You don’t have to just settle on the big names when buying Christmas presents. There are plenty of Czech companies and products that will make ideal gifts, even for those on a limited budget.
Staying Tastefully Beautiful
The famous Czech brand Manufaktura produces an assortment of natural, locally-produced health and beauty products. This year Manufaktura have the quite Christmassy chocolate-and-orange-themed limited edition range of products including soap (6.50 CZK / 10g), bath gel (129 CZK), shower peeling gel (139 CZK) and body oil (149 CZK). You can buy the items separately or have them made up as a set.
When you’re really stuck for a gift, one of the easiest solutions is to head to the accessories section of the department store. Scarves, hats and gloves are fairly inexpensive and they come in handy during the winter. This year, why not consider some locally designed and made items from Le Boheme? An original woman’s woolen hat is available from them for 500 CZK. They also have hand-dyed and painted silk scarves ranging from 500 CZK to 1190 CZK. One of their most popular items is a flower hair pin which also doubles as a brooch. It retails for 350 CZK.
Fler.cz, an extensive and well known online hand-made product marketplace is yet another option definitely worth considering. One can find uniquely designed hand-made pottery, necklaces, bracelets, jewellery, glass products, bags and virtually any other decorative items on the server.
Stardeco are a Czech design company that offers stylish goods for the home. This year they have a wide range of new items from vases to furniture. (Click on the top right corner of the link to ‘leaf through’ the catalog.) The spice box set for 199 CZK makes a great gift for friends or family in a new place. The cool minimalist design would especially suit a modern kitchen.
Another great and reasonably priced gift for the practically minded is the Lap Desk. This comfy portable surface makes your time on your laptop even more pleasant. It comes in a range of colors, and at 299 CZK, it is within the price range for most people.
StarDeco items are available from their website or from DBK Super Store in Prague 4, right beside the Budějovická Metro Line.
Kids – Big and Small
If you’re looking for a specifically Czech toy for kids, you don’t only have to settle on the Little Mole. I’ve got nothing against everyone’s favorite insectivore, but as far as kids and Czech products go there is at least one other option: the old toy line Igráček was re-issued last year.
For those unfamiliar with the brand, Igráček was a line of toys similar to Playmobil. Kids can collect a series of figurines, which they assemble. Also available are cars and work placeplay sets. Prices for a single figurine start at 67 CZK. The toys can be ordered online. They are also available at Sparky’s.
Getting into the Christmas Spirits (and Wine)
If your view of Czech fruit spirits such as slivovice or hruškovice is that they’re better used as fuel than a drink, perhaps you should consider those from the distillery Deliš. The company distills spirits from plum, pear, raspberry, cherry and apple. All come in tastefully designed 700ml bottles and retail from 440 CZK.
Local wine can also make an excellent gift, and there quite a number of new and established vineyards to choose from. Vilavín is one of the newcomers, and their Sauvignon Blanc for 260 CZK is a good choice for someone who doesn’t like their wine too dry.
Špálek is a small family concern from Nový Saldorf. Their Rhine Riesling is distinguished from other wines because it has been awarded a V.O.C. (Vína originální certifikace), which is a certification both of quality and of the wines local character. A bottle of V.O.C. Rhine Riesling sells for 253 CZK.
For those who are feeling a little adventurous, Vinařství Přítluky produce a Hibernal for 254 CZK. Hibernal is a relatively new grape variety. It has only been registered in the Czech Republic as an official type of grape since 2004.
The Svatovavřinecké 2008, late harvest (pozdní sběr) from Patria Kobylí from is another quality wine at a reasonable price, selling for 192 CZK. The wine was selected as one of the top 100 Czech wines.
Another wine which promises quality at a reasonable price is Rulandské modré (Pinot gris) Harmony 2007, late harvest from Vinselekt Michlovský for 218 CZK. Vinselekt Michlovský was awarded ‘Czech Winemaker of the Year’ in 2010.
Cellarius, in the Lucerna Arcade under the statue of the upside down horse.
For the Small Screen
Lovers of Czech cinema have quite a few interesting new releases to look forward to for Christmas. Former President Havel’s film debut, Odcházení (Leaving) is out now on DVD for 199 CZK. Based on Havel’s play of the same name, this somewhat surrealistic story concerns the last days of a former Chancellor, Vilém Reiger, who must contend with his transition from public office into whatever life holds for him. It’s largely assumed the story is based on Havel’s own experience as president.
Released earlier this year, Občanský průkaz (Identity Card) is in the vein of the popular Czech comedy Pelíšky. We’ve already reviewed the film and based on Jason’s write-up, the film seems like another good idea for film buffs. It retails for 199 CZK.
Jason also wrote a positive review for this year’s recipient of the Český lev (Czech Lion) for best picture, “Pouta”. This brooding, atmospheric movie focuses on mentally unhinged secret police officer Antonín Rusnák, who becomes obsessed with the girlfriend of a dissident he is investigating. The film is retailing for 219 CZK.
All the recommended films have English subtitles and are available from Bontonland.
Gifts for the Hard to Buy for
Hard-De-Core is one of the hippest shops in Prague. It is a collection of whimsical, unique and sometime bizarre. It’s bound to have something for those who are difficult to buy for. For instance, the coffee mug is a classic gift, but chances are that most people have not got one of Šárka Bulčiková’s singular drinking vessels which retail for 490 CZK.
If you’re looking for something personal, the butterfly themed jewelry of Micheala Gorcová is sure to make a touching gift. Made from stainless steel, her designs reflect the fragility of the animal which inspired them. A pair of earrings sells for 990 CZK.
Otherwise, if you’re looking for something really different, perhaps a gift for the man who has everything, you could consider the multipurpose hook. As the name suggests, this hook has a variety of uses such as an easily portable clothes hanger to a shoe rack. And at 250 CZK it also makes an inexpensive gift.
Alternatively, you may consider visiting this year’s designSUPERMARKET’11 from 6-11.12.2011, where upcoming young Czech designers exhibit and showcase their newest personal works for sale. You can find a wide array of decorative items, clothing, porcelain, pottery, jewellery and other unique and appealing present candidates for the most demanding ones.
A Piece of History
If you’re looking for something really unique and definitely Czech, Prague’s many antique shops are a good place to start. Bric a Brac at Týnská 7 is a trove of the country’s past where you’ll find old lamps, street signs and items of propaganda. Some specifically Christmassy gifts are the antique glass decorations from the 30s to the 60s. Prices range from 300 CZK to 1500 CZK and are bound to please the person with an eye for the rare.
Here are ours. What other gift ideas do you have?
Read also: Hot Gifts 2011 – Expats.cz lends you a hand to find a gift for someone of any age
For more Christmas content visit our dedicated microsite Christmas & New Year 2011