Make a plan to tackle the Nutcracker

HOUSTON "It's incredibly fabulous and, every year, it gets better," shopper Erin Teichman said.

"I think it's fabulous," Linda Jeanes, with the Original Santas, said. "It has a lot of variety, a lot of things to see and do."

"I love it," Amy Cooper with Candori Jewelry said. "It's like 80,000 people in four days. It's unbelievable -- it's fast shopping (snaps), quick."

The Nutcracker Market brings in hundreds of vendors from all over the country. Shoppers will find clothes, jewelry, purses and kid's stuff, not to mention, anything and everything for Christmas home decor. But be warned, this may not be the place for bargain shoppers.

The real draw for the Nutcracker Market is not the prices, it's the unique items, like large hand-carved Santas. They go for up to $2,000. And earrings made out of broken china will cost $55.

Even for the savvy shopper, it can be overwhelming and a real budget-buster. Here are some things to keep in mind.

First, before purchasing anything, shoppers should walk the entire center and check out every vendor. Some vendors do have the same or similar items, and prices can vary.

"You don't buy the first thing you see," shopper Leslie King said. "You might find something better in the back row."

Secondly, shoppers should use cash. Using cash will help consumers keep track of exactly how much is being spent.

"I am tired of paying high interest on credit cards," shopper Tessa Dent said. "This Christmas is cash."

Third, shoppers should dress comfortably. Wear comfortable shoes, like flats, and keep in mind that fitting rooms are limited, so wear form fitting clothes -- like tights or leggings -- so you can try things on easily.

"Dress comfortably so you can try on stuff over what you have on," shopper Terri Dodd said.

Finally, while the Nutcracker Market does not allow prices to be discounted during the show, many vendors may negotiate closer to the end of the market.

"Sometimes, I try to wait on Sunday, on the last day, because they will negotiate with you," said shopper Lisa Ramsey.

"A lot of them have bargain stuff at the end of the show," Gaylon Gullquist, with the market, said. "They may want to get rid of some stuff."

The Nutracker Market is filled with temptation, but there is a bit of good news this year. Some vendors said because of the economy they have lowered their prices.

"For some of the pieces, you will notice that they are little less expensive here at the show than online or at the store," Gullquist said.

The market will be open until 10am-8pm Thursday and Friday, and 10am-6pm this weekend. Tickets at the door are $11, but if you arrive three hours before the end of the show, tickets are half price.

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