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Gwen’s Favorite Festive Gift List

I’ll admit it – I love gift lists.  Buzzfeed, Oprah, NY Times – I read them all.  I love getting ideas for all the people on my holiday list that are unique and something they would never have thought of on their own.  I see more and more gift lists from travel magazines, but they lean heavily toward luggage and travel clothing.  That got me thinking, though, if I could give gifts that are some of my favorite travel souvenirs, what would they be?  Here is a little roundup of some of my favorite items from Europe.  From wine lovers to foodies to fashionistas, there is something for everyone on this list.  Happy Shopping!


Nothing says look at me quite like some sparkling Austrian crystal!  The family-owned Swarovski is headquartered outside of Innsbruck, Austria, and has been producing gorgeous jewelry at a variety of price points for over 100 years.  This year’s collection features some fun and funky options.


Folk Art & Giving Back

I loved having the chance to meet these village ladies in Hungary who are using their skills at traditional embroidery to help support their retirement in the Hungarian countryside.  Their gorgeous folk motifs adorn clothing and accessories and make a unique gift for anyone who loves fashion.



My obsession with Polish gingerbread is well-known among family and friends.  It tastes different than “American” gingerbread and the decorations are simply stunning.  I’m not sure if I could ever replicate what the professionals do, but this year I’m going to give it a try with an online class direct from Poland.  Hopefully I’ll finally learn the secrets of these delicious little treats!



My husband doesn’t care about gingerbread.  He’s all about Haribo, the 100 year old German confectioner!  Whenever I’m in any grocery store in Europe, I toss just about every bag of Haribo into my cart so he can have a gummi tasting feast when I return.  Luckily, Target has a great selection of some of the more unique flavors.  If you can’t get to Europe this holiday season – head to Target instead.



Did you know that Croatia invented the cravat?  Today you can find beautiful silk scarves, ties and more in these fantastic stores throughout Croatia.  Beautiful colors and unique patterns will delight the most stylish on your gift list.  Luckily – Croata – now ships worldwide!


Italian Delights

Who doesn’t love Italian food? Some of our friends who focus on travel to the best of Italy have started importing some of their favorite small-batch producers to the US.  Think the best olive oils, perfectly aged parmesan and more. Their company is Cantina Direct and their gift boxes are gorgeous. Perfect gifts for any foodies.


Austrian Wine

Of all the wine regions I visit, I love the wine in Austria the most.  In particular, my favorite is Grüner Veltliner.  While my local grocery store doesn’t carry this, it’s not as hard to find as you would think.  For me, it’s the perfect light and crisp white to pair with just about everything.  You can find several great options at your local Total Wine & More.


Norwegian Warmth

I always admire the cozy Norwegian sweaters our Scandinavian specialists sport, I just can’t use them for more than a few days a year in Florida.  However, if you have someone on your gift list in a colder climate, you can’t go wrong with Dale of Norway, a traditional brand of high-quality wool sweaters, made in a little village in Norway.


Danish Design

I love European department stores.  They just feel like you’re stepping into a local world and getting a glimpse of how each city’s residents really live.  I admire the way the Danes combine effortless minimalism in design and décor but still make it feel cozy and comfortable. When in Denmark, Illums Bolighus is a must-visit for me.  From furniture to lighting to cool posters and even children’s clothes, they have something for everyone.


Get Some Color

I’m not a fan of white space or neutrals.  In fact, for me, the more color, the better.  This is why I love the fun and funky patterns and designs from Marimekko, the Finnish design house.  There are a lot of interesting collaborations now that can bring some fun color into the life of someone on your shopping list.  Shopping for someone sporty?  Check out the Adidas collaboration.  Know someone still living in loungewear?  Get them out of gray and into some color!


Polish Pottery

When I first heard about the Bolesławiec hand-painted pottery in Poland, I only knew one pattern and style and it was… grandmotherly.  Since then I have discovered a wonderful shop in Krakow – Kobalt – that has gorgeous patterns and colors.  I never fail to pick up a piece or two when I’m in town.  Smaller pieces make great little gifts for mothers, aunts, and friends.


Culinary Croatia

While there is great food in just about every destination, food in Croatia is just at another level.  It’s now possible to gift these great flavors and share the amazing olive oils, truffles, and more that make Croatia so special with Adriatic Gourmet.


What’s on your shopping list this year?  Need an idea?  Just ask!

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