December is an expensive month. We all know why: Yes, Christmas. One of the mostly costly forms of Christmas celebrations is Christmas gifts.
I know there have been calls for doing away with Christmas presents
altogether for many reasons such as how commercial Christmas has become, the environmental concerns related to the consumption of wrapping paper, cards and mass produced items, etc.
However, traditions associated with Christmas run deep in the fabric of European culture.
Due to the sentimental associations related to such an old tradition, it becomes difficult to completely give up on some forms of celebrating Christmas. Maybe there is a middle way though; one does not have to go into debt buying Christmas presents, and neither do we have to resort to meaningless, mass produced items.
Luckily, Lisbon has many small hidden gems which will not only allow you to purchase great, locally produced gifts on a budget, but through them you will also get to experience the city a little bit more.
Some of these places might not be known at all to you (which is why my friends are currently a bit mad because I have just shared them with you), while others may seem familiar.
In both cases, you have got yourself a great deal.
My list comprises five shops, most of which are in the city centre so it will not be a problem for you at all to get to them wherever you live.
It is quite difficult to resist spending a lot of money in this shop because of how cheap and cute everything is. Made in local Portuguese workshops, the shop has a wide selection of authentic Portuguese ceramic works.
The remarkable thing about the shop is that it sells some pieces per kilo, so you might find a serving plate for less than 5 euros.
You will get lost in the colourful variety of the ceramic pieces: plant pots, cups, plates, bowls, vases, etc. Making a decision in Cerâmicas na Linha is not easy, but you will leave very satisfied with whichever deal you choose, especially when all your gifts would appear to be of a greater value than what you have actually paid for them.
Address: Portugal, R. Capelo 16, 1200-224 Lisboa
This Portuguese socks company was created in Braga in 1966. Their socks are of the best quality I have ever purchased. They come in literally all colours you may think of (also all shades within these colours).
The variety is not only limited to the colours, but also to the material. You can get 100 percent cotton socks, mixed cotton, wool, cashmere, etc. Their Christmas gift boxes start at 9 euros. However, you can also go for individual pairs of socks for less than 5 euros.
Their kids socks are very cute as well. They also have Christmasy socks which are quite warm and cosy.
Address: R. Augusta 245, 1100-052 Lisboa
Now you may have conflicting feelings about Lisbon’s flea market (Feira de Ladra) as an option for your Christmas gift as it is quite big and you can just get lost there. However, Feira da Ladra is a great place for a Christmas gift if you know exactly what you are after. I suggest you get jewelery from there.
Aside from the treasures people bring from their houses which you can get
really good deals for, you will also be surprised with the intricate craftsmanship local designers bring to the market. Handmade jewelery could be found all over the market. You will be able to find unique earrings starting at 5 euros and maybe reaching up to 10 euros.
It feels great to buy the pieces directly from the artists who created them. Moreover, you will probably be getting a very original gift for your mother, sister or close friend.
Address : Campo de Santa Clara, 1100-472 Lisbon
We all have that one friend/family member who would absolutely appreciate special, handmade candles. When you walk into Casa das Velas Loreto, you will appreciate that friend or family of yours.
This shop has been offering handmade candles for more than 200 years. It is one of the oldest shops in Portugal and it was distinguished according to some law as a “shop with history.”
You can buy an aromatic candle there for starting at 5 euros. What is special about this gift is not only that you get great quality handmade candles, but you will also be bringing it from a shop with a lot of history and authenticity.
Address : Rua do Loreto 53, 1200-241 Lisbon
I had mixed feelings writing about these chocolate makers. I was at first quite sad because their shop in downtown Lisbon no longer exists. They had to close down (like many shops recently in central Lisbon). The small, cute shop had the coziest interior along with staff members who were really passionate about chocolate making.
This place makes one of the best chocolates I have ever tasted.
The good news is that their Porto branches are still open. The even better news is that you can purchase any of their products online. They use real cacao from Sao Tome and other parts of the world. They hand-make every chocolate piece with their own special blends. There, you can get chocolate made with Porto wine, or sour cherries, or passion fruit, or even with mixed peppers and other exotic ingredients.
What I totally recommend and would make one of a kind gift is their chocolate bar made with a five-year- old Madeira wine. It costs about 10 euros, but totally worth it. If you would like to spend a bit more on your gift, you can get their deliciously rich truffle boxes which range between 11 and 20 euros.
Buying your Christmas gifts could also be part of your Lisbon experience. And you can share that experience with your loved ones this year. It does not have to cost you a fortune to bring joy to your family.
Put a real piece of Lisbon in your stocking this Christmas.
About the author:
Sarah Nagaty is a PhD researcher of cultural studies in Lisbon. She’s lived in Portugal for two years.
As a student of cultural studies, Sarah is drawn to what connects people from different backgrounds to new cultures and places, how they relate to their new surroundings and what kind of activities they could engage with in their new hometowns.