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Find the perfect gift at holiday bazaars

Now that Halloween is over, holiday shopping season is upon us. Whether you're looking for a gift for your mom, your spouse, a co-worker or your BFF, it's always better to get them something that didn't come from the mall.

Ethnic Christmas bazaars abound in the Washington area this time of year. No matter your background, you can sample foods you've never tried from Ukraine or Norway, browse gifts from Argentina, or listen to traditional German carols.

And let's be honest: When you're shopping for family who doesn't live in D.C., it's cool to be able to say, "Oh, I found the perfect gift for you at the Swedish embassy."

These bazaars begin this weekend and run through mid-December.

St. Mark Orthodox Church Food Festival & Bazaar
This Bethesda church's annual festival is a chance to sample Eastern European and Russian foods, such as pierogi, borscht and halupki, but while you graze, you'll also find tables selling Christmas ornaments, Russian icons, jewelry and the hand-decorated eggs known as pysanky. (There will be pysanky demonstrations throughout the day.)
Friday, Nov. 1 and Saturday, Nov. 2 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. 7124 River Rd., Bethesda. 301-229-6300. Free.

Escuela Argentina International Bazaar
Argentinian clothing, holiday ornaments, jewelry and other items will be for sale at the Escuela Argentina, where you can also taste Argentinian foods (empanadas, pasta frola or sandwiches de miga) and listen to live tango music.
Saturday, Nov. 2 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Escuela Argentina, 9029 Bradley Blvd., Potomac. 301-365-0955. Free.

Drott Lodge Swedish Bazaar
Linens, glassware and holiday decorations are among the gifts sold at the annual bazaar hosted by Drott Lodge, the local Swedish cultural society. But there's also a smorgasboard lunch with Swedish meatballs, sandwiches and a table piled high with homemade cakes, cookies and desserts.
Saturday, Nov. 2 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. St James Episcopal Church, 11815 Seven Locks Rd., Potomac. 703-734-0319. Free.

Czech Christmas Market
If you're looking for hand-blown glass ornaments, the Christmas market at the Embassy of the Czech Republic should be at the top of your list. The annual sale usually features dozens of options from the Czech Republic or Slovakia, along with glassware and other gifts. Complimentary snacks and mulled wine (svařák) are offered while you browse. Both days feature Christmas music; Saturday's highlights include a children's choir singing Czech Christmas songs at 1:30 and a musical workshop for children at 3. Unlike in previous years, no reservations are required to attend.
Friday, Nov. 8 from 3 to 6 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 9 from 1 to 6 p.m. Embassy of the Czech Republic, 3900 Spring of Freedom St. NW. 202- 274-9100. Free.

Danish Club of D.C. Bazaar
Royal Copenhagen porcelain, amber jewelry, Advent calendars, embroidery and candles are offered at the 50th annual Danish Christmas Bazaar, sponsored by the Danish Embassy. Don't miss open-faced sandwiches, smoked salmon and pastries at the pop-up restaurant.
Saturday, Nov. 9 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saint Elizabeth's Church, 917 Montrose Rd., Rockville. Free.

Icelandic Christmas Bazaar
Icelandic woolens, housewares, decorations and art are available at the Icelandic Association's annual festival, along with homemade pancakes, pastries and other Icelandic treats.
Saturday, Nov. 16 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. American Legion Post 177, 3939 Oak St., Fairfax. Free.

Finnish Christmas Bazaar
Finnish ambassador Ritva Koukku-Ronde is the patron of Finn Spark's annual bazaar, where you can find Arabia housewares, Iittala glassware, knitwear and other stylish items. The dining area offers pastries, pies, sandwiches, Finnish coffee and glogg.
Saturday, Nov. 23 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. River Road Unitarian Church, 6301 River Rd., Bethesda. 757-870-3973. www. Free.

Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine Christmas Bazaar
Ukrainian decorated eggs, embroidery, icons and woodcrafts are sold at the National Shrine's bazaar, which also serves hearty Ukrainian lunches. Sunday features a performance of Ukrainian carols at 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 24 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine, 4250 Harewood Rd. NE. 202-526-3737. Free.

Heurich House Christkindlmarkt
The Heurich House is holding a German-style Christmas market in its Victorian garden. Organizers say they'll have a variety of local artisans selling jewelry, clothing and housewares. While you browse, you can listen to German carols, snack on German food and gluhwein catered by Cafe Berlin, and take a tour of the historic mansion, which will be decorated for the holidays.
Friday, Dec. 6 from 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 7 from noon to 7 p.m. Heurich House Museum, 1307 New Hampshire Ave. NW. 202-429-1894. $5 admission to Christkindlmarkt; $15 for Christkindlmarkt and house tour.

Norwegian Christmas Bazaar
Norwegian sweaters, kitchen linens, artworks and Christmas ornaments are among the presents to shop for at the Norwegian Christmas Bazaar, which has been an annual event since 1967. This year's event has moved to Fairfax, but it will still feature baking demonstrations, live Norwegian music and artists explaining the traditional painting style known as rosemaling. A kitchen will serve traditional foods, including pea soup, rice pudding and baked goods.
Friday, Dec. 6 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Christ Lutheran Church, 3810 Meredith Dr., Fairfax. Free.

SWEA Swedish Christmas Bazaar
Held at the Swedish Embassy's House of Sweden, the Swedish Christmas Bazaar is as much a family-friendly day out as a chance to shop for Swedish crystal and textiles. There's a craft room for children, exhibits at the embassy to browse, a cafe with coffee and baked goods, and a traditional Lucia procession honoring St. Lucia with Swedish holiday songs at 5 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 7, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. House of Sweden, 2900 K St. NW. 202-546-7266. Free.

Lovettsville Christkindlmarkt
Wooden Christmas ornaments, Advent calendars, nutcrackers and other German gifts are available at the Loudoun Valley German Society's annual market. Each day features three hours of live music and carols, visits from St. Nicholas, and stands selling gluhwein and hot food.
Saturday, Dec. 7 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Loudoun Game Protective Association, 16 South Berlin Pike, Lovettsville. Free.