I sometimes pick up a thing or two throughout the year for Christmas gifts, but I usually don't have a specific recipient in mind. Those are items I really just bought because I couldn't resist.

The bulk of my holiday shopping is done at one of my favorite Lehigh Valley shopping destinations, Christkindlmarkt in Historic Bethlehem. I've already printed out my $1 off admission coupon for this year's pilgrimage (Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem opens today, but I probably won't get there until sometime next month).

Just walking into the massive heated tents of Christkindlmarkt puts me in the holiday spirit! No wonder it is recognized as one of the top holiday markets in the world. Many of the vendors are there year after year and seem like old friends, but I'm also looking forward to seeking out the new crafters that are exhibiting for the first time.

I don't know what one-of-a-kind treasures I'll find for friends and family this year, but I've hit a few "home runs" in the past:

  • An Ann Schlegel "Ms. Cabernet" apron for my sister Kathy, which was signed and personalized by Ann herself.
  • A forged historical marker stating "at this location in 1745 absolutely nothing happened" for my sister Joan who is a history buff with a great sense of humor.
  • Gift crates of assorted homemade soaps from A Natural Alternative in Emmaus were perfect for those hard-to-buy-for people on my list.

I know we have a great selection of shopping venues in Lehigh Valley with our various downtowns, classy shopping centers and malls ... what is your favorite holiday shopping spot?

This post was written by Lehigh Valley InSite blogger Nancy Signorovitch and was originally published December 2, 2009.