Ready, Set, Shop! Nutcracker Market Has All the Gifts You Want and Need

Whether you've been naughty or nice, it's time for holiday shopping and the Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market has unique gifts for yourself or that special someone.
Whether you've been naughty or nice, it's time for holiday shopping and the Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market has unique gifts for yourself or that special someone.
Photo courtesy of The Nutcracker Market
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Well, maybe you don't need a Christmas ornament in the shape of a toilet and plunger, but that was one of the hottest ornaments flying off the shelves at last year's Ornament Barre, one of the booths at the shopping paradise Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market. And perhaps the perfect gift for the plumber in the family.

Patsy Chapman, the market's CEO, tells us that the Ornament Barre — which is sponsored by the Houston Ballet Guild — will be back this year, selling 7,500 glass ornaments in more than 300 themes: dogs, cats, food items and traditional designs in the style of Christopher Radko. Find them in booth 104 and the Guild's other endeavor, the Santa Barre, at booth 112.

"They’re beautifully decorated Santas. Beautiful velvets and furs and brocades in every size and every style," says Chapman. "If you’re crazy about Santas and you want to decorate."

Longtime fans of the Nutcracker Market will be thrilled to know that perennial favorites are returning: Paul Michael Co. and The Round Top Collection (home décor), The Royal Standard (gifts), Donne Di Domani (the spaghetti sauce ladies), Robin Clayton Designs International (apparel and accessories) and The Pewter Lady.

Readers will never guess one of the newest merchants at the market, so we won't even ask you to try. "We’ve got a new booth called Beautiful Brows. Brows are hot right now, people are obsessed with brows: shaping, dyes, tattooing," says Chapman. "They have professional waterproof eyebrow makeup. It's quick and easy to apply, and they're giving onsite demonstrations. That will be popular."

Chapman also suggests checking out Compact Fishing Pole ("a very heavy duty fishing rod that folds up and fits in your pocket") and the hand-painted décor at Lazy Susans by Joann ("not only are they functional and practical, but they are just beautiful").

Plenty of gourmet food purveyors are returning, including a new mash-up of two of our favorite things: beer and bread. Brewhouse Bakers will be selling artisan bread mixes, but they've customized the recipes by adding IPA and other craft beers and they'll be handing out samples. "They have a huge variety of flavored breads," says Chapman. "They have a pumpkin bread, which is perfect for the holidays. If you add a pumpkin ale to the mix, it changes and enhances the flavor."

Both the Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy's Fashion Shows are already sold out, but pro shoppers will want to upgrade their tickets for either the Wells Fargo Preview Party on Wednesday night (best way to avoid the crowds) or the early bird pass that gives shoppers a 90-minute head start on Thursday and Friday. And when your arms start to feel heavy with all those purchases, head on over to package check at booth 923. When it's time to go home, just drive around to customer pick-up and they'll load up your car.

So what's it all about? The Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market introduces new audiences to the wonder and magic of dance, with 11 percent of booth sales and 100 percent of sales at the Houston Ballet Nutcracker Boutique benefiting the Houston Ballet Foundation, its Academy and scholarship programs. It's also a chance to see costumed dancers and ballerinas mingling in the crowd, purchase tickets to upcoming performances at a discount, and become a part of one of Houston's most important nonprofits.

The Wells Fargo Preview Party is scheduled for 6:30-10 p.m. November 7, NRG Center, 1 NRG Park, 713-535-3231, houstonballet.org, $250 to $3,500.

The Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market is scheduled for 10 a.m.-8 p.m. November 8-9 (early birds get in at 8:30 a.m.), 10 a.m.-6 p.m. November 10, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. November 11, NRG Center, 1 NRG Park, 713-535-3231, houstonballet.org, $20 to $50.

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