One of the major downsides of travelling is that nagging voice at the back of your mind when you’re chilling on a beach – you know, the one that says “you can’t lie here all day relaxing, you have to Go Shopping... For Gifts.
When you’re about to swan off to some exotic location, it’s all too easy to make wild promises to all & sundry that you’ll bring them back a present from Paris or a gift from the Galapagos Islands.
Or, for that matter, something special from South Africa.
But, honestly, much as you love your friends and family, who wants to go shopping for other people when it’s YOUR holiday? And what on earth can you buy?
We’ve tried to take some of the pain out of present-buying for those of you visiting ‘sunny South Africa’ and needing to take gifts back for the poor suckers you left behind in rainy Europe.
Top 10 Gifts from South Africa
1. For your lover / husband / wife
Amarula is South Africa’s best-loved liqueur, made from the exotic Marula fruit. Great served over vanilla ice cream, over ice, in coffee, or as body paint for an after dinner, ‘welcome home babe’ treat. The gold label showing an elephant adds to the ‘African-ness’ of the gift.
2. For mom
Pamper mom with a range of skincare and beauty products made from SA's world renowned Rooibos Tea. Contact African Extracts for details of their products and store locations.
3. For your dad / uncle / father-in-law
A bottle of fine South African wine will be appreciated by most of the gentlemen in your life. Don’t forget about gifts while enjoying a day in the Cape Winelands – you’ll be able to hand over the welcome gift with a story of the estate where you bought it. Most wines sold in the winelands will be wrapped for travel at your request. Find out from your travel agent / airline what the rules are for travelling with alcohol in advance to avoid confiscations at check-in! Take it round when you go have dinner on your return so you can enjoy a glass with the lucky recipient.
4. For your BFF
You want to get something extra special for your special friend. How about some unique, exquisite bead jewelry pieces, designed and hand made by Anna Richerby and her team from Beloved Beadwork, at Montebello Art Centre in Newlands.
5. For the little ones
A wire pushalong car makes a great gift for a small boy in your life – if you can fit it into the luggage. South Africa is renowned for its wide range of unique children’s clothing at stores such as Naartjie. You’ll be able to find something adorable and different for the 0 to 10 year olds in your family. Visit the website or head for the factory store in Hout Bay.
6. For the teens
Teens love cool clothes. Don’t fall into the trap of buying poor quality tourist T-shirts with naff wording such as ‘My Mom went to South Africa and all I got was this lousy T-shirt’ etc. blazoned across them. For super cool, public-designed T-s check out uber-trendy Springleap.com’s offerings (right) and for wearable satire, SA-style, look out for Laugh it Off’s social commentary T’s that deliver a message with a smile.
7. For trendy friends
South Africa is renowned for the arts and crafts created by local talent. I love these papier-mâché bowls made from pilchard tin labels which will surely add some shack-chic to your trendy friend’s London loft. Great for keeping keys in. Buy them at the Pan African Market, incidentally an excellent place for Africana crafts of all kinds.
Alternately how about a colourful chicken made from recycled plastic bags? Hey, if Obama can hang a chandelier made from South African rubbish in the White House it’s clearly cool to feature recycled SAffer garbage in your home – and it’ll add some colour to a blah, Zen type interior fo' sho. Plus, you’re supporting fair trade and keeping the planet green.
8. For someone you need to impress
Think: future mom-in-law; boss; major client… Buy a piece of homeware from Carrol Boyes – our very own designer and creator of divine and unusual, hand made avant garde kitchen utensils and home accessories. You can buy in gift stores throughout SA, or online.
9. For Colleagues
Probably the hardest group to buy for - but you rashly promised everyone a taste of SA and you can’t go back to the office empty handed. I wanted to suggest biltong, but flying with food, unless purchased at duty free stores at the airport, is often problematic.
I recommend something cheap and cheerful for this group, such as the bead and wire key rings sold throughout SA at roadside stalls and traffic light intersections. Colourful, fun and typically South African, as well as useful and usually inexpensive, these make fun gifts for colleagues you’d like to show you thought about while you were relaxing and they were taking up the slack in your absence.
10. For yourself
You have to do it – you know you do. You have to get the ubiquitous wooden giraffe. Don’t fight against the urge. It’s like buying a marionette in Prague or a hubbly bubbly in the Middle East – the pain of lugging it around airports and trying to stash it in aeroplanes will be worth it for the whimsical conversation piece and large as life memory-stirrer it will become in your lounge back home.
Written and contributed by PortfolioSA