Bold, bizarre and bangin’: The strange, wonderful things we spotted at Houston Ballet’s Nutcracker Market

There are pleasure to be found in odd knick knacks and bold baubles

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Some of the strange and wonderful trinkets spotted at the 2021 Nutcracker Market

The Houston Ballet’s Nutcracker Market ushers in the twinkliest season of the year. It’s the city’s de facto invitation to cast aside jack-o-lanterns, plastic pumpkins and autumnal decor in favor of tinsel, pine trees and all-things red and green.

What began in 1981 as a humble bazaar has grown into a mind-bogglingly massive four-day shopping extravaganza featuring more than 260 vendors offering an array of oh-so-tempting goodies -- including but not limited to -- gourmet food (think jalapeno peanut brittle, pina colada-flavored rum cake and brisket tamales), home goods, kitchen wares, clothing, toys and, of course, holiday decorations galore. Each year, tens of thousands of eager shoppers, many with a mimosa in hand and clad in spirited holiday garb, pour into the NRG Center for the not-to-be-missed event.

In 2019, those aforementioned shoppers (a group to which I proudly belong) spent a jaw-dropping $20 million on holiday gifts.

Stifled by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Nutcracker Market made its triumphant return to the NRG Center this week. In honor of its homecoming, I make a plea to shoppers.

My fellow Nutcracker Market maniacs, this time around, my wish for you is that you harness your inner child, tap into a sense of wonder and seek out the odd and eccentric knick knacks and doodads that bring you and your loved ones true joy.

Rather than wade through a mountain of generic mittens or fight off fellow market goers for faux fur slippers, set your sights on the seriously eccentric items, indulge in some kookiness. Put down the cookie-cutter wood word art sign that says “Joy” and pick up a felt avocado ornament, or framed illustration of one of your favorite Houston locales, or a strawberry sponge, or a candle shaped like a pie, or even a hand-knit Viking beanie.

Whatever it is, if it makes you laugh, like out loud, or smile, from ear to ear, then that’s what you should walk away with. Not some blah or boring whatever.

Life is seriously too short not to shop like Will Ferrell’s gleeful Buddy from the 2003 Christmas classic “Elf.”

What’s the most joyful thing you’ve ever purchased at the Nutcracker Market? Tell us in the comments below. Share your festive Nutcracker Market pics at

RELATED: Nutcracker Market doesn’t disappoint. See the wild, wonderful holiday garb shoppers wore in celebration of event’s triumphant return.

About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.