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Ok.  It IS a market.   Let’s assume you’re not only there to take in the sights, eat and drink.  

What should you buy at a Christmas market?   I’m gonna say it totally depends on your available space.  (Well, you have to draw the line somewhere.)

Mostly, there are traditional and artisanal crafts available at all the markets.   I boil it down to three categories:   personal, decorative and gifts.   For the most part, many of the items at the Christmas markets are hard to find the rest of the year and certainly not in quantity of selection and choice.

Personal.   The Germans know cold weather and you just can’t beat their boiled wool or felted or knitted hats, gloves, scarves and coats.   If you’re there, you already have a coat with you.   But you will not want to miss at least trying on a hat or pair of gloves.   There were tons of socks available as well in all types of colors and sizes.

Decorative.  This is what most people think of as market shopping.   From nutcrackers to straw ornaments, pyramids to fancy candles, you can find it all available in one market or another.   The Bavarian markets have more angels, including the famous carved wax angels.    They all have little wooden ornaments.   We found the classic straw ornaments more in the north (and particularly wanted them as they packed flat and super lightweight for our bulging winter suitcase.)  There was a large amount of multi-colored light vendors at all the markets including hanging stars with pierced designs allowing light to filter out.   All things old-fashioned Christmas are readily available at reasonable prices.

Gifts.   Traditionally, German families gift each other lebkuchen which can be personalized on site.   Big and small, edible or permanently lacquered, you can find a variety of these gingerbread items available at every market.  Some of the items mentioned above will serve you well as gifts for loved ones at home but we always appreciate the locally made foods which can be packaged for travel as well.   Nuts, jams, sausages and other regional items are a feast and treat for the folks back home.   And chocolate is a given.    

Finally, don’t forget the glühwein mugs as unique and daily-use memories of your visit to a German Christmas market.  

By all means, contact us for tips and details if you’re planning a trip to the region.   We’re always happy to share our travel knowledge.   www.facebook.com/SueHendersonPhotography/