Junior League Holiday Market

By on 13 October, 2016 in Holidays, Kate and Stephen, Shopping with 0 Comments

IMG_2919With Halloween still a few weeks away, it’s hard to get into the holiday spirit just yet. That is, unless you get yourself down to the Crampton Bowl Multiplex for the Junior League of Montgomery’s Holiday Market. There, Christmas is in full swing.

We’d never been, so I wasn’t sure what to expect — maybe a handful of vendors and a ton of Christmas ornaments? My first clue that my scale was way off came when I struggled to find a parking space at 10 a.m. (the market opens at 9). I was new to this event, but the many hundreds of people already there were clearly seasoned seasonal professionals. On approach, I saw that there was a map with what looked like hundreds of vendors. How could it be so big that it required a map? I paid $10 for admission and got my own personal map. Rounding the corner into the exhibition area, I realized that I was in over my head. And possibly over my wallet.

Readers, this place is bananas. It’s a genuinely overwhelming experience, full of Christmas music and handmade soaps and more sparkly Alabama/Auburn gear than I ever imagined could exist in one place. The shops are organized into rows, with an astonishing variety of goods on display: clothing, bags, jewelry, toys, soaps, candles, keychains, coasters, stationary, scarves, snacks, devices to remove wrinkles and pet hair, devices to organize other devices, pottery, books, sweaters… And if you are a person who likes to dip things (bread, chips, pretzels) into other things (sour cream based, mostly), you are in luck. The selection of dip mixes here is so vast that it would baffle all but the most experienced cook.

I brought a few dollars with me, but the advent of mobile payment services has made it easier than ever to separate the slow-moving crowds from their money. This is how I ended up leaving with two handmade candles from Prattville-based Cottage Industry Soap Company, two bars of soap (and one delicious smelling container of pomegranate lotion from Montgomery’s own Naturally Rad, pecans (regular and chocolate-covered) from local staple Priester’s Pecans, and two gifts for my mother in law. Honestly, I probably could have done all of my Christmas shopping at the market if I’d been prepared.

Many entrepreneurs were doing on-site customization, which was cool to see. One couple did monogrammed jewelry while you waited, using a neat machine. Another woman was doing a positively booming business bedazzling clothing with (you guessed it) football themed art. It was also interesting to see how many sellers appeared to be not just from Alabama, but from the River Region. It’s so great to be reminded of the creativity and ingenuity that exists right here around us.

Now, we know from Christmas markets. Last year we checked out the amazing European holiday markets in Paris and Brussels, falling in love with their mulled wine, live music and delicious food. While our own Christmas market doesn’t have a Ferris Wheel or wine, it does have a steady supply of music (the Brewbaker Middle School choir was killing it when I was there) and a robust holiday spirit.

Plus, the market benefits Montgomery’s Junior League, a great organization that gives back about half a million dollars to the community every year. They deserve a ton of praise for putting on such a well-organized event. It can’t have been easy to coordinate so many people. If you’re interested in holiday shopping (or, heck, just shopping – these candles are staying right at home with me), meeting Santa (Saturday morning!) or just want to go sample the universe of bread dips, the Holiday Market simply should not be missed. If you’re not in the holiday spirit when you go, you’ll be right there when you leave. But don’t delay – it’s open till 9 tonight, then 9-9 Friday, and then 9-5 on Saturday.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a cat, a dog, 18 fish, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

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