Local gifts with a Lux twist
Many foreign residents who might normally plan trips to their home countries are contemplating a Christmas in Luxembourg, as possibly the most sensible and safest option for the festive period.
The seasonal markets may be on hold, but the festive season doesn't need to be dull. Here are some locally-sourced gift ideas, a few with a distinctly Luxembourgish theme, that may help make your winter staycation a little more amusing, relaxing and different.
Jigsaws of Luxembourg's famous sights
Local photographer for Visit Luxembourg and the Philharmonie, Alfonso Salgueiro decided this year to produce jigsaws of some of his stunning pictures of Luxembourg.
Jigsaws are a great family activity, and infinitely more absorbing than a photographic calendar. Each one comes in a beautiful tin box, so you can get it out every Christmas and create a new family tradition. Options include Vianden Castle under snow, the Upper Sûre lake, Bourscheid Castle rising from the fog or Luxembourg City, frozen in time. Depending on how much of a puzzle fiend you are, you can choose from five sizes: 30, 110, 252, 500 or 1000 pieces.
The great Luxembourgish bake-off
Recipe books make an ideal gift as you can try some of them out during the holiday period. Local Chef and writer Anne Faber launched her third cookbook, “Flavours of home”, on 14 November, and you can have it delivered. Its 65 recipes for staying home include Luxembourgish dishes, but also vegetarian delights and sweet treats.
You can watch her prepare the dishes in her kitchen by scanning the QR codes with each recipe.
If you fancy some festive baking, why not make Luxembourg-shaped gingerbread this winter. Faber also produces a Luxembourg-shaped cookie cutter.
Light some vegan-friendly candles
Yep, this is the season for naked flames, creating a lovely winter glow inside your house. If you long for a relaxing aura and aroma, scented candles are ideal, and make a nice gift or stocking filler. The Luxembourg Chandler has a variety of scented candles including lavender, fresh cotton and, of course, the smell of Christmas. Candles are hand poured and made of soy, so completely vegan-friendly.
Swap chocolate for honey
Despite the pandemic, the bees in Europe have been busy, and you can try out the nectar of their labour via Lux Honey, which sells thirteen different varieties of honey, all 100% natural and unpasteurised. You’ll find popular types, such as Acacia, alongside cumin, lavender, forest, chestnut and Linden honey varieties.
This local business also sells beeswax candles in cute designs for stocking fillers, honeycomb (a great immune system booster), and pollen grains (apparently the ones collected by bees are non-allergic), which is good for everything from insomnia to asthma.
Clemency-based Mafra Organic also sells 100% fresh, raw, unfiltered honey from bees in Luxembourg (and other EU countries), with varieties including ginger, ginseng, garlic and saffron.
For something a bit stronger, Mellis works with local beekeepers to produce Luxembourgish honey schnapps or Hunnegdrëpp working with local beekeepers and mixing herbs to create a new version of this well-known local liqueur. The outfit, which was founded in 2016, also produces honey brandy and beer.
A stitch in time
What about a family project to get crafty? Sewing is a life skill that everyone needs, particularly in this era of sustainability and re-use where mending clothes is an increasingly popular option.
Needlepoint is also a good alternative to flicking on Netflix in the evenings. Denicheuse in Pontpierre sells kits for kids to create their own fox, rabbit or panda bags. If you fancy a bigger more bespoke project, from making a family quilt to trying your hand at tissue box holders, Bastelkiste in Luxembourg City has everything you need (and knitting, arts and craft supplies) together with a website brimming with ideas.
Local books and brews
Books make wonderful gifts, because you never forget who gave you one.
Luxembourg’s Black Fountain Press publishes local English-language authors, including a new book out this month from Robert Schofield, entitled The Treasury of Tales, which follows two brothers during Napoleonic times in a fictional parallel with the story of the Grimm brothers.
Schofield, and Black Fountain Press author James Leader, are both winners of the Luxembourg National Prize for Literature. Leader's young adult fiction book The Venus Zone won him this accolade, whilst the Luxembourg Times literature critic Rose Edwards, had her first young adult novel, The Harm Tree, published in 2019.
If you’re after a thriller based in Luxembourg try Ruth Dugdall’s Nowhere Girl or Chris Pavone’s best-seller, The Expats. For a bit of history, delve into Marguerite Thill-Somin-Nicholson’s book Surviving the Nazi occupation of Luxembourg or Andrew Reid’s Luxembourg: The Clog-Shaped Duchy, a chronological history of Luxembourg from the Celts to the present day. You can purchase books directly from Black Fountain Press and for other authors try Librairie Alinea on Rue Beaumont in town.
If you want a warm mug of tea to go with that book, look no further than Botanika in Kopstal/ Hobscheid, which has started producing a new calming herbal tea with lavender, camomile, and lemon balm. They also sell edible flowers (fresh and dried), herbs and other organic products grown on site. For 100% plastic-free tea and coffee, check out the recently opened Simplicithé at 19 Rue des Capucins.
If you want to try an Eislek tea blend, together with a whole host of local products from food delicacies and soaps and scents, to locally brewed wine and other unusual alcoholic drinks, try Wanderscheid in town at 4 Rue du Fossé. They can put together a special hamper of local products if you want to give it as a gift.