Winter Wonderland of Crafts Offers Unique Homemade Christmas Gifts

Christmas gifts can again have the most special meaning.

As shoppers have been crowding mainstream chain stores selecting gifts just like hundreds of others will open on Christmas Eve, there is now an opportunity to buy a unique present for loved ones, and the purchase will even benefit a worthy group.

Friday morning, Sandy Swendsen, Eskridge, talked to Father Shannon, pastor at St. John Vianney Church in Maple Hill, about the Winter Wonderland of Crafts scheduled Saturday, Dec. 7, at Most Pure Heart of Mary Church in Topeka. All proceeds from the handcrafted Christmas gift sale and festive day of music, food, door prizes, drawings and fun will benefit St. John Vianney Church.

“No two-of-a-kind anywhere will make all eyes glisten as the Christmas paper crinkles during unwrapping of an especially selected gift from the Winter Wonderland of Crafts,” promised Sandy Swendsen, brainchild and instrumental organizer of the special sale.

The Winter Wonderland of Crafts is Saturday, Dec. 7, from 10 o’clock in the morning, to 5 in the afternoon, at the Most Pure Heart of Mary Church, 1750 SW Stone Avenue, Topeka.

“It’s located just one block from 17th and Gage in Topeka, but we’ll have signs posted, so it’s really easy to find,” Swendsen assured.

“We have about 28 vendors who will offer the widest variety of handmade items one could ever imagine. There will be everything from baby items, to dresses, quilts, leather belts, natural candles, soaps, jewelry, ladies accessories, bird houses, original paintings, jams, breads, many absolutely beautiful gifts.

“With a couple of exceptions, everything is homemade,” said Swendsen, who with her husband, Steve, and their five children and grandchild will be selling their handmade health and beauty items.

“This is a special project of the St. John Vianney Church at Maple Hill, and all proceeds from the Winter Wonderland of Crafts will benefit the St. John Vianney parish and school,” explained Swendsen, a parishioner of the 200-family congregation.

“Besides lot of unique, handcrafted items, perfect for holiday gifts, the Winter Wonderland of Crafts will have a festive atmosphere of music, food and fun for all,” Swendsen promised.

Door prizes are to be given in a drawing from names of everybody who registers upon entering the hall, and purchase of dollar raffle tickets gives one the chance of winning several prizes, valued at more than $100 each, including a car detail package donated by Eagle Carwash.

“There’ll also be a silent auction for people to bid on a variety of gift items also donated by the craft sale vendors. This will include a beautiful Mikasa six-piece crystal nativity set that is worth several hundred dollars,” Swendsen pointed out.

“Be sure to come hungry, too,” Swendsen insisted. “We’ll have hot bowls of chili, shredded beef sandwiches, hot dogs, nachos, hot and cold beverages, plus scrumptious desserts. Make it a meal or a snack, and again, most items are homemade by St. John Vianney Church parishioners,” Swendsen said.

Mario Gonzalez will sing Christmas carols and some other secular songs and hymn with his own personal instrumental accompaniment.

Idea for the Winter Wonderland of Crafts came from Swendsen last year as another way to merchandise her family’s home business products, while contributing to a fundraising opportunity for the parish at the same time.

Garden of Eden Essentials, LLC, the Swendsen family’s home business, specializes in handmade soaps, essential oils, candles and many other skin and aromatherapy products.

“I made the suggestion to have a handcrafted Christmas gift sale, and before long other parishioners and our pastors were on board, and the idea developed. Last year, our crafts sale was at the Armory in St. Marys, and while it was a success, we decided to see about moving to Topeka to increase the patronage.  Most Pure Heart of Mary Church has been so congenial in letting us come there,” Swendsen credited.

“This has certainly been a whole parish effort, and I’m so thankful and feel very blessed by all who have come forward to help, and are graciously assisting in so many ways,” Swendsen appreciated.

With three resident priests, St. John Vianney Church at Maple Hill, a Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter parish and part of the Kansas City Diocese, offers traditional Latin masses twice daily and four times on Sundays, in addition to Latin masses at St. Joseph’s Church in Topeka.

“We just moved to Eskridge from the state of Washington three years ago, and joined St. John Vianney, but it has been in existence for more almost three decades. The church and K-12 school buildings were constructed in 2003,” Swendsen explained.

Located at 14611 Waterman Crossing Road, just outside of Maple Hill, St. Vianney parishioners come from at least a 20-mile radius of the church, with Sunday attendance surpassing 600.

Additional information about the Winter Wonderland of Crafts and St. Vianney is available at, or