Traverse City has become a popular holiday shopping destination, thanks to a growing number of winter visitors who’ve gotten tired of trudging through the Big Box stores back home, and have headed north for some retail adventuring in the many boutiques, galleries and shops of the Grand Traverse area.Christmas preparations here start as early as October, when local churches, clubs and artist’s cooperatives begin staging the holiday arts and crafts fairs for which the region is justly famous. By November a whole series of community celebrations and sales swing into action. Here are some of them:

Nov 21-22:  Festival of Trees 9 am-4 pm 
This annual festival at the Hagerty Center by Zonta of Traverse City features a charming display of professionally decorated trees and wreaths. All trees are available for purchase, as well as wreaths and other holiday accessories. New this year: 3-foot tabletop trees. Admission $8, students $4, preschool age free.  

Nov 21:  Christmas Craft Show - Alden 9 am-3 pm 
The Torch Area Artisans Guild holds its annual craft show in the Helena Township Community Center at 4732 Helena Rd. in Alden.  A wide variety of local crafters offer their wares for sale to the public, and refreshments are also available. 231-331-6583 

Nov. 28: 7th Annual Winter Fantasy Art Show 11 am-5 pm 
A mixed-media art and fine craft show featuring the work of local artists & artisans, held inside the heated greenhouse at Pine Hill Nursery.  Over two dozen booths offer a wide range of unique gifts, stocking stuffers and holiday décor, all handcrafted in Northern Michigan. Complimentary hot apple cider and a holiday train display add to the day's festivities.  

Nov 22:  Suttons Bay Holiday Open House 12-4 pm 
A fun and festive way to start your holiday shopping in the cute-as-a-bug village of Suttons Bay. Enjoy the special offerings from area merchants and eateries. Stores will be serving refreshments for you to enjoy while getting a jump start on your holiday shopping, and vote for your favorite store window display with a canned good or toiletry donation to the local food pantry.

Nov 27:  Leland PJ Party Sale 8 am-5 pm 
A fun event in the Leelanau Peninsula port of Leland, where shoppers get the best deals if they come in their pajamas! Special early bird discounts in effect from 8-10 am. 

Nov 27: Glen Arbor PJ Party Sale 5 am-7 am 
I don’t know which of these two towns stole the idea from the other (actually, I DO know, but I’m not telling) but Glen Arbor has a PJ Party, too – and this one is in the wee hours of the morning. Honestly, if you get up this early, you deserve a discount! In the evening there’s a 6:30 pm tree-lighting and carols at the township hall, and a preview of the next day’s Holiday Marketplace, which is held Saturday from 10 am-4 pm. 231-334-3238 

Dec. 4: Santa’s Arrival & Holiday Open House 5 pm
This little throwback to the good old days starts with music and caroling at the corner of Cass & Front, followed by the arrival of Santa Claus and the lighting of the downtown Christmas tree. From then on, there’s shopping, with sales, specials and prizes at participating stores, plus antique fire engine rides, caroling and live entertainment at the corner of Cass and Front throughout the evening.

Dec. 4-6: Suttons Bay Holiday Festival 
A three-day weekend of holiday events in Suttons Bay, starting Friday evening with a Holiday Stroll. Refreshments, hors d'oeuvres, local wines, restaurant specials and over 50 decorated trees. Saturday starts with family activities followed by Santa’s arrival by fire truck for a 6 pm tree-lighting and caroling with the high school band and youth ensemble. Sunday winds up with a Cookie Extravaganza 12-3 pm and a Community Choral Concert at the Congregational Church. 

Dec. 5:  Merry Marketplace - Leland 10 am-4 pm 
Christmas arts and crafts show featuring local artisans with holiday gifts, fresh greens, ceramics, jewelry, ornaments, candles, soaps, gourmet chocolates, clothing, knits, and other handmade items at the Old Art Building in the Village of Leland.

Dec. 10: Ladies’ Night in Downtown Traverse City 5-9 pm
Extended store hours for the ladies to shop in downtown Traverse City. Participating stores offer food and refreshments from 5 to 9 pm. And hey, you can enter a drawing to win prizes!

Dec. 11-13: Christmas at the Village
A three-day celebration in the shops and galleries of the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, a unique retail/residential district on the site of Traverse City’s former asylum, culminating in the annual Santa Lucia Day celebration on Sunday. Serenaded by an ensemble of flutes, a young girl in a long white robe and a crown of lighted candles, wanders the grounds delivering warm sweet rolls to holiday shoppers.

Dec. 12: Leland’s Holiday Wonderland 10 am-5 pm 
A shopping celebration throughout the village of Leland, complete with refreshments, caroling by the Leland Comet Chorale, a Holiday Story Hour, gifts and sales at local merchants, and a food drive for the village food pantry. 

Dec. 17: Men’s Night in Downtown Traverse City 5-9 pm 
No need to panic! An evening of shopping has been designated just for the men in Downtown Traverse City. This night is a salute to the men. Enjoy food, refreshments and specials while you shop the night away finishing up those last minute holiday gifts!