Whilst Beijing has been "home" for the past four years, most of our friends and family back in England country are still convinced we’re actually on some long extended holiday. Which is why they expect gifts every time we go back to visit. (The number of times I’ve stuffed sneakers, handbags, and chopsticks into a suitcase…)
This trip home we’re taking far fewer gifts for the adults in our families. Instead, we’ll be taking stuff for nieces, and the kids of my friends. I spoke to some of my Beijing friends and neighbors, to find out what types of gifts they will be taking back this summer, and where the best places are to shop for them.
Kids will love NLGX Design Store and Plastered T-Shirts, as they’re unique to Beijing, great quality, and really good fun. Their friends will be intrigued with what the Chinese characters mean. Both these stores also sell branded items including key rings and bags. Perhaps a couple of World Cup kits for the soccer fans back home, just make sure to check the spelling of their favorite player’s name on the back – Rinaldo is not a good look. Chinese Zodiac Calendar soft toys, in wonderful fabric prints make a lovely gift, be sure to buy the right animal for their birth year. Kids’ chopsticks are fun, they come in all sorts of colors and adorned with various animals, Hello Kitty, and waving children. Little girls (and boys) will love an elaborately embroidered mini umbrella or parasol. Beijing is great for all sorts of stationery items- such as big colorful pens and pencils, funky pencil cases, and scrapbooks. A pair of Beats by Dr Dre headphones would make a great gift for kids (and adults) of all ages. Not forgetting loom bands…. as if they won’t have enough already.
For the ladies, you can take back some gorgeous leather wrap bracelets, pearl bracelets, and pearl earrings. Pearl jewelry is on trend right now, and no longer just for your Nan. Spin Ceramics in Lido, has fabulous pieces for the kitchen and home, a popular choice of gift at the moment is their votive candles. They also have beautiful ceramic jewelry. For the friend or relative who likes to keep fit, try some Lulu Lemon work out gear. Silk scarves are always popular, and for leather items there’s Michael Kors and Tory Burch wallets, hand bags, and make-up bags.
You could treat the guys to a cashmere scarf or jumper, or how about a few electronic items such as portable speakers, memory, and USB sticks? For the older generation, Chinese stamps, seals, and chops make lovely gifts, or perhaps a Chinese style dressing gown.
Ice watches are popular purchases this summer. They come in a range of fabulous colors and are great for the guys, ladies, and your teenage relatives will be very happy indeed.
It seems the main places to shop are Honqiao Market, Silk Market, and Yashow Market. Just be sure to say you’re a Beijinger, bargain hard, buy in bulk, and don’t believe a word of it when the vendor tells you it’s the real deal. Just don’t tell the folks back home.
Spin Ceramics 旋
Open Daily 10am-7pm. 6 Fangyuan Xilu, Chaoyang District 朝阳区芳园西路6号(6437 8649)
beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent Sally Wilson moved to Beijing in 2010 from the UK with her husband and son. Her daughter was born here in 2011 and both her kids keep her happily busy. In her spare time, Sally loves to stroll through Beijing’s hutongs and parks. She is a (most of the time) keen runner and loves reading: books, magazines, news, and celeb websites – anything really. Sally is also a bit of a foodie and loves trying out new restaurants.
Photos courtesy of BerColly, Joe Penniston, Missyermi (flickr), & Sally Wilson