complete with an ooey-gooey, looks-almost-too-good-to-eat s’mores pendant, and the heart-eye cat studs, which resemble one of our favourite love-struck emojis. Foodies should also get a kick out of the sushi pieces—modeled after nigiri, tobiko, and the quintessentially Vancouver California roll—and the croissant, burrito, and rainbow-hued macaron jewels.
Find fancypop at the Toque Craft Fair (from Dec 1 to 3 at the Western Front).
Looking for more gift ideas? Check out the Georgia Straight's 2017 holiday gift guide here.More