Last Updated on 23rd December 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
Vin chaud, toasted treats, a fantastic ambiance, and stunning illuminations: these are the four key elements I truly believe make a Christmas Market all magic (and the kind of places you’ll want to return to each and every festive season). Well, since we can’t always make it to the real thing and enjoy the little chalets and unhealthy treats for ourselves, I’ve put together this little guide on how to recreate the European Christmas Market experience at home!
Make Glühwein/ Vin Chaud
One of my favourite winter warmers around the Christmas period is that of Glühwein, which is commonly found in Christmas markets across Europe. In French, it’s known as vin chaud, whereas in Sweden the spiced drink is known as Glögg, and in German, of course the drink is known as Glühwein (which is literally translated into English as ‘glow wine’).
If you want to make yourself some mulled wine at home, then it couldn’t be easier with the help of a dry red bottle of wine and some delicious spices. For a complete recipe, check out our Christmas market mulled wine recipe (which also highlights the history of the popular drink).
If you prefer to opt for a non-alcoholic beverage, then there are plenty of alternative solutions. Hot apple juice (or mulled apple juice as it is often referred to) is a popular drink at Christmas markets and is perfect fun for all of the family. Another fun and warming alternative is a delicious hot chocolate served with a large handful of marshmallows.
Enjoy candles and fairy lights
One of the best things about Christmas markets as the night draws in, the days get colder, and the sunlight hours get shorter is the many illuminations which you can enjoy at the Christmas markets.
From twinkling fairy lights to larger festive-themed displays, one of the sheer joys of visiting Christmas markets in the evening is all of the beautiful lights illuminating the night. On this note, I particularly recommend holding your own Christmas market in Europe experience in the evening so as to re-create as much of the festive ambiance as possible.
If you want to recreate the lights vibe for yourself at home, then consider investing in plenty of beautiful fairy lights to hang around your home (I love these onesand they aren’t particularly festive themed so could easily be used throughout the year). My personal motto is that you can never have too many fairy lights (as anyone who has ever seen my flat featured in my Instagram stories can surely attest to!)
I personally purchased several sets of battery operated lights and strung them in various places around my flat that I use on a regular basis to make the place that bit more cosy. If you’re looking to capture the scent of the Christmas Markets, other than heating up some vin chaud, consider purchasing a gingerbread scented candle like this one.
Prepare Christmas Market foods
If there’s one phrase I would use to describe Christmas Market foods, it would be ‘carb loaded and mouthwateringly delicious‘. From fried potato concoctions to candied roasted almonds to waffles, and stollen, there’s no shortage of delicious things you can recreate in your own kitchen.
When preparing your Christmas Market food platters, you should bear in mind that the stalls serve both sweet and savoury fare. Though dishes such as potato pancakes, Flammkuchen (here’s a vegan tarte flambée recipe), mushrooms with garlic sauce, and hot dogs get all the attention, be sure to remember especially festive treats like gingerbread cookies!
And, if all else fails (or you’re simply as much of a bad cook as I am), then even a hearty side of chips served with a good sized portion of mayonnaise is the kind of unhealthy food that will surely invoke that Christmas Market spirit that you’re searching for.
Set up an outdoor space
Of course, one of the main reasons to enjoy all of the delicious food and wine when it comes to Christmas Markets in Europe is to keep warm from the blustering wind which inevitably blows its way through the wooden chalets during the festive season.
If you’re able to, then I highly suggest setting up a cosy space outdoors where you can enjoy your mulled wine and Christmas Market style snacks. Otherwise, opening a window will truly ensure that you get a blast of the cold air that’s so synonymous with visiting the markets.
Put on a festive soundtrack
Though it’s not always possible to enjoy live carol singers, or even the background noise of hundreds/ thousands of people having fun and being amazed by all of the beautiful illuminations, you can still fill the silence with some Christmas cheer.
Blast some Christmas tunes and you’re sure to soon feel more in the spirit. If you need some inspiration, then this Spotify playlist is quite literally listed as ‘Christmas Market’. this Spotify playlistIf you’re not a fan of Christmas music but would still like some easy European soundtracks as a background to your night in, then I’ve put together of some of my favourite French music.
Shop for souvenirs via a virtual Christmas Market
I’m pretty sure that I had never even heard of a ‘virtual online experience,’ let alone attended one, prior to 2020. However, they’re here and they’re here to stay and so this year, you can purchase a whole host of hand-crafted, artisanal, and foodie goods from various online pop-up stores (instead of in person as usual).
French Virtual Christmas Markets
Noël à Kaysersberg – Alsace is undoubtedly the European capital of Christmas and so one of the best online virtual European Christmas markets is the Christmas in Kaysersberg’s online store. From beers and spirits to decorations and toys, and even clothing, shipping is available across Europe. See the full details here.
Amiens Christmas Market- Yet another area of France whose usual Christmas vendors have co-opted to head online and sell their wares via the internet are the merchants of Amiens. A town situated in the North East of France, the online version of the Christmas event includes surprises such as an online advent calendar and even the chance to ‘send a letter to Santa’. Much like the Kaysersberg online market, there’s also the option to purchase from vendors selling everything from local produce to makeup to games and candies. See the full details here.