I have a confession to make: I’ve felt a bit like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas lately, when it comes to the holidays. I still go to friend and family dinners, and I exchange a few gifts, but I haven’t decorated in a long while. It all seems like a lot of work to be enjoyed for such a short time. And the older I’ve grown, the more my friends and I have gotten away from exchanging gifts. Maybe it’s shallow of me, but I always felt part of the fun of Christmas, or any time really, was finding something to gift someone, something especially for them.
This year, I was saved from my Grinch-y self by an invitation to visit the Osthoff Resort on Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
I’d never heard of Elkhart Lake, but via a quick Google search I learned that it was the perfect place to find some Christmas spirit. There’s something about a small town all dressed up in tinsel, street lamps glowing, and a heavy sky promising snow, that pulls you in and makes you feel like Christmas is the best time of the year. Plus the big draw: The Osthoff Resort’s annual Christmas market.
If you have ever wanted to visit a European Christmas market but haven’t, for logistical or financial reasons, at Osthoff’s Old World Market (now in its nineteenth year), European traditions and the spirit of Christmas are alive and well. Vendors from Germany, as well as other international and regional vendors, return year after year for this market.
From the moment I stepped inside, the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas greeted me: pine trees and pastries, friends and family mingling and greeting each other over a cup of cocoa, the cold wind howling outside, lights and garland decked the halls. I felt as though I’d been transported across the ocean.
Forget going to Europe for nutcrackers or other traditional German Christmas gifts — you only need to travel to Wisconsin! I discovered bird houses and wonderful arrangements made from local birch wood, hand blown glass ornaments, sturdy knives carved from antlers that were works of art, tapestries and scarves from India, carved Santa Claus figures, even treats for your favorite pet. Old Saint Nick strolled the market lending his jolly laugh to the atmosphere. And there was a beautiful setting among the Christmas trees for taking photos with the kiddos.
There were regional desserts, pastries, and other tasty treats, like Gluhwein and schnitzel, served with red cabbage and spaetzle. Of course, there were local cheeses, too! After all, Wisconsin is known for cheese.
Follow me on a walk around the market. You’ll meet a few vendors, eat some German food, and even buy an ornament or two. Honestly, the moment I set foot inside, all Grinch-y-ness just evaporated. I may even put up a tree this year. I found the spirit of Christmas at the Osthoff’s Old World Christmas Market.
You too can Discover an Old World Market in Wisconsin
There were about 100 vendors at the market — obviously this is a very small representation. I spent four hours there and it wasn’t enough. I really wished I’d had another four hours. Would I go back? You betcha I would. Europe’s got nothing on Wisconsin. Have you been? Where is your favorite Christmas market?
If you go:
The closest airport is Milwaukee. From there, drive approximately one hour north to Elkhart Lake.
See how the Osthoff’s Old World Market compares to 16 Of the Best Christmas Markets in Europe.
This delightful visit to the Osthoff Resort Christmas Market was sponsored by Osthoff Resort.