Chances are you can’t make it to Germany every holiday season. (Like, ahem, this one.) But that doesn’t mean you can’t still experience the yuletide joy of a German Christmas market at home.
True, there’s no better place to experience holiday magic than in Germany, a collection of real-life Christmas villages. We’re talking fairytale architecture, stupid delicious food and hot drinks, twinkling lights a-plenty, and a goat demon from Hell swooping in to snatch up your children. Ah yes, good tidings of comfort and joy.
So if you’ve decided your backyard needs a little Berlin this season, that your kitchen need some Köln, or that your driveway needs a little Dresden, use these 5 festive steps to recreate a German Christmas market at home.
Recreating a German Christmas Market at home
There are so many great reasons for creating a German Christmas Market at home. For instance, you can:
- Upgrade your annual holiday party with a German Christmas market theme
- Use these ideas to bring a little Bavaria to your otherwise average holiday decorations
- Use your German Christmas market at home as an excuse to eat obscene amounts of sugar and sausages on your back porch
- Invite friends over to reminisce of the wonderful times you’ve had spent browsing holiday trinkets under twinkling snowfall, or
- Just sit alone weeping under your 1,000 LED bulbs chugging glühwein while clutching your dusty passport. The at-home German Christmas market is a judgment-free and booze-laden zone.
How to recreate a German Christmas Market at Home
Turning your house into a German Christmas market isn’t all that difficult, expensive, or time-consuming. But it is tasty as hell. Just follow these five simple steps to Bavarian holiday bliss.
1. Go crazy with decorations
When you want to recreate a German Christmas market at home, you better be ready to LED like you’ve never LED’d before. For your at-home Weihnachtsmarkt you’ll want lights, baby, lights! String lights and icicle lights and candles!
Lights on the ceiling, lights around the perimeter, lights on the tables and chairs and windows. The better to see how much rum you’re pouring into your mulled wine, my dear.
For my recreation I used:
- A couple sets of these LED string lights in “warm white”
- This set of icicle string lights in “warm white”
- Standard tea light candles in birch bark log candle holders
I hung the icicle lights around the perimeter of the room I was using, draped one set of string lights back and forth across the ceiling, and used the other set around the tree and along the garland on the windows. These sets are really long and offer great coverage.
I opted for “warmer” tones of lights for that glow-y holiday feel (not the hyper-blue/white, “inside of an industrial freezer” shade of traditional LED bulbs). These lights were easy to hang and don’t get insanely tangled up like the versions of yore. I used my staple gun to hang them and it was exhilarating. (There was such a clatter.) I highly recommend picking one up if you don’t already have one.
For décor you’ll want to go just as chocolate-covered bananas. A Christmas tree is mandatory, along with:
- Pine garland – this is the kind I used and I love it. Super long, doesn’t shed, easy to hang.
- Red bows
- Faux poinsettias
- Gold hanging star lamps
- Nutcrackers, like this beer- and pretzel-yielding version
- Santa figurines
- Incense smokers
- Traditional wooden ornaments or these adorable lebkuchen ornaments
- Whatever else you use to spruce up your home for the holidays. If you’ve got it, flaunt it.
If you set up your shindig outside like I did, you’ll also want to have cozy blankets on hand.
Make it German
To make my at-home Christmas market a little more German, I:
- hand-painted some imitation half-timbered façades to help set the scene (well, did my best at least). I used a basic display board (remember middle school science projects?) and acrylic paint
- Cut out and painted some gold Christmas stars
- Display a German Christmas pyramid
- Baked and hung some lebkuchenherzen (more on that in a minute)
- Used some of the miscellaneous trinkets I’ve picked up in Germany
- Decorated with small German and Bavarian flags (I get all my miniature flags from a store called miniatureflagshop.com. They have everything and the flags are great quality and super cheap.)
2. Set up your space outside
For optimal holiday effect, set up your mock Christmas market outside your home. If you’ve got a large front or back porch, screened-in porch, deck, garage, driveway, carport, or anything, that makes the perfect spot for your German Christmas market at home.
This way, you’ll get all the cool temperatures, fresh air, light snow, night sky, and wintery smells that you would strolling the markets in Germany. And, if your version is anything like mine, you’ll also be visited by a family of deer. (I couldn’t have planned that any better. I think like many of us in 2020 they’re just searching for work.)
I’m lucky to have a large screen-in porch and deck behind my house and it was so much more fun and “authentic” than partying in my kitchen. Plus, the deer would’ve made a huge mess.
If you don’t have the option of recreating a European Christmas market outdoors, do so inside but turn off the heat and open the windows. Tear open the shutters and throw up the sash! If “OMG I’m fuh-reezing!” doesn’t leak from your lips at least once, you’re doing it wrong.
Winter is the star here, don’t forget the most important part!
3. Prepare all the iconic foods & drinks
Besides inviting Jack Frost, the most important part of recreating a German Christmas market at home is serving all the iconic food and drinks. Check out my full post on German Christmas market foods you can enjoy at home (w/ recipes).
For starters, glühwein is mandatory. Glühwein, or mulled wine, is a hot, spiced wine that combines red wine, run or brandy, oranges and orange juice, and a collection of spices.
Glühwein is served hot in adorable Christmas mugs and will keep you warm and jolly all night. Brewing it will fill your house with the most amazing holiday smells and send you right back to Berlin, or Stuttgart, or Rothenburg, or [insert fave German Christmas city here].
Check out my foods post for a great glühwein recipe!
Pro Tip: thrift stores are great places to find cheap, cute Christmas mugs.
Christmas market foods
For food, be sure to whip up some (or all) of the following Christmas market foods:
- Candied roasted almonds
- Potato pancakes (kartoffelpuffer)
- Mushrooms with garlic sauce
- Currywurst + fries
- Schneeballen (sugary snowballs from Rothenburg)
- Waffles with Nutella
- Stollen (German Christmas cake)
- And many, many more.
Like I said above, I’ve got a full post on German Christmas market foods that are easy to make at home and I’ve included recipes for them all. Check it out!
Also on the list of must-have foods for your at-home German Christmas market is lebkuchenherzen, but you might know them as the decorated gingerbread heart cookies.
These gingerbread cookies aren’t just for Oktoberfest—gingerbread cookies being a super Christmas-y thing and all. I love making these for my German-themed parties at home and, though they are a bit of work, they are so worth it! Fill them with holiday images and phrases and hang them around your house.
Not only are these cookies delicious and fun to make, they also make great holiday decorations. I use them as part of my German Christmas market décor then send them home with my friends. You can get the cookie and icing recipes in my foods post above.
4. Dress the part
Whether you’re having your German Christmas market at home inside or outside, dressing the part is important. No one wears yoga pants and a T-shirt to a Christmas market in Europe! No one not trying to develop hypothermia at least.
Your get-together won’t have the same festive feeling if you simply come downstairs in your pajamas to get blitzen-ed on rum-spiked wine. (Nobody will blame you though, 2020 and all.)
When recreating a German Christmas market at home, be sure to break out the puffy coats and winter hats. Pull on the mittens and the earmuffs. Step into your boots and wrap yourself in a cozy scarf. Ma’s already in her kerchief.
Looking for another excuse to don a dirndl? Do it! You can winterize it with a long-sleeved blouse, some leggings, and a cute sweater.
Afraid to look too Oktoberfest-y? Check out the Everyday Dirndl from Rare Dirndl (you may need to get on the waitlist). This simple dirndl was designed to wear any damn day. I personally have the gray one and it’s my absolute favorite. (Plus, it looks totally winter. And by that I mean I’m told I give off serious Arendelle vibes when I wear it.)
While you’re over at Rare Dirndl, also pick up one of her Krampus infinity scarves. Each year Erika creates a new Krampus scarf for the holiday season. They’re creepy, hella weird, and an absolute must-have.
Which brings me to…
5. Add Krampus to the mix
So you’re worried you’re going way too heavy on the ho-ho-holidays? A wee bit too much Hark! The herald angels sing? Add a little Krampus to the mix. Whilst Saint Nicholas rewards the well-behaved children with presents, his associate Krampus punishes the bad ones.
If you’re not familiar, Krampus is a half-goat, half-demon who serves as the anti-Santa during the holidays in Austria, southern Germany, and surrounding areas. He’s covered in hair, and has fangs, a long forked tongue, horns, and hooves. He carries birch branches to swat at children and a basket in which to snatch up naughty kids (to drown, eat, or cart off to Hell).
You. Cannot. Make. This. Stuff. Up. (Krampus is actually my favorite part of incorporating German traditions into my holiday celebrations.)
At the Munich Christmas market in early December, you can witness the 500-year-strong Krampus Run (you must watch the video) during which 300 Krampuses scare the sh*t out of people and whip their children with branches. Such a beautiful holiday tradition.
If you ever thought your Christmas season needed a little more Nightmare on Elm Street, you’re in luck! Krampus actually has his own German Christmas holiday known as Krampusnacht. While the feast of Saint Nicholas is celebrated on December 6th, the night before is all for Krampus. Mwahaha!
On Krampus Night (December 5th), Krampus visits homes to pass out coal and sticks and hopefully not swipe your spawn. People dressed at Krampus take to the streets to frighten children into not being little jerks, if only for a time.
Invite Krampus to your party
To add a little bit of Bavaria to your German Christmas market at home, make sure Krampus makes an appearance.
You can also hit up your local Spirit Halloween store during October for some good stuff. (Like the “Voodoo” mask I used this year.) The fur coat, leather pants, and black lipstick I already owned. It’s like I was born to play this role.
You can also:
- fly this Krampus flag
- hang this Krampus ornament from your tree
- watch this Krampus holiday horror/comedy
- decorate with these Krampus pillows
- make some Krampus cookies
- wear anything from Rare Dirndl’s Krampus collection, even cloth Krampus face masks for a horror of a different kind!
Remember, he sees you when you’re sleeping. Have a great time!
Happy German Christmas market at home to all and to all a good night!
What’s your favorite German Christmas market?
Let me know below!
But first, pin me!