For more than a year, Lauri Thomasson has had boxes of handmade German Christmas ornaments stacked against a wall in her McCordsville living room, a regular reminder of the upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thomasson ordered them to sell at her own booth, set to debut at the 2020 Carmel Christkindlmarkt, after traveling to Germany much earlier that year to attend Christmasworld, an international trade show for holiday-themed items.
“COVID was just starting over (in Europe),” Thomasson said. “I got home and remember telling my husband, ‘I got back just in time. I escaped COVID.’ And then it hit over here.”
The pandemic led to the cancellation of the 2020 Christkindlmarkt, but it is set to return Nov. 20 to Dec. 24 at Carter Green, 10 Carter Green in Carmel. Among 20 gift vendors will be Thomasson’s booth, Lauri’s Baumschmuck, featuring ceramic, wood and straw ornaments as well as hand-painted eggs.
Thomasson originally planned to sell gnomes at her booth, but she had difficulty finding any made in Germany — a requirement for most items sold at the Carmel Christkindlmarkt. So, she switched to ornaments, many of which she discovered at Christmasworld during her 2020 visit there.
“(Christmasworld) is like Christmas on steroids,” Thomasson said. “You see so many things, it’s hard to know what to buy.”
Maria Murphy, Carmel Christkindlmarkt CEO and market master, helped connect Thomasson with two German women who specialize in creating intricate ornaments made of straw after Thomasson was unable to find a suitable product at the trade show.
Murphy said she is excited for the Christkindlmarkt to offer straw ornaments, as she fondly recalls them being a part of the German holiday festivities she experienced as an exchange student there in 2005.
“(They are) very traditional, especially in northern Germany,” Murphy said. “The families I visited in that area almost all had straw ornaments on their trees.”
Sven Schumacher, a Carmel Christkindlmarkt board member who grew up in Germany, said the straw ornaments are “an important part of a German Christmas tree.” He remembers making strohsterne, as they are called in German, as a young child.
“It was a big thing to do in kindergarten,” said Schumacher, who is the honorary consul of Germany for Indiana. “I thought it was something we needed at the Christmas market.”
Many of Thomasson’s offerings — including the straw ornaments — are among requests of past Christkindlmarkt guests. Thomasson worked in the Geschenke booth, which sells gifts and holiday decor, during the 2019 market before deciding to launch her own endeavor.
Thomasson, an Air Force veteran and retired nurse practitioner, said items at her booth cost $4 to $34, with most falling between $5 and $20.
“If kids (want) to buy something for a schoolmate or their teachers, it’s a price point within that range,” said Thomasson, who spent time in Germany as an exchange student during high school.
Other vendors at the Christkindlmarkt will sell incense burners, nutcrackers, folk art, cuckoo clocks, toys, jewelry and much more. Food items for sale will include potato pancakes, sausages, pretzels, raclette sandwiches and specialty beverages.
Missing out on the Christkindlmarkt for a year has made Thomasson even more eager for the 2021 festivities. As a part-time employee at Greenfield’s Tuttle Orchard in the fall, she said she’s sensed increased excitement for the holiday season.
“Seeing people come out and being willing to spend money makes me very hopeful for this Christmas market,” she said.
2021 Carmel Christkindlmarkt
When: 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays and noon to 9 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays Nov. 20 to Dec. 24. Special hours of operation are noon to 9 p.m. Nov. 24, noon to 9 p.m. Dec. 20 to 23 and noon to 3 p.m. Dec. 24. The market is closed Nov. 25.
Where: Carter Green, 10 Carter Green, Carmel
Cost: Free admission
More info: CarmelChristkindlmarkt.com
Glühwein Gallop 5K
The Glühwein Gallop 5K will debut at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 4. The course will begin and end at the Carmel Christkindlmarkt and travel along the Monon Trail, Main Street and Range Line Road.
Runners can participate in a costume contest, with prizes awarded to the judges’ favorites. Participants 21 years and older will receive a ticket for a free serving of glühwein or beer after the race.
Registration costs $35 through Nov. 30, with the cost rising to $40 in December. Register at bit.ly/GluhweinGallop.
Annika Harshbarger, a student at Lawrence North High School, has been selected as the Carmel Christkind for this year’s Christkindlmarkt.
The Christkind shares Christmas cheer with guests throughout the event by welcoming visitors and distributing candy and gifts.
The Christkind is selected through an essay contest. Harshbarger will receive a $1,000 scholarship. Second-place winner Anya Burke, a Westfield High School graduate and Anderson University student, will receive a $500 scholarship, and Hannah Schultz, also a student at LNHS, will receive a $250 scholarship.