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Gifts for those near & far


December now, and the scramble of Christmas begins in earnest. What you want isn't stress but pleasure. Choose the right shops, and shopping for presents is a gift in itself.

You, like me, might divide your list between those near and far. For parcels abroad, I favor linens, knits and teas. Everyone who loves bread will get a Manufactum bread bag in herringbone linen to keep their loaves fresh. It is stylish, it works, and at 10 EUR, it's a steal. In it, I could tuck a packet of tea. I am particularly partial to Sonnentor's rosebuds, Geburtstagstee (Birthday Tea!) and the pungent/medicinal Ingwer-Sonne blend. Alternately, I might buy my beloveds a set of Engel's organic wool/silk long underwear from Lila Lämmchen. In weather like today's, my set has stopped my hands going blue with cold, and I like to imagine my presents keeping my mother similarly snug.

Gifts for those near needn't consider bulk or breakage. You might be weary of the word "pop-up shop" but I was made happy by the aptness of an ice cream parlor co-opted by a blanket seller for the colder seasons. Natalie Grey's little store in Auguststraße stocks natural fiber goods from 26 countries. It is a beautiful place to stomp your feet and warm up. Otherwise, I need hardly remind you of my favorite ceramicists making beautiful, affordable works of art. I'm tempted to stock my cupboards with Stefanie Scheier's new line of mugs and plates. For a teapot, I might turn to Jutta Altenstein's creamy grooved Teekannen. And don't Anna Sykora's bowls strike the right balance between patterned and plain? And did you know that the sushi chef at Sasaya turns out hefty jet-black teacups in his spare time?


Finally, you inevitably have readers on your list. Are you tempted to blast through Amazon in an hour? Wait! Sharmaine Reed Lovegrove (congratulations, Sharmaine!) keeps the bookseller's art alive with her Berlin-based online shop Dialogue Books. Her prices are often better than the ones you'll find on Amazon and she offers free delivery within Berlin. She also schedules Book Doctor consultations over tea or wine. (Tell her the themes or questions that preoccupy you and she'll give you a handpicked list of 30-odd books.) What's not to love?

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Manufactum, Hardenbergstraße 4-5, Berlin-Charlottenburg (map)
Open M-F 10am-8pm, Sat 10am-6pm (til 8pm in November and December)

Lila Lämmchen, Dunckerstraße 79, Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg (map)
Open M-F 10am-6:30pm, Sat 10am-4pm

Stefanie Scheier Ceramics, Husemannstraße 22, Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg (map)
Open Th-Fr 1pm-7pm, Sat 11am-4pm

Jutta Altenstein Werkstatt, Ackerstr. 18, Berlin-Mitte (map)
Open M-F 2pm-6pm

Anna Sykora Porzellan, Fichtestraße 1, Berlin-Kreuzberg (map)
Open M-W 2pm-6pm, Th 2pm-8pm

Enishi, Pappelallee 86, Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg (map)

All the English-language books you've ever dreamt of can be ordered via the Dialogue Books website. Look out for their anniversary party (mince pies!) at Cafe Hilde next Wednesday December 8th from 7:30pm. 


manufactum is wonderful - will take a browse through your tips!

p.s.: doesn't the snow look wonderful today?

Thanks for cluing me into Dialogue Berlin - it sounds like my kind of store!

i'm the gran'ma ('ma' in my family) who gives books for christmas...& i use amazon *a lot* as the books i stalk aren't popular enough to be in brick-&-mortar stores. however, if i was in berlin, i'd head over to dialogue berlin!

always better to shop local and everything to love about sharmaine! (including her new last name: lovegrove...congrats to the newly married couple)

I'm with Luisa on heading for Dialogue books - it sounds perfect. Books + mince pies, what more could you ask for? Wonderful gift ideas and I'm sure your dear ones will be thrilled when they open their presents.

I wish I'd read this sooner. I spent about 45 euros on postage sending stuff to England yesterday. I felt quite smug finishing so early, but I messed up picking such heavy stuff. Next year everyone gets linen, knits and teas!

Kristina, it's just what I needed. Wonderful to watch it come down as I lie on the sofa reading old foodie books...

petoskystone, I know, I do too, but then it's surprising how willing little shops are to order things too. (I hope this doesn't sound too worthy -- I have a friend who rolls her eyes whenever I trot out my anti-Amazon speech :-)

Luisa, Vanessa, Sharmaine is a gem! Just drop her an email and she'll sort you out with whatever you're hankering for.

Anna, thank you, duly amended!

Laura, maybe early and expensive isn't so bad. For all my grand ideas I still haven't sent out a single parcel! This weekend...

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