By Marina Darmaros

Cards From ArtistsElite art (one at Cards From Artists) can be found.
Souvenirs from abroad are easy holiday gifts, but how many matryoshkas can your relatives take? Avoid buying the same old presents this year by heading to one of Moscow's rich array of Christmas/New Year's fairs.

NB Affordable Fair

Located in an apartment, the NB Gallery is like visiting an old friend, complete with nostalgic music on a record player as you enter. The fair gives everyone a chance to buy art even if you can't afford a portrait of yourself on the Arbat.

The Affordable Fair offers real art works, mainly from the 1950s and 1960s, at dirt-cheap prices -- starting, believe it or not, at 300 rubles. The works are available throughout the year but are discounted for the fair.

"Russian art is so expensive, many collectors are afraid even to think about it," said fair owner Natalia Bykova, who is holding the affair for the second year.

Bykova points out a portrait of a woman sitting on a bench that costs 2,000 rubles, down from about 17,000. "The idea just came to us to show that art is not expensive," she said. "The low cost attracts new clients." The gallery promises also to provide the necessary paperwork for exporting the paintings if needed.

Even if you don't have a taste for art, the gallery, on the charming Pereulok Sivtsev Vrazhek, has a nice view of festively lit Moscow.

Central House of Artists
Christmas Fair

The Central House of Artists hosts a huge Christmas fair full of gifts, decorations and seasonal goodies of all kinds. In its giant exhibition center you can find a smorgasbord of the good, the bad and the ugly, from precious stones and ivory sculptures to Chinese wallets and Russian cowboy hats.

NB Affordable Fair
Bargain (a piece from the Affordable Fair) can be found.

Traditional festive objects are also available. Russian valenki (felt boots), teddy bears and decorated trees are scattered all over the three-story building. There are also a thousand ox-related objects to celebrate the Chinese year of the ox, including ice skates, shoes and bells.

Winzavod New Year's Fair

Kookshop, Olga Soldatova, Galereika and Boomboomroom are among the offbeat, up-and-coming retailers and designers who are offering a range of items at Winzavod come Dec. 18 for their New Year's fair. Organizers promise a choice of three main styles for presents available at the event: nostalgic/traditional, reserved/European and futuristic. Under these rather mysterious titles will be perfect presents such as stylish purses, watches, flowerpots, kitchen utensils and book covers.

Cards From Artists

The VP Studio is holding an exhibition of Christmas/New Year's cards created specially by dozens of artists including Alexander Brodsky and Gor Chakhal. The gallery says prices start at around 200 euros, although maybe the Christmas spirit/crisis will get you a discount.

Yolka Haute Couture

You can find a reasonable selection of seasonal goodies at this fair held in the neo-Russian fairy tale building on Leontyevsky Pereulok.

The fair is full of crafts, including such wonders as funny clay French men that look like Napoleon (850 rubles) to terems, the Tsarist palace built in the Kremlin (1,500 rubles).

Ornaments made from honey biscuit (pryanik) are some of the best gifts on offer and best of all, the pryaniks fit all appetites, big and small. For 1,000 rubles you can buy a stylish house made of biscuit, or get a Christmas-tree ornament for 50 rubles.

And if you really, really need a matryoshka doll, there is a museum devoted to the originally Japanese doll in the building too.

The NB Affordable Fair runs until Dec. 28 at 6/2 Pereulok Sivtsev Vrazhek, Suite 2, entrance 1. Tues.-Fri. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.. Metro Kropotkinskaya. 697-4006, 737-5298.

Central House of Artists Christmas Fair runs though Dec. 22. 10 Krymsky Val. Tues.-Sun. 11 a.m.-8 p.m.. Tickets 50-100 rubles. Metro Park Kultury. 238-9843, 238-9634.

Winzavod New Year's Fair runs from Dec. 18 to 21. 1 4th Syromyatnichesky Pereulok, bldg. 6. Metro Kurskaya. 917-46-46.

Cards From Artists. 5/6 Sredny Kislovsky Pereulok, bldg. 14, entrance 2. Ring 39 on intercom. Office 41. Metro Arbatskaya. 695-4823.

Yolka Haute Couture runs through Jan. 15 at 7 Leontyevsky Pereulok. Mon.-Thur. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.. Metro Pushkinskaya. 202-7316.