Our destinations offer ripe pickings for time-pressed present purchasers, and with one of these imaginative, globally-inspired items under the tree you’re sure to land a yuletide kiss under the mistletoe…
Amsterdam: Perfect pottery
Vintage Delftware – the famous Dutch blue and white pottery from the city of Delft – is easy to find in Amsterdam, and makes an unusual gift for the artistically-minded. Items range from jars and vases to kitchen tiles and plates, often decorated with typical Dutch scenes such as windmills, fishing boats and small children poised for a kiss. Try Galleria D'Arte Rinascimento (https://www.delft-art-gallery.com/) for anything from tulip vases to rare 19th century wall plaques.
Aberdeen: Whisky a go go
Those who enjoy a wee dram will always appreciate a well-chosen malt, and Aberdeen is one of the best-placed destinations to find one. At the centre of Scotland’s Malt Whisky Trail (http://www.visitscotland.com/see-do/itineraries/malt-whisky-trail), the Aberdeen area is home to a number of intimate distilleries with their own distinctive style. Visit one, and impress your favourite whisky-lover with a limited edition bottle they won’t find anywhere else.
Paris: A signature scent
Don’t buy your loved one the same old designer brand scent this Christmas, especially if you're heading to the fragrance capital of the world: Paris. Instead, follow your nose to one of the city’s renowned perfume salons such as Annick Goutal (http://www.annickgoutal.com/en/), Diptyque (http://www.diptyqueparis.co.uk/) or L’Artisan Parfumeur (http://www.artisanparfumeur.fr), and spend some time exploring floaty florals and evocative woody aromas until you find something truly original.
Milan: Home is where the heart is
Milan – centre of contemporary European furniture and homeware designs – provides ample gift ideas for house-proud friends and relatives back home. For a thoughtful decorative item that could become a future classic, check out some of the most famous Milanese design stores like Alessi (http://www.alessi.com/en), De Padova (http://www.depadova.com/en/) and Il Centrotavola (http://www.centrotavolamilano.it/).
Geneva: Watch the time
Giving the gift of a luxury timepiece deserves some careful consideration, and there are no watches more painstakingly and lovingly constructed than those made in Switzerland. The city’s finest watchmakers can be found on Rue du Rhône, including TAG Heuer (http://www.tagheuer.co.uk/), Patek Philippe (http://www.patek.com) and Zenith (http://www.zenith-watches.com).
Venice: Heart of glass
It’s not difficult to find shops laden with multicoloured glass ornaments, chandeliers and artworks all over Venice, but the craftsmanship and beauty of genuine Murano glass puts all impostors in the shade. For the real thing, visit the island of Murano to watch the master artisans in their workshops, and look for the ‘Vetro Artistico© Murano’ trademark before you buy.
Zurich: Chocolate heaven
Since the late 17th century, Switzerland has been producing chocolate that is the envy of the world, with a long-held international reputation for quality and flavour. World-renowned brands such as Suchard, Sprüngli, Lindt and Tobler all hail from here, but Zurich is the place to stock up on exquisite luxury chocolates in showrooms such as Teuscher (http://www.teuscher.com) and Läderach (https://www.laederach.com), and boutiques like Aeschbach Chocolatier (http://www.aeschbach-chocolatier.ch/).
New York: Gourmet delights
The Big Apple is not short on tacky souvenirs, but there are still plenty of options for classy presents that evoke the essence of the city. For the gourmet in your life, you won’t go wrong with a gift basket from famous New York delicatessen Dean & Deluca (http://www.deandeluca.com/), stacked full of delicious Christmas treats and snacks.
Edinbugh: Kilt-y pleasures
Kilts have long since shaken off their deeply traditional roots and erupted onto the fashion scene with a bang. How about a hipster version for the man in your life? Look no further than 21st Century Kilts (http://21stcenturykilts.com/) on Thistle Street for a ready-to-wear item in denim, leather or tweed, or a luxury bespoke design in a tartan or other fabric that catches the eye.
Dublin: Blissful blankets
Woven at one of Ireland’s oldest mills, Avoca’s (http://www.avoca.com/) renowned luxury blankets and throws come in lambswool, mohair, heavy herringbone and cashmere blends. This famous Irish business has a 7-level store and cafe in the centre of Dublin, which also stocks other items such as gloves, scarves, bags and home furnishings.
Any city with a maritime history like Hamburg’s is going to do a fine trade in seafaring memorabilia and nautically-inspired gifts. For fabulous items like replica model tall ships, old naval clocks, on board instruments and brass telescopes, head to Captain’s Cabin (http://www.captains-cabin.de/) just off the jetties by Bridge 4.
Granada: Magical marquetry
The intricate skill of marquetry is a long-established artform unique to Granada. Known in Spanish as Taracea, this handicraft is the art of inlaying pieces of wood, mother-of-pearl, bone and other veneers onto items such as boxes, chests and tables in a geometric Moorish style. Visit one of the many workshops to see the makers in action before you buy.
Antwerp: Diamonds are forever
Antwerp has long been a cultural hotspot for antique dealers and avant-garde artists, but globally the city is still best known for its diamond trade. The Diamond Quarter, otherwise known as the Square Mile, is full of jewellery workshops, showrooms, grinding shops and traders, and remains the best place to invest in the ultimate lifelong gift.