to Get and Give

to Get and Give
A happy trail is not a sweater!
Image: Michael Keany

to Get and Give / If thinking about one more mall trip makes you feel like crying, here’s a place where you can find great last-minute gifts, hilarity and charity. Art & Flea’s third annual Ugly Sweater Party will feature more than 60 local vendors carrying an abundance of handmade items, vintage pieces, antiques and local art.

Created by Aly Ishikuni and Nicole Franco, the monthly Art & Flea market puts the spotlight on local vendors, artists and musicians. Most of the food at Fresh Café is local, too. (Take that, Ala Moana!) And the bar’s open–which always helps at this time of year.

If you haven’t yet found the ugly sweater of your dreams, here are tips to get you started: 1. It has to look itchy. 2. Oversized is good. 3. Go to Goodwill or Salvation Army and walk towards whatever colors induce pain. 4. Any sweater reminiscent of Bill Cosby (a plus if the sweater looks like it already has pudding stains). 5. Anything with 3-D embellishments. Say yes to tassels, sequins, lights or felt. 6. Sweater vests, for the highbrow. 7. The more it looks like M.C. Escher at a rave, the better.

This year, Art & Flea and local boutique Collins & 8th have banded together to help New York Cares collect 200,000 coats for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Maida Montemayor, owner of Collins & 8th, says, “The idea first came up because I just went to New York in September for Fashion Week, and when the hurricane hit, a lot of my friends and designers . . . were effected.” Montemayor adds, “They told me that their neighborhoods were still in blackouts, and some of their friends were held up at gunpoint. One of our designers told me that they had to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge because the gas lines were just too crazy. I really wanted to find a way to help out.”

In a normal year, New York Cares collects 78,000 coats. “This year, because of Hurricane Sandy, they need to collect 200,000 . . . not just for homeless . . . [but] for residents who are left without belongings,” explains Montemayor. In the age of excessive consumerism, this is an opportunity to give something that’s a necessity–it’s especially hard to be alone this time of the year and have nothing. This may sound like Basic Christmas Giving 101, but really, there will always be a need. Holiday or not, there’s always an occasion to give.

Fresh Café, 831 Queen St., Thu., 12/20, 5–10pm, $3 admission ($2 with an ugly sweater), []