Swedish Christmas gift guide: What to get everyone on your list this year

Swedish Christmas gift guide: What to get everyone on your list this year
Christmas in a snow-covered Gothenburg. Photo: Per Pixel Petersson/
Sweden is a shopping destination for everything from cutting edge art and design to traditional handcrafts. Here's our guide to giving everyone on your list a little piece of Sweden this Christmas, without needing to resort to an elk-shaped cheese slicer from an overpriced souvenir shop.

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Sami handcraft

The Sami, Sweden's indigenous people, are known for their fine craftsmanship, and items such as pewter bracelets, artwork or blankets featuring traditional patterns, or jewellery made from engraved reindeer horns are sure to make a unique gift.

If you're in northern Sweden, there are many shops selling authentic pieces, including Ájtte, the Swedish Mountain and Sami Museum in Jokkmokk; Risfjells Sameslöjd in Vilhelmina; and Carl Wennberg in Kiruna. Further south, you can also find genuine Sami crafts (in central Stockholm, visit Svensk Hemslöjd), but be aware of scams and try to check that your purchases are authentic.
 The Christmas market in Jokkmokk, northern Sweden, offers traditional Sami handcraft. Photo: Asaf Kliger/

Dala horses

Originally a children's toy, the Dala Horse (short for Dalecarlian Horse) has its origins in the central Swedish region of Dalarna. Nowadays, the small wooden figures have become some a symbol for Sweden: you'll see them in many homes and in many forms, from fridge magnets to soft toys.

The horses are traditionally carved by hand from pinewood and covered with a primer that coats them in a hard shell and removes natural imperfections. After that, the horses are painted, often in red, and then decorated with a traditional kurbits pattern, which also has its origins in Dalarna. Because of the hand-carving, no two original horses look alike, making for a unique gift available in gift, craft and homeware shops across the country.

Dala horses come in different sizes, each one is unique. Photo: Amanda Westerbom/


Sweden might have strict regulations when it comes to the sale of alcohol, but the state-run monopoly Systembolaget stocks a large range of spirits and other drinks, making it easy to browse for the perfect gift.

Why not buy some warming glögg (Swedish mulled wine) or Akvavit, Swedish schnapps made with various spices, such as dill and fennel? Or, if that feels like too obvious a gift, or not suitable for the people on your list, you could also get some Swedish wine, which is a growing industry in the country over the last few years and which benefited from the unusually hot summer.

Try Ästad Vingård in Skåne or Gute Vingård in Gotland for some inspiration and a variety of wines.
A vineyard in southern Sweden. Photo: Jerker Andersson/

Second-hand clothing

Yes, you read that right: the recycled garment was named Sweden's Christmas gift of the year for 2018, making it a great (sustainable) choice for your present-buying.

Sweden has plenty of secondhand shops, with Stadsmissionen, Myrorna and Röda Korset offering locations all over the country where money spent goes to charity. There are also more specialist (and expensive) vintage shops, such as the Emmaus chain which you'll find in several towns and cities.

READ ALSO: 15 Stockholm vintage shops to lose yourself in

Vintage shopping enjoys an increasing popularity in Sweden. Photo: Tuukka Ervasti/


Swedish people love sweets, with pick'n'mix aisles often taking pride of place in the supermarket, and plenty of shops dedicated to candy. You can get a selection of typically Swedish goodies, such as Marabou and Daim chocolate, liquorice everything, or Christmassy knäck.

For something a little more upmarket than a paper bag full of supermarket treats, try visiting luxury sweet shops Chokladfabriken or Pärlans Konfektyr, or pop into Lakritsroten which sells liquorice in every form and flavour imaginable at multiple locations in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö.

A liquorice store in Stockholm. Photo: Tina Stafrén/

A Swedish novel

… Just make sure you pick up the English (or other) language version if the recipient isn't a native Swede.

The choices are almost endless. For children, you could look for a beautifully illustrated Astrid Lindgren or Gunilla Bergström book, and for adults there are of course hundreds of Swedish crime novels available in multiple languages. Consider finding a book set in your local area so that your friend can learn more about your Swedish neighbourhood: Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy if you're in Stockholm for example. And the Jerry-Maya Detective Agency (LasseMajas detektivbyrå) series by Martin Widmark is a great introduction to the genre for young readers (or Swedish-learners!).

But it's not all about murder and mystery. Fredrik Backman writes internationally acclaimed popular fiction including A Man Called Ove, or try Lena Andersson's award-winning Wilful Disregard or Everything I Don't Remember by Jonas Hassen Khemiri.
Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy rose to international fame in 2005. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/

Swedish fish

We're not suggesting you present your loved ones with a tin of surströmming, Swedish fermented herring, at Christmas (unless they're adventurous eaters). Some airlines have even forbidden cans containing the smelly fish, due to explosion risks caused by the gas inside the cans.

But you can always go a bit tamer and present them with some regular pickled herring, or some gravad lax. Both of these things exist outside of Sweden, but any Swede will insist their take on the fishy dishes is the best worldwide.

Another uniquely Swedish thing is caviar in a tube, which might make a fun stocking stuffer.

Caviar in a tube. Photo: Anders Wiklund/SCANPIX/TT


Sweden has a lot of trees, therefore Sweden has a lot of wood, which is used in many cases for making useful household items, such as kitchen utensils.

Well-crafted spoons, mugs and bowls, cutting boards or butter knives make a thoughtful gift (they're a particularly good choice for in-laws or distant family whose tastes you don't know well), and you can pick these up at any gift or home decor shop. These are usually handmade from softer woods, such as birch or pine. 

Butter and crisp bread. Photo: Leif R Jansson/SCANPIX/TT

Give The Local as a gift

Finally, if you have a friend or family member you think might appreciate reading more about Sweden in the new year, why not give them a one-year Membership of The Local? Membership gives you unlimited access to all our editions, and helps support our independent journalism in the year ahead.

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