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Your weekly guide to Houston: Five (plus) don't-miss events — the Secret Sandwich included

Your weekly guide: 5 (plus) don't-miss events with a secret sandwich

Secret Sandwich
"Secret Sandwich" at Fresh Arts focuses on the time-honored American lunchtime food. Courtesy photo
Film screening: British Arrows 2014
British Arrows recognizes excellence in advertising strategies across the pond. Courtesy photo
Dickens on The Strand
The 41st Annual Dickens on the Strand brings a slice of 19th-century London to Galveston. Photo by David Canright, Galveston Historical Foundation
First Saturday Arts Market
Plenty of locally foused markets, including this First Saturday Arts Market in The Heights, offer opportunities for finding gifts. Courtesy photo
CultureMap Pop Up Video 2014
CultureMap's Heather Staible checks out what WildBloom Boutique will have for sale at the CultureMap Holiday Pop Up Shop. Photo by Joel Luks
Secret Sandwich
Film screening: British Arrows 2014
Dickens on The Strand
First Saturday Arts Market
CultureMap Pop Up Video 2014

It's inconceivable to think that we are indeed in December. That means time is of the essence as you get your ducks in a row for the gift-giving season.

What you'll find in this week's suggestions are plenty of shopping opportunities, in addition to events that will bring a smile to your face. Because this holiday month should be all sorts of happy. Agree?

Fresh Arts opening reception: "Secret Sandwich"

It's time for a little artsy glee at Fresh Arts with the opening of this quick-witted exhibition that features works by Monica Foote, Jonathan Jardin, Paris Jomadiao, Geoff Smith, Alyssa Stephens and Alonso Tapia (and here I thought FA had discovered my penchant for clandestine midnight snacks).

Through projections, sculptures, fabric art, collage, graphic design and painting, this collective playfully focuses on the time-honored American lunchtime food.

The skinny: Opening reception is Friday, 6-8 p.m., on view through Jan. 16, 2015; Fresh Arts; free.

British Arrows 2014

I'm kicking myself because my other commitments won't allow me to catch one of the two screenings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston of the British Arrows, the awards that recognize excellence in ads across the pond. This is communications strategies at their finnest, packaged in a melange of clever shorts that will make you think and laugh. 

The skinny: Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m.; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; $9 general admission.

41st Annual Dickens on the Strand

Galveston goes retro with this Victorian festival that honors Charles Dickens. The streets of the Island will morph into 19th century London with parades, music on six stages, strolling carolers, bagpipers, jugglers, costumed vendors, sports of the era, petting zoos, crafts and more. 

Think you have vocal chords that cut through noise? Here's your challenge: Try out to become Galveston's official town crier in this contest.

The skinny: Friday through Sunday; various venues in Galveston; $6 - $14.

Shop 'til you drop at local markets

There's no such thing as too many pop up markets, especially when they spotlight local merchants and artisans, particularly at this time of the year when your gray matter is at a loss for what to give those who have just about everything. Because gift cards say, "I'm just not smart enough to find something meaningful — and I'm giving up."

Here are some options for you: AIGA Houston's Fifth Annual DesignCraft at Market Square Park (Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.), Craftidote at Antidote (Saturday, noon-5 p.m.), Holiday Bodega at The Foundry (Sunday, 2-7 p.m.), David Peck USA Annual Studio Sale (Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.), First Saturday Arts Market in The Heights (Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.) and Watershed Market Holiday Event in EaDo (Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.)

You're welcome.

CultureMap Holiday Pop Up Shop

Of course after all that retail therapy, there's only one thing you need: More shopping. Charge over to Silver Street Studios to drop green on a carefully curated lineup of 29 luxe local vendors at CultureMap's inaugural Holiday Pop Up Shop. We will feed you, booze you and spend your cash in the most delightful way. Your family and friends will thank you, and so will Victory and Washington Avenue Arts District, the nonprofit beneficieries of the one-day shopping fete.

Watch this for more information.

The skinny: Sunday, noon-6 p.m.; Silver Street Studios; $10 admission.