With all due respect to Black Friday campouts at Best Buy, or Mayor Sylvester Turner’s official Christmas tree lighting downtown: The real start of the holiday shopping season in the Bayou City is the Houston Ballet’s Nutcracker Market at NRG Center.
The fundraising shopping extravaganza, which benefits the Houston Ballet, is rolling out its trademark red carpet Thursday, November 14 through Sunday, November 17, at NRG Center. Eleven percent of all merchandise sales, plus proceeds from admission and special event tickets, aid the Houston Ballet Foundation.
Shoppers from Houston and surrounding cities and states are expected to shop from about 260 merchants, with 23 new vendors, including three local brands making their debut. Look for sustainable apparel crafted from Alpaca fleece, authentic hair toppers and extensions, bar accessories, and more.
This year’s theme, “Clara’s Dream,” is a tribute to the “market’s namesake — creating a scene reminiscent of the beautiful Nutcracker Ballet — and, of course, plenty of shopping,” per a statement.
CultureMap caught up with Roz Pactor, fashion and marketing consultant and fashion/lifestyle blogger behind My Red Glasses, to give us some insight on what to shop at the 39th annual Nutcracker Market.
“Let’s be honest, there are a lot more markets in town [these days], but there are select vendors who don’t have a storefront, you can’t buy online from, and can only be bought from their booth at the Nutcracker Market every year,” Pactor allows.
Pactor will be working the Donne Di Domani booth this year — an organization she has been a part of for the past 10 years — and, as their famous marinara sauce quickly sells out, she tells CultureMap that because of the location of the booth (No. 920), she keeps an eye out for this year’s hottest item(s).
“This whole craze of sustainability is going to be interesting to see that translate into the masses,” she says. “From fashion to home decor, it’s a mega focus in about every industry.”
Pactor says jewelry is always popular during the holidays, and this year is no different. Austin-native Kendra Scott will have a booth, but Pactor highlights local jewelry designer Christina Greene, known for her turquoise pieces. Greene recently launched a bridal collection, inspired by her summer wedding.
“Fashion is very much about glitz and sparkle,” she says. “Right now, stacking bracelets is trending, and I’d be very surprised to see jewelry merchants not sell out.”
Leopard, zebra, and python, you name it — it’s a timeless print that is probably already in your closet. From striking square-toe sandals to standout bags, consider spots, stripes, and snake a timeless trend to buy now and wear indefinitely.
“You can bet that anything and everything will be available in some animal print,” Pactor says. “I predict it will be everywhere, in all categories.”
There will be 23 new vendors this year. Here are three to watch.
Pomp & Circumstance Boutique (Booth No. 243)
This women’s boutique carries everything from beaded clutches to date night looks. They will have a plethora of leopard print items, including sweaters, sneakers, and knotted headbands. The storefront will be closed all week and weekend, so make sure to shop them at the Nutcracker Market.
Jentry Kelley Cosmetics (Booth No. 1406)
This is one of the few beauty vendors at the annual shopping event. Kelley will be bringing her Holiday 2019 collection, which features her JKC mini brush set ($99), skincare sets for all skin types, and more. Now’s your chance to knock off everyone on your gift list. (Don’t say we didn’t warn you.)
Bolivar Threads (Booth No. 1538)
This is an accessories line with a personal touch. Pactor’s pro tip: Personalization is always popular when gifting.
The Nutcracker Market runs Thursday, November 14 through Sunday, November 17 at NRG Center, 1 NRG Park. The hours are 10 am to 8 pm on Thursday and Friday; 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday; and 10 am to 5 pm on Sunday. Half-price tickets go on sale three hours before closing time. $20 at the door.