As we approach the season of gifting, we've got more than a few choices for how to shop. Online versus local, Black Friday or last-minute deals, big box store or weekend flea; the list goes on and on. But why not indulge in this month's holiday gift markets, with all sorts of hand-crafted and unique items for everybody on your list? The cherry on top is that some of these events benefit area charities, making this a slam dunk for holiday cheer.
Even in its 39th year, there is always something new to discover at the Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market. Making their debut are new merchants with sustainable clothing crafted from Alpaca fleece, authentic hair extensions, and custom made dolls. But never fear, your favorites among the more than 260 merchants will also be back: Texas Tamale Co., Bear Creek Smokehouse, handmade needlepoint stockings from Village Traditions, decadent frozen Texas pecan toffee from Susie's South Forty Collections, and the ever-popular Houston Ballet Nutcracker Boutique.
Beneficiary: Eleven percent of all merchandise sales, plus the proceeds from admission and special event tickets, support the various programs of the Houston Ballet Foundation, the Houston Ballet Academy, and its scholarship programs.
The Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market is scheduled for November 14-17 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at NRG Center, 1 NRG Park. For information, call 713-535-3231 or visit houstonballet.org/about/nutcracker-market. $20. ($50 for early admission at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday and Friday.)
Stroll along Avenida de las Americas and the southeast end of Discovery Green, and make it a weekly thing as the Winter Flea by Night ramps up during the holidays. From antiques and collectibles (His World Maps, The Buried Witch) to jewelry (Obscure Houston, Stone and Sigil), plus vintage and handcrafted goods, food trucks and local entertainment, it's all happening downtown.
Bonus: Beginning November 22, looks for Paloma Sponsored by PNC Bank, a series of 200 colorful "origami" birds suspended along the Brown Promenade and illuminated after dusk.
Winter Flea by Night presented by Green Mountain Energy® is scheduled for November 16-December 21 from 6-10 p.m. Saturdays at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. For information, visit discoverygreen.com/flea. Free.
It's become a holiday tradition to collect each year's custom ornament designed by the Christopher Radko team. Previous issues included Santa hiding behind a tree, a red wagon full of toys, and Santa in his sleigh. Plus this shopping extravaganza event includes flower arrangements, personalized gifts, market merchants, and photos with Santa.
Beneficiary: All proceeds from this event will go directly into the community to support the Junior League of The Woodlands, Inc. programs that serve the suburban north Houston area.
The Junior League Holiday Market is scheduled for November 21-24 from 7:30-10:30 p.m. Thursday (preview party), 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center, 1601 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands. For information, call 1-888-746-7455 or visit jlthewoodlands.org/holiday-market. $15 to $100.
The programming runs deep at this annual event, with opportunities to shop estate jewelry, antique silver, hand-woven rugs and period furniture, and view inspiring vignettes created by top interior design professionals. On tap to speak are Steve and Brooke Giannetti, the powerhouse architect/interior design couple who have created their own product lines; designer Alexa Hampton; Thomas Jayne of Jayne Design Studio; top designer Charlotte Moss; Aero Studios president Thomas O'Brien; and Margot Shaw, creator of Flower Magazine.
Beneficiary: Underwriting, plus advertising and ticket sales, benefit the 2019 charities: Amazing Place, Bo's Place, Camp for All, Holly Hall, Nick Finnegan Counseling Center, The Rise School, and The Rose, as well as permanent beneficiaries: Bayou Bend, Child Advocates, Kappa Alpha Foundation, and Texas Children's Cancer & Hematology Center.
The Theta Charity Antiques Show is scheduled for November 21-24 at 7 p.m. Thursday (preview party), 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday at George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. For information, visit thetacharityantiquesshow.org. $25 to $250.
They had us at free parking, but this gift market also features more than 200 vendors from all across the United states, from crafters and small businesses to local artists and artisans.
The 12th Annual Home for the Holidays Christmas Gift Market is scheduled for November 22-24 from 1-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Leonard E. Merrell Center Arena and Pavilion, 6301 South Stadium Lane, Katy. For information, call 281-788-4297 or visit homefortheholidaysgiftmarket.com. $6 to $10.
Come for the shopping from local and national vendors selling boutique clothing, handcrafted jewelry and unique home decor, but stay for the popular "Sip and Shop" with food and wine samplings throughout the Moody Gardens Convention Center.
Bonus: The 2019 holiday season at Moody Gardens has already kicked off, so turn your shopping trip into a weekend excursion with Ice Land, Festival of Lights, holiday 3D films, Rudolph 4D, the Arctic slide, train rides, ice skating and photos with Santa.
The tenth annual Thanksgiving Gift Market is scheduled for November 29-30 from noon to 8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa and Convention Center, 7 Hope Boulevard, Galveston. For information, call 281-788-4297 or visit homefortheholidaysgiftmarket.com. $6. The price for "Sip and Shop" requires a separate ticket.
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Get a jump start on holiday shopping when Midtown Park is transformed into a winter wonderland with red and white tents, lush holiday decor and fun activities in a festive, family-friendly atmosphere. Friday night's entertainment is sophisticated with jazz, art, yummies and an Instagram Cube with DIY activities: a station for writing letters to Santa, public art by Lauren Luna and muralist Anat Ronen, and an interactive performance by Silver Lynx Arts and Entertainment. Come back Saturday to shop against a backdrop of strolling carolers, an all ukulele band, and photos with Santa for your four-legged friends. Local makers selling unique gifts include Silverthread Designs and LH Candle Studio.
Midtown Mistletoe Market is scheduled for December 6-7 from 5-10 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday at Midtown Park, 2811 Travis. For information, call 713-526-7577, extension 106 or visit midtownhouston.com/event/mistletoe-market. Free.