Kick Off the Holiday Shopping Season with a Trip
By Shelia Ogle It gets more difficult every year, doesn't it? Finding the perfect gift for everyone on your Christmas list can sometimes seem more like work than a joyous celebration of the season. If you combine your holiday shopping with a fun family trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, though, you might just be surprised at the treasures you'll discover. Gatlinburg Craft Fair Each year, the arts and crafts community in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area fill the Gatlinburg Convention Center with thousands of handcrafted items to delight even the most discerning people on your shopping list. One of the largest events of its kind in the country, the show kicks off on November 21, and features more than 100 talented artisans representing a wide range of skills. You'll find colorful handmade quilts reminiscent of those you bundled up in on chilly winter nights spent at Grandma's house, delicate stained glass lamps to cast a warm glow on any holiday gathering, and even hand-turned wooden bowls for serving your favorite Christmas treats. Candle lovers will enjoy the enchanting creations on display, including hand-dipped tapers and amazing rock candles that last forever. Of course, no holiday show would be complete without a stunning selection of handmade Christmas decorations. From Father Christmas to handcrafted wreaths for your front door to divine angels to top your tree, you'll no doubt find plenty of Christmas spirit to take home with you. Even the littlest family members will be captivated by the beauty and endless variety of this holiday celebration. The Gatlinburg Craft Fair runs from November 21 until November 25, and again November 26 through December 2, 2012, and admission is free. Bring your shopping list, and be prepared for a delightful day spent in this winter wonderland. Don't Miss the Arts & Crafts Trail If you can't make it to Gatlinburg for the annual Christmas Craft Fair, you'll want to be sure to find your way to the 8-mile Tennessee Heritage Arts & Crafts Trail. This famous stretch of highway is surrounded by the stunning scenery of the Great Smoky Mountains, and is home to more artisans than any other single area in North America. Hundreds of quaint shops line the street, offering a staggering array of crafts that are sure to charm everyone in your family. With skills handed down from generation to generation, these craftsmen carry on the traditions of their families while offering an education in Appalachian history to all who visit. Hand-woven baskets, beautiful pottery, and even unique, handmade brooms become works of art at the hands of these talented artists. There's nothing quite like a Christmas shopping trip to set the mood for the holiday season. And there's no place like Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN when it comes to finding unique holiday gifts that will be treasured forever. Bring the family and enjoy all the sights and sounds of Tennessee this November, and you'll take home plenty of memories as well as some stunning gifts.