Solana Beach Holiday Arts and Crafts Boutique evolved from a rich history of civic-minded women

By Diane Y. Welch


In 1953, a group of civic-minded women gathered together to create hand-made crafts at each others’ homes. Available for sale during their Christmas Gift Sale and Tea, their homemade decorations and gift items benefited the newly formed Solana Beach Women’s Club and brought together community members in a festive atmosphere. The ladies wore elegant dresses, stylish hats and matching gloves, and the crafts sale was a formal affair.

Today, ladies from the now-named Solana Beach Civic and Historical Society (SBC&HS) wear green aprons as they sell their homemade crafts and baked goods in a much more relaxed setting. But their intent is still the same as their 1950s counterparts: raising funds for their organization and having fun doing it.

This year the SBC&HS will hold its annual Holiday Arts and Crafts Boutique on Saturday, Nov. 5, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at La Colonia Community Center. Everyone is invited to attend this free event.

“The society’s Arts and Crafts Committee has created a modern equivalent of the old sit-around-the-table quilting bee,” said Carol Childs, president. “Its monthly meetings provide conviviality, the joy of creating handmade objects, and the satisfaction of knowing that the proceeds of these efforts are helping to continually improve our community.”

Pam Dalton, committee co-chair with Phyllis Schwartzlose, has delved into the history of the society’s crafts boutiques over the past 58 years, poring over old newspaper clippings pasted into scrapbooks held in the care of Nancy Gottfredson, society archivist. Dalton interviewed Gottfredson and Schwartzlose, both longtime crafters, to get their first-hand recollections and has pieced together an interesting timeline of past boutiques. Her findings have been written up in an article that will appear in the upcoming society newsletter.

The craft boutique has evolved through many interpretations over the past 53 years. It has been formerly known as Christmas Magic, Santa’s Shoppe, Bake and Boutique, and Santa’s Forest Boutique, noted Dalton. Items for sale in the 1960s included wind chimes made from glass bottles, piggy banks made from Purex bottles, and Santa faces crafted from baby food jars. Door prizes were offered including a shampoo and wave, and a honeymooners’ breakfast set.

In 1968, gourmet foods prepared by members were featured in that year’s Bake and Boutique, a two-day event held outside two locations: the Mayfair Market – long since gone – and the Plaza of the Four Flags, now the Vons shopping center. Homemade jams were a specialty and shoppers could purchase a copy of Coastal Cookery, a fundraising cook book that contained delicious home spun recipes.

An ambitious change took place in 1976 when the annual Christmas Sale became The Holiday Home Tour.

“For this event, four or five local homes were lavishly decorated for the holidays by Bullocks, Robinson, and other department stores. For the cost of a $7 ticket shoppers could enjoy touring these lovely homes and perusing homemade crafts at one home, food items at a second home, and refreshments at another. Homes were named according to their specialty, such as the Gourmet House, the Artist House, and the Tea House,” Dalton wrote. There was much excitement in the 1980s when one home tour included The Bachelor Pad and another, the home of President Ford’s son, Jack.

By 1990, the Women’s Civic Club had become the Solana Beach Civic and Historical Society, and the Holiday Bazaar returned to a sales event based at the Fletcher Cove Community Center. Last year the newly named Holiday Arts and Crafts Boutique was moved to the La Colonia Community Center in Eden Gardens where it returns this year.

Available for sale are holiday decorations, wearable art, potted plant arrangements, children’s toys, hand-turned wooden bowls, food items, gifts, jewelry and more. There will be a silent auction for popular one-of-a-kind items and a gift-bag prize drawing every 30 minutes. In the patio area will be the Coffee Café, created by society member Mary Berend, serving free coffee and a place to visit with friends and neighbors.

The Holiday Arts and Crafts Boutique will be held on Saturday, Nov. 5 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at La Colonia Community Center, 715 Valley Avenue, Solana Beach, CA 92075. For those interested in joining the Arts and Crafts Committee the society welcomes crafters of all levels. Membership in the society is not required. Contact Pam Dalton at 858-755-8574 for more information.