If you’ve read my past few blog posts, you’ll know that my mission this Christmas is to only shop local for gifts. This includes visits to small businesses and shops around the area and, of course, holiday markets. On Saturday, I made the five-minute-down-the-road trek to the Intown Manchester Downtown Holiday Market and entered a festive plaza filled with incredible handcrafted products and happy shoppers.
At the Manchester Holiday Market, there is truly something for everyone that may be on your holiday gifting list. While we were there, Nick even ventured off on his own to peruse the numerous tables and found a few presents for those on his list – that’s saying something, because I usually can’t get him to join me for these kinds of activities!
From all-natural soaps to cupcakes to handmade jewelry, gourmet chocolates, books, clothes, painted wine glasses, pure maple syrup, handcrafted wooden items and much, much more, the Holiday Market is fully stocked with local artisans selling their wares.
My first visit was to the Hemlock Springs Soaps table where Karen, also known as the CSM (Chief Soap Maker) described the ingredients and benefits associated with her colorful products. Aside of soaps, she sells body lotions, lip balm, salts, scrubs and more. All products are made with “non-GMO oils, sustainably harvested palm oil and fair trade shea butter”. They not only smell delicious, they’re 100% good for you too!
There were so many different scents of soap that at first I couldn’t decide. I went about from basket to basket smelling each kind. Karen knew exactly what type of customer I am, one who has to look at and sample a bit of everything. I’m indecisive! The soaps smelled amazing, had gorgeous coloring and great names as well (think Dazzleberry, or Sexy Woman).
As per usual, I won’t state exactly what I purchased out of fear that my giftees will be reading, but I know that they won’t be disappointed with their gifts from Hemlock Springs Soaps!
The further into our 20s that my friends and I get, the more we seem to develop a finer appreciation of wine. After work, with dinner, celebrating the weekend…there is almost no wrong time for a glass of wine (is that a tagline yet?). What better way to satisfy a wine craving than with a unique, hand-painted glass from Sherry Brox, owner of The Painted Pansy? I walked around her table admiring her handiwork on glassware of various kinds. At around $5 a piece, these would make the perfect gift for the wine lover on anyone’s list.
After leaving The Painted Pansy table, I tried to find Nick. When he walked back over to me, he told me that he had just sampled some amazing chocolate. I have a huge sweet tooth, as do most of the people on my Christmas list, so he pointed me in the direction of KRM Chocolates. Once at the table, I was greeted by chocolatier Kevin Miller, a very kind man in a festive hat. He was eager to share knowledge of his tasty products and I was eager to try them out. Mass market store bought chocolate is no comparison to the decadent flavors of Kevin’s stuff!
After our stop at KRM Chocolates, we kept browsing and came across a vendor selling pure maple syrup. Many of the syrups at the table came in beautifully designed Italian glass bottles. The vendor explained that many people like to reuse the bottles for things like salad dressings after the syrup has run out. I could even picture the bottles being painted and reused as decorations for the home. One of Nick’s closest family friends happens to be a huge fan and collector of local pure maple syrup, so we were lucky to have come across this table!
There were many other vendors (over 50 in total at the market!) that we visited – it would be a really long post if I wrote about them all! If you’re in the Manchester area, I encourage you to go check them out for yourself at the last day of the Holiday Market this Thursday, December 18th. The market is located in the Brady Sullivan Plaza and will be open from 10am-5:30pm. Stop by and feel the satisfaction of shopping local this season!
Intown Manchester Downtown Holiday Market – Brady Sullivan Plaza, 1000 Elm Street, Manchester, NH 03101