Shopping season is officially upon us! And while malls can be super-festive around the holidays, they can also be super-crowded and fairly uninspiring — especially when you’re crunched for time and craving just the right thing for everyone on your list.
So, we have an alternative for you. Skip that big-box mall life and that Black Friday insanity and, instead, celebrate the beauty of local goods with Houston’s bevy of seasonal markets that will have you playing Santa — and enjoying yourself while you’re at.
Make your list and check it twice, and get set to find all the perfect presents — and so much more — at these Christmas-y markets that will remind you that it really is the most wonderful time of year.
When: November 16-17
The mistletoe comes out early this year with this boutique-style weekend market that features fine arts, handmade crafts, epicurean food, and lively entertainment — all hosted in Midtown Park, which is Midtown's newest green space. On Friday, November 16, catch the Holiday Movie Night in the Park (A Charlie Brown Christmas followed by Home Alone!) along with food trucks and a snack wagon, a holiday chalk wall (cue the selfies!), sidewalk chalk art, and a game garden — all while you browse the market. As for Saturday, the shopping starts early with mimosas and breakfast in the park along with that chalk wall and game garden, plus holiday crafts projects, a beer garden, live music, strolling carolers, and a Santa Paws holiday photo shoot for your pet.
When: November 16-18
Fresh Arts’ WHAM (Winter Holiday Arts Market) has become quite the tradition as one of the city’s largest juried art markets featuring only local artists along with small businesses, artisans, and more. It’s just another way this nonprofit organization champions local creatives to succeed in the business of art. So, kick off the holiday season at this year’s 13th annual event, where you’ll find both fine art and handmade crafts, with such items as paintings, sculpture, photography, jewelry, clothing, soaps, and more from over 65 emerging and established independent artists of all disciplines.
In addition, there will be artist demonstrations, live music performances, free beverages, and food for sale by local vendors. This year, don’t miss the added bonus of the Ugly Sweater-themed preview party and happy hour on Friday, November 16. It's a ticketed event with an open bar, light bites and treats, live music, and most importantly, first access to the market.
When: November 17 and 24; December 1, 8, 15, and 22
This once-a-month market at Discovery Green ramps up for the holidays with a weekly Saturday flea. Nestled in the southeast end of the beautiful downtown park, the destination event will take you on a treasure hunt with an array of artful kitsch, vintage items, mid-century modern furniture, recycled and repurposed items and collectibles, and crafts by local artisans and designers. Live music, food trucks, lawn games, and more take the experience to the next level of jolly fun. And, you can go ice skating in the park, too!
When: November 18
Everyone’s favorite non-holiday, Friendsgiving, gets celebrated at this edition of Karbach’s monthly Shop Local Market with artists, makers, and vintage curators set up in the Biergarten. It’s kid- and pet-friendly — and you know there will be plenty to eat and drink. It’s Friendsgiving, after all.
When: November 18 and 25; December 2, 9, and 16
You have multiple chances to shop and brunch at this weekly Sunday morning market that gathers together local artisans, farmers, and entrepreneurs. Stop by to shop and then stay for the best meal of the day with a side of mimosas and live music.
When: November 23-25
Silver Street Studios’ indoor holiday flea market returns for Black Friday weekend with all sorts of handmade, vintage, craftsy, and artsy things — oh, and foodie and drink things, too. Find memorabilia, handcrafted jewelry, hand-drawn stationery, accessories, hand-poured candles, farmhouse-rustic home decor, unique crafts, local food vendors, and more.
When: November 23-25
Katy’s newest holiday extravaganza is just as festive as it sounds — and made for families. Right after Thanksgiving, keep the celebration going with this weekend event that features a collection of custom-designed Christmas trees and wreaths along with a massive holiday gift market, live entertainment, photos with Santa, and more. The festival benefits The Ballard House and its mission of providing temporary housing for patients and their families who are in the Katy area for extended medical treatment. See a full list of market vendors here; it includes all sorts of unique crafts, jewelry, foods, and gifts.
When: November 24
Bold jewels from Stephanie Bijoux; statement bags by KisaKisa; colorful headwraps by ChiChi L’amour; and more… it’s all part of this small-but-sweet market that celebrates local talent, and you can mingle with the designers themselves while enjoying live music, drinks, and light bites. A portion of proceeds from each purchase will be donated to a local charity.
When: December 1
Located in historic Houston Heights, this monthly outdoor market showcases paintings, sculpture, photography, jewelry, and handcrafted items — and it has been doing the same since artist Mitch Cohen founded the initiative in March 2004 as an outlet for local talent to showcase their work in an art festival atmosphere.
When: December 1
A mega popup shop and all-day mimosas?! Sign us up. The DIY lifestyle brand Pop Shop America has partnered with the Downtown District for this market in the heart of the city where you’ll find more than 30 stylish, locally designed goods, photo booths, live music, and more. Of course, there will be holiday crafting, too, so you can get your own DIY on. Oh, and if you want to take a break from those mimosas, a hot chocolate bar has you covered.
When: December 8th
Every year the neighborhood of Houston Heights is transformed into a magical light display like you've never seen before. You can stroll along a pedestrian-friendly route as you pass by homes decorated to the nines with impressive twinkly light displays. There will be Christmas carols, jazz bands, and more set up in driveways and front porches for the entire night.
When: December 1
Sometimes flying under the radar is a good thing, especially at this event from Shop Local Market. Here, it means you’ll find a variety of one-of-a-kind art, handcrafted jewelry and accessories, handmade and vegan products, succulents, graphics and tees, rare vintage pieces, and the list goes on. Of course, you’ll also find a delicious local craft brew from UTR, too.
When: December 2
Lucky for you, CultureMap is bringing back its ultimate holiday shopping experience with this popup shop presented by Verizon. The wonderfully curated boutique features 25 of the online publication’s favorite local retailers for men, women, kids, pets, jewelry, gifts, home, and gourmet food and beverages — so, basically, it’s a wonderland. To fuel all that browsing, cocktails and festive food will be up for grabs with carolers, crafting, and more to add to the festive spirit.
When: December 2
If vintage is your vibe, this curated market hosted by Yoko Vintage and Vida Antiqua Vintage is made for you. With a passion to support the local community of vintage vendors and locally made goods, the market also serves as a PSA for everyone to increase their consumption of vintage goods as a way to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Fun fact: The name “Got Vintage” was inspired by the popular ’90s “Got Milk” ad campaign. However, we promise that the things you’ll find here will look far better than that milk mustache.
When: December 7
Shop Local Market has done it again, putting together this cool-kid vintage and art market. Vendors such as Labels Vintage Streetwear, Pop Soap, The Pink Swan Shop, D'vora Jewelry, Texas Chingona, Joe Belmarez, and Santa Diabla will be set up in a breezeway at the brewery to show off an assortment of original art, handmade jewelry, vegan bath and body products, local produce and goods, vintage tees and accessories, and more.
When: December 8
The monthly market takes place in Evelyn’s Park, where the park’s five acres of relaxing green space in Bellaire offers the perfect backdrop for shopping. Crisp air, the great outdoors, and all the goods with unique vendors — what more could you need.
When: December 8
There’s sure to an extra little spark of holiday magic at this curated market hosted by Sawyer Yards every second Saturday. But, you can be sure to expect a mix of artist mediums with a focus on folk art, artisan crafts, and packaged specialty foods.
When: December 9
There’s beer! Need we say more?! You can literally cheers to the holidays at this market that brings together local artists and vendors who have lots of gift ideas to offer — and a gift wrapping station, too. And, don’t you worry, this one is kid-friendly, with root beer floats for the under-21 set. But, what might motivate you most to head to this market is their “Ugly Christmas Sweater” section that’s your last-minute saving grace for any upcoming themed parties.
When: December 16
A little bit funky and very festive, this Shop Local Market features eclectic vendors and artists to go with Karbach’s seasonal beers — plus, ugly Christmas sweaters, a gift-wrapping station, and a screening of the iconic “A Christmas Story” movie.