Holiday Guide to stress-free shopping at Christmas Markets
A Local’s Guide to stress-free shopping at Jamaica’s Christmas Markets
I hope this post finds you sipping hot chocolate or cozying up to watch a great Christmas movie to commiserate the holiday season.
I can’t deny that I love shopping and better yet I love holiday shopping. I love gifting someone with something I hope they will love and cherish for the rest of their days. Christmas for me provides the perfect time to celebrate my loved ones while giving myself some retail cardio. And there is no better place to get value for buck while getting exposed to amazing local artisans than at a Christmas market.
Long before shopping centers and malls enchanted and wooed us with their holiday displays and shopping deals, Christmas markets were the chosen place to revel in and embrace the sights, sounds, and scents of the holiday season. Christmas markets have been a Jamaican tradition for as long as I can remember. As a child, the Grand Market experience was a Christmas MUST every year. The pretty lights, Christmas carols and festive music blaring through the street; Christmas cake and sorrel to the belly’s delight, the people, the camaraderie; it was quite a delight for the senses to soak up the festive atmosphere.
Over the years, the Christmas market tradition has expanded and surpassed expectations by having multiple festive markets during the holiday season, all leading up to the main event of Grand Market. So you know what that means…. more markets, more shopping and more choices for amazing gifts. Now don’t get me wrong I know Christmas is not about gifts and presents, but I do love trying to make everyone’s shopping even better.
From food and drink to hand crafted toys and knick knacks, jewelry, candles and beauty & skincare products, the stalls in Jamaica’s Christmas markets offer something for everyone. Here’s your guide to the best way to maneuver through Christmas markets; and what to do once the you get there.
If you read my recent post, 5 Amazing Ways to Save Money this Christmas, then you already know that no shopping trip is complete without making a list first. Writing the names of those persons you want to buy gifts for, ideas of the kind of gifts you think they’d enjoy and your budget for each gift and holiday season can all decrease your stress level by about 50%. I mean no one wants it to be Christmas eve and you realize, ‘Crap I forgot so and so’s gift’ and have to trudge through the last minute shopping crowds searching for a gift. Worse yet, forget all together and come Christmas morning have no gift to give that special person in your life.
Where to go:
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s time to head out to the shopping. But wait……. where are we going? As mentioned before an overwhelming tidbit about Christmas markets is that there can be soooooo many of them. Each showcasing it’s own unique piece of the Jamaican Christmas experience. These places promise a spectacular experience and a taste of Jamaica that you just can’t miss.
From as early as mid-November, the Christmas season here in Jamaica is in full swing and the markets come out in their full grandeur to allure and treat patrons. The best way I’ve found to tackle the Christmas market conundrum is to try to go to those markets that give the most value for buck or at least will have more of what my gift recipient would like. Seek out the markets that best fit you idea of the best gifting options. My personal favourites are The Moda Market, Jamaican Made Christmas and Market on the Lawn @ Devon House.
What to buy:
Once you’ve arrived at the market, the first thing you should do is to browse around to see whats being offered. Give yourself enough time to circle around the market at least once, see all the offerings, check out the prices and then circle back to pick up your favourite items. That way you are less likely to have any shopper’s remorse because you know you’ve purchased the best items rather than settling too soon for something you truly didn’t want.
Another little tidbit is that although the markets may all seem similar, many artisans don’t attend all the markets in the season, so if after browsing around you find something you’ve fallen in love with; then you should purchase it rather than hoping to find it at another market.
What to eat:
One of my favourite things about Christmas markets is the food. Oh the food! The scents, the taste and the flavours that set your taste buds ablaze with pleasure with each bite. Because shopping can make you really hungry. Christmas markets offer the golden opportunity to taste and delight in the local food makers/chefs latest concoctions and delicacies. It’s one of the best opportunity to discover new yummies that are fresh from the kitchen and made especially with you in mind. Better yet, it’s usually available at a discounted price. Talk about a score! So get your bellies and you taste buds ready for a delicious treat.
With that, you’ve mastered the art of Christmas markets. Whether you want to get your Christmas shopping done, or you're looking to buy festive treats and Christmas decorations, Jamaican Christmas markets are the place to be. The most important thing to remember is to have fun and enjoy the full experience while you’re there.