The austerity Christmas

The Prague Post

No bonus this year? The burdens of holiday shopping and economic crisis getting you down? Try one of these gifts for under 1,000 Kc

Simple, but thoughtful. We always want to give gifts that show friends and family how much we care. But, with the economic crisis still looming large, and perhaps with a long list of co-workers and acquaintances in need of a little holiday cheer, gifts with expensive price tags may not be in the cards this year. This Christmas, we want something that lets people know thoughtful consideration went into choosing that perfect parcel. This year’s annual gift guide takes its inspiration from the idea that less really can be more – all suggested gifts cost less than 1,000 Kc ($57) – when it comes to filling the space underneath the Christmas tree. A happy holiday need not be a costly one.

Christmas cooking

Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven – but, if your cooking skills don’t match your gift-giving ones, stop by Culinaria. The specialty food store has a yummy variety of imported items plus a deli counter and bakery. A personalized gift basket filled with a selection of gourmet treats looks expensive but needn’t be. You can easily put together a gorgeous basket with seven or eight items for well under 1,000 Kc. There is Argentinean wine starting at 199 Kc, which makes a great base for an “entertaining” basket filled with crackers, chutneys and nuts. On the way to a holiday party? Choose a selection of fresh-baked muffins and cookies.
Culinaria

Skorepka 9, Prague 1

224 231 017

Culinaria.cz

Green garb

For the environmental fashionista, Evergreen Boutique offers eco-friendly organic fashion. Give the gift of warmth by choosing a stylish hat or pair of gloves made from 100 percent wool. Thick and colorful, you can check off a variety of people on your list even if you are unsure of their taste in clothing. Hats cost around 850 Kc, gloves 600 Kc, or you can purchase a gift certificate for 1,000 Kc. The staff is super-friendly, and the wearer will be happy to sport some clothing supporting social responsibility, ethical business practices and sustainable farming methods.

Evergreen Boutique

Slezská 28, Prague 2

222 520 745

Etique.cz

One sharp fish

Každý správný muž má u sebe nuž is an old Czech phrase that, loosely translated, means “”A real man always carries a knife.”” For the real, or aspiring-to-be-real, men in your lives, pick up the adorable (and nostalgic) rybicka from Artel. A fish-shaped pocketknife made in the style of the 1945 Czech traditional rybicka, it makes an excellent little gift at only 150 Kc. Small but simple, and with nice detailing; there’s even a hole at the end to attach it to your keychain. And, with the old myth that keeping a fish scale from the Christmas carp in the wallet to make sure money is always there, a replica fish knife might be even luckier. At the very least, it will be more useful.

Artel

Celetná 29 (entrance on Rybná), Prague 1

224 815 085

Artelglass.com

Tasting progress

To really get something cookin’ in the kitchen, try a cooking class. Chef Michael Corkery specializes in French and Italian techniques. His teaching method breaks down into three parts: prep, presentation and consumption. Yep, students eat what they make and are able to see if their cooking gets a passing grade on the all-important taste test. For 1,000 Kc, you can purchase an individual three-hour cooking lesson in Corkery’s test kitchen, or, for 500 Kc, participate in one of his group courses. If a male family member could use some culinary assistance, there’s a special “”Food for Dudes”” course, also 500 Kc. Pick up gift certificates from The Craft Gallery.

The Craft Gallery

U Rajské zahrady 2, Prague 3

722 186 547

corkery_m@yahoo.com

Michael-corkery.cz

Helpful handicrafts

A homemade gift is a lovely and thoughtful way to say Merry Christmas. But let’s be realistic: It’s the middle of December, and you aren’t in a crafty mood. Try someone else’s handiwork and lend a hand to a special charity while you are at it. SIMP is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the integration of disabled people into society. It runs a café in Prague 1 (Vlašská 10), which employs mentally disabled men and women and operates a workshop in which clients paint mugs, make ceramics and other creations. This is where your gift list comes in. SIMP has a booth at the námestí Míru Christmas market, where they sell a variety of products made by their clients: colorful coffee mugs from 39 Kc, simple scarves from 121 Kc; and lovely beaded jewelry from 98 Kc. All proceeds go back to the workshop. SIMP has also partnered with a Moravian winery to produce SIMPathetic wine. The wine labels are designed and applied in SIMP’s workshop, and a bottle costs only 149 Kc.

Christmas market

at námestí Míru (open daily)

More information about SIMP can be found at Simp.cz

Leave 2009 behind

Did someone on your list have a tough year? Make sure they start 2010 fresh and invigorated by giving them a session in the steam shower at the Spa at the Mandarin Oriental. The steam shower (800 Kc for a 20-minute session) envelopes you in a moist and aromatic heat. It’s supposed to help relieve migraines, release tension and increase concentration. It’s recommended for its healing properties as the steam slowly warms the entire body, inside and out. The Spa offers gift certificates for its Aromatherapy Associates spa products, as well.

The Spa at Mandarin Oriental

Nebovidská 1

233 088 655

moprg-spa@mohg.com

Mandarinoriental.com

Into the new year

If someone’s New Year’s goal includes getting fit or running a marathon, help them on their way with a gift certificate to CrossFit. The training regime on offer is often used to get police officers and soldiers into shape. It is a combination strength and conditioning program and is effective for people all of ages, shapes and sizes. Give the athletic ones (or couch potatoes) a taste of CrossFit’s methods with a gift certificate for three sessions for only 300 Kc. Personal training certificates for 1,000 Kc are also available.

CrossFit Praha

5. kvetna 58, Prague 4

725 174 979

xfp@crossfitpraha.com

Crossfitpraha.com