Shop Small: The Pleasure Of Handmade Gifts From Winnipeg’s Third + Bird Christmas Market

There is something so innately pleasurable in buying — and even just seeing and touching — handmade products. I like to see the tool marks on a carving, the brushstrokes on a painting, the tiny, perfect stitches on a garment handcrafted with care. They’re tangible evidence of someone’s passion expressed in a physical product. And it’s gratifying to know that my dollars can directly benefit a small business.

John Wilson expressed it beautifully when he said, “In a world where news of inhumanity bombards our sensibilities, where grasping for things goes so far beyond our needs, where time is squandered in busyness, it is a pleasure and a privilege to pause for a look at handiwork, to see beauty amidst utility, and to know that craft traditions begun so long ago serve us today.” Isn’t that just exactly right?

I’m always looking for new artists and artisans, crafters and creatives to add to my list. And I found an inspiring assortment of vendors the last time I was in Winnipeg. Many of them are returning for Third + Bird Christmas Market, an incredible gathering of Canadian creatives on November 25-26.

If you’re even remotely interested in handmade items, local art or indie crafts, I highly suggest you make a pilgrimage. If it’s half as amazing as the spring show I attended, it’ll be more than worth you while. You’ll leave inspired — and with lots of beautiful products to give as gifts or proudly display. On top of that, a portion of the proceeds from the event fund Nepali Women’s Co-op, which helps train entrepreneurs in Nepal.

Some of my all time favorite Winnipeg companies will be at the holiday event and I’ll be profile them in upcoming stand-alone stories as part of a commitment to focus on artists and makers across the Midwest and the prairie provinces of Canada in 2018.

But today I wanted to take a moment to show you some of the vendors that were new to me. I think you’ll like them as much as I did!

All the vendors I profile here will be at the Third + Bird Holiday Market, so be sure to check them out when you go. If a trip to Winnipeg isn’t in the cards for that weekend, I encourage you to check out these companies on your own time. And definitely sign up for the mailing list on the Third + Bird website so you can plan ahead and make the spring show.


Two medical laboratory technologists got a little creative and founded Scientific Sweets, which makes these adorable cookies with gorgeous designs. (The one pictured here features the Third + Bird logo, making it one of the most delicious things I’ve ever received in a swag bag!)

They also offer custom sprinkle mixes to create your own delicious treats. Let holiday baking season begin!

Speaking of deliciousness, I also really enjoyed Beeproject Apiaries’ honey. Each jar is made with honey from bees Winnipeg’s city center (or centre, if I’m going to be properly Canadian). I eat honey with my breakfast almost every morning and it was really interesting to taste how honey made from bees in Manitoba really does taste different from honey made from North Dakota or Minnesota bees.

Whenever I go to a vendor show, I always have to stroll around and take in every booth first. I kept coming back to the Jennifer Bianca Calligraphy booth over and over again, so I knew I’d have be walking away with something. Her work is delicate, modern and simple and I don’t think it even needs a frame.

There were so many great quotes to choose from, I had a hard time deciding. I eventually went with the Rilke quote that appears at the top of this post.

There’s something really striking about using words both as literature and as visual art. This piece sits in my office and it makes me happy every time I look at it.

I was tempted by the crisp, modern stylings at Boomerang 360 as well. (That bike image is one of my favorites.) I resisted adding another T-shirt or pillow to my collection — for now, anyway. This place is on my hit list for next time, for sure.

And the Pinterest-worthy play tents, eco friendly totes and home decor from Kate + Norah Co. totally made me smile. There’s something magical about a tent, no matter how old you get. And trust me, we were all checking it out and grinning like children as we peeked inside.

Since I am a beer lover and a beer writer, no trip to Winnipeg would be complete without connecting with other beer nerds. I loved the growlers, glassware and beer conversation at the North City Growlers booth. You can see a photo of the kind of cool stuff they produce below.

What about you?
What are your favorite Third + Bird vendors?
Which Manitoba artists and crafters do you love?
Which vendors are you excited to see?
What tips would you offer to people checking out Third + Bird for the first time?
What kinds of stories about creative people do you want to see on this site in the coming months?
What information can I give you to help you shop local?

Third + Bird Christmas Market
November 25-26
The Hudson’s Bay Company
Winnipeg, MB

If you’re going to the Third + Bird Christmas Market, tell me all about it here! Or find me on social media as well. I’d love to connect with more creative people like you.

A note from me: Third + Bird provided products and gift certificates so I could explore and experience the products the vendors offered. Some of the projects featured were gifts, but many weren’t. I wrote this story listing my favorites with no input from Third + Bird or any of the vendors listed here. I tell you because I think it’s important to know that sometimes I get complimentary items, but I try not to let that influence my work.

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