Holidays in Washington: International markets offer unique gifts for the winter season

Jodi Kostelnik and her firm The Neighborgoods participated in a German-style market at the Heurich House Museum. (Grace Bird/The Current/December 2017)

As December descends on D.C. and wreaths, fairy lights and tinsel appear on city streets, international organizations are hosting holiday markets offering local wares, authentic dishes and plenty of mulled wine.

The Swedish Women’s Educational Association held a Christmas market Saturday inside the nation’s sweeping Georgetown waterfront embassy. The bazaar offered Christmas decorations, glassware, books and other assorted gifts alongside information on Swedish schools and organizations — plus glugg, a traditional spiced beverage. Members donned traditional Swedish outfits to further promote Swedish culture and foster a sense of authenticity.

“What we try to encourage is Swedish knowledge and Swedish projects, to spread among Americans,” Kate Novak, president of D.C.’s Swedish Women’s Educational Association, told The Current.

Alliance Française de Washington, an organization dedicated to promoting French language and culture, hosted a Christmas bazaar Saturday at its headquarters in an elegant Sheridan-Kalorama town house, offering French delicacies, books, jewelry and homewares.

Sandrine Avner, director of cultural programs at Alliance Française, said she encourages the public to attend its events and classes held many times throughout the year. In the coming weeks, the global French organization is hosting a macaron tasting Dec. 15; a game night Dec. 18; an Epiphany celebration Jan. 6; and various film screenings, lectures and happy hours.

A French bazaar at Alliance Française de Washington included a book sale. (Grace Bird/The Current/December 2017)

“It’s a cool way to discover the country, the culture, the language,” Avner told The Current, adding that most events and classes are held in English and available to all members of the public.

Meanwhile, this weekend’s uncharacteristic warmth drew hundreds of residents to Dupont Circle’s Heurich House Museum for its annual German-style Christmas market and home tour, a nod to its original owner, German immigrant, brewer and philanthropist Christian Heurich.

The historic property’s fifth “Christkindlmarkt” bazaar spanned three days this year — Friday, Saturday and Sunday — with 26 stalls selling unique, handcrafted wares produced exclusively by local businesses in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Among the market’s local businesses include The Neighborgoods, founded by Jodi Kostelnik, offering food-themed “giftable” goods including tea towels, baby onesies, aprons, cards, mugs, Christmas ornaments and more. Two sisters — artist Marni Manning and writer A.C. O’Dell — sold their prints and poetry, while Holly Deutsch, founder of Holly Blue, sold handmade silver jewelry. Old Town Suds, a business created by Steffanie Housman, offered soaps, lotions and lip balms, among other assorted items, made with a secret ingredient — wine or beer.

Jennifer Ezell, the Heurich House’s director of public engagement, said in an interview that the organization selected its vendors carefully as space in the “We really like being able to support local makers,” she said.

Located at 1307 New Hampshire Ave. NW, the Heurich House will host “Mini Markts” each Friday through Christmas from 5 to 8 p.m. Along with self-guided tours of the museum, the weekly events will feature a more focused set of local vendors. This week’s theme is “Deck the Halls,” with items for the home; subsequent events will highlight children’s toys and clothing (Dec. 15) and food and serving ware (Dec. 22). Admission costs $10 for adults and $2 for ages 2 through 12. For details, visit