For something truly Czech look for handmade goods. The art of lace making is still
practiced today and lots of women in the villages still create
beautiful, traditional patterns. Wooden toys like dolls and marionette
puppets are good gift ideas. If you're in Prague during the spring, look for hand painted eggs or braided birch switches
boys use to whip girls' legs at Easter (a pagan fertility ritual).
The Czech Republic has many garnet mines and the stones are
used in making all kinds jewelry. Garnets are usually a deep red
color but the ones from the Czech Republic are known to have
a brighter pinkish tone. Another jewellery item easily found
is amber. Amber is not a precious stone but is hardened
tree resin. It ranges from a light golden colour to a deep brown
and some of it is even green. The variations in the 'stone' caused
by trapped plant matter - or even insects - add to the variation.
Both amber and garnets can be found in many shops throughout the city.
Buying glass and crystal goes without saying: it is known all
around the world that Czechs know how to blow and cut crystal
better than anybody. Don't worry about buying a chandelier because
you don't want to travel with it; almost all shops will gladly
arrange shipping. See our page on glass
for more information.
If you visit beautiful Karlovy Vary make sure to pick up those
large, round, layered wafer cookies. The kids at home will love
them and they're lightweight in the suitcase! Also, look for the
ceramic mugs with a built-in straw that doubles as a handle. They're made
for drinking from the hot springs but maybe you'll want to use yours all the time. There are ceramic beer 'steins' of all shapes and sizes for sale in
all the tourist shops. Beer drinkers
at home might appreciate that. Drinkable goods to bring home include
Becherovka, the national herbal 'medicine'; Slivovice - hard liquor
made of plums; and the infamous licorice-flavored Absinth, banned
in many other countries because of its apparently hallucinogenic and toxic
If you need something unique for a friend who likes to cook,
how about a good luck kitchen witch? Flying on broomstick she
makes sure nothing in the kitchen burns. 'Mole' is an adorable
Czech cartoon character for children - a t-shirt, book or furry backpack will
delight the kids on your list. Art lovers will appreciate a box
or deck of cards with motifs by Alphons Mucha - he was one of
the most celebrated Czech painters ever and was very influential
in starting the Art Nouveau movement. Ladies might like linden
tree perfume - it's the national Czech tree and smells fresh,
green and flowery.
Nesting dolls are beautiful and make great gifts for both children
and adults; but they're a Russian tradition not Czech. And then
there are all the typical tourist souvenirs -
jumping spiders and 'Communist' regalia like furry hats and so on. For
the most part these things are imported from China to be sold
to tourists here. But if you like it that's all that matters!