- Daily & Weekly newsletters
- Buy & download The Bulletin
- Comment on our articles
Gift guide: 20 made-in-Belgium Christmas present ideas
Out of the blue
Céline Maurois’s exquisitely made tableware adds a bright burst of colour to your meals. Mix and match pieces to create new table settings. Fun enough to use every day, but fancy enough for special occasions. Maurois designs and makes the pieces from her workshop in Liège. Sold in Liège at Wattitude.
If you want to give a local spirit as a gift this year, you’ll be hard-pressed to beat Roomer, which not only provides the sweet aroma and taste of elderflowers but has a bottle that presents terribly well. The Ghent chaps who make it got the recipe from one of their grandmothers. Gift packs will get you two glasses with a little line to tell you when to stop pouring (not that you will). Best over ice. Sold at Groot Vleeshuis in Ghent, Champigros in Brussels and other outlets.
Fits like a glove
It truly is better to give than to receive if it means getting to visit Ganterie Boon. Step back 100 years to when buying a pair of leather gloves meant an attentive clerk opening and shutting dozens of wooden drawers and laying out the pairs that match your specifi cations. One of very few glove shops left in Belgium, Boon’s hundreds of handmade options include snakeskin and ostrich. 2 Lombardenvest, Antwerp.
All that glitters
Eva Maldoy produces simple, sophisticated gold and silver jewellery in her workshop in Lier. Sold under the label Onno, every piece is unique and eye-catching, from wide-band rings with bursts of confetti-like projections to tiny gold earrings that almost seem organic. The impressive website allows you to search by piece, material and price. Sold at Mozaiek in Leuven, Ravenna in Antwerp and other outlets.
When you want the very best
For a good old-fashioned gift of Belgian chocolate, look no further than Pierre Marcolini. Whether you choose the trademark box of square-shaped pralines, the round, vanilla-infused chocolate truffl es or one of the more far-out creations – like chocolate sticks with accompanying glittery dips – you’ll make one long-lasting impression. Sold in Marcolini shops in Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Knokke and around the country.
The wooden pieces manufactured by Ardennes Toys in Fauvillers turn into grand castles in children’s hands. There are even cool accessories, like towers and little knights. Sold at Intertoys in Brussels, Bettywood in Mechelen and other outlets.
Pop the cork
There are probably more Belgian wines than you think, and you can find them all in one place at Lesvinsbelges. Pick up a nice 2014 pinot noir from Maaseik producers Aldeneyck or the 2015 Merzling/Bronner white from Chenoy vineyard in La Bruyère, near Namur. The site also sells locally made spirits, and prices are very reasonable.
What lies beneath
Buying gifts for the man who has everything can be daunting, but everyone (well, almost) wears underwear, so you can’t go wrong with pants. And when they’re as cute as the boxers put out by Ghent-based label OriginalEskimo, they’re a pleasure to both give and receive. Sold in Eskimo showroom, Ghent.
All things gourmet
Heritage House is a one-stop shopping centre for Belgian food designers. Browse a vast collection that includes glorious crystal wine glasses by Val Saint Lambert, a sleek candlestick by Studio Nedda or a cute Belberry box of little jams, vinegars and cheeses. 24 Hofstraat, Antwerp.
Seeing is believing
Nobody’s thinking about sunglasses in December, so your gift will be utterly unique when you pick up a pair of titanium 3D-printed sunglasses from Belgian eyewear designer Patrick Hoet. Sustainable and stylish. Sold at Hoek Opticians in Brussels and Bruges as well as other outlets.
With a commitment to short-chain supply and sustainability, Belgikïe in Ixelles sells only Belgian-made products. There are loads of cute gifts here, from scarves to candles to handbags. The owners – one expat and one Belgian born and bred – sometimes play with the red, yellow and black theme, but mostly they just stock stylish designs. 36 Rue Longue Vie, Brussels.
Chasing fears away
It might seem counterproductive to put your little one to bed with monsters, but Brussels-based Koorachoo has created a line of stuffed toys too cute to resist. There are books showing the Fear Hunters facing their own fears, as well as aromatherapy sprays to help kids sleep. Each monster has a special trait: Skully isn’t afraid of the dark, for instance, while Ginger chases away ghosts. Sold in Brussels at Serneels and Filigranes among other shops.
Give three gifts with Trayble, serving trays that double as both tables and wall art. They feature bright and silly designs – faces, flamingos, cacti – and can be hung out of the way in your kitchen or dining area until you need them, brightening up the wall in the process. Trayble also makes side tables; snap the trays on top for different looks. Sold at Fonetik in Aalst.
With the goal to ‘make organic cosmetics the norm rather than the exception’, 2de Nature in Wavre produces a range of cruelty-free products made from organic ingredients. All packaging is made in Europe, much of it glass, a more sustainable choice than plastic. Choose one of the gift bags – with Eternal Amazonia face cream and Velvet Glove hand cream, for instance – for added value. Sold at Chris Home in Spa, Belle & Vie in Brussels and other outlets.
Should you venture into Antwerp’s fashionable shopping streets, you’d do well to stop in at the Christian Wijnants flagship store. Though his pieces sport the prices you expect to find in designer fashion, the Belgian label makes colourful, wearable knitwear that is both chic and comfortable. The turtleneck sweaters are a perfect wintery gift. Sold at flagship store in Antwerp, Graphie Sud in Brussels and other locations.
The holy trinity
You know what’s always made good gifts? Bags, hats and scarves. And that’s all that Awardt makes, for men and women and kids. The leather bags are chic, the scarves and hats run from playful to elegant. Believe it or not, all of it is handmade in the workshop and retail space in Mechelen. Sold at Awardt in Mechelen, Arbre Mandarine in Brussels and other outlets.
Egyptian queen Cleopatra famously used donkey milk to keep her skin soft and glowing, and now you can gift this to your own queen. Anes & Sens in Frasnes-lez-Buissenal makes skincare products with donkey milk. Choose from soap, bath gel or one of the many face, hand and body creams. Sold in Brussels at Les Savons de Lyna, in Namur at Marius Cornes and in other outlets.
Scent of a (wo)man
Having trouble fi nding the perfect scent for the man or woman in your life? Just make your own at L’Antichambre in Ixelles, where staff will create the perfect perfume or cologne tailor-made to your olfactory preferences. They’ll then pour your creation into a beautiful little bottle and personalise the label. They also have their own perfumes, of course, and the atmosphere in this old-world shop will make you want to linger and smell them all. 13 Place George Brugmann, Brussels.
Liven up that gift of Belgian beer with the country’s only alcoholic ginger beer. Brewed by an Antwerp expat looking for an alternative to fermented grains, Ginger Tipple is a super spicy drink that packs a punch – an 8.5% punch. Sold in Antwerp at België Tip Top, Avenue Wines and other shops
The looking glass
Antwerp glassworker Ann Cox makes every piece of her jewellery line herself, and the results are striking. Whether a simple line drop earring or a crazy maze of a necklace, these colourful pieces are truly unique. Sold in Brussels at Sabine Herman and in Antwerp at Manuel Opdenakker.