The end of November usually sees the arrival of Christmas markets in cities across the UK, and aside from the odd one like Edinburgh’s Christmas and London’s Winter Wonderland, they only last a couple of weeks before disappearing in early December. This year though for Christmas 2020, and like many other staples of the year the Christmas markets have been cancelled. Gutted, we usually go to Edinburgh the weekend before Christmas. But, like we have all year let’s look at how we can make the best of it. Here’s how to create a Christmas market at home for 2020.
When I started to write this I thought it might seem a tad early, but I saw a lot of people putting up their decorations over the weekend so I’m in full agreement that it is not too early. Kieran and I actually had a small Christmas market tea last week one night, and one of my friends parents did it this weekend as he works away over Christmas. I reckon I’ll hold off on the decorations slightly longer but when I do I’m going all out. Home Alone 2 might also be watched this week.
So, how can we recreate the Christmas markets at home for this year? Lights, food, alcohol, music and lots of festive cheer. It shouldn’t be too hard to replicate with a bit of imagination and an acceptance that no, it’s not going to be quite as good. But I’m pretty sure we all have a Christmassy day when we put up decorations, so you could work it into that.
And considering the real Christmas markets are outside where it can be bloody cold, at least this year we have the option of bringing them inside. Every Covid cloud…
A Christmas Market Atmosphere
If you’ve got a real log fire or wood burner then you’re already onto a hygge winner. Get it lit. I dream of a Christmas in a log cabin one year with a huge fire and stockings hanging above.
If not then do you have a fire pit or outside heater? Get them lit too for a mix of indoor and outdoor market atmosphere. Amazon still have plenty heaters despite the increase in demand, and it’s probably a good investment this winter in case family can meet outside in gardens as has been the case at times earlier this year once the restrictions ease.
Decorations are easy, especially if you’re putting your tree up on the same day. I have visions of turning our flat into a total grotto. The Range have a really good Christmas department this year and they’re still open at the moment as an essential retail shop.
If you haven’t got the luxury of either an indoor fire or outdoor fire pit/heater then get yourself some candles, lamps, and a good hot water bottle. Supermarkets have them so you can purchase during lockdown. Asda have a great hot water bottle that’s also like a scarf so it sits around your neck. Get some good fleecy blankets too to wrap up warm – just like sitting on the Botanist rooftop terrace.
Nothing says Christmas festivities like fairy lights. They make anything festive and look good year round so you can get away with them. Get them on the decking outside, or inside around your home.
I don’t think I could bring myself to play any Buble just yet, but the Christmas radio and music channels are there waiting for when you are.
Alternatively get your favourite Christmas film on in the background, they always have a good soundtrack. Home Alone, Elf, The Holiday, Love Actually…..what’s your go to?
Christmas Market Food
Everyone’s favourite part of a Christmas market – the food stalls are pretty easy to recreate. You could go all out if you have a big family and have as much as possible out for each for a proper feast, or just go with your favourite for a more low key affair.
German hot dogs – probably the simplest, a quick and easy one to make with a ketchup and mustard stand next to it, and fried onions.
Soft oven baked pretzels, they may not be as good as real German ones which are incredible, but you can always try to make your own. Here’s a recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
Roasted nuts – either plain or glazed and all easily done in a slow cooker for a festive snack in a paper cone. Take a look at this recipe for inspiration.
Paella – make a big batch of it the night before as it’s likely to last a few days. I’ve got a great recipe for jambalaya here which is sort of the same thing, and if not you could just make a big bolognese instead.
There’s always a cheese stall, so either get the cheese out and create your own cheese board, or if you don’t want to do it yourself there are some amazing graze boards about. Have a look at some of the creations by Graze & Gorge for example.
Waffles & Crepes are one of my all time favourite things to get, they’re always so fresh and warm lathered with chocolate. Another easy treat to make at home.
In recent years there’s been some less traditional food stalls, obviously in keeping with public taste. I’m sure there were Yorkshire pudding wraps last year, which you could make or my personal favourite loaded or halloumi fries. Hoy some chips in and add your favourite topping. Use cardboard trays rather than plates to make it more realistic.
I always get these at Edinburgh Christmas market, despite the queue being massive every time. Chocolate dipped skewers, just melt some chocolate and create your own skewers of marshmallows or fruit to dip in.
Mulled Drinks, Hot Chocolates & Spiked Coffees
Actually I think this is the best bit of any Christmas market, I love the cosy chalets and pop up bars they create filled with the smell of mulled wine and cider. I have a very easy recipe for mulled cider here, but I would recommend making it a good few hours early so the incredible smell lingers around and you just need to heat it up when you want it.
Mulled wine is also a must, and is done in the same way but with wine. Here’s a good recipe to follow.
Many of you may have Christmas mugs from markets in the past, as a lot of them let you pay a deposit and use it for refills but you have the option to keep the mug. We have a few of those so if you do get them out to use for your mulled wine or cider, or hot chocolates. If not Asda have a good range of Christmas mugs, as do most supermarkets at the moment.
Here’s a great info graphic with all different hot chocolate flavours you could make. I’ve been using M&S hot chocolate, mini marshmallows, whipped cream, chocolate sauce and a flake. Add Bailey’s as you see fit. One of the best I had was in Copenhagen’s, Tivoli at Christmas.
Christmas Market Souvenirs
In amongst our box of all the Christmas decorations I’m not going to lie I have a lot of tat that I’ve gathered over the years from Christmas markets. Last year I got a snow globe from the Paris Christmas market, and I’ve got a good few nutcracker ornaments too. Get them all out! Even if you don’t keep them out you need to have them out on display for your at home Christmas market day.
One thing I have bought that is a worthwhile investment are those dried orange wreaths, and they smell incredible. I’ve still got mine from last year so I’m just going to refresh it with a spray of the White Company room spray. I’ve seen a lot of garden centres have these if you want to buy one for this year.
There’s always some knitwear stalls too isn’t there, some of the best I’ve seen are in Copenhagen where their patterns will rival the very best. If you’re having an outdoor Christmas market at home then get out your woolly hats, scarves and gloves.
In all seriousness it probably is a bit naff and nowhere near as good as the real thing with friends and family, or the excitement of getting the train for a day out, buying real souvenirs and enjoying having food made for you. But be positive and Christmas this year will be what we make of it. I will certainly be putting together another Christmas market at home night when we get the decorations out in a week or so.
Other posts you might like:
The most festive bars in Newcastle – for when we can go to them again!
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