There are seemingly countless places to do your holiday shopping in Austin—craft markets, art fairs, Christmas bazaars—but if you, like us, are passionate about equity and inclusion, housing affordability, and making a positive social impact in the world, here are some great gift-giving ideas and places to shop this season.
Dec. 8: Cherrywood Art Fair.
Purchasing goods from ethically made sources is an easy, concrete way to help foster an atmosphere of economic equity and inclusion. Head to the 16th annual Cherrywood Art Fair to buy handcrafted items from awesome Texas artists and makers; proceeds benefit Little Artist BIG ARTIST, a free after-school arts mentorship program in six East Austin elementary schools.
Dec. 16: Unique Markets Holiday Pop-Up Austin.
‘Tis the season to shop local! Pumping money into the local economy is crucial, since businesses then pay taxes that get spent on community services and infrastructure that directly benefit YOU and your loved ones. The Unique Markets Holiday Pop-Up is a fabulous place to support independent artists, designers, and other creative entrepreneurs, and find unique, heartfelt gifts. General Admission tickets are $15 and include drinks, a limited edition cotton tote, gift wrapping, a holiday photo booth session, and DIY watercolor gift tags.
Gender equity and economic justice go hand in hand. This holiday season, support women-identified entrepreneurs and business owners by shopping the Society of Women Entrepreneurs Holiday Market, where, in addition to gift vendors, there’ll be snacks, adult beverages, and a live DJ spinning holiday tunes. Get your (free!) ticket here.
Frida Friday ATX is a monthly marketplace that promotes self-identified WOC artists’ work. Go check out Frida Friday ATX Holiday Market y Pachanga, a two-day mercado held at Austin Film Society featuring one-of-a-kind goods ranging from specialty jewelry to carefully curated vintage clothing.
Give the gift of empowerment and financial support to those who need it most. Arts from the Streets, a free and open community arts studio serving the homeless, has an online shop featuring cool prints, mugs, pillows, leggings, and T-shirts, all of which are made by homeless artists.
Dec. 16: craftHER Market: Holiday Pop-Up.
Produced by BossBabes ATX, craftHER is a biannual pop-up that showcases the work of Texan women and non-binary makers. This month’s craftHER is the first-ever holiday pop-up, and will feature 10 artists (jewelry makers, ceramicists, clothing designers, and more). No RSVP is required and the event is free and open to the public.
Dec. 7-8: Community First! Village of Lights.
Community First! Village is an amazing initiative—this 51-acre master-planned community provides permanent housing and social support for the chronically homeless. Stop by the Village of Lights to enjoy their holiday lights display and shop at the Advent Market for handcrafted gifts made by formerly homeless artists and craftsman who now live at the Village.
The Affordability Accelerator Showcase on December 17th is taking donations.
Dec. 7: Think Pink!
This year, Art for the People is hosting Think Pink!, a special night for photographer Teodora Pogonat, whose current solo exhibition (The Pink Parachute Project) explores women’s issues and strengths throughout history. Sip a holiday cocktail while shopping items created by over 100 Austin artists; tickets are free, though it’s recommended that you register beforehand.
Open Arms Studio is a textile manufacturer that employs refugees in Austin at a fair wage—a holiday gift from Open Arms means supporting an incredibly important social enterprise in our community. Check out their partners and products here.
Give a holiday donation in your loved one’s name to Caritas of Austin, just in time for their #HomeForTheHolidays campaign. Caritas is a nonprofit dedicated to preventing and ending homelessness. You can select your donation and give a gift of your choosing: $25 buys a week’s worth of groceries for an individual, $50 buys winter essentials (hats, gloves, and a coat), $500 buys childcare assistance, and the list goes on.
Donate to the local nonprofit of your choice.
The Chronicle has an excellent guide to charitable giving this year that includes specific requests from wonderful local organizations like Austin Partners in Education, the Texas Homeless Network, and Green is the New Black.
Justine Harrington is a freelance journalist, essayist, and copywriter for travel and lifestyle brands based in Austin. Her work has appeared in Fodor's, Backpacker, USA Today, the Austin-American Statesman, Austin Monthly, Austin Woman, Misadventures Magazine, and elsewhere.