The best time of the year has finally arrived. The most beloved activity of every year - receiving and giving gifts - has filled the malls. It is important to find the perfect gift for your loved ones but wouldn't it be good to find a gift to reflect the city you live in? The following is a carefully curated list of great gifts to get this holiday season.
#1 T-shirts with a Turkish twist
Who couldn't use a t-shirt? The traditional t-shirt has stood the test of time as a necessary and for many is a primary piece of clothing, since its invention over a century ago and hence makes for an excellent gift option for any gender and at any age. Luckily, there are a number of great clothing companies that have come up with cool designs integrating Turkish elements, such as the "thin-waisted" curvy tea cup and Galata Tower. Los Banditos is located in Şişhane, Clandestino has shops in Karaköy, Beşiktaş, Kadıköy and Kaft, which gets a special shout-out for its packaging, including a bookmark describing each unique design, is also based in Karaköy. Each of these brands also has full clothing ranges as well as accessories, which are all also available to purchase online.
#2 That little black book
Stationary, and more precisely notebooks, agendas and calendars, can be a great go-to gift for anyone of any age and from anywhere. While the long-standing tradition in decades past has been to purchase an "Ece Ajandası," a dated daily notebook produced by a company which was first started in Beyazıt in 1892, however now are made available practically everywhere. If, however you are looking for something more unique and colorful, Istanbul luckily has a number of boutique stationary stores you can peruse or purchase from online. Kağıthane, aka the House of Paper, is a colorful boutique shop located in Karaköy, while Maped in Beşiktaş and the D&R chains also have a wide selection, including calendars.
#3 Everyone loves a good read
Robinson Crusoe 389 is a gem of a find for any booklover and has been an Istanbul staple for English-language books for expats over the years. Having left its iconic location on İstiklal Avenue, the bookshop now operates two shops in the SALT Beyoğlu and Galata complexes. Of note, this beloved bookstore also regularly holds informative seminars. For the ultimate book shopping experience however, head to Akaretler to visit Minoa Books and Coffee as it is a beautiful venue with a vast selection of books and relaxed seating options, where you can also get a coffee. A top tip though for those who want to purchase and peruse books online is idefix.com, where you can get pretty much every book available in Turkey and some in English.
#4 Terrariums are trending
The decorative glass globes that house plants and other ornaments have become a popular, if pricey, present that can be enjoyed by anyone. While Müz, a "boutique" terrarium shop located in Çukurcuma, certainly set the standard by being one of the first to display this trending art form and in beautiful vessels, terrariums have become more widely available this year. You can even order a terrarium online either from Müz or the popular online flower delivery service Çiçeksepeti.com.
#5 Buying a gift that gives
If you want to buy a gift this year from an organization directly involved with helping those less fortunate, there is Hay Atölye and The Muhra Store. Both sell gifts, such as jewelry and knitted items that are all handmade by women in Turkey, which you can purchase online.
#6 Turkish artists' collectives
Souq Dukkan, once known as the pop-up shop Souq Karaköy, now has a permanent location in Kanyon and is the perfect shop to peruse to find a unique conversation piece made by Turkish and international designers. However, if you want the comfort of shopping from home, but you still want to buy a gift by a hip and independent brand, then Hipicon.com and Zet.com may be your go-to websites to purchase a gift at any price that can be delivered to your door. If it is art you seek, then Diart Prints is a great website to purchase reprints of photos by prominent Turkish artists.
#7 Traditional Turkish treasures
Anyone connected to Turkey knows that there are a number of items that are uniquely Turkish that have served the test of time as excellent gift options. Possible ideas include ceramics, a backgammon set, bathing products including the traditional Turkish towels "peştamel" and prayer beads. All of these can be purchased in the Grand Bazaar or the nearby Arasta Bazaar and the most popular shops for the latter two products are Jennifer's Hamam and Tesbihane.
#8 Go retro
One of the most popular gift items this year has been the revival of the record player. There are nostalgic record players available at Tchibo, D&R and even Çiçeksepeti.com that make for an impressive gift that can be delivered to your door. Of note, Polaroid cameras are also having a comeback and are available at Watson's and D&R.
#9 Shoes for every occasion
Do you know about Dogo? They make exquisite shoes with beautiful, colorful and unique designs including some integrating elements of Turkey. These shoes are quite unique as the pair work together to make a composition, meaning the right shoe differs slightly from the left. If you haven't seen their pieces yet, each a work of art, then I highly suggest you do so by checking out their website. Also of note, if you are in the United States, then The Sabah Dealer, is one of the most popular shoes around in recent years and they happen to come from Turkey.
#10 Great goodies
Everyone loves a tasty treat and they make for great talking points as each comes with a story. Some ideas for special delicacies you can gift for the holiday include a jar of Dulce de Leche by Fabrikita, a workshop based in Assos by Juan, an Argentinean expat and his wife, however they ship and are available in gourmet shops throughout the country. On the subject of Argentina, Aleta Smokehouse uses their smoking techniques to prepare gourmet smoked meats such as salmon and bresaola that will impress. Or, just head to Şekerci Cafer Erol in Kadıköy and put together a box of their beautiful marzipan fruit creations.