The holiday shopping season will kick off with a bang on Friday, and the possibilities for staying close to home and supporting the local economy are many. Read on… (and let us know if we’ve missed some options and we’ll add them to the story or the comments below).

Local businesses are hoping residents will spend their dollars at small stores in Berkeley. Why not think about visiting Solano Avenue, the Elmwood, Telegraph Avenue, the Lorin District, downtown Berkeley or Fourth Street before heading to Walnut Creek or Emeryville.

The Downtown Berkeley Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration is on Friday, Dec. 6 5:30-6:30pm at BART Plaza and includes family-friendly festivities, fresh baked goods from Paris Baguette, Almare Gelato’s famous hot chocolate, a visit from Santa Claus, and live holiday music by Berkeley Community Chamber Singers. All of which should get you in the mood for some heart-of-the-city shopping.

Many Berkeley businesses will participate in Small Business Saturday with its motto “Shop Small and Local.” The idea is to entice shoppers to purchase unique and unusual holiday gifts offered in locally owned stores rather than buy mass-produced goods offered by big-box and department stores.

Ironically, perhaps, American Express, is a founding partner of Small Business Saturday, although it does not appear to be reducing its credit-card charges to merchants on that day. Instead, it is offering merchants downloadable signage and sample tweets and other social media posts to send out. FedEx, Foursquare, Twitter and the United States Postal Service are all offering free printing and free online advertising to independent merchants. It will offer a $10 credit on customers’ next statements if they use and American Express card.

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Shop Small Scavenger Hunt Here’s a fun way to support your local stores. Take pictures as you take in the town, and explore the local businesses that help define the charm and character our community. There’s also the chance at one of three Nikon cameras. The Shop Small Scavenger Hunt is scheduled for Small Business Saturday on Nov. 30. For full details visit the Facebook page. (See the photographs taken by Pete Rosos on the 2012 Scavenger Hunt, including the one at right.)

Mrs Dalloway’s bookstore on College Avenue will be celebrating Small Business Saturday by bringing in authors to act as booksellers. Annie Barrows, the author of the Ivy and Bean series and Mac Barnett, the author of Count the Monkeys, will be hand selling books from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Next up is Patricia Polacco, the author of The Keeping Quilt and many other popular picture books, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Anthony Marra, the author of  Constellation of Vital Phenomena will join Stephanie Kuehen, author of Charm and Strange, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Oaks Jewelers at 1783 Solano Ave. will celebrate Small Business Saturday by offering 30% off on much of its inventory. The sale starts Friday Nov. 29th at 10 a.m. and continues through Saturday.

The season will also usher in numerous other artisan sales and pop-up stores:

Berkeley Artisans will be hosting their 23rd holiday Open Studios, where more than 100 artists open their workshops and galleries to the public. Berkeley Artisans has produced a map for a self-guided tour that can lead browsers through jewelry, glass, ceramics, painting, drawing and other arts. Their Facebook page offers a peak of what is available.

  • Studio Sale and Popup Holiday Bakery On Sunday Dec, 15, artists Lena Wolff and Miriam Klein Stahl will be selling their prints, drawings and collages at 2308 Jefferson St. from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Haia Sophia Flowers will sell hand-made wreaths and Pizzaiolo pastry chef Kiri Mah will offer baked goods and specialty cocktails.
  • The 2nd annual De-La-Ware Popup happens on Saturday Dec. 7 and Sunday Dec. 8. Fifteen local artists and designers will transform a vacant storefront on San Pablo & Delaware Street in Berkeley, offering gifts for everyone: original art, home decor, accessories and stationary, paintings, photographs, prints, pillows, cards, ceramics, calendars, metal craft, handbags… and more! There’s a holiday craft station with activities for children and adults. The opening party is on Friday Dec. 6, 6-9 pm.
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If your preference is for online shopping, there are ways of shopping local. There are more than 10,000 Berkeley-based items on Etsy, for instance. This watercolor of the Painted Redstart (pictured left) is available on the WanderingFalcon store as a greeting card and costs $2.00 apiece. (Read the amazing story of the Berkeley Painted Redstart.)

How about browsing for original gifts at UC Botanical Gardens Holiday Shopping Party which takes place in the Garden’s gift shop. There’ll be tastings, music and fun botanical wrapping for your gifts. Enjoy an extra 10% off your holiday purchases which directly benefit the Botanical Garden.

Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive offers gift memberships and its museum store is full of potential presents. And consider visiting Berkeley’s many other art galleries for unique gifts. Think also about local photography stores like Looking Glass Photos and framers such as the Framers’ Workshop for gift ideas. And Photo Lab on Fifth Street is throwing an open-house party on Friday Dec. 6, 5-8pm with raffle prizes, holiday food and drink, a new gallery exhibit and demos of their new products and services.

Be sure to list all your holiday-related events on the Berkeleyside Events Calendar which is self-service and free.

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