By MATT HOPF
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Holiday spirit and music was in the air as the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season kicked off Saturday in Quincy.
Hundreds of shoppers packed the halls and gym at Quincy High School for the first day of the 44th annual Holiday Gift Show, which is organized by the Quincy Service League. There are 95 vendors -- 70 returning from last year.
"We've had a really great crowd," said Elizabeth Brown, the chairman of this year's show. "I think the weather helps with that."
A little bit of everything can be found at the booths.
"We have five booths where you can have things customized on the spot," Brown said. "There's one that's doing iPod covers or you can have your monogram or baby's name put on an item, and they'll do those on the spot. You can take it home today."
Brown enjoys watching the multiple generations of shoppers.
"You'll see a grandma, a daughter and a little granddaughter walk in the doors," she said. "That's fun to see. The kids like to come and see Santa. You can tell it's a tradition that they all come together every year."
The tradition of the Gift Show doesn't just include shoppers. Some have manned booths for decades.
Melissa Mott, of Homespun Creations from Hamilton, said the business has attended the Gift Show for close to 30 years.
"This show is nice, because it starts getting you into the Christmas spirit," she said. "It's the first show where it is all Christmas. There's no other seasons into it anymore."
The show is a family tradition for the Motts, who specialize in primitive wood crafts. Ten family members staff the booth.
"I don't know that I would say it's fun," Mott joked as some in her family were within earshot. "We try really hard to get along."
Money raised from the show supports the league and outreach projects such as Reading is Fundamental, Meals on Wheels, Chaddock, JR Shoppe and other organizations. Scholarships and grants also are distributed from funds raised.
The show will be open today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $3 for adults, $1 for children ages 6 to 12 and free for children under 5. Those 60 and older can buy tickets for $2.
Also available at the show is the newly published "Best in League ... Family Favorites" cookbook for $10. This is the third cookbook the league has released.
"What we had members do is ask their kids and ask their husbands ‘What's the best thing I make?' " Brown said. "So we have those for sale for the first time this weekend."