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How to prepare for a Christmas market visit

I must say, if you were to ask me 10 years ago if I like Christmas while living in Europe, I’d say “not really”. In the Philippines where I come from, the Christmas spirit is felt everywhere and way sooner than December even! Then I moved to California and it felt like the Christmas feel was a bit lesser than in Manila where I was from. Don’t get me wrong. It still felt festive and joyful and I loved the shopping spree! I still miss that about the USA, hehe. But then I moved to the Netherlands and there was Sinterklaas. That threw me off on the idea of Christmas and gift-giving. And there were hardly any Christmas decorations around the city, not till after December 5. So my level of enthusiasm about the Christmas season has waned down a little bit through the years of living here in the Netherlands.


Sometime in 2015, my husband introduced me to the Christmas markets in Germany. And that changed everything!
We love going to Christmas markets in Germany and we’ve been doing it yearly ever since. The lights, the Christmas stalls, the decorations, the merchandise and the food! We love all of it! They all make Christmas extra special with us just being there. And if you ask us if we have any preference, we know we have many more cities to visit during the winter holidays but for now we especially like the Christmas markets in Cologne.

Here are some tips on how to prepare for your visit to a Christmas market with the family. And this is based on our experience so far:

1.Make sure you dress warm but in layers. It can get really cold in December here in Europe and once the wind picks up, the temperature can feel even lower. Gloves, ear muffs and scarves will definitely help and for those who might not be wearing boots or shoes that fully cover your feet, a thick pair of socks will also make a difference! But! Because you’re always walking around and drinking warm drinks and sometimes may be standing next to a heater.

2.Bring an extra bag just in case. You’ll never know when you may need to put aside left-over food (and finish it later) or need to gather all your small purchases in one big bag. Sometimes your kids might even get their gloves dirty or wet from playing with snow, or that they don’t want to wear their scarves and beanies anymore. It’s always nice to have that extra bag around.

3.Research on the opening and closing times of the markets and check for opening days as well. It’s always good to know if on the day you plan to do that weekend getaway, the Christmas market you’re going to will be open. Some markets may already be closed the week before Christmas, some may already be over by Christmas eve. So it wouldn’t hurt to do your own research, and while you’re at it, check any other interesting places to go to in the area as a backup in case you feel like doing more than the market itself during your trip.

4.Bring enough cash. Even though some of these stalls have PIN machines, a lot (and  I mean a lot!) of them only accept cash when you purchase food or any other items. ATMs are available in some markets, however they can get out of service or may run out of cash. So it’s always wise to prepare from the very beginning and have enough bills with you.

For more of our Christmas market stories, visit our Youtube channel, Pinay mom’s blogs.

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