Bazaar puts global twist on holiday gifts

The Prague Post

Diplomatic Spouses’ Association donates annual proceeds to charities


For an international twist on gift giving, hit the popular Diplomatic Spouses’ Association (DSA) annual International Christmas Bazaar Dec. 13. Now in its ninth year at the Hilton Prague hotel, the event gives you a chance to pick up some global goodies while helping charities a little closer to home.

“There are many bazaars in Prague,” said Andrea Bruová, DSA president and wife of the Slovak ambassador. “But this is a popular event with a nice goal.”

Last year’s bazaar raised nearly 5 million Kc for 30 charities. Bruová said they mainly focus on nonprofits that work with children, women and the elderly. Charities send in an application that includes a description of the project they’d like funding for. The committee will visit charities in February to make the final decisions on who receives donations.

“We’ve usually chosen smaller organizations to donate to; we prefer the charities that truly need the help,” Bruová said. “We can feel the economic crisis a bit through cash donations, so [we] are hoping to raise as much as we can.”

Tickets to the bazaar cost 50 Kc ($2.90) and double as raffle tickets for a host of great prizes, like vouchers for holidays, dinners and wellness weekends. New this year is a silent auction.

“We want countries to put expensive or possibly popular items into a silent auction, rather than raffling them off, as we can earn more money that way,” Bruová explained. It’s up to each country to decide if they want to participate, and the silent auctions will take place at each country’s individual table. The nation overseeing each table will notify the winner.

New editions to this year’s lineup are Egypt, Finland, Hungary, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mongolia, Norway, Saudi Arabia and Syria. However, some big-name countries were left out. Bruová said if there’s a change in the ambassador or consular representative around this time of year, it is difficult to take part. Italy, France and the United Kingdom, among others, will not be in attendance. But the rest of the lineup should more than make up for their absence, and, with each country offering traditional items from its homeland, a variety of unique objects will be on display.

Highlights of the bazaar include fabrics from Pakistan, pearls from the Philippines and Swiss chocolate, and Bruová says her Slovak table will include traditional ceramics, corn-stalk figures, wine and cheese. There is also a free Kids’ Corner for the munchkins less interested in shopping.

The DSA consists of spouses and representatives from the embassies and consuls based in the Czech Republic. Bruová says the group’s primary goal is to help spouses settle into their new home country and to help them get to know Czech culture.

“We do at least one cultural activity a month,” she said. “We’ve toured the National Theater and a glass company in north Bohemia. Next year, we are planning a visit to the Chamber of Deputies.”

The DSA general committee consists of representatives from Slovakia, Latvia, Poland, Pakistan and Algeria, while representatives from Canada and Bulgaria have stepped up to help organize the bazaar. Spouses from about 60 countries are members of the DSA. Bruová says the group has gotten higher profile in the past year thanks to a new Web site – designed by the wife of the Polish ambassador – and a promotional blitz for the bazaar.

As of Dec. 1, 8,000 tickets to the bazaar had already been sold, and this year’s event features items from 47 countries.

“Spend some nice time in a Christmas atmosphere and find something that can’t be found anyplace else,” Bruová said. “”We’ll have traditional items from all over the world. You’d have to travel the whole world to find them, or visit this place.”