3 Most Expensive Gifts Ever

3 Most Expensive Gifts Ever

Although I always say it is not how much you spent on the gift, it is still

interesting to see how wild one can go.

Crown Of The Palace or Taj Mahal

It came about as an expression of love and an appreciation gift by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Quite a gift, but she was quite a wife too. She gave birth to 14 beautiful children.

Yes, we are talking about Taj Mahal inspired by the beauty of Mumtaz. This building replicates her beauty and graciousness for all the world to admire. Hundreds of the best artisans worked together to create this masterpiece. After 30 years of work they finally competed it in 1653, to be still appreciated today for its architectural and cultural achievements in India. And it is recognised today as one of the new 7 Wonders Of The World, attracting millions of visitors.

Unfortunately, it is a bittersweet story. Shah has actually commissioned this building after Mumtaz died during the birth of their last, 14th child. It is a gift to her memory and is used as a tomb for her and later Shah's remains.

It took 20 years to build and its total costs, in today's money would be around 915 million dollars.

Statue Of Liberty

Statue Of Liberty is a gift from the French nation to the people of the United States. President of the French Antislavery Society, Édouard René de Laboulaye, came up with the idea to celebrate Union's victory in the American Civil War. He believed that France and the US were working for the common goal of liberating people.

Prominent French sculptor – Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, designed the statue. Which then was supported by metal construction built by even more famous engineer – Gustave Eiffel (constructor of the Eiffel Tower in Paris).

To give further insight into the story, the building of the statue was not plain sailing. Initially, there were financing delays in France due to the Franco-Prussian War, Napoleon's regime and his consequential loss of power.

And then, when the statue was delivered to the US, it took another six years for the US government and activists to get the $100,000 (in 1890's money) needed to build a stone base on the Liberty Island. As usual, there were fights on who will pay for it and even a veto against using government funds from the governor of NYC.

In the end, Joseph Pulitzer drove a massive public campaign to achieve 120,000 donations of less than a dollar. This, finally, put the Liberty statue on the pedestal. So we can safely say that ordinary Americans contributed to the cost of adequately displaying this special gift.

In today's money, the statue's total cost and the base come to around 110 million dollars.

A Sweet Private Jet

I did not want to make it all about the impressive buildings and gracious notions between the nations. There are more recent gifts that would be quite exciting for most of us, especially those enjoying jet-setting lifestyles.

Beyonce has expressed her love to her husband, Jay-Z with several exceptional presents previously. There was a cool 2 million Bugatti Veyron Grand Sports car. A sparkling 5 million worth fully diamond-covered Hublot watch, and now… yep, a sweet private jet worth around 40 million dollars.

It is worth noting that there is a private jet and then there is the private jet. The Bombardier Challenger 850 is a top of the range private jet that can offer a lot for the world travellers.

This jet is 26.77 m (87 ft 10 in) long and can jet up to 16 passengers at the speeds of 819 km/h (509 mph). It is suitable for local travel as well as international trips of up to the distance of 5,206 km (3,235 mi).

I am sharing these stories not to have regrets about not getting a jet for a birthday. But more to share the exciting stories that these gifts carry with them. It took an effort of 30 years for a number of really influential people to make that Liberty statue happen.

The Taj Mahal was an expression of love and appreciation. A desire to continue telling the story about the most amazing woman to the world.

We can also create or share stories when gifting. It is so much more interesting than talking about the price.

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Germany is the known for its engineering innovation and quality. Discover what is made in Germany these days.

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Making your hunt for gift ideas easy. Let us give you some exciting ideas from Italy.

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Italian coffee experience can take so many shapes. It can be due to the beans, Moka pot or a name, But what about classic espresso cups?

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We spent years searching the web, artisan shops and visiting variety of makers in Europe. Find out what we discovered to help your gift hunting.

Budget Gifts That Come With An Amazing Story To Tell

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Budget Gifts That Come With An Amazing Story To Tell

Even the most ordinary item can become very dear to the receiver if you wrap it in an exceptional story for him/her to remember. If it is a great story, it is likely that he or she will be proud of sharing it with others too.

Budget is irrelevant, the consideration is everything. I especially like the gifts where it contributes to the good of the society or the forgotten. You will find at least one of those bellow.

BEN CARSON

'Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what

we give.'

For a moment let's stop focusing on what your budget is, but more about what is special about this item and how does it make you feel.

It is fascinating how many passionate people out there doing something small or big, but something that they believe in. Those are my favourite stories and I hope it will be yours soon too.

Eco-Friendly Sunglasses Cork Case

Eco-friendly gifts makes us feel good, whether you giving or receiving it. There are loads of things we can do with more consideration about the environment and gifts are not exception.

Although a lot of people tend to associate ecologically friendly things to a more expensive category, it is not always the case. These cork sunglasses cases come from renewable cork and cost only $16.

Cork, you see, is essentially a tree bark which regrows every 9 years, without ever harming the tree. It is a huge industry with wine already, mainly made in Portugal. Needless to say, this material is many times better than plastic or leather.

You can buy one from 'Wear Joplins' shop on Etsy.

House Number – Spanish Traditional Ceramic Tiles

Traditional Spanish ceramic tiles are recognised and appreciated worldwide. They are extremely tough and appreciated for the decorative purposes, especially when one need to add a touch of colour.

Spanish started making these ceramic tiles thousands of years ago. Then with Arab invasions to Europe, with Europeans conquering colonies it spread around the world. For example you see very similar tiles in Mexico these days.

If one has to point a starting point, it is claimed that Spanish cities of Sevilla and Cádiz in Andalucía started exporting them worldwide first. But, of course, they are still made in Spain and you can focus on the tiles showing house numbers. They are also hand painted and will last generations.

Probably the most convenient way to buy would be on Amazon. From $12.95.

Italian Ceramic Cap For Olive Bottle

As authentic as it goes. These Italian ceramic caps for olive oil bottles are made in a small Italian city of Siena, by third generation of ceramic artisans. Each cap is hand made and hand painted using traditional techniques.

Bianco e Nero di Staccioli is a well known artisan shop and has a lot of great ceramic kitchenware. But, if you are looking for a budget gift, you can get the same story for $20.

I like that this gift is very useful, frequently used and turns boring olive oil bottle to something with a personality and history. Be sure to hear ' where did you get that'?

To buy duty free with fast delivery in the US, use 'Bianco e Nero di Staccioli' shop on Amazon.

A Truly Unique Wine-Bottle-Stand From Italy

San Patrignano is a unique rehabilitation centre in Italy. There are long waiting lists due to its success in bringing people with dependancies back to the society, by giving them a trade. No mobile phones or visits home allowed.

The program lasts 3.5 years and each participant has to choose whether to work making food, at the farm growing grapes, wine production, or artisan skills making leather, textile or wood products. By buying it you support the cause.

Making things is part of their circular economy and a way of building a support network by working in a tight team. There are many great things made, and there is a good option on a tight budget – an Italian wine bottle stand.

Future addiction free artisans make them from used wine barrels with which are also hot stamped – giving each stand a unique look.

Price: 15 Euros directly at San Patrignano shop.

Hand Made Hair Brush, Made In England

Kent Brushes is a company that makes rather nice hair brushes – by hand. And yes, you guessed it right – it is located in 'garden of England', also known as Kent.

It is really unusual for such daily item at such reasonable price of under $10 to be made in England. Most of brushes these days definitely don't come from Europe. That what makes is so special. Especially if the gift if for an Englishman or someone with a fascination about the Great Britain.

This brush is still made from cellulose acetate, which for us feels like solid plastic widely used worldwide. But instead of moulding it Kent Brushes team hand saws it from pre-made sheets. That way it does not leave any sharper edges, which then can get caught by the hair.

Visit Kent Brush shop, to get your hands on one of these.

An Italian Made Ceramic Cup With A Custom Message

Italian ceramic artisans are at your service. It is the first Italian artisan family, that I come across, which is willing to customise the coat of arms and the message on the cup. Essentially you expressing your wish, they make it happen in bright traditional colours used in Italian ceramics.

So let me tell you a bit about 'Biancoe Nero Staccioli'. They are based in The Palio of Siena which consists of 12 districts. Each district used to compete and have their own coat of arms that you see on the cups. Only this family has the permission to reproduce them.

Probably this would be a perfect gift for an Italian, who would appreciate the link to history and craftsmanship. But others will love it for the personalisation too.

Buy it on their Etsy shop, for $35.

Swedish Fire Steel

Fire starter is a practical and interesting gift for all outdoor lovers.

What sets these fire starters apart from the matches or lighter is that they are wind and rainproof. It produces sparks in wet and windy conditions, and the temperatures of 3000 degrees easily start the fire going.

The fact that the military developed it and that it comes from a country famous for its outdoor culture – Sweden, will be a great gift for any outdoor fan. It even comes with a built-in emergency whistle, as a bonus.

Considering that it comes in the package branded 'Light My Fire', it must surely be a good line for the greeting card (wink wink).

Buy it on lightmyfire.com shop for $17.

Murano Glass Bottle Stopper From Italy

Murano glass is one of the most celebrated types of glass out there. It is made for over 1500 years on the Venetian island of Murano and is famous for its colourful patterns.

Glassmaking is huge in Murano. If you walk through the island, you will see small workshops with artisans blowing the glass into a variety of the most impressive and colourful pieces you cannot imagine.

Unlike expensive glass art pieces or stunning chandeliers, wine openers offer a budget option to add a touch of Italian made glass art to your or your loved one's home.

Luca M. Donna, the artisan behind these pieces, sells them on her Lamp Work Studio shop on Etsy for just over $20.

Big Budget Is Not Needed To Find An Interesting Present From Europe

IN SUMMARY

It is not always easy to be romantic. But, with some thought, on what your loved-one cares and appreciates, you can get there.

These gift ideas tell a story about the makers and their values – can you match it with her?

It is my hope that the touch Europe can also make these gift ideas more interesting and special. There is a lot of romantic excitement about European countries – and for the right reasons. So, use it to your advantage.

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Romantic Gifts From Europe

Romantic Gift Ideas From Europe

I hope you do not feel like you are 'in the pickle' because you need to impress your sweet lady and you have not idea how.

I am not, know it all romance guru. But I do have few ideas that I think could drive most sensible ladies epic. Ok, maybe not all of them, but surely there are quite a few sweet and lovely things to appreciate in a romantic setting.

I do believe that there is a lot of romance about Europe and especially some specific countries like France. Interestingly, I increasingly see more and more excitement about Scandinavia and Scotland too, for example. I hope it will give you some ideas.

SHAKESPEARE

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.

It is difficult to understand what makes one item more romantic than the other. That's is why it is quite useful to look at every gift idea through a lens of your relationship. Things like experiences, jokes, movies and activities together can easily link to your next romantic gift.

Also, it can be useful to think about how you will present it, don't just go 'here is your gift'. Think about the story of your gift, the joke or the setting that will create romantic associations too.

Luxury Umbrella From Sweden

Have you noticed how often romantic movie scenes involve rain? There is something special about it. A lot of us see it as an unpleasant time. But Hollywood has engrained that it can be a lot of fun too.

Hence I think that a really special umbrella has a potential to be a romantic gift which is appreciated for years to come. Just think about it, every time it is raining she will think about you by admiring and appreciating this great looking luxury umbrella.

These Carl Dagg limited edition umbrellas made with natural wood and leather elements, by the last remaining umbrella factory in Sweden.

It is also about how you present it – why not watch 'Singing In The Rain' on youtube or play Rihanna's “Umbrella” when presenting this gift.

Linen Bed Sheets From Lithuania

Lithuania is a country that has been using linen before cotton became popular in Europe. It still kept its linen growing industry and hence today is a very important part of the new excitement about linen.

Linen, you see, has several properties that makes it better than cotton. It is more resistant to bacteria growth, it dries out faster and it has this unique texture that is appreciated by many today.

Linen Tales is a specialised linen shop, and I would suggest their bedding for unique colour pallet of their linen bed sheets. Have you ever thought of how would 'stone washed pink lavender' colour look like?

Every woman would appreciate such natural gift, with unique texture and these colours. I did not realise how exciting it can be, until I got one for my girlfriend.

Customised Shoes By An Artist In Camden

Koko Art is doing something unique – they got a bunch of artisans personalising several types of shoes. It is an arty take on shoes that a lot of girls will definitely find cute and sweet. Especially, if you mention that these guys are based in Camden – artsy and funky hub in London, UK.

They will customise your chosen shoes to the likes, hobbies or desires that she might have. It could be animals, interests or even lifestyle choices. Another option is to put a portrait of her in animated or black and white style – surely that will make those shoes special.

To make it truly romantic I would suggest think of something that you guys like to do together – for example horse riding, cycling or jogging in the park. Or think of a favourite spot you kissed for the first time or like to hang out. And then allow the artist to put their twist to it.

Contemporary Leather Bracelet, Made In Paris

Paris talks the language of love. There probably is not a single women in the world that is not thinking of going to Paris one day. Hence, the fact that this bracelet, which was crafted in Paris, now sits on her hand – it can feel truly special.

I love the fact that Ursul created this unique contemporary style that really stands out. It is elegant, it has a story and it comes from a loved one – what else can a woman expect from her man?

To make it extra romantic, you can also get a bracelet designed for men. It has a similar design idea, but in a more manly style. Then you would be a couple with matching bracelets from Paris – romance is in the air.

And finally, check out that box – what a perfect way to present the gift.

Hand Painted Espresso Cups From Deruta, Italy

Romantic gift can be something for you two to do together. So how about drinking morning espresso from these handmade espresso cups?

These ceramic pieces of art are fired and decorated in Deruta village located in the heart of Italy. This picturesque place is famous for its unique, colourful hand decoration style. It is even known worldwide as 'Deruta ceramics'.

As with many things that are made by Italian families that pass on their skills from generation to generation – it challenging to find where to buy it. Some speciality Italian ceramic shops might stock it, but mostly it is an excellent reason to visit this place during your next holidays in Italy.

However, if you are in the US, we have a local partner with a warehouse ready to ship it out to you in a jiffy. See our Italian expresso cup shop.

Luckenbooth Love Quaich From Scotland

Although men mainly romanticise Scotland for its battles, brave-hearted actors and whiskey, there is also has a more feminine story to it.

Love quaich (kweɪx) is a traditional decorative drinking cup given as a romantic present for over 400 years. Initially designed and crafted as an engagement present for the Mary Queen Of Scots in 1558, and is still very popular today.

As per the original design, in the middle, we have two intertwining hearts that are united by a crown at the top. And the text reads a romantic vow – 'Of Earthly Joys Thou Art My Choice' (You are my choice from all of life's joys).

Luckenbooth is a Scottish word for a lockable stall or a workshop, which started (and can still be visited today) near St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh.

To order yours, handmade and in traditional silver, use Scotts Connection shop.

Personalised Chopping Board, From England

Chopping boards are a great gift. They are frequently used, which works as a reminder about how amazing boyfriend or husband you are. Ok, on a serious side, I do like them because often they tend to be displayed as a decoration in the kitchen. It is a sweet detail to any home decor and if it happens to be romantic expression of your relationship it is even better.

I like personalised chopping boards from Sophia Victoria Joy who has number of interesting shapes for you to choose from. You can go for the heart shaped chopping board, but other shapes are really sweet too. Most importantly, it is nice to see couple's name engraved – an idea how to keep it romantic without being too corny. If you are not married that it is not a problem either. Just come up with a name that unites you, like 'Partners In Crime', 'Hot Lovers' or 'The Adventurers'.

Heart Shaped Le Creuset, Made In Country Of Love – France

This is an idea for those who like the 'heart shaped gift' idea. You don't need to settle for the board, you can also find other interesting gifts. Le Creuset, for example makes heart shaped iron cast pots. They are special for quite a few reasons.

Firstly, it is about the colours. The company specialises in producing variety of unique colours that will supplement any kitchen. Often you can choose the products by the colour when browsing their website.

Secondly, it is a great item to have in any kitchen. There is a huge following in iron cast cooking and if you or your better half is not part of it then this could be the catalyst to join in. There are loads of communities on social media to get inspiration from. And the good thing – you will also enjoy the food.

And lastly, it is made in France. It is not only perfume that can be proudly French.

A Very Special Ring From Switzerland

Yes, that's the ring reflecting that text on the objects around. It is magical as you can personalise that message for up to 6 characters. I would probably go for initials of you two, or a special date, or (to make it more Jason Bourne romantic) put GPS co-ordinates of the place you first kissed.

How it works is quite special too. This is a reflection of mini engravings on the ring with diamond lining. It is not noticeable on the ring itself but the light (sunlight is the best) is reflected from it to spell out your special message to the loved one.

Made in Switzerland it is relying of the well known craftsmanship of Swiss jewellers and innovation of the new generation. The Ray is the innovative team behind it. Exceptional, but it does come at a price of 'from €2,000'.

Romance is not always easy, but it can be worth it

IN SUMMARY

It is not always easy to be romantic. But, with some thought, on what your loved-one cares and appreciates, you can get there.

These gift ideas tell a story about the makers and their values – can you match it with her?

It is my hope that the touch Europe can also make these gift ideas more interesting and special. There is a lot of romantic excitement about European countries – and for the right reasons. So, use it to your advantage.

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Germany is the known for its engineering innovation and quality. Discover what is made in Germany these days.

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Making your hunt for gift ideas easy. Let us give you some exciting ideas from Italy.

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Italian coffee experience can take so many shapes. It can be due to the beans, Moka pot or a name, But what about classic espresso cups?

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We spent years searching the web, artisan shops and visiting variety of makers in Europe. Find out what we discovered to help your gift hunting.

Gift Ideas For The Left Handed

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Gift Ideas For The Left Handed

Being left handed is not a problem and should never be seen as disadvantage. But it is nice to have things that are specially designed for you – especially if they come from people we love.

Hence, finding something useful and unique that fits left-handed preference can be a very exciting gift.

The struggle is real!

If you talk to a leftie about what frustrates them about using everyday things around us, you will hear a long list of things. It is a fascinating view of the world. The world that is not functioning that well and can be frustrating.

Here is a list of the most mentioned frustrations I heard about:

  • keyboard calculator on the right-hand side
  • fountain pen and even ball pens not working when used by a leftie
  • spiral notebook hurting the hand when writing
  • scissors – this one is a biggie. It is due to the way blades are cut – instead of cutting the scissors mangle the paper due to the angle, it is held when using the left hand.
  • the car cup holder is on the right.
  • using kitchen knives put additional strain. Try to cut something with a left hand, and you will see what I mean.
  • even using a ruler or measuring tape is not as easy as one might think – numbers are on the wrong side when handling it by a left hand.

Pulltap's Corkscrew For Lefties

It is quite interesting, but it does make a difference whether you are a leftie when using a wine opener. To drive the worm in, one has to turn clockwise, which is not as comfortable when you are left-handed. The solution is a worm that screws into a cork anti clockwise.

To choose such option go to personalisation section on Pulltap's website and where you need to select a worm, go for 'the left-handed' option.

While you at it you can personalise these wine openers further. Choose the theme that would please a receiver. For example, in the picture, I have a sailor theme – a gift I gave to my brother to keep in his yacht. My review here.

A good bonus is a fact that it also comes in nice wooden boxes and can be engraved. Made in Barcelona, Spain, from €19.

Lamy With Left-Handed Nib

One of the problems for left-handed people with fountains pens is that the nib is not working properly. It needs to be at a certain angle that is harder to achieve when writing with the left hand. Hence it is not just about the shape or cushioning of the pen. For fountain pens, the nib itself is more important.

For that reason, Lamy has a specifically designed left-handed nib, which you can buy separately. I wish most of the pen retailers had an option to specify which nib you want, but unfortunately, that is not the case. For that reason, for US-based readers, I recommend using good old amazon.com that lists a number of Lamy retailers offering pens with left-handed nibs.

Lamy is a family run company offering great value and quality for the money.

Made in Germany, from $25.

Westmark Swivel Peeler Gallant For Left-Handers

Using ordinary potato peelers is surprisingly difficult for left-handers. It is just not designed to cut when using a left hand, and using the right hand is not comfortable for us.

Westmark has designed a dedicated left-hander swivel peeler. It has an easy to grip handle, but most importantly, it swivels in the right angle when using the left hand. Amazingly simple but so comfortable to use.

Westmark is a German-based company specialising in kitchen utensils. Hence it is not surprising that they specifically created this tool for lefties.

For me, it is also great to know that by making these products by moulding metal and plastics the company is sticking to strict environmental laws. Hence I know that it was made responsibly to the environment and employees.

Made in Germany, from $11. Buy on amazon.com.

Wedo Ruler For Right And Left Handed

Yes, even the ruler is running its number from the wrong side, for us, left-handers. This aluminium ruler is perfect to see the difference. It is designed for both, left and right-handed users, and you can see the difference.

I really like this ruler for several reasons:

Firstly, it is really sturdy and will last a very long time. Aluminium is so much stronger than the plastic used in the majority of other rulers.

Secondly, Wedo designed it very well. It has a grip for easy movement on the top. It raises in the middle along the ridge, and it even has rubber inserts to give it stability.

And lastly, it is great to see that this product considers both types of users. It is not exclusive but inclusive. Hence the whole family can use the same ruler.

Made in Germany, from $21.

Wooden Left Handed Beard Brush

If you know a 'manly and beardy' 'leftie' this could be a good one for him.

Handmade in the UK by one of the oldest companies in Kent, who also happened to be the experts in brushes.

This wooden beard brush is specially cut to ease up the pressure on your elbow due to that awkward angle when one needs to brush his beard.

But the key to left-handed aid is the shaped natural boar bristles to improve brushing performance.

I also like the box that is quite useful to have when giving it as a gift and the handy branded bag ads a touch of heritage and protects his things from the oily brush (which naturally happens with frequent use).

Made in England, around €26. Learn more on kentbrushes.com

Wrist Watch With The Crown On The Left

It is not obvious, but left-handed people wear their wristwatch on the right hand. And that poses a problem when one needs to adjust or wing up their watch. Unless you have a third hand, it is simply not possible without taking the watch off your wrist.

Some watchmakers do offer a solution – by placing a crown and key buttons on the left side of the watch. This way, you now can make your adjustments with the left hand.

I personally like Sinn EZM 13 diving watch. It is actually made this way to ease up a pressure on your hand when diving, but such design works for lefties too.

Made in Germany, from €2,430.

Guitar – Left Handed Model

It is quite amusing to watch when left-handed musicians play the 'normal' guitar – they flip it upside down. I could not find any royalty-free picture to share, but if you google it and you will see what I mean.

Lefties can learn to play the 'ordinary' guitar, especially if they start learning it from scratch. But it is not for everyone. Some left-handed people really struggle using the usual guitar set up. Hence musical instrument makers do make left-handed models. The choice of styles is not as wide, but the options are there.

If I have to recommend, check GEWA classical guitars. They use European makers for some of their models, including this one.

Made in Europe, €266.

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There is a lot of romance about Europe. Here are some of the romantic gifts you can easily get.

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Europeans love their wine and there are surprisingly unique ways of opening them too.

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Scottish have a unique culture, environment and things they make. Discover more exciting stories.

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Italian gift can be very special. People love the craftsmanship, design and the story.

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Wooden Gift Ideas

Wooden Gift Ideas

Wood is a an excellent material. If sourced responsibly, it is renewable, and it is easier to dispose of than the plastic. Hence it is not surprising that many people do like the idea of giving gifts that are made out of wood. Especially for your eco-conscious friends and family.

There are literally endless lists of things made from wood. I selected the ones I feel are the most interesting and, of course, made in Europe.

Let's discover it together.

Wood is a renewable resource which warms

our hearts.

People like things made from wood for a number of reasons. But here are the three key reasons that I see mentioned again and again:

Firstly, it is eco-friendly – in many ways, in fact. Responsibly sourced wood is renewable. Making wooden products does not pollute the environment. And, when you want to throw it away, it does not break down to micro plastic that poisons us.

Secondly, it brings out better in people. They appreciate the feel of the wood, its grain and the touch of warmth it ads to our environment.

And lastly, it is a piece of craftsmanship. Each wooden item in our lives requires handling by the person. A piece of wood becomes a story and a piece of art when a true artisan is done with it. And that is truly priceless.

Eco-Friendly Beech Wood Toothbrush

This toothbrush uses literally 0% of plastic. “So what about the bristles?” you might correctly ask. And that is the interesting part. Bristles in this eco toothbrush are made from the castor plant. They produce oil from this plant and then turn it into soft, medium or hard bristles. I added a picture of the plant for your amusement.

The handle is made from sustainable beech forest that is approved by FSC®. Forest Stewardship Council, an international association that promotes the sustainable management of the world's forests.

It has no air miles impact during the production either – the castor plant for bristles and beech are grown locally, in Germany.

You can buy one at eco-living for €3.5.

Wooden Watch

There are a few wooden watchmakers, but I find Plant Wear the most innovative. There is something special in their design and use of the materials. Made in Poland, a country famous for its sustainable forestry you can choose one of six wood types and variety of watch designs.

Fox series are more masculine, in my opinion. But I really like that the strap is made out of the same wood. It does look quite special. Price €199.

Aurora Maple for her, is a smaller watch that looks for gentle and more feminine, especially on a narrower wrist. Lighter maple case nicely supplements slim pink leather strap. Yet, the watch also has all essential features like scratch-resistant sapphire glass and 30-meter water resistance. Price €129.

It is great as a gift due to three reasons: it comes in a nice box, with a great eco story attached and can be personalised by engraving the back.

Unique Wood Bracelet

Paul Cortese is a bit of a rebel brand, and I like what they make with their clothing lines. In this case, it partnered up with Italian artisans to create unique looking wood bracelets.

It is unique for several reasons. The design is very different from most bracelets out there and shows great innovation in contemporary artisanship when working with wood.

And talking of wood, how unique is that look. I have never come across wood jewellery in those natural colours, sourced from all over the world.

The Chic range showcases Swarovski elements, and I feel this would ideal for a woman, while the Bad Chic range has black Swarovski elements fit that 'bad boy'. But, of course, it can go either way.

€39, made in Italy.

Rosewood Sunglasses

Another great story of a young brand created out of a vision for a better world. Hence out of all wooden sunglasses brands, I tend to like Joplins at the moment.

Its main eco-credentials come from the fact that by using wood, we reduce our plastic waste and reduction of emissions needed to produce your sunglasses.

When there are sales, these sunglasses cost less than €100. And that is a bargain for handmade glasses that come with a two-year guarantee, cork case and free shipping in Europe.

I feel that the lenses should be mentioned too. I am actually impressed that it is made with two scratch resistant layers, maximum possible UV protection of 400 and an additional layer for polarisation.

Made in Portugal.

Natural Wood Skin For Mac

This is a unique way to personalise a mac. This is not a plasticky gimmick or a sticker that you will find in most of the places. This is made from real, natural wood.

WoodWe is a team of young entrepreneurs who decided to tap into the most abundant resource – wood; in their home country – Lithuania. It is made from the natural and renewable forest and is focused explicitly on mac machines. You can choose to cover just a top or top and bottom. Sizes are matching all available mac laptops, and it is done to an exceptional standard.

It is magical to feel the grain of the wood when carrying such a laptop around. So many people got this as a gift from me, and I am not going to stop any time soon.

From €70, made in Lithuania (a country of exceptionally beautiful forests).

Handmade Satinwood Hairbrush

Made by Kent Brushes, a company famous for its brushes that are hand made in Kent, England. They use time-tested methods in crafting each brush that passes multiple experts before it is complete. In total, according to the company, it takes over 500 working hours to produce such hairbrush.

Natural bristles are wire inlaid by hand using a unique methodology to ensure quality and longevity of this wooden brush. Specifically selected softer natural bristles are ideal for finer and thinning hair.

Kent Brushes use beechwood as a base and rich satinwood for the back – leaving a nicely light but luxury feel.

I love the fact that it comes in a lovely gift box lined up in white silk – perfect way to present this exceptional brush. Such craftsmanship comes at a price tag of €215 though.

Cork Yoga Mat

Cork is the ultimate renewable wood. Differently from responsibly harvesting trees for wood products, with cork, you do not need to kill the tree. Cork is naturally shed by the cork trees and trees themselves continue to grow and thrive. See a picture of such a tree on the left.

Cork is not just good for wine bottles, but it has ideal anti-slip properties when wet – which make it perfect for doing yoga. Interestingly, it is also a bad environment for bacteria – it just does not absorb moisture.

There are a few companies that make them, but I, for example, like Alba Yoga, who was created by three young Portuguese entrepreneurs in 2012. They wanted to benefit local communities and the environment.

From €99, sourced and made in Portugal.

Wooden Wall Map

Wooden wall map of the world is an ideal gift for those who are excited about travelling. It is a unique way to decorate a living room and use it as an opportunity to brag about your trips and adventures.

Made by a young team in Ukraine who are taking the world by storm. This is a trendy gift at the moment, and they are growing faster than they ever expected. These maps are made from natural renewable wood.

It is great to see the grain and how slightly uniquely different colour patterns are on these maps. That is something that comes with wood products and what gives it a truly nice personality. See World Travel Maps on amazon.com.

From $40, made in Ukraine.

Pen Made From Irish Bog Oak

Since the wood is such a magical material, it is not surprising that so many different things are still made from it. Interestingly though there are very few craftsmen who still make wooden pens.

Irish Pens is a young company started by a retired couple who wanted to follow their passion. And what a great way to preserve the skills and craftsmanship that brings wood in our daily corporate lives.

Irish Bog Oak is an extremely unique and rare material. It is coming from trees which were laying in Irish bogs for over 5000 years. This lovely dark colour came naturally while being preserved in the bog (swamp).

€105, handmade in Ireland.

A Wooden Hammock

It was designed and built in the French woods by a young team from Fab Furniture. They seem to get the kick out of designing hip wooden furniture and heartwarming interior pieces. This is their latest creation, perfected during the winter, and Corona lay down.

For me, it is a piece of art, something that a hip home would have. It comes as a hammock, but I think one gets so much more out of it when you get it with the stand.

Before you ask, it is surprisingly comfortable. And I especially liked to see how more stable it is, making it so much easier to get in and out.

From €349, handmade in France. Learn more and buy here.

Surfboard From Natural Wood

Yep, surfboards too. These hand made natural wood surfboards look just out of this world. The grain and the wood pattern mixed with the colour create this unique look that is impossible to replicate.

WUUX surfboards are handmade from available wood. Hence it comes in a wide variety of colours. As a bit of a surfer myself, I cannot look at them without drooling. There is nothing like it out there.

Amazingly that the team lead by its founder Wilhelm is based in Austria – European country with no access to the ocean. So, they practise and test their boards in fast-flowing fresh water rivers in the mountains.

From €700, handmade in Austria.

Did you think of any other great wooden gift discoveries you would like to share with the others? Comment below.

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What Italy makes is a multi-layered story. Learn more about Italian manufacturing, design and trends.

European wine accessories are exciting, especially if you like wine.

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It is called 'Big Corkscrew' for a reason. This thing is huge and impressive – Italian craftsmanship.

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The Best Swiss Watches For Under $500, In 2021

The Best Swiss Watches for Under $500, in 2021

There are literally millions of Swiss watches, but not all of them are created equal. Although it is worth a paying premium for Swiss watches, there are quite a few really nice watches for a smaller budget.

Despite the price, these watches have a lot of unique personalities and solid brand or watch story that every gift watch should come with.

When you see someone with an expensive watch, how often do you wonder if it is fake?

Some people with tighter budget decide to go for a fake watch. But, this mostly backfires. Most often such watches are of low quality that you feel sooner or later – it is not waterproof, metal wears off, or it stops working altogether. Also, if you wear a $100K watch, then the rest of your lifestyle should match up. If not, then people just assume that you are buying fake watches.

Instead, I suggest going for an impressive looking and functional watch that serves you well and gives you the right image. Especially at this budget, you could potentially change your watch based on what you are wearing – i.e. go for a classic look at work, and sporty one on the weekends.

These watches will serve you long, they will be functional, and you might discover some smaller watch brands that do their job really well.

Movado Core Museum Classic

Movado is a watch brand that has really made its name amongst watch fans for its unique design. I respect that. They do not have many styles, and The Museum style with just one dot is their strongest statement.

This is definitely a watch to have if you are attending a lot of formal events. This style will go very well with a suit as well as smart casual wear. Hence I would recommend this watch as an evening wear watch for those special occasions.

Recognised for its style and sleek look it is also a long-standing brand that made its name amongst Swiss watchmakers for its strong following amongst art and design lowers – indeed it is a watch to have in any collection.

$329 – buy it on amazon.com

Victorinox Swiss Army Sport Chrono

It is a great looking watch and a famous brand, but what truly makes this watch stand out is the fact that it comes with Sport Chronograph. Such feature typically comes with much more expensive watches. It is a specialised function that requires a more advanced movement.

Victorinox is, of course, known for its Swiss Army Knives famous around the world. It is a brand that expanded to other products and hence now makes, travel accessories, kitchen knives and even perfume.

Watchmaking is relatively new to them – it started making watches from the 1980s, and interestingly, initially sold it in the US exclusively – to test the market.

Overall it is a famous Swiss brand and unique watch with great features.

$355 – buy it on Amazon.com

Frederique Constant Men's Slim Line

This is the ultimate classic Swiss watch. Note the hands called “pomme hands” in the industry (meaning “apple” in french) as well as the texture on the face – these are the design inventions by Frederique Constant. Many watch brands later adopted the whole or part of this design in their very expensive watches. Hence, for me, it is a steal to carry such look at the budget bellow of $500.

It will work for anyone aiming for a sleek look that comes from a trustworthy brand. It also has a touch of luxury, and hence I would not feel uncomfortable wearing this in the most exclusive parties.

Unfortunately, this price comes with some surprises. I am not a big fan of the slim look, and it is a great shame that it is not waterproof.

$400 – buy on amazon.com

Glycine KMU 48 Kriegs Marine Uhren Rose Gold Plated Steel

Differently from the rest of the watches on this list Glycine KMU 48 is a manual wind watch. Usually watches with such Swiss movement would cost much more.

Other features also meet my expectations on what quality watch should have: sapphire scratch-resistant glass, real leather strap and luminous hour indicators. It is also unusually large – at 48 mm in diameter, this watch is enjoying a spot amongst big boy club of watches. A perfect companion for a manly man with larger hands.

Although the brand is not as well known, it is a long-standing watch maker with strong credentials. Glycine started in 1914 and has been growing its base in Bienne, Switzerland ever since.

$415 – buy it on amazon.com

THE SECRET

So why do these watches cost less?

Most of the watch brands listed here will have much more expensive watches on offer. So how come we found these ones to be under $500?

The reason is simple – price very often depends on what is under the hood. Many luxury and higher-priced watches will have expensive movements offering unique features.

For example, all except one, these watches have quartz movement as opposed to an expensive mechanical one. Perpetual calendars and high water resistance would be other features to go too.

To be honest, even at this price, they are more than functional what contemporary man might need.

Wenger Men's Seaforce Stainless Steel

What a great watch. Just look at it – it is a mean looking machine at 43 mm in diameter. I especially love the red button and red hand for tachymeter which brings out a feature usually reserved to much more expensive sports watches.

Although it is not suitable for full diving experience, it will withstand all vigorous surface activities with ease. I wish it could go scuba diving with me, but at this price point, I can't be too demanding.

Overall, I adore the look and the colours of this watch. I would have never guessed that such sporty and the functional watch would cost under $250 and that with Swiss movement and prominent brand behind it.

$229 – buy it on amazon.com

Tissot Men's Seastar 660/1000

We all know Tissot a brand that is sponsoring so many sports events including NBA, racing and even ice hockey. It has been making watches since 1853 and definitely solidified its position as a great watchmaker.

This watch typically costs just over $500, but there are regular deals on Amazon that take it within our budget. So, if you don't see it now, wait for a few weeks.

It is a great looking watch with a solid stainless steel case and strap, which comes with a cool clasp. It's quite a big watch at 45.5 mm in diameter and whooping 12 mm in depth.

Despite the name, it is not advisable to dive or snorkel with it thought, which places it within the decorative and not the sporty watch section.

$430 – $490 – buy it on amazon.com

Certina DS Podium

This watch is my personal favourite. I owned one for over three years and could not be happier. Its classic works for me well and, most importantly, it meets my very strict practical requirements.

Certina name comes from the Latin word “certu” meaning “certain”. And that summarises brand values very well. It is the company that patented a waterproof seal that is used in many other watches. “DS” in the name stands for “Double Security” highlighting additional technology implemented to ensure that watch is waterproof and shake resistant.

Overall, it is a trustworthy and time tested Swiss watchmaker that contributed many patents to Swiss watchmaking, reliability and image.

$330 – $400 buy it on amazon.com

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There is a lot of romance about Europe. Here are some of the romantic gifts you can easily get.

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Men are not complicated, they are simply peculiar. Let's have a look at our most interesting gift ideas.

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Scottish have a unique culture, environment and things they make. Discover more exciting stories.

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Italian gift can be very special. People love the craftsmanship, design and the story.

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What Gift To Buy For A Man Who Has It All

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What To Get For A Man Who Has It All

“A man who has it all” is usually not interested in “things”. He is interested in a great story, uniqueness and rarity. That’s why unique, one-off pieces fetch millions at auctions.

But, since one-off is not an option for most of us, let me tell you how to find the unique things with great stories to tell instead.

It's not about how much it cost, but what story does it tell to him and his friends.

Unique gifts require some digging and thought. But as long as you know something about the person, you should be able to find a gift with an interesting story to tell. Everyone is so different, hence you might find it challenging to find a list of gift ideas that will fit your specific situation.

Instead, I suggest the following seven different ways to think when thinking about what gift to buy for a man that has it all.

Relate To Nationality And Heritage

A lot of people can trace their heritage to other countries. Many of them are proud or at least intrigued on where they or their family has come from. Hence anything physical, useful or unusual that is coming from that country automatically becomes a point of fascination. Just think about it, everyone knows that most consumer goods are made in China these days. So even the usual everyday item suddenly becomes so much more exciting and important purely on the basis of where it comes from.

To buy a tartan related gift you do not need to go for a kilt. These days tartan is used to make iPhone covers, ties, hats, cufflinks and etc. Furthermore, it is quite fascinating that each clan had their own unique pattern. For example here are tartan patterns and colours for the astronaut Armstrong and Mikey Mouse voice MacDonald. You can find clan search tool here.

Link It To History

Especially fascinating for people who like history or politics, excitement is linked to events like wars, or immigration which eventually leads to something positive.

For example, the Fourth Crusade in 1204 caused Byzantine glassmakers to leave Constantinopolis (today’s Istanbul) and resettle in Venice. Here they used their skills to invent and develop the concept of Venetian or Murano glass.

Glassmakers produce a surprising variety of products suitable for unique gifts. There are some impressive chandeliers, lamps, furniture pieces, colourful glasses, striking decoration pieces and even furniture handles.

This also influenced the fact that Italy is still a major producer of sun glasses. Luxotica, (pictured) is one of the brands you could consider.

Today you can still find three brands that are making true Murano glass in the same workshops. See our What is Made in Italy guide for more inspiration.

Rediscover Good And Natural From The Past

The world is continuously changing, and hence we tend to change our lifestyle and how we do things. Sometimes going back “in time” to re-discover how people lived before can bring surprisingly good ideas.

For example, before cotton became popular people used to use linen as the primary source for producing fabric. Today we are learning that it has many benefits over cotton. It absorbs and releases water quicker, considered more hygienic due to a lower rate of bacterial growth.

In Europe, Ireland, UK and Lithuania became linen producing centres from the 16th century. Hence it is not surprising that these countries leading in European linen production these days too. So, if you are after linen, these are the countries to check on our Search By Country directory. I personally like linenme (picture credits) from Lithuania.

Get An Everyday Item That Is Truly Unique And Different

Just because we use it every day, it does not mean it has to be plain and boring. And the plus side, this means it does not have to be very expensive either.

In the picture, you can see a two-prong wine opener that looks and operates very different. It also helps that its history leads to the French sommeliers that used these wine openers in the mid 20th century. Because two-prong type does not damage the cork, they would use it to sip off the wine from the bottles and close it again before selling it to restaurant customers. See Unique Wine Openers to see other surprisingly cool corkscrews.

You can also see an extravagant looking kettle – it is not for everyone. But that's exactly the idea. See Unique Kettles Guide if you want to see more types.

These are a few examples to an idea that you can apply to many things we use every day. I am sure you can come up with more, especially if you know the man.

Relate To Where It Is Made

Heritage is probably the most powerful story for most of the things we own. Since this website is all about European heritage and uniqueness, let me take this example just a notch further.

I love the story of Karesuando knives, for example. Karesuando is a village where local people make Scandinavian knives suitable for outdoors or even a funky kitchen. What's truly unique about these makers is the fact that they live on the reindeer-herding grounds, 250 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle.

This tribe has perfected the design of these knives based on their experience in reindeer husbandry and living in a harsh environment. It is a lovely story to remember when using a knife.

There are many places in Europe that specialise in something and this should give you a good start on what to look for.

Dig Out Something Unusual And Very Unique – Only Used In Some Specific Region Or country

Every country has a region specialising in something due to unique natural resources available or specific climate conditions.

France has Limoges enamel due to exceptionally high-quality white clay which allows the production of exceptional kitchenware. Artedona (picture credit) is one of the many brands that makes them.

Germany has Solingen area famous for premium grade blades: swords, knives, scissors due to local steel and steel making skills dating back over 2000 years.

And in Sweden, for example, some people still use wooden cups carved from a solid lump of tree burl, called Kasa. If you are after even more crafty gift, they also come with a reindeer antler inlays. This potentially a perfect gift to an outdoors type of person to replace the plastic equivalent.

Tell A Story On How It Was Made

This applies to any industry or product, but let me give some great examples from European watchmaking.

Watchmaking is a very complex and exciting subject. But sometimes, if you want to know what sets one watch apart from the other, it can be very technical and daunting. So, in this example, let me skip the horological craftsmanship and highlight another potentially exciting story instead.

Sinn makes their U1 watches from German submarine steel – an ultimate “made in Germany” gift for watch (or submarine) enthusiast.

While Rado, on the other hand, chose to skip metal all together when making outer shells – they use ceramic instead. And the one they use has been officially tested and certified to be the hardest material on earth

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Germany is the known for its engineering innovation and quality. Discover more on what they make.

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It is an exciting country with so many small artisan workshops. What what else makes Italy so appealing?

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Italy is famous for its fashion, design and craftsmanship, but also Italian gifts come with a story to tell.

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We spent years searching the web, artisan shops and visiting artisan makers in Europe. You welcome.

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