Sometimes a box of chocolates and some flowers will suffice, but there are other times when it’s nice to give a gift that says something about who you are―or who the recipient is. These days you don’t have to travel to Nusnäs in Dalarna to buy a Dalahäst. Most things, if not all (filmjölk for instance), are available online. We dug out ten items that either represent Sweden or are favorites among Swedes―all of them readily available on the net. It would be difficult to go wrong with any of them.
Let’s begin with the orange (or blue) wooden horse that so many of us have in our homes―at least after we’ve left Sweden. The Dalahäst used to be a toy for children, but today it is one of the most distinct symbols not only for Dalarna but for Sweden in general. A great gift for any person, any age, anytime.
Linen from Klässbol
Klässbol Linen Mill makes the most beautiful Swedish linen―if you’ve ever seen it, you know that’s true. Ever since the early 1920s, it’s been one family’s determination to create beauty and luxury. Napkins and tablecloths from
the little village in Värmland have for
several years been used at the prestigious
Nobel feast. Swedish as well as Norwegian
embassies worldwide choose products from
Klässbols. They are purveyors to HM the
King of Sweden, they have been given the
honorable task of hand-weaving the very
special royal tablecloth. We think you can never go wrong with a gift of Klässbol linen. www.klassbol.se
Carl Larsson notecards
Show a Swede a Carl Larsson painting, and they’re likely to say “Yes, that’s what Sweden is like.” It is of course a romanticized image of Sweden, but we all have some memory―of Christmas or summer―that somehow corresponded with Larsson’s paintings: from the white birches and the cozy house, to the endless Christmas candles. Carl Larsson boxed notecards are perfect as thank-you notes. You can also use them as Christmas cards. For Carl Larsson prints, try Scandinavian Treasures.
Julstakar och julstjärnor
In Sweden it’s not Christmas season until you’ve put up your julstake or julstjärna: candlestick lamp or star lamps. We found some nice ones at www.hemslöjd.com
Who doesn’t love Pippi Långstrump (Longstocking)? She’s existed in many versions since Astrid Lindgren created her back in the 1940s. But on screen, nobody beats Inger Nilsson’s interpretation of the red-haired independent spirit. Amazon has the Swedish version dubbed for your convenience. Note this is a film compiled from the Swedish TV series. If you want Pippi in her original Swedish, check out Skandimport, where you will also find a plethora of other interesting Swedish books, music and films: Bamse, Albert och Herbert, Arn the Knight Templar...
All right, so it may be more of a Dutch symbol but Swedes do wear clogs, and Swedish clogs to boot (no pun intended). Today there are so many interesting clogs out there. Sarah Jessica Parker favors Swedish Hasbeens, sustainable fashionable clogs.
Godis' - Swedish candy
All right, so we said that sometimes you need a bit more than a box of chocolates and here we go listing something that seems as trifle as candy. But most Swedes know, that godis, Swedish candy, means so much more than a box of chocolate. Godis, the right kind, can bring tears to the eyes of any Swedish expatriate. Kexchoklad, Bilar, Turkish Pepper, Skolkrita, Polkagrisar.
Find it here:
Swedish folk costumes
A gift maybe for yourself or your child. A folk costume isn’t cheap, but it will be worn for many years to come and it can be worn for a number of occasions, not only Midsummer and Christmas. The “General Swedish National Costume” was recreated in 1903 in Falun by the founder of the Women’s National Costume Society, Märta Jörgensen and the artists Gustav Ankarcrona, Anders Zorn and Carl Larsson. The Society felt there was a need for a costume in popular fashion for people who lived in places that never had any particular popular costume tradition. The Swedish Costume has become very popular thanks to Her Majesty the Queen Silvia and Crown Princess Victoria (who usually wears it on the Victoria dagen at Solliden). Whether you are interested in this costume, or perhaps one from the region of Scania, or just a detail, like an apron, a bonnet or a blouse, check out:
Let the Danes have their Lego, we have our BRIO! Our favorite is the latest BRIO Network, which is a modern interpretation of the classic rail play, featuring imaginary creatures who live inside a computer―but you don’t need a computer to play! How clever! Meet Turner, the trash man, connect regular BRIO rails to EMO’s Mail Hub, get friendly with Lazie’s CD Burner and watch Bernie’s diode flash, but beware of the Attacker and the Viruses!
Sweden is in focus at the moment thanks to the enormous fame of Stieg Larsson, and we have many great crime writers besides him. But sometimes you might be on the lookout for something else not as easily accessible. The following sites offer a variety of Swedish books for adults as well as children.
The unusual or unexpected
..with definite roots in Sweden: Swedish Bath is the Spa and bathtub addition that will make you feel like a Prince or Princess... made with the same techniques used for the now renowned Tempur Pedic mattress this addition to your bath will soothe, relax and enhance your bathing experience. www.swedishbath.com
Eton shirts - we just visited the recently opened Eton Flagship store in New York City (another opens in Montreal on Dec. 16) and indeed, based on quality and finish, this is a shirt that will be worn by more than one generation in your family. You don't have to go to New York or Montreal, however, visit Nordstroms, Saks or search through the store locator at www.etonshirts.com