I studied abroad in Luxembourg the fall semester of my junior year in college, which afforded me many wonderful travel adventures and introduced me to the grand tradition of festive European Christmas markets. I loved the quaint atmosphere of markets set in town squares, with the chance to support local businesses while enjoying mulled wine and baked treats. I hadn't encountered anything similar back in the U.S., until I moved to New York after graduation.
I was thrilled to discover years ago that the Union Square Holiday Market captures some of the same holiday magic (minus the glühwein), and I look forward to it every year. It's a unique spot to shop for gifts and holiday decorations, but it's also fun to get a hot cocoa, wander around the stalls, and just explore. I find something new to appreciate with each visit. The market is open through Christmas Eve, so if you're in the city you still have a chance to check it out.
The market gets crowded, especially on weekends. I enjoy stopping by on weeknights after work for a calmer experience, but I also always find it worthwhile to brave the crowds.
The ornaments are Craftspring are sweet and whimsical. They're also fair trade, and made by women artisans along the silk road in central Asia. I fell in love with reindeer pictured below, and had to take one home with me. This may be the start of an annual ornament collection!
I stumbled upon Pageant Print Shop years ago at the Union Square Holiday Market and since then their brick-and-mortar location in the East Village has become one of my favorite places to explore in the city. I've found unique graduation gifts there (an antique map of Columbia University) as well as a set of vintage rose prints that now hang above my bed.
I only discovered verrier handcrafted very recently, when I received one of their colorful "fashion-insprired" cards from a friend. It was pure joy to step into their kiosk, with its fanciful greeting cards (below) and chic prints (above).