Nutcracker Market 2021 predictions: This is what one veteran market shopper expects as Houston’s shopping extravaganza returns

HOUSTON – The Houston Nutcracker Market is back this coming Thursday through Sunday.

Get the details here.

I’m a big fan of this event since moving to Houston in 2014. Though I haven’t done the market for years and years as some have, I have a pretty good lay of the land and can compare year over year what has changed and what has stayed beautifully the same for a long time.

The event is a joyful celebration of the season and it’s early enough to make you feel like you’re ahead of the shopping season, but after Halloween so you don’t feel so badly that you’re trampling on Thanksgiving. In fact, if you attend and get your shopping done, you can actually savor that turkey, knowing you have more than a month to wrap everything and get it all ready in that sweet, still-fun portion of the holiday season when shopping is still a good time and not a chore.

As a veteran of this event, you see trends come and go and this year, I foresee a turning of the page in so many ways.

RELATED: Tickets are on sale! The Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market returns to NRG Center

Farmhouse is on its way out

Farmhouse-style "BLESSED" sign in a garden with a cardinal. (Pixabay)

This style is VERY controversial. Those that love it, LOVE LOVE LOVE it. And those that don’t, well, they’ll start telling you your home shouldn’t be talking to you with big, shouty signs.

Joanna Gaines, a Texan, has made her entire Magnolia brand around this style, but even she is switching things up. Gone are the signs that proclaim being BLESSED or JOYFUL, and in its place are almost spare, neutral designs with limited color and the absence of that now, very dated shouty lettering. Gaines said as recently as this year that she’s looking to implement a design she described as “really textural and simple and clean.” That’s a pretty accurate description of her overall design style these days with added, aged-looking elements.

I predict that this year’s Nutcracker Market will mimic that post-farmhouse aesthetic. Instead of painting grandma’s dresser, natural wood surfaces and more classic, traditional stylings with comfortable touches are likely to be at the core of the most popular looks.

There will always be a maximalist, over-the-top design style at the Nutcracker Market. (Thinking about those oversized wreaths with massive bulbs and bows.) But the overall excessive farmhouse look with burlap and signs and shiplap may not be taking up as much Nutcracker Market real estate as in years past.

Self care is in

Bath bomb, blanket and candle (Pixabay)

If 2020 and 2021 and the pandemic and the stress of life has taught us anything, it’s to appreciate where you are, where you’re going and take care of yourself along the way because nothing is promised. The Nutcracker Market will surely capitalize on this collective realization.

While skincare, jewelry, clothing and other personal products are always a hit at the market, I’m predicting that this year will be focused on the shoppers themselves rather than as just gifts for loved ones. How does that look when you’re walking through the market? More specialized, bespoke merchandise that makes the most of the visitors’ specific wants. Luxurious scented candles, lotions, oils and other hair and skin products will be a hit as Nutcracker Market visitors remember themselves amid the growing din of the season.

Vintage and classic Christmas is where it’s at

Vintage cars and trains and other classic Christmas decorations (Pixabay)

Think Norman Rockwell. Think lights that look like they went on your grandma’s tree when you were growing up. Think Rankin/Bass. Christmas cartoons. Think nativity sets and Christmas villages.

This image released by Profiles in History shows a Santa Clause and Rudolph reindeer puppet used in the filming of the 1964 Christmas special "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." The soaring reindeer and Santa Claus figures who starred in in the perennially beloved stop-motion animation Christmas special Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer are going up for auction.Auction house Profiles in History announced Thursday that a 6-inch-tall Rudolph and 11-inch-tall Santa used to animate the 1964 TV special are being sold together in the auction that starts Nov. 13 and are expected to fetch between $150,000 and $250,000. (Profiles in History via AP)

One of my favorite parts about the Nutcracker Market is that it celebrates the new and the old. In so many ways, it inspires shoppers to embrace their childhoods. Around every corner of the market, items that harken back to something your grandma had in her living room -- massive ceramic trees with plastic bulbs or handmade nativity sets, complete with camels. The only thing missing, it sometimes seems, is the smell of peppermints from her candy jar. But oh yeah, you can get a jar candle with that scent in one of the adjacent booths.

Nutcracker Market attendees are going to be really celebrating this year

Tickets are on sale! The Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market returns to NRG Center | HOUSTON LIFE | KPRC 2
You can find this unique gift idea for men at Nutcracker Market Spring | HOUSTON LIFE | KPRC 2

After 2020′s virtual market due to the pandemic, marketgoers are likely going to do everything with a little more vigor, from spending to to bedazzling matching shirts to drinking.

This event is such a big thing year after year. To have it return to its in-person grandeur this year, is surely a dream come true for many shoppers weary of the pandemic.

We suggest people have a designated driver or plans for a ride service for safe transport home. Houston Metro Rail is also another option and Uber/Lyft or any other drop off and pick up is on the west side of NRG Center. Get more information on transportation here.

Be safe and have a wonderful time at this year’s market!

What are your predictions for this year of Nutcracker Market? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.