BEST Christmas Markets in Joburg

Christmas comes early in Johannesburg, mainly because the schools finish for their main summer holiday at the start of December and soon after everyone flees. My first year here I found it lonely and sad with the lack of Christmas Festivities. My favourite home comforts (Christmas Songs on the radio, Christmas parties, Christmas Specials on TV) weren’t here. Now I actually find it quite refreshing, and low key, with the celebration being about holidays and family time rather than the whole commercial take that there is in the UK and US. 

What I have come to love about Christmas Shopping here, is the ability to buy your presents from local small businesses, through the wealth of Christmas Markets that take place across Joburg. Some are better than others, but here is our list of whats on when over the next few months!  


By Word of Mouth Festive Market - Sunday 8th and Monday 9th October  

Hosted at The Polo Room at the Inanda Club. Word of Mouth host fantastic workshops sharing, decor looks, edible gifts and weaths, along with christmas food ideas. 

Sanlan Handmade Contemporary Fair - 13th - 15th October 

If you only get to one Christmas Market, make sure its this one! They alway curate the best of South African design (plus food and drink is amazing!)  

Glenshiel Christmas Market - Westcliff 27th - 29th October 

Catch the tail end of the Jacaranda's in this spectacular property. This annual fundraiser for St Johns Ambulance service hosts a high end carefully curated market and tea garden.   



Bryanston Organic Christmas Night Markets - Every Tuesday from 21st November 

Disc Craft Fair - 22nd November The Pavilion Dainfern Golf Club   

Parkhurst Late Night Christmas Shopping - Thursday 23rd and 30th November 

Parkview Christmas Market 24th - 26th November

Community Market, with carols sang by the local primary and high schools. Lovely outing for the whole family.  

Boutique Christmas Market - Hyde Park -  25th- 26th November 

Melrose Arch Christmas Market - Thursday 25th - Friday 26th November - TBC 



44 Stanley Christmas Market - 1st December - Date TBC 

Monte Casino - Christmas Village - 1st December - 3rd December

(+ outdoor screen showing family christmas movies) TBC

Kamers - 5th - 10th December Pretoria. 

From fashion to food… skincare to ceramics… jewellery, lifestyle, music and more – at Southdowns College, a trendy venue that perfectly reflects this uniquely South African event. 

The Sheds 1Fox St Christmas Night Market - 2nd December

Linden Market - 2nd December. 

Linden market is a local boutique market, they have managed to source some of the best products out there. Set in Emmarentia Dam, its a beautiful setting with kids play area, and great food and drink venders there is something for everyone. 

Fourways Christmas Day and Night Market - 9th /10thDec & 16th/ 17th Dec date TBC 

The Neighbourgoods Market - Saturday Morning & 1st Thursday of the month 




Christmas In a Jar

I would like to introduce the lovely Sue Rousseau, who is also a fellow mummy to twin boys! How she finds time to make such gorgeous and thoughtful gifts running around after those two, and working full time I do not know - Sue you are an inspiration! I am really excited that she agreed to share her tips of the trade in putting together incredibly thoughtful christmas gifts this year.


Christmas is my favourite time of the year! Shopping for gifts, carols, food, colours, lights, packed malls - I love it all! In Johannesburg, Christmas is a warm and relaxed affair. The city slows down as the summer holiday starts and the days are filled with sunshine, swimming and sundowners. 

Each year, my Christmas gift list seems to grow exponentially with teachers and new friends.
It’s a challenge – and often quite stressful – to find out of the ordinary, thoughtful gifts for people that you’ve only recently met. As a result, I’m always on the lookout for gift ideas and creative ways to package gifts!

This Christmas, I’ve been inspired by lovely local personalised stationery gurus, Macaroon, to make my own ‘Christmas in a Jar’ gifts.

The Jars:

Consol Glass has a range of jars, which come in a variety of lid types (from mesh, plastic, vacuum) and range of  colours. For some of my gifts, I used closed red lids. To make the gifts look more Christmassy, I took Macaroon’s advice and, using a glue gun, added apples or holly berries from Party Spot


Hostess Gifts:

I fill them with flowers and add a wide ribbon around the jar to make a ‘thank you’ gift when we’re invited to dinner.

Children's Gifts:

 Stationery, Tied with a ribbon, the jars make great pencil holder.

‘Holiday in a Jar’:

Fill a mesh lid jar with a colourful sarong!


"Filling the jars is the exciting part!" 

Some of things that I’ve filled my jars with are:

Jars - Scarf.jpg
  • Chocolates – Red Lindt balls make a great filler
  • Lebkuchen – The chocolate-coated German Christmas biscuits (You’ll need to sterilize the jars in boiling water if you want to fill them with unwrapped food)
  • Scarves 
  • High quality colouring in pencils, given with an adult colouring in book

To finish off the jars and make them look more special, I use ribbon, stickers and gift tags, all sourced from Macaroon.

Been inspired? What things could you put into your Christmas Jars? Share your ideas in the comments section below. 

For More Gift in a Jar ideas head over to Pinterest, or

For More Gift in a Jar ideas head over to Pinterest, or

Happy gifting this Christmas!

Need more sophisticated versions of this concept for corporate gifts? Looking for personalised gifts for corporates or individuals? Get in touch with Sue Rousseau on  

30 Simple and Fun Christmas Traditions

I am a creature of habit and I love the traditions I had growing up, especially when it comes to celebrating Christmas, Easter and Birthdays. Traditions are wonderful for those involved in them, however like all things, they need to be modified and questioned over time to stop them from becoming obligatory rather than fun and unifying.  
Getting married and then moving abroad provided a perfect time to question both my own and my husband’s Christmas Traditions. After my first Christmas away from home, where everything seemed a little odd, the lack of Christmas songs on the radio, the lack of Christmas parties, and decorations, and no Christmas jumpers in the 30+ temperatures. These conditions caused for a complete overhaul of previous traditions and a need to embrace the change, rather than crying over it. I will have plenty of English Christmas’s to look forward too but for now, I needed to make the most out of South Africa, and start afresh with the family I have here, my 3 children, husband and close friends.  

We continue to make changes (creating advent calendars before 1st December, gets much easier the following year once you have all the ideas…)  and ensure that our traditions are fun and embrace the people and community we are in. Rather than adapting things that have always been done at the risk of isolating people or places, we try to create new fun traditions for us as a family. 

I hope our children will take some of them into adulthood, but if they don’t, then at least we will always have the great memories of the good and be able the laugh at the messy times.    

Our Christmas kicks off at the start of Advent, which provides 4 week time of rest and reflection, something that is easier to do here in South Africa with the schools breaking up at the start of December and most family holidays to the beach begin around now. Together as a family we get up to lots of different activities throughout Advent, with the aim being to use the opportunity to teach us about how we can practically show kindness and love to one another. 


Our Family Christmas Traditions 

1. Elf on Shelf (which has developed into Kindness Elves) read more about them here

2. CHRISTMAS STORY  - Each morning a new character is unwrapped and put into the stable, we tell the story of the role that character plays in the Christmas Story .

3. Advent Calendar - Each morning the Kindness Elf has left a note saying what activity to do that day.

STUCK FOR IDEAS ON WHAT TO DO THIS DECEMBER HERE is our advent kindness calendar & thank you Catherine for sharing her's too!  


Go on download them - its not too late to start and grab some ideas of fun things to do.





4. Day we put up the Christmas Tree we play Christmas songs, eat mince pies and watch a Christmas movie.

5. Put together a shoe box of pre loved toys, clothes, books, and then add in some new things to donate to a charity. (This has started some wonderful conversations and thoughts from my 4 year old).

6. Presents to open during advent (I may change this to the 12 days of Christmas)

Week 1 - Advent Candle & Christmas Book
Week 2 - Christmas PJs &
Week 3 - Xmas Placemat and bowl
Week 4 -  Christmas Film

7. Family Christmas Date Day -(I stole this from my friend Alice)  As a family we go and do something fun and christmasy together (when the kids get older they will take it in turn to choose and organise what we all do)

8. Christmas Eve - put out mince pie, carrot and sherry for Father Christmas, and go to crib service at church. 

One question I love to ask my friends is what are your Christmas/ holiday  traditions, a chance to celebrate and be thankful for those that matter most to us, I love it!  So here are some of their responses:

We buy a tree decoration from a country we have visited that year for each of our girls, then when they leave home they will have their own set of Christmas Tree decorations. (Julia)

We write a personalised poem to go on each gift we give. (Tess)

We give the kids their Christmas PJs and drive round to see Christmas Lights, then come home for Hot Chocolate. (Ally)

Each Christmas eve I sit down with a glass of mulled wine and write a Christmas diary and/or letter to each child outlining the year, highs and lows and our hopes for the following year. (Sally

We all write a letter to Father Christmas, I then add in shaved off sparklers (while the kids aren’t looking), we create a fire, and send our letters to santa by throwing them on the fire, if they have been good the letter will sparkle which is the elves taking the letter to Father Christmas. (Jane) (I would love to give this a try! Who knows where in SA I can buy sparklers and then how do I turn them into shavings?) 

Florence School - Created a Kindness Paper Chain with each child writing down the 5 acts of kindness they had done.

So what are your holiday / christmas traditions? What are your favourite Christmas Books, films? Are there any here that you are going to try this year? What makes this time of year special for you?

How to prepare effortlessly for entertaining @ Christmas.

This is our final edition to our series with Julia Henderson, who has shared with us her tips of the trade from 28 years in the diplomatic service. 

Click Here to catch up - Part 1 How to create a sense of occasion with your Table Setting

Part 2 How best to Prepare and Welcome your Guests 

Part 3 - Recipe Ideas 

Part 4 - How to prepare and entertain over Christmas. 

Christmas and other festive occasions provide the ideal opportunity to be creative and go all out for a beautifully decorated table. It can be as blingy or sophisticated as you wish.  Just use your imagination and play with ideas – the possibilities are endless.

TIP 1:

Add some glitter and glamour to a white table cloth by covering it with gold or silver netting from a fabric store (eg Fiona’s Fabrics, 340 Oak Avenue, Ferndale, Randburg).

TIP 2: 

Use a panel of vibrant coloured fabric or netting as a runner down the centre of the table.

TIP 3: 

Spray pine cones gold and silver and arrange them around the table or place them individually in glass bowls. (Delta Park is a good source of pine cones; the spray paint is available from hardware stores such as Mica.) Combine sprays of painted grasses and twigs with fresh flowers.

TIP 4:    

Buy some baubles from Checkers or Pick ‘n’ Pay and tie them together in clusters or place them in large wine glasses or tall glass vases.

TIP 5: 

Place a wire baobab tree, bought on a street corner, on the table as your centrepiece. You could tie small ribbons in bows onto the branches and place a tea light in a small glass underneath it.

TIP 6: 

Roll napkins in gold ribbon (or ribbon to match the colour of your table cloth). And, finally, don’t forget candles and crackers.   


Desserts that can be made in advance are ideal for large festive occasions such as Christmas. The coffee amaretto ice-cream cake below takes a little time to prepare but can be made up to a month in advance and kept in the freezer. Cinnamon pears are easy to make and can be served warm or made a day or two in advance and served cold. They go well with cream, Greek yoghurt or ice-cream. They also make a nice breakfast dish when served with Greek yoghurt or/and pancakes.


Serves 10
When I was a very young child, my family lived in a flat above a bakery, pâtisserie and ice-cream shop in Paris. From the age of four I was sometimes despatched to buy the daily baguette by my mother who would watch my progress from the balcony above. Even then, my favourites were coffee flavoured ice-cream and gâteaux. The liking for amaretto came later!

For the sponge cake:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 110g (4oz) caster sugar
  • 110g (4oz) plain/cake flour
  • 2 tablespoons strong coffee (can be made using 1 tablespoon instant coffee and adding enough boiling water until just dissolved.) 
  • 30-55ml (1-2 fl.oz)  amaretto
  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 7, 220C, 425F.


  • Line a 42cm x 27cm (17in x 11in) baking tray with baking parchment/paper. 
  • Place the eggs and sugar into a bowl. 
  • Place the bowl over the top of (but not immersed in) a saucepan of simmering water.
  • Whisk the eggs and sugar with an electric beater until the mixture is thick and creamy. This takes about 10 minutes. You should be able to write your name in the mixture.  
  • Sieve the flour and fold into the egg and sugar mixture with a tablespoon, moving the spoon around the edge of the bowl in a circular movement and then bringing the spoon through the middle. Only mix until the flour is combined – do not overmix.
  • Add 2 tablespoons strong coffee and mix lightly into the egg mixture.
  • Put the mixture into the baking tray.
  • Cook in the oven for 7 minutes.
  • While the cake is cooking, place a piece of baking parchment/paper (approx 45cm x 30cm/18in x 12in) on to a work surface. 
  • After 7 minutes, turn the cake out on to the paper on the work surface.
  • Leave the cake to cool. Peel off the baking paper.
  • When cool, cut out a circle from the cake, cutting around the base of a 24cm (9½ in) circular cake tin.
  • Line the base of the cake tin with baking parchment/paper.
  • Place the circle of cake into the base of the cake tin. (If there are some gaps around the edges, fill them in with small pieces from the remaining cake.)
  • Sprinkle liberally with amaretto and put aside. 

For the ice-cream:

  • 6 eggs, separated 
  • 225g (8oz) caster sugar, sieved 
  • 900ml (32 fl oz/ 4 cups) whipping cream
  • 6 tablespoons strong coffee (made using 2 rounded tablespoons instant coffee and adding enough boiling water until just dissolved.) 
  • 75ml (3 fl oz) amaretto


  • Place the egg yolks into a mixing bowl.  With an electric mixer, whisk at high speed, adding the caster sugar one dessertspoonful at a time. It is important not to add all the caster sugar at once or too quickly.
  • When you can write your name in the mixture, beat in the coffee and the amaretto. 
  • In a separate bowl, whip the cream until it has just started to thicken and holds soft peaks. It should not be too thick. Fold the cream into the coffee mixture.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they are stiff. 
  • Fold one-third of the egg white mixture into the coffee cream mixture. 
  • Rebeat the remaining egg whites. 
  • Fold the remainder of the egg white mixture into the coffee cream mixture. 
  • Pour into the cake tin over the cake in the base. 
  • Open freeze the ice-cream in the cake tin (uncovered) for 12-24 hours. 

Praline topping and decoration:

  • 110g (4oz) caster sugar
  • 110g (4oz) hazelnuts (or pecans or almonds), chopped
  • 100ml whipping cream, whipped
  • Coffee beans (preferably chocolate coffee beans)


  • Place the sugar and nuts into a large saucepan or frying pan over a medium heat and caramelise gently, stirring to coat the hazelnuts.
  • Once the sugar has melted and everything is browned, pour the mixture in a layer onto a sheet of baking paper/parchment. Leave to cool. Once cooled, place the caramelized sheet into a plastic bag and smash the praline into pieces with the end of a rolling pin.
  • Sprinkle the praline over the frozen ice-cream.
  • Pipe whipped cream around the edge and decorate with coffee beans. Return to the freezer. 
  • Open freeze for a further 12 hours and then wrap the ice-cream cake in its tin in plastic wrap/cling film and foil.
  • To serve: take the ice-cream cake out of the freezer and put it into the refrigerator for about 45 minutes-1 hour before serving.  When ready to serve, remove the cake from the cake tin, including sliding the cake tin base away if you wish, and place on a serving dish. Whipped cream can be piped around the base of the cake if desired.
  • Remaining mixture: If there is any ice-cream mixture remaining, places circles of cake into the base of ramekin dishes. Sprinkle with amaretto. Cover with the ice-cream mixture cake and freeze to make individual portions. Alternatively, freeze the mixture in a loaf tin.

CINNAMON PEARS                                

Serves 4

This recipe was given to me by a very close friend, Helen, who was born in Cyprus. It has been a firm favourite of the family for many years.

  • 4 pears, peeled and halved
  • 24 cloves
  • 1 litre (1 ¾ pints) water
  • 200g (7 oz) granulated sugar                       
  • Powdered cinnamon


  • Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3/170C/325F.
  • Put the water and sugar into a saucepan and heat over a gentle heat until the sugar dissolves. Boil for 2 minutes and then simmer for a further 20 minutes until the mixture is syrupy.
  • Decorate each of the pear halves with 3 cloves.
  • Place the pears in the base of a rectangular or oblong Pyrex or ceramic baking dish.
  • Sprinkle generously with cinnamon.
  • Pour the syrup over the pears in the baking dish and place in the oven for 1½ hours. Baste the pears with the syrup from time to time.
  • Leave to cool. Can be served warm or cold with whipped cream, Greek yoghurt or vanilla ice-cream.

Are you going to give either of these recipes a try - let us know how you get on. 

What are your favourite Christmas Recipes or Traditions - share with us in the comments below