Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Yet Another Baltic Christmas - Day 7, the gift guide

Looking for a unique gift idea for that hard-to-shop-for Baltic friend on your list? The Femme au Foyer secret shoppers have been busy for the past few months, and here with the short list of top Baltic gifts this year is our buyer, Rūķītis Jānis…

Whether you are looking for a gift for the host/hostess, or a thank you for that teacher/scout leader, here are a few suggestions that will have you buying doubles – one for them and one for you!


This calendar by the Latvian National Culture Centre features authentic replicas of 7th-14th century garb representing all the chiefdoms of Late Iron Age Latvia. Available in the U.S. through Balticsmith, there is also a weekly planner that contains additional images and text. The calendar is in Latvian and English, the planner only in Latvian.

(As seen at the Seattle Bazaar!) 

These “I heart pīrāgi” aprons ($20) are durable and high-quality, and will make you look good even when wilting from the heat of the piparkūku oven! Additional products include a maroon Sveiks t-shirt  (kids size 2 - youth large,  $15), gray Latvija t-shirts (adult sizes Ladies S - XL, Men's S – XXL, $20) and Keep Calm & Eat Pīrāgi tote bags ($10). All proceeds go to the Seattle Latvian school! To purchase, and for more information, please e-mail Andra (andrafreet at gmail dot com).

For a bluķu vilkšana that you don’t have to cut down a tree for, visit your local Home Depot’s outdoor section for a Light‘n Go Bonfire Jumbo log. Grown and treated in Estonia, these birch logs are all-natural, kiln-dried fire starters. With pre-cut slots if you choose to 'burn your worries,' a paperboard wick for lighting and a rope handle for easy carrying, the log is an all-in-one bluķis; all you need to do is pull it and burn it!

If you have Marshalls and TJ-Maxx nearby, chances are you can find Laima Chocolates in your neighborhood! This year we found Tiramisu and Crème Brûlée flavored filled dark chocolates for $3.29/5oz package.


Ludviks Designs, as seen at the Toronto One of a Kind Show, features jewelry “inspired by our Scandinavian and Baltic roots, creating playful and unique designs that strike a balance between geometric and organic, fragile and strong, precious and ordinary, traditional and modern.” Because it shouldn’t be just your Christmas tree wearing the puzuri this holiday season…

This coloring book is perfect for ethnic folk art traditionalists of Latvian, Lithuanian and Nordic descent! Just released in November, it's almost guaranteed the friends on your list don't already have the Baltica: Pattern and Design Coloring Book...  Or perhaps one of the many Nordic and Scandinavian-themed books? The newest out are Scandinavian Coloring Book (Zeena Shah) and Journey in Color: Scandinavian Designs (Molly Hatch), although we own Scandinavian Folk Patterns (Creative Coloring For Grown-Ups) and find the designs therapeutic and seemingly familiar. 

So your sports fan already has Porziņģis gear? How about a Mindaugas Kuzminskas jersey to add to his Knicks apparel collection; the rookie forward has gradually been improving, and is seeing increased game time due to his driving ability, 3-point shooting and ability to rebound. However, if it’s the Latvian/Lithuanian combo that hold the key to your heart, maybe tickets to a game are the way to go; remember to save up to 25% on Knicks games at Madison Square Gardens with the discount code RIGAKP!

This wooden calendar isn’t cheap, but it has become a treasured part of the boys’ connection to our Latvian heritage. Through hands-on application children learn the concepts of seasons, months and weeks, while celebrating the traditional rhythms and holidays of the Latvian year nourishes the Baltic soul. We purchased ours at the Dziesmu Svētku tirdziņš in Rīga last year, but luckily this handmade work of art is also available online. has brought the usual wit to the table with their 2016 collection, “kas par desām” and their karstā mērce shirts being two of my favorites. With tank tops and aprons available in addition to a wide variety of t-shirts, you’ll find something that recent GVV graduate will gladly wear. The Rīga skyline is a classic… (Editor's note: we have this one in long and short sleeves and it is super-comfortable and durable!)

These 16oz glasses are practical, even if not being used for their intended purpose. As a side note, when will the 24 Days of Christmas series feature a krupnikas recipe? (Editor's note: Jāni, are you volunteering?)

New York Times Bestseller Ruta Sepetys returns to WWII with an epic novel Salt to the Sea. The Lithuanian-American author of Between Shades of Gray writes historical fiction. Another new novel based in this time period is Jaak Jurison’s The Last Train from Estonia, a story of survival, resilience and ingenuity that parallels present-day conflict in Eastern Europe. And for the Baltic trifecta, The Hidden Letters of Velta B is a spellbinding novel by Gina Ochsner about “a boy with extraordinary ears who, with the help of a cache of his great-grandmother’s letters, brings healing to a town burdened by the sins of its past.” And if poetry is what you're looking for, take a look at recent publications by Laris Krēsliņš, Atlaidas/Es. and Puķes. Vietā.  

And finally, check out this set of 4 Latvian symbol cookie cutters. The stainless steel Zalktis, Jumis, Auseklis & Krustu krusts cutters come with cookie recipes and a written explanations of the symbols. Available via Balticshop.

Thanks Rūķīt Jāni! If you’re still looking for a few more-traditional gift ideas, you might want to take a look at the 2014 gift guide, while a guide to the Balticshop seasonal favorites can be found here. And if all else fails, try your hand at making some pīrāgi – nobody says no to a gift of freshly baked pīrāgi!!! We’ll see you tomorrow on 24 Days of a Baltic Christmas with a recipe for medus torte!

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