The festive season stalks us once again, presenting the usual difficulty of coming up with interesting and exclusive gifts for family and loved ones. Here in Hastings and St Leonard’s, with its arty, bohemian outlets, we’re luckier than most other places in being able to source that elusive artefact to elicit the most sought-after of exclamations: “Oh that really is lovely!”  For aficionados of handmade arts and crafts, the Hastings Arts Forum’s Creative Christmas exhibition is an excellent opportunity to browse affordable and original gifts.

Now in its twelfth year, the Hastings Arts Forum has its spacious and elegant home below Marine Court, which, with its rapidly expanding food and bar outlets, is fast becoming a go-to strip. The gallery’s twin spaces provide the local community with an important venue for art shows of regional importance. Their regular openings – with the opportunity to view quality art pieces in congenial company with a glass of wine – are always worth attending. The reasonably priced membership enables artists to exhibit in members’ shows and hire the gallery at a reasonable cost for individual or small group shows. You also get discounts at local shops and businesses.

This year’s Christmas Fair – which runs from the 1st until the 23rd December – promises to be up to the Forum’s usual high standard. Creative Christmas is a curated show, meaning that exhibitors are selected based on the quality and uniqueness of their work, ensuring a broad range of beautiful, high quality artefacts. Look out for beautifully stained and painted glass work by Rachel Hoath; Caroline Morris’s glamorous hats; and Katherine Reekie’s fine enamel jewelry and intriguing surreal oil paintings.

In truth, it’s invidious to single out any of the exhibitors, since all coalesce to provide an engaging and accessible collection of work. There’s a Private view on Friday 2nd – all welcome – with festive nibbles and mulled wine. See you there.

Hastings Art Forum Creative Christmas 1 Dec – 23 Dec (Private View: 2 Dec, 6.30 – 8.30pm)