Shopping, Sharing and the Spirit of the Season
It was advertised as Mistletoe Madness, a one-stop shopping extravaganza. I found lots of shopping, and a seasonal meaning behind the event's motivation.
This is the time of year for church bazaars, craft shows and bake sales.
A time for silent auctions that provide presents for Christmas and a way to raise money for a mission of a church or a charity.
The Sister2Sister Ministries of First Baptist Church, Wentzville, offered an opportunity for home-based businesses to showcase their products at a shopping mall set up in the church on Thursday evening.
Mistletoe Madness was different from other events, but not in any way obvious to the public.
Nichole Haug, a member of the church, took the lead in organizing this event. She said that this evening was planned as a community outreach for women.
When I asked what percentage of the sales the church was receiving from each vendor and what the money was going to, Haug replied, “The vendors keep everything. And there’s no booth fee.”
I paused. Haug said that yes, this was designed as an outreach event to women and for local women in business for themselves.
It was a gift. That’s my opinion. The members of the Sister2Sister Ministries provided this evening as a gift with no expectation of monetary gain or anything in return. This was a free event for women and a few men to shop a large variety of vendors with family and friends and it was an opportunity for local businesswomen to sell merchandise they make or products they market.
Many volunteers, a number of them in red or green elf hats, greeted the shoppers, gave out tickets for door-prizes, as well as red gift bags. Inside the bags was information about the church, the Sister2Sister Ministries and upcoming Christmas events at the church.
Since this event was an “open house” format, Haug said that there was no opportunity to share a gospel message with those who attended and the information in the bags was offered instead.
The Sister2Sister Ministries members provided beverages, including hot chocolate, for the shoppers and vendors. The church facility is spacious, and there was plenty of comfortable indoor space for more than 40 vendors to show their wares.
I arrived early as the vendors were setting up. For some, the business and merchandise displayed reflected a full-time career, like Radiant Images Photography. Others were offering products from home-based businesses that supplemented their income, such as Laurie Wallace and Tupperware.
Why sell Tupperware? Wallace said she “loves the product and it’s fun,” and reminded everyone in earshot that “It’s not your mother’s Tupperware anymore.” I confess. I purchased “midgets”—two of them—from Wallace and her Tupperware table. These are my favorite small containers. I can’t find anything sold in stores that I like as well as these.
Denise Gannon, owner of Stefanina’s Restaurant in Wentzville brought food to sample. More confession: I sampled and the pasta was fabulous! Gannon also brought for sale the eggs she hand-paints in the Ukranian style. They are detailed, colorful and beautiful. “This is what I do to relieve stress,” Gannon said.
There was a wide variety of merchandise to browse and buy: jewelry, handbags, kitchen and cooking helps, beauty aids, home décor, Christmas items galore and more.
Tracy Smith’s table filled with lavender from her Long Row Lavender Farm in Wright City was, for me, the surprise corner of the evening. Wonderfully fragrant and decorative bundles of lavender stems from a half-dozen varieties of plants filled the table. These were formed into wreaths, baked into edible treats, and added to an Advent wreath.
The sprigs of lavender in a traditional Advent wreath made me smile. Smith remarked that the purple to lavender hues fit right in with the traditional color symbolism of advent: purple for royalty pointing to Jesus’ lineage through the royal house of King David. It was a thoughtful tie-in for the display.
Christmas bazaars and holiday craft fairs can raise a considerable amount of money for a church fund or for a charity. I’ve attended Alternative Christmas Fairs where shoppers can “buy” a donation to different charities in honor of a friend or relative and a card is sent to that person acknowledging the gift. Sometimes these fairs include gift items from artisans in developing countries from groups such as 10,000 Villages or Plowsharing Crafts. All of these are good and worthwhile.
Mistletoe Madness was a creative way to open the church doors to the community, for a good cause, too: The people of the community itself.