The white elephants are coming.

It's that time again, time to shelve the department store catalogs arriving in the mail, to think "country," "old-fashion" and "homemade." Never mind the mass-produced stocking-stuffers, avoid the assembly-line tree ornaments and skip the computerized check-out counters. Instead, trek to your local bazaar.

Those with little or no experience on the fair circuit may well lean back and ask, "What is a white elephant?" The answer: a giant porcelain vase of an army general with a clock in his stomach. Or a lace doily that smells like someone's attic smelled in 1924. Or perhaps a Scotch plaid handknit nose warmer.Whatever they are, they're taking over the town, to judge by the events below.

Unless otherwise noted, admission is free -- from there you're on your own. And stand by for another roundup of bazaar happenings between Thanksgiving and Christmas. NOVEMBER 1 -- Christ Church Memorial Parish Hall, 118 N. Washington St., Alexandria. Tenth Annual Christmas Corner features woodcarving demonstrations, brass and copper accessories, clothing, gifts from 27 speciality shops and the Junior Friends' new cookbook, "Desserts Hurrah." $2.50 donation. 10-4. 1 -- Church of St. Andrew the Fisherman, Route 214 at Carr's Wharf Road, Mayo, Md. Ham and oyster dinner, all you can eat for $6; children 6-12, $3; under 6 free. 3-8. 1 -- St. John Vianney Catholic Church, Prince Frederick, Md. Fall bazaar features baked goods, crafts, children's corner, raffle of a handmade quilt, afgan, grocery gift certificate and chain saw. Lunch available. 10-3. 1 -- Westmoreland Community Church, 1988 Kirby Rd., McLean. White Elephant sale sponsored by the American Metaphysical Society. Raffle, refreshments. 10-4. 1 -- St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 4250 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington. Annual bazaar features gifts, works by local painters and sculptors, Christmas ornaments, toys, baby garments, baked goods and white elephant stockade. Lunch served from 11:30, reservations recommended. 10-4. 1 -- Bowie United Methodist Church, 13009 Sixth St., First Lutheran Church, 12710 Sixth St., and St. James Episcopal Church, Eighth and Chapel Streets. Three bazaars, all in a six-block area of Bowie. Crocheted items, produce, antiques, children's table, baked goods, lunch available, white elephants, auction at Episcopal Church. 10-4. 1 -- Women's American ORT (Organization through Rehabilitation and Training) Craft Show at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, 7601 Hanover Pkwy., Greenbelt. 10-5. 1 -- Grace Episcopal Church, 1041 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Annual bazaar features chili, baked goods, toys, books, appliances, housewares, clothing, games and an auction of Dinners, vacation house rentals and oher services. 10-4. 1 -- Woodburn School annual fun fair, Gallows Road at Hemlock Drive, Falls Church. Moon walk, 10 games, helium balloons, face painting, silhouettes, children's used clothing and toys. Hot dogs, soft drinks, baked goods. Tickets for activities: four for $1. 10-3. 1 -- St. Luke's United Methodist Church, Wisconsin Avenue and Calvert Street NW. Country store items include canned goods, jellies, pickles, cheese, baked goods. Handmade gifts, used clothing, plants. j10-4. 2 -- Northern Virginia Jewish Community Center's Jewish Book Fair at Sleepy Hollow Elementary School, 3333 Sleepy Hollow Rd., Falls Church. Children's and adults' books. 11-3. 2 -- Franciscan Monastery Pilgrimage Hall, 1400 Quincy St. NE. Hungarian Exhibit and Bazaar featuring national costumes, needlework, pottery and paintings. Hungarian, Polish, Greek, Bavarian and other dance groups. Hungarian delicacies including stuffed cabbage and chicken paprikash. 10-4. 7-8 -- Holiday Preparation Sessions, The Mill at Taylorstown, Va. Route 662 toward Waterford to Route 655, left to the mill. Advice on interior design, holiday menus and table settings. 10 a.m.-12 with lunch; 8-10 p.m. with dessert and coffee. $5 donation to the Loudoun Association for Retarded Citizens. Call for reservations, 703/777-4819. 7-8 -- Laurel Center, Teen Health Fair. 30 exhibits, film festival, computer quiz. 11-6. 7-9 -- McLean Community Center, 1236 Ingleside Ave. Fourth Annual Antiques Show $2. Friday, 12-10; Saturday, 12-8; Sunday 12-6. 8 -- Wesley United Methodist Church, 8412 Richmond Ave., Alexandria. Sugar and Spice Mart features baked goods, crafts, face painting, white elephants, homemade doughnuts and lunch, crafts by local artists. 9:30-4. 8 -- Church of the Little Flower, 5601 Massachusetts Ave., Bethesda. Scandinavian Bazaar. Baked goods, Kaffe Stuga, Christmas decorations, handcrafts. Sponsored by Sons of Norway-VASA (Swedish) Order of America. 11-4. 8 -- Montfair Resort/Farm, RFD 2, Crozet, Va. (15 miles west of Charlottesville). Western Albermarle Rescue Squad's second annual fall festival. Two kettles of old-fashioned applebutter, Brunswick stew, homemade bread, cheese and hot apple cider. Crafts, bluegrass and country music, horse-drawn wagon rides. For information, 804/823-5202, 10:30 a.m. to "whenever the applebutter comes off." 8 -- Third Annual Old-Fashioned Family Fair, Redeemer Lutheran Church, 3799 East-West Hwy., Hyattsville. Turkey dinner, 4:30-7, adults $4.75; children under 11, $2.25; under 5 free. Lunch, 10-2. "Grandma's Attic" with baked goods, gifts, decorations, white elephants, nearly-new clothing, craft demonstrations, Pennsylvania Dutch funnel cakes, door prizes. 10-5. 8 -- Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill, 3606 Seminary Rd., Alexandria. Annual Fall Bazaar, bake sale, Christmas room, dried flower arrangements, sewing room, arts and crafts, books and white elephants. Movies and entertainment for kids. 10-2. 8 -- Geneva Nursery School, 11931 Seven Locks Rd., Rockville. Toy and Book Fair features pony rides, holiday crafts, balloons, food and drink for sale, clowns, face painting, children's books, bake sale, white elephants and Santa's Secret Shop. 10-2. 8 -- B'nai B'rith Women's art exhibit and auction, Crofton Elementary School, Duke of Kent St., Crofton. Contemporary and traditional works collected by the European-American Art Gallery of New York, on view at 7:30 p.m. Refreshments and free gift to all who attend. Door prizes are tickets to Bullets and Capitals games. Donation $1 per person. 8:30 p.m. 8 -- Silver Spring Senior Citizens Center, 1400 Fenwick Lane, Silver Spring. Handmade gift items, white elephants, jewelry and homemade kitchen items. 10-3. 12 -- Oxon Hill Elementary School Christmas Crafts Workshops, 7701 Livingston Rd. Pre-register to learn to make wreaths, bread-dough ornaments and other gifts and decorations. $8 plus cost of supplies. Continuing for three consecutive Wednesdays. 7-9 p.m. 14-15 -- Holy Redeemer Church, 4902 Berwyn Rd., College Park. Adult night, Tuesday, 6-11. Authentic Polish dinner, games of chance. Family night, Wednesday, 4-10. Raffles, crafts, plants, white elephants, food. 14-15 -- Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church, Nebraska and New Mexico Avenues NW. Needlework, arts and crafts, baked goods, jewelry and plants. Silent auction. Light supper Friday, 5 to 8. Friday 10-8, Saturday, 10-2. 15-16 -- Laws Auction and Antiques, Route 28, Manassas, Va. Seventh Annual Christmas Mart sponsored by the Manassas Art Guild. Local and guest artists and craftsmen. 10-5. 22 -- Mt. Vernon Unitarian Church, 1909 Windmill La., Alexandria. Plants, herbs and dried flowers, white elephants and like-new boutique. Kids-only section, gingerbread houses and other holiday baked goods plus lunch. A "stained glass" quilt will be raffled at day's end. Handmade gifts. 10-3. 22 -- River Road Unitarian Church, Whittier Boulevard and River Road, Bethesda. Bazaar features books, boutique of handmade gifts, plants, 10-4. Auction includes collector's items, 3:30-6. Lasagna dinner, $5, 6:30.