If you are sick of buying the same department store trinkets to stuff stockings this Christmas, check out Brazilian and Japanese handicrafts at bazaars on this and next weekend.
Expatriate housewives are selling quaint lifestyle goods and Christmas ornaments to raise funds for charity.
It is a longstanding tradition for the Women's Committee of The Japanese Association, Singapore, which co-organised its first Christmas bazaar with Singapore Red Cross in 1958.
Its latest edition happens next Saturday, offering homemade baked goods and traditional Japanese crafts.
Meanwhile, Brazilian expatriate women's group Helping Hands will hold a bazaar today and tomorrow at a function room at Cliveden At Grange. They started the annual shindig in 2007.
Another pop-up shopping event with a charity element is happening at House on Dempsey, next Monday and Tuesday.
There, you can find handwoven Turkish towels, handmade jewellery with pearls from the Caribbean island of Margarita and bowls made with telephone wire from South Africa.
We get a sneak peek at the wares.
A touch of Brazil, in memory of mum
Every Wednesday this year, a group of Brazilian women meet at Mrs Deise Cavalheiro's apartment to sew fuxicos - traditional Brazilian cloth rosettes.
Made from scraps of cotton from Brazil, they are individually sewn, then pieced together to make items such as hand towels, hairclips and little Christmas trees.
This year, Mrs Cavalheiro's little group called Helping Hands, comprising mostly women who have accompanied their husbands on job postings here, have made more than 100 items.
These will go on sale at Grange Road condominium Cliveden At Grange's function room from 10am today. Prices range from $3 for a hairclip to $40 for a patchwork baby blanket. All proceeds from the annual bazaar go to a different charity each year. Last year, they raised $5,000 - divided equally between children's charities I-India in Jaipur and Phare Ponleu Selpak in Cambodia.
This year, they aim to raise at least $5,000 for Om Creations Trust, an Indian non-governmental organisation which helps developmentally challenged women. Donations are also welcome.
Mrs Cavalheiro, 60, a Portuguese language teacher, moved here in 1996, when her husband came here to work as a flavourist for a company that makes flavours for goods ranging from cosmetics, food and tobacco. The couple's three children - a photographer daughter, Clarissa, 26, and sons Dario, 28, and Breno, 23, who work for oil and gas companies, live in Singapore too.
The Helping Hands project started when she lost her 78-year-old mother, who lived in Sao Paolo, to breast cancer in 2007. "She was sick for nine years but she never gave up," recalls Mrs Cavalheiro. "She always helped the church which held charity bazaars. When she passed away, she left behind many memories and materials for handicrafts."
Returning to Singapore after the funeral but still grieving, Mrs Cavalheiro started making those same crafts her mother taught her. "I wanted to do something in her memory," she says. She sent word out to her friends, who helped her get the charity bazaar off the ground.
Since then, her friends in the Brazilian community here have brought back cotton fabric from Brazil for her to work with. They also donate yarn and other materials they bought during their holidays.
Said Mrs Cavalheiro: "It's amazing when I think back on what the bazaar has done. It's helped me cope with my grief and now it helps other people too."
HELPING HANDS BAZAAR
Where: Cliveden At Grange, 102 Grange Road, Function Room
When: Today, 10am to 4pm; tomorrow, 10am to 2pm
Homemade pastry to ornaments
In 1957, The Japanese Association, Singapore was re-established, about 12 years after World War II ended.
Founded in 1915, the association had been dissolved during the war.
When it was set up again, a Women's Committee, comprising Japanese housewives whose husbands were working here, was formed to raise funds for local charities.
"The feelings of Singaporeans towards the Japanese here were still sensitive at the time. The Japanese wanted to contribute to Singapore society," explains Mr Sugino Kazuo, the association's secretary general.
So, the Women's Committee starting organising charity bazaars during the Christmas period.
The first one, in 1958, was co- organised with Singapore Red Cross. In 1968, the committee began organising the bazaar independently.
Last year, at least 400 people attended the Japanese Association's open house and bazaar and helped raise about $20,000 for The Straits Times' School Pocket Money Fund, Sharity Gift Box and The Grace Orchard School.
This year, more than 2,000 items, including homemade macaroons and chiffon cakes, Christmas ornaments and mobile phone straps and sponsored kitchen goods, bags and stationery go on sale from $3.
Proceeds will go to the School Pocket Money Fund and Sharity Gift Box.
The handicraft items were made by about 120 Japanese women who attended five workshops conducted this year, said Ms Noriko Wada, the leader of the bazaar sub-committee.
The 50-year-old, a housewife who has lived in Singapore for two years with her husband, says: "Singaporeans have treated Japan with such warmth and kindness. In return, we hope that this bazaar will be a great help to charity. We also hope the Japanese people in Singapore would show their appreciation for Singapore."
THE JAPANESE ASSOCIATION, SINGAPORE OPEN HOUSE & CHARITY BAZAAR 2012
Where: JAS Ballroom, 120 Adam Road; non-members should park at Arcadia Road. Queue numbers for entry will be given out from 10am near 2F Atrium, for entry between 11am and noon. Queue numbers will not be required after noon.When: Nov 24, 11am to 4pmInfo: Call 6466-0066 or go to www.jas.org.sg/event/openhouse/openhouse_en.html
From funky to high-end wares at Boutiques
Boutiques, a quaint pop-up event started 11 years ago, when three Danish friends could not find a suitable space here to sell their wares.
One wanted to sell high-end linen by Scandinavian luxury lifestyle brand Georg Jensen. Another wanted to sell paintings. And yet another wanted to sell ceramics she had fired in her own studio.
So, in 2002, they decided to organise a pop-up store of their own at Fort Canning Centre. They invited 16 vendors to join them.
Today, the twice-yearly event, in April and November, has grown to include more than 60 vendors.
This year, the event will move from Fort Canning Centre to a new venue at House On Dempsey.
Mrs Charlotte Cain, 52, has been running the pop-up event by herself for the past six years, after her friends returned to Denmark.
The potter says she is so busy curating the event that she no longer sells her works there but through art galleries.
She has been living in Singapore since 1989 with her Canadian husband who works for a relocation company.
"I love people who do home crafts. Many of them are wives of expatriates. Coming to Singapore gives them a great opportunity to do their own thing, start a small, independent business and fulfil their dreams of being an entrepreneur," says Mrs Cain of why she selects these business owners and designers for the event.
Items at this edition's fair include colourful Turkish pestamal towels, traditionally used in Turkish baths, and handwoven baskets and lamps from Bangladesh, Morocco or Malacca. Prices range from $10 for a bracelet to hundreds of dollars for jewellery.
Among the stalls are seven that are setting up, rent-free, for a good cause.
Lifestyle products company Bisous La Fairtrade sells handicrafts produced by disadvantaged South-east Asian artisans.
Funky Fairtrade, an organisation which helps disadvantaged groups, sells handmade lifestyle products such as bunting and collages for kids' rooms and parties.
Similarly, Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics, which assists migrant workers here, is selling bunting, made by abused domestic workers here waiting for their cases to be resolved.
Children's charity I-India is selling jewellery and handicrafts from its Streetchild Project vocational training centres.
Likewise, Open Book, a non-governmental organisation, is selling children's books in Khmer, English and French to benefit street children in Phnom Penh.
The Netherlands Charity Association is selling memory games, event calendars and greeting cards.
And Sanctuary House Singapore, a shelter for infants and children up to three years old, will have a donation box at its stall and provide information on how to volunteer as foster parents to Singaporean children without care.
BOUTIQUES AT HOUSE ON DEMPSEY
Where: 8D Dempsey Road
When: Monday, 10am to 8pm; Tuesday, 10am to 6pm