Sunday, November 22, 2009

School Christmas Shoppes/Fair

It has been 9 years since my first booth at the elementary school Christmas shoppe. Generally there has been several tables of trinkets provided by a large vendor for the school district. Things like tiny footballs, plastic paperweights, small stuffed animals, pens for favorite grandpas... the list goes on and on. They have risen in cost over the last few years.
We have some wonderful staff and a sweet lady who has overseen the shoppe for the kids and allowed a few of the parents to set up small tables as well. They have included items like fleece scarves, tiny stockings with candy, carob coated dog biscuits, jewelry,cute holiday pins, hot cocoa mixes, etc. I usually have a large table and a tall picket fence to display my things on. This area is beginning to catch on with some primitive decor and a little bit of folk art so mountain/cabin theme was the general theme. I have made snowman pots, painted muffin tins, snowman and santa pins, glass bead pins with vintage photos,handpainted canvas wallets, canvas cd holders, canvas aprons, handpainted hammers, handpainted combs, fresh wreaths, handpainted signs, small plastic toolboxes with handpainted scenery on them, homemade fudge inside copper cookie cutters wrapped in holiday clear wrap,handpainted glass ornaments with roses, mountains, and cute sayings, small lights, and too many other things to list.
I want something special for the little ones to pick out for their families. The teachers, staff and parents enjoy the variety of things at the shoppe. It's not that I don't love the tiny plastic ship/pencil sharpener that our son gave for Christmas one year. He beamed when we opened it! I just want to put some thought in what is made available for the kids to use their pocket money on. I knock down my prices a lot and make things very reasonable so they can have something special and not stamped made in China on the entire gift. It is without a doubt one of the best weeks I have at the school during the year for me emotionally. Dressing up in Christmas sweaters, wearing santa hats and helping the kids walk around is so fun. I don't think a single year has passed when we haven't seen many children whose parents or guardians have been laid off...they do not have any money to spare for a gift let alone getting one for their little selves. The highlight of the week is when the moms get things together and make a very special store opened only to invited guests during quiet time. We take anything we can spare and display it on the tables for the kids to pick from. They are absolutely free of cost and the children can have as many gifts as they feel they need. They also get to pick out something special all for themselves. As I'm typing this, I can't help but get emotional. These precious little peanuts are not greedy in the least... they are reserved, deliberate in their gift chosing, never one time greedy to get it all, and reluctant to pick out something just for themselves. I saw one little boy who couldn't have been over 3 1/2 feet tall...struggling with two plastic bags full and THE BIGGEST smile I think I've ever seen. He put them down and ran back for hugs and said thank you too many times to count.
I've always counted on making a little bit of Christmas money at this show, but honestly... more than that... I have counted on my heart expanding in size many fold while seeing compassion, relief, joy, and gratitude on the kids faces. Once our littlest girl leaves the elementary school in 3 1/2 years I've asked to have an honorary booth since I won't have a student there anymore. I just can't imagine not being there for years and years to come.
I'm posting a few pics of the items I have sold over the years there. The snowman pots posted earlier are one of them. Maybe your local school doesn't have a Christmas shoppe/fair... but perhaps you could go in and ask the Principal if they know of a couple of families really struggling this year. You could even go to the police dept/ social services and ask. They won't give you specifics but enough to make something personal for their families. People often think of baskets of food for them, but maybe if you make something you could donate it and wrap it for their family as a surprise. Nothing to embarrass them... but quietly "Santa" could bless them with some handmade gifts made with some thought of them and a lot of love! Please consider this and if your heart leads you to do something...how precious of you!
Have an absolutely wonderful Thanksgiving and meaningful start to this holiday season! May God bless you and your family richly!

Harvest Your Blessings