Between the cookie-cutter malls and the market tat, finding a truly unique, valuable gift in Beijing can seem like a challenge. However, Beijing is a creative city at heart, and in reality you won't have to look far to find a gift that will delight the recipient, whatever their taste.
1) Indulge their inner hutong hipster: NLGX
NLGX Design was founded with the goal of "Preserving the past with creating new". Their flagship store in Nanluoguxiang offers unique clothing and accessories at very reasonable prices. Their "Capital" hoodie (396 RMB) in the reddest of Chinese red is a great memento for someone back home or for a friend in Beijing who wants to show their pride for their beloved city. We also love their range of bags made from recycled newspaper. This wallet (155 RMB), made from an old map, would make a fantastic gift.
If you don't have time to fight the crowds on Nanluoguxiang, check out their store on Taobao.
NLGX Design StoreView In Map
Add: 33 Nanluoguxiang, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Tel: 010 6404 8088
Opening hours: Daily 10:00-22:00
NLGX also has branches at Beijing Capital Airport; see website for details.
2) For the ethical fashionista: DimSum of all things Asian by CuR
If you are searching for a unique gift for the fashionista in your life, look no further than DimSum of all things Asian (D-SATA). The shop's signature Kitsch Klutch range of clutch bags (starting from around 500-600 RMB) come in a dazzling array of colours and textures, hand-crafted from re-used and up-cycled materials sourced by the shop's owner on her travels through South-East Asia. The shop has solid eco credentials too; the products are made by women in cottage industries across South-East Asia, allowing them to earn a real living income, rather than scraping by on minimum wage.
D-SATA by CuRView In Map
Add: A116 1/F Nali Patio, 81 Sanlitun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Tel: 139 1091 2105
3) Take a staycation
For all we love living in Beijing, no one can deny it can be a bit trying. Why not treat your friends or loved ones to a weekend out to help them rediscover their love for the big smoke? Beijing has a number of boutique hotels that offer something a bit different from the chain hotel experience. Our favourite is Grace Hotel Beijing. Set in the heart of 798 Art District, the hotel's design embraces the creativity of the area, with no two rooms alike. Spend a leisurely day exploring 798, and then have dinner in their Yi House Restaurant.
Grace Beijing is currently running a special promotion, offering one of their superior rooms for 850 RMB a night, including breakfast (plus 15% service charge).
While you're in the area, stop by the UCCA's design-orientated store – a good opportunity to let someone pick out their own gift! The store stocks everything from books on art and design, to fashion and furniture by Italian brand Seletti.
UCCA Store @ Ullens Center for Contemporary ArtView In Map
Add: 798 Art District, 4 Jiuxianqiao Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Tel: 010 5780 0215
Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00-19:00
4) Snap up a piece from the fashion designers of the future: Brand New China
Media mogul and all-round celebrity Hong Huang's Brand New China has proven to be one of the most exciting stores in the otherwise uninspiring north section of Sanlitun Village. Showcasing up-and-coming Chinese designers such as Liu Qingyang, Yuan Chow and Vega Wang, the huge space is a treasure trove of fashion, accessories and even home wares.
For a gorgeous gift, we would choose the Shuilifang range of jewellery from designer Wang Min (bracelets 300-400 RMB, necklaces 600-700 RMB). Made up of small squares, the pieces have an almost art deco feel and are sure to delight the recipient.
Of course, nothing says "unique" like making your own gifts. Food-based gifts are inexpensive and usually don't take long to make. Flavoured vodka is all the rage and plenty of inspiration for flavour combinations can be found on the internet.
Alternatively, try something sweet. The ingredients for the Panforte below can be easily sourced in Beijing and the recipe can be varied according to what dried fruit and nuts you can get hold of. Just make sure that you end up with the same overall quantity of nuts. Package it up in attractive boxes and your friends will think you are a real domestic god or goddess.
Recipe: Pistachio Panforte
200g blanched almonds, toasted
200g skinned hazelnuts, toasted
100g pistachios, shelled
200g dried cranberries
175g plain flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp grated nutmeg
200g icing sugar
200g clear honey
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan140°C/gas 3. Line the base of 15cm square tin with rice paper. In a large bowl, combine all the nuts and the cranberries. Add the flour and spices and mix well. Put the sugar and honey in a large saucepan over a low heat and dissolve slowly. Continue cooking until it turns a light caramel colour. Pour over the nut and flour mixture and mix very well. (Don't worry if the mixture is very thick; be patient – it will come together.)
2. Spoon the mixture into the tin and press down well to make sure it is level, then bake for 25-30 minutes. Leave to cool slightly, then turn out on a wire rack and leave until cold. Cut into slices.
3. To assemble your gift: arrange the panforte slices in a box layered with sheets of rice paper. It will keep for up to two weeks.
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Keywords: Unique Christmas gifts Beijing gift ideas Beijing Christmas shopping Beijing
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