Panic not: Great gifts still await

The Prague Post

Original, last-minute ideas to keep you off the naughty list

OK, you’ve waited again until the last minute for your Christmas shopping. Maybe because of those people on your list that are just impossible to buy for. You’ve exhausted the Christmas markets, already got your share of wooden toys, crystal and rock candles. Whatever the reason, you’re running out of time.

No worries, there is still a host of unique items perfect for friends and family near and far. The following suggestions for unconventional and useful gifts full of local character cover kids, teens, men and women, with prices to fit any budget. And if you still can’t find what you’re looking for, check out an antikvariát for old Czech books, magazines and postcards and any bazar — often chock full of interesting goodies. Museum gift shops are also great ideas: the Cubism Museum on Celetná and the Museum of Decorative Arts opposite the Rudolfinum concert hall are both good choices. If all else fails, any kvetiny will have last-minute floral gifts, and you can’t go wrong with a nice bottle of Czech alcohol or wine to spread the warmth of the season.

So hit the streets, good luck and next time we’re sure you’ll really start earlier.

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Books: the old standby but always appreciated gift. The ground floor of Knihkupectví U Cerné Matky Boží, Celetná 34, Prague 1, has a selection of books in a variety of languages, while the bottom floor is designated Czech. For gifts to send home, check out the Best Czech Recipes for 150 Kc or an adorable children’s puzzle of a colorful Prague scene for 110 Kč. There’s also an informative Mysterious Castles and Chateaux of Bohemia pop-up book for 199 Kc. Prague coffee table books and English fiction round out the selection.

Go digital

Some people are too practical to have any fun buying for. Men, for example. Give the businessman in your life the gift of style this year from Apple Center MacSource, Nádražní 25, Prague 5. Crumpler bags (prices start at 1,390 Kc) come in a variety of styles, with really cool names. How about the Double Charge or the Cheesy Disco laptop bags? They also have laptop sleeves (the Gimp) and laptop backpacks (the Sheep Scarer). Actually, the names are more fun than the bags. They have a cool line of iPod cases, too.

Rock out

One trip to Bontonland Megastore, Václavské nám. 1, Palác Koruna, Prague 1, may just take care of everyone on your list. Two floors of musical entertainment and one of video games make this place a must. All the newest releases and huge sections of rock, country and jazz vie for attention with the separate room for classical music, including a large opera section. Go truly Czech with the highly recommended Chinaski CD (349 Kc) or go with the old standby, Karel Gott (199-299 Kc).

No time for dieting

The smell envelops you as you enter Koruna Pralines Chocolaterie, V Jáma 5, Prague 1. Go there just for a nice Christmas sniff. And pick-up a few goodies for your friends as well. Holiday baskets and tins (100-950 Kc) and chocolate Santas (310 Kc) are perfect for young and old alike. If you need something for the out-of-towners, try the Becherovka-filled chocolates. They also have a nice wine selection, so it’s a good stop on your way to a holiday party.

Holy night

Christmas is a religious holiday, and Charita Florentinum, Jecná 4, Prague 2, is the place to meet all your sacred needs. Especially good for gifts are the nativity scenes, but they also have a nice range of CDs and tapes (Hebrew Through Song, anyone?) Christmas postcards and cards, as well as your typical crucifixes and rosaries, candles and all manner of other religious goods can be found here.

Sweet aromas

Czech-made stuff from Botanicus, Týnský dvur 3, Prague 1, definitely covers the ladies and teen girls on your list, but others, too. Cooks appreciate the selection of oils and vinegars (starting at 120 Kc), as well as the marmalades (125 Kc) such as kiwi and citrus, and rhubarb. Soap on a rope makes a comeback here for a mere 125 Kc. Gift boxes of soap, candles and oils are around 520 Kc and big bags of potpourri go for 125 Kc. Beeswax candles, shampoo and aromatherapy bath salts provide nice scents for the new year.

Naturally

OK, so Manufaktura, Karlova 26, Prague 1, has touristy written all over it, but look close and you’ll spot a variety of unique Czech-made goods. The “Inspired by Nature” motto is taken seriously, reflected in items from natural products with added descriptions of the method and material used in constructing it. Check out the corn-husk nativity scenes (starting at 1,320 Kc) and the blue-print items, which incorporate a fabric dyeing technique used in Bohemia in the late 18th century. Placemats, tablecloths, handkerchiefs and the like start at 98 Kc. Woollen hats, sweaters and blankets (1,215 Kc) are warming.

Get crafty

Small children and new moms love Art Dekor, Ovocný trh 12, Prague 1, for its beautifully crafted stuffed animals, all made with hypoallergenic materials. The whimsical designs and patterned materials make for unique gifts. Dog, cat and pig puppets are 380 Kc, while small stuffed bunnies and hippos start at 280 Kc. Be sure to check out the basket of mice (240 Kc) as you enter. Aprons, hats, girls’ dresses, wall-hangings and pillows in a variety of plaids, stripes and other adorable materials make this a sweet experience.

Art of giving

Art is always appreciated, and Gallery Left Bank, Míšecská 10, Prague 1, makes it special by allowing shoppers to choose from paintings by Czech artists. Small to large, framed or not, you’re likely to find your perfect Prague painting here. Especially good are Jirí Štastný’s whimsical Prague renditions starting at 6,000 Kc. Petr Spacek’s wonderful countryside paintings are evocative and the cosmic Surrealism of Jan Mitwally is fanciful. Worldwide shipping is available, an extra bonus for those running out of time. For art and prices, check out www.gallery-leftbank.com

Get creative

For the types that already have it all, stop by Galerie Pyros, Ladova 5, Prague 2, for an eclectic selection from all Czech artists. Go Christmassy with handmade ceramic and gingerbread ornaments, or not with a variety of ceramic sculptures, paintings as well as beaded necklace and bracelet sets. The owner is very accommodating, and can help you select the perfect thing while letting you give something unique and locally crafted.