‘Tis the season for giving. During this time of year we put on the pressure to find the right gift. I like the idea of sharing the souvenirs we collect through the years. They have a story to tell and have a special place in our home. Here are a few that I treasure from my travels that will make a unique gift for someone you love. As an added bonus, you shop for these items online!
German Christmas Pyramid from Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
To me, Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Bavaria, is a giant sized version of my Grandmother’s miniature Christmas village. In Rothenburg, you must visit Käthe Wohlfahrt, a Christmas store on steroids and a museum of German Christmas memorabilia since the 1870s.
For the Christmas traditionalists, the German Christmas Pyramid is lovingly hand carved and crafted. The propellers, moved by the rising heat of the burning candles, create a charming play of shadow and light on ceilings and walls, animating scenes from the Christmas story.
Plush Stuffed Animal from Paris
The place to check everything off your list in Paris is at Galeries Lafayette, an upscale department store. During the holiday season, they are known for dressing up their window displays with dazzling animations that enchant children and adults alike. Their toy department is as magical as Santa’s workshop.
A special child in your life will fall in love with the cuddly creations from Kaloo, designed in France. Choose from fluffy puppies, lambs, donkeys, bunnies, kittens, cows and bears-oh my!
Egyptian Perfume Bottle from the French Riviera
The Riviera’s perfume industry creates top quality perfumes thanks to the abundance of flowers and aromatic plants like lavender and jasmine. Grasse, a town just inland to the sea, exposes Les Nez “nose” to over 2,000 scents used by the perfumeries. I came across a shop that sold hand blown perfume bottles in an intimate cellar in the medieval hill town Eze. The Egyptian perfume bottles are a beautiful and delicate gift that your Mother, sister or best friend will treasure.
Picasso Print from Barcelona
I found an appreciation for Pablo Picasso after visiting the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. Tracing the progression of his art through age, inspiration, moods and places made me a fan. I favored his Pigeons, painted from the late 1950s in Cannes. In this collection, Picasso brings together the private world of the interior with the public world of the exterior, linking both in an image of reminiscence and daydream. The giclée prints make a great hostess gift for a holiday party.
Wooden Tea Box from London
Established in 1706, Twinings Tea in London is “steeped” in tradition. The original flagship store has been running for the past 300 years. Share the history with tea-lovers by giving a tea chest to someone who will lovingly display their favorite teas. Miles and I enjoyed picking out an assortment of teas to fill our very own tea box.
Luxury Stationary from Amalfi, Italy
Dating back to the 13th century, Amalfi paper, called “bambagina,” is a very thick, soft, elegant paper that is still appreciated by artists around the world. The bambagina paper was made from rags that were cut up and put into stone tubs. The pieces were pounded into a pulp which was then put into vats. At this point a frame with a thin wire mesh was placed in the vat and a thin layer of pulp was spread over the mesh. The water was drained off and the pulp was put between two pads and pressed to eliminate any excess water. The sheet was then hung to dry. The Amalfi Paper Mill Museum is an entertaining activity and a unique gift for someone with a creative mind.
The guide at the Amalfi Paper Mill Museum shows us how paper has been made since the 13th century
Rich Belgium Chocolate from Brugge
Brugge is a festive place to celebrate the season. Dumon Chocolatier creates melt in your mouth artisan treats that offer a unique gift for chocolate lovers. Make sure you order Pralines, which are chocolates with nuts and quintessentially Belgium. They consist of a chocolate shell with a softer, sometimes liquid, filling, traditionally made of different combinations of hazelnut, almonds, sugar, syrup and often milk-based pastes.
Merry Christmas, peace on Earth and don’t stop exploring!