A Holiday Shopping Wonderland

Nutcracker Market

Houston’s Nutcracker Market comes to town in just a little over a week!  And in our household, the holiday season doesn’t really start until there has been a serious shopping session at the Nutcracker.  I always stock up on Christmas decor, gifts for the family, and…well…gifts for me!  I’ve attended Houston’s Nutcracker Market every year for as long as I can remember.  Throughout my time shopping, I’ve noticed there are two types of people there – the serious shoppers who show up with a plan and the leisurely mimosa sipping shoppers.

Spoiler alert ::  I fall in the first category.

Every year my grandma and I show up wearing our tennis shoes and with a game plan in hand.  We make sure we see every booth we want and walk out with whatever items our hearts desire.  {Or should I say whatever items our budgets allow!}

So today I am sharing some tips and tricks for navigating the Nutcracker Market to make the absolute most of your time ::

Making a Game Plan

The biggest key to our game plan is purchasing priority tickets.  This means we get in an hour before the general population.  We always make the most of that hour and try to get the majority of our must haves taken care of before the halls are packed full!

Priority Tickets

I print off the list of attending merchants from the Nutcracker’s website.  We then pass the list back and forth, marking different booths as musts and maybes.  And we also look for our favorites from previous years.

Nutcracker Merchant List

Next, I print off this handy dandy map and mark the booth locations for our must merchants.  {Update :: Here’s the 2014 map!}  This is so that once we’re inside, we don’t waste time searching or wandering.

Finally, we utilize the bag check stations!  There is a small fee for this service, but I guarantee it’s much cheaper than visiting a chiropractor after lugging heavy shopping bags around the Reliant Center!

Bringing the Children

Now, I know we’re all moms here, so I am definitely going to address the kiddos.  My advice?  Leave them at home.  While they do offer a stroller check inside the Reliant Center, the Nutcracker Market doesn’t allow strollers, wagons, etc. inside the actual market. That combined with the crowds that fill the halls just don’t make it the most child friendly environment.

We shopped until she dropped!
We shopped until she dropped!

That being said – I did bring Skeeter last year.  I was breastfeeding and knew I’d be away from home longer than my standard 3 hours between feeds allowed.  So I strapped her in the Baby Bjorn and away we went.  When my little one started getting hungry, I found a chair and nursed her.  Since the Nutcracker Market is filled with primarily women, I didn’t get one questionable stare.

Have you ever been to the Nutcracker Market?

What are your tips for a successful trip?


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Heather graduated from Houston Baptist University where she met {and later married} her husband Ben. They moved away from the city so this small town girl could feel at home, but still have access to the beach and to all H-Town has to offer. She's a full-time working mom to their daughter {March 2012} & son {September 2016} and often blogs about her experiences with severe preeclampsia and the NICU. She loves sangria, a good book, Texas Country music...and her three fur babies. Connect with Heather on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


  1. Love the Nutcracker Market! I am planning to go early on Thursday and Friday for a few hours and plan to take my newest addition since I’m nursing. I’m so nervous so I’m glad you shared your experience. I can do it, right!?

    • You totally can, Tiffanie! I took Hayes when he was still nursing, and it went great! Just strapped him in the baby carrier and shopped like it was nobody’s business. And it was not a big deal to just find a quiet corner and nurse him when needed. Let us know how it goes!

  2. I’ve never been but if I venture this year you better believe I will reference this post and make a plan! Do you know when tickets go on sale?

    • Tickets are on sale!! You can buy them at the Reliant Center or call the Nutcracker Market and reserve some ahead of time.

      You and Meg should definitely go this year!!

    • What?!?! You have got to go, Meg! And Heather has already given you all the pro tips you need to make it an uber-successful shopping trip…so there’s no excuse!!

  3. Have fun this weekend! I’ve been and love it, but the crowds sort of overwhelm me this year since I will have my little guy most likely. I might try the Sugar Plum market in Sugar Land this year since it’s much smaller and less overwhelming. Love these shopping tips!


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