Union Square Holiday Market

I love traditions, and even more I love starting traditions. One of my favorite of those traditions is one I share with my good friend, Annie: brunch, followed by a day of Christmas shopping around town.


We typically start our day with brunch, and this year for the first time ever, we decided to return to a restaurant we had already been to – Sotto 13.

Let me go back. We actually found this little gem last year. They didn’t have any reservations available, but it was forecast to rain and there were just two of us. So, we figured it wouldn’t be hard to get a table.

We were wrong.

Even with the cold and rain, we waited almost two hours to no avail, and finally resigned ourselves to eating at the bar. About halfway through our meal, we resolved to come back with a reservation.

So, we did.

And yum.

They have an amazing deal for brunch that includes drinks, a pizza, two small entrees, and a side at a great price. And of course, we always opt to spring for fresh donuts to finish out the meal. I’m not one to post a ton of food pics, but these seem worth it.


My mouth may or may not be watering at the sight of that meal – traditional Eggs Benedict in the middle, flanked by an amazing mushroom pizza and those fresh donuts I just mentioned.

Knowing that there are close to 25,000 dining options in New York City, it should really say something that we chose to come back the second time. No promises on next year; there are at least another 24,000 places to try after all.


After brunch, it’s time for the main event: the Union Square Holiday Market.

The Union Square Holiday Market is the New York destination for an intimate and enjoyable holiday shopping experience. Allow yourself the time to slow down and wander through the holly-lined aisles, and connect with local artisans who are selling their wares and sharing their stories. It’s a delightful place to get swept up in the festive spirit.

The market is open from about a week before Thanksgiving right up to Christmas Eve, and we usually try to go at the beginning of December. Truthfully, it feels a little more crowded every year…but maybe that’s just me getting older.

The Union Square Holiday Market has a little bit of everything – from jewelry to toys to gourmet snacks – especially for people who prefer to shop locally. Some of this year’s highlights:

  • Nirvanna Designs – This is one of our stops every year…more often than not for something for ourselves. Over the course of the past few years, I’ve accumulated quite the collection, including a fleece-lined hat and knit hand warmers. You can shop their stuff online, but I like being able to touch and try on the items. Their salespeople are a little vulture-y, but overall very nice.
  • Actual Film Votive – I’m not a big candle person, or movie person for that matter. But my father-in-law is a big a movie buff as there is, specifically for old B horror movies. These folks use actual film cells to decorate frosted votives (so when you light a candle in it, the cell is lit up), and I found one featuring “The Bride of Frankenstein” that made for a great gift.
  • Kubiya Games – We always end up spending an embarrassing amount of time at this booth. They have the kind of puzzles/games that will drive you completely insane, and yet you can’t stand the thought of quitting. Their “Don’t Break It” puzzle involves releasing a wine bottle from it’s holder, and it’s had us stumped for three years and counting. Sadly, it’s only rated a 3 on their difficulty scale (1-5).


After leaving Union Square, we headed over to Chelsea Market where they were hosting an Etsy mini-market. I love Etsy, but sometimes you just can’t tell the quality of things without seeing them in person. Unfortunately, as you can see from the above picture, there were about a million people who had the same idea. We made it around the room once and got the heck out of dodge. It was a nice idea, but they needed a bigger space.

A quick bathroom break at Whole Foods, and just like that, the day was over. Until next year…

Any good brunch recommendations for us to try out next time?

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