CHARLOTTE – Nothing gets people into the holiday spirit more than the annual Southern Christmas Show. Every year, thousands peruse vendors bursting with stockings, snowmen and enough jolly old Saint Nicks to transform any home into a winter wonderland. There’s handmade birdhouses, ornaments for the tree and scarves to help you brave the winter wind, but there’s also so much more.
Josanne and Bruce McAfee, owners of The Enchanted Fairy, don’t have any holiday garb at their booth. Instead, their handmade fairies and mermaids transport customers out of the North Pole and into a mythical forest, if only for a moment.
The Kentucky couple has been making the tiny clay dolls and twig houses for 25 years and says there’s nothing else quite like it, especially at an exhibition dedicated solely to Christmas.
“I’ve noticed people especially love the mermaids,” Josanne McAfee said. “I think mermaids are having a comeback.”
A few rows away are Mike and Bonnie Henry, from Gate City, Va., selling Broken China Jewelry
Each necklace, earring and bracelet is handmade from repurposed vintage china dishes the couple finds hunting through thrift stores and auctions. They cut shapes for the jewelry out of the dishes using diamond tip blades and saws.
Bonnie Henry said it makes for a heartwarming gift with sentimental value.
“It brings back people’s memories of their grandmother’s china,” she said. “One woman just left crying because it reminded her of her grandma.”
The Henrys can even create custom pieces using customers’ china they bring from home.
“I’ve had a lot of people say they’d rather wear it because otherwise it’s just packed away,” Bonnie Henry said.
Across the room, it’s difficult to pass by Cinnamon Scents Crafts and not gawk at June Taylor’s creations, or even just stop for a sniff. Taylor, from Atlanta, Ga., has been sculpting crushed cinnamon into shapes for 30 years, but admitted the original idea actually happened by mistake.
It all started when she wanted the smell of cinnamon in her home. She thought about boiling cinnamon sticks on the stove, but thought it was too dangerous with her young children around, so she made crafts instead.
One day, she accidentally crushed one of the cinnamon sticks with a hammer and the aroma bloomed. She decided to mix the crushed cinnamon with glue, sculpt it into a reindeer and the rest is history.
Today, she makes all sorts of shapes from tiny mice to large churches, gingerbread-style homes, dogs, moose and ornaments. The scent lasts four to six weeks, but Taylor said customers can refresh their purchases with a few drops of cinnamon oil and reuse them year after year.
“I enjoy working with cinnamon and it gives me pleasure to have customers enjoy it,” she said.
But isn’t she sick of the smell after all this time?
“Never,” Taylor said. “Cinnamon is the scent of Christmas. It just brings back a warm and cozy feeling.”
Want to go?
The Southern Christmas Show, located at The Park Expo and Conference Center, 800 Briar Creek Road in Charlotte, runs until Nov. 18. It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays and Tuesdays and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. all other days. Tickets cost $15 for adults at the door or $13 online, $4 for children ages 6 to 12 and free for children under five with a paying adult. Visit www.southernchristmasshow.com for details.