Otis & Friends 3I’m Otis, Prairiewoods’ favorite squirrel, and I’ve taken over this blog for 2016 in honor of Prairiewoods’ 20th anniversary. You’ll hear from me or one of my friends each Friday.

Today I’m excited to tell you about two unique opportunities to buy more meaningful gifts for those you love this Christmas season …

2016 Holiday Bazaar LogoThe Holiday Bazaar on Saturday, Nov. 19, from 8 a.m.–1 p.m. offers a variety of local, handmade items from distinctive vendors and showcases baked goods, jewelry, felted wool mittens and bags, pottery, water color paintings, and many other art forms. There will be 13 local vendors, plus amazing fair-trade items from developing nations. The Prairiewoods’ Knitters and Stitchers, who meet at Prairiewoods twice a month, will provide mittens, scarves and blankets, as well as kitchen and baby items, all hand-crafted with love! Come early for pastries and coffee in the Coffee Corner, or join us for lunch from 11 a.m.–1 p.m.

2016 AGM LogoTwo weeks later, the Alternative Gift Market (AGM) on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 9 a.m.–2 p.m. offers a great opportunity to relieve poverty and empower individuals by learning about and supporting charitable projects locally and around the world.  An alternative gift is a humanitarian donation given in honor of a friend or loved one. Just like traditional gifts, they express love and affection, celebrate special occasions and show you care. But unlike traditional gifts, alternative gifts don’t contribute to the consumer stream and won’t be left to collect dust on a shelf. Honor a friend or relative with an alternative gift of food, medicine, livestock or education, in areas with great need around the world and here in our community. Thirty international projects and up to thirty local organizations will be represented at the market. Sales Exchange for Refugee Rehabilitation and Vocation (SERRV) will sell fair trade and hand-made items.  A bake sale will run all day, and lunch will be available from 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. Change the world one gift at a time with gifts that empower the poorest of the poor on our planet to sustain life and to build a future for subsequent generations! For more information, visit www.Facebook.com/AGMCR.

African Women Empowered (AWE) will be present at both events. They feature hand-made items that support African women refugees in the Cedar Rapids community.  This year, shop alternatively at Prairiewoods and give gifts that have a local or global impact!