Times have changed. I used to spend time after Thanksgiving dinner helping wash dishes, playing with cousins or watching men watch football on TV.

Now, many people hit the stores for seasonal sales, then go at it again on Black Friday when the shops are full and parking lots are buzzing like a bee hive.

Not my scene.

If fighting the crowds on Black Friday isn’t your scene, either, I have an alternative for you.

The Cleveland County Christmas Craft Show kicks off from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 25 and 26 at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds, 615 E. Robinson St. in Norman. Another show will follow Dec. 10.

Parking and entry are free, and you’ll find everything from higher-end artisans to entry-level crafters and mid-range cottage industry vendors selling a wide range of products.

Colorful Creations Stained Glass by artist Don Grace is a returning vendor and a crowd favorite.

An OU graduate, Grace started at the county craft show selling a lot of OU products. Over the years, he’s matured as an artist and is a featured artist of the Chickasaw Nation and a proud Chickasaw.

“I have a lot of First American pieces, and my work is now based on First American culture and nature,” he said. “I have some people who know I come every year, and I enjoy talking to them every year.”

We are thrilled that Grace has remained loyal to this local craft venue.

“I’m always at the December show, but it’s hit or miss at the Thanksgiving show because of OU football,” he said. “I do the show whenever it’s an away game.”

Melissa Busby of A Cut Above Woodworks will bring amazing yard games like Yardle, Yardzee, Tumbling Towers and giant dominoes.

“Lawn games are the perfect way to get everyone together and into the outdoors,” Busby said. “Imagine some of your favorite indoor games that have been supersized to entertain everyone. These local handmade games will be a family hit.”

These family-friendly games make for great entertainment and would serve as fantastic Christmas gifts.

Perfect for Christmas and birthday gifts, Joanna Beasley, of Oak Hill Corner, will bring amazing handmade jewelry to the Cleveland County Christmas Craft Show.

Working with a lot of natural colors with a shimmer of gold or speckles of color, Beasley creates beautiful jewelry from polymer clay.

“As my life got busier, it became more and more difficult to rest and recharge,” Beasley said. “I found that outlet in working with my hands, particularly with clay.

“For over a year, I’ve been using clay as a means for personal rest and joy and delighting in sharing it with others. I hope you’ll stop by, say ‘hi’ and tell me how you find joy and rest.”

Zelda (Joannie) Wooder of The UnCommon Bag is another vendor bringing some unique products to the craft show and has been a favorite at past shows.

“I design and make cork wallets and bags,” Wooder said. “Cork is biodegradable, renewable and as durable as leather.”

Whether you’re looking for freeze-dried candy or beautiful purses crafted from durable bamboo, there will be something for everyone at the show, including handmade jewelry, pet beds, blankets, gemstones, crystals, wood home decór, yard games, wood crafts, wood flags, cutting boards, handcrafted musical instruments, stained glass, crochet items, boutique clothing, aprons, car trash cans, table runners, high-quality boomerangs, simmering pots, T-shirts, kettle corn, nuts, fudge and freeze-dried candy.

Parking at the fairgrounds makes this a relaxing, fun way to get a jump on Christmas shopping, especially if you’re looking for unusual gifts and decór.

The craft show also is an excellent way to support local entrepreneurs on Small Business Saturday.

Joy Hampton is a public information officer for Cleveland County.

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