5 Unique Gifts from around the World

The holidays can be a time when people are giving and getting gifts that fall into the category of…

Blah.

To be fair, it’s often hard to know what to get someone. Many people get around this problem by purchasing gift cards, but that eliminates one of the best parts of giving a gift. A gift is a personalized statement that you care and understand someone. A good gift is something they’ll really appreciate, and sparks a smile.

One way to make people happy about the gift they’re receiving is to give them something tasteful, but still out-of-the-box.

If you’re looking for some inspiration about what that type of gift may be, why not travel around the world with us and see some these awesome global gifts from around the world?

Russia: Stacking Dolls

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Often called nesting or Russian dolls, Matryoshkas were first carved in 1890 by a Russian craftsman. Scholars believe he may have found inspiration from some East Asian figures, but no one is really sure where he got the idea from.

Stacking dolls are easily storable, and when you want to put them on display, you can take them all out and line them up. If you collect them, they can really turn your bookshelf into a panoply of color. They come in a variety of colors, forms, and subjects, some of which are fun and comical, or even relate to pop culture.

Germany: Cuckoo Clocks

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When it comes to German craftsmanship, few things are as recognizable as the cuckoo clock. Cuckoo clocks have been made for centuries in the Black Forest region of Germany. They often operate with a pendulum, but now you can find battery powered ones.

Every hour there is some musical accompaniment, and on some of them there may be some mechanical dancing animals or people.

They make tasteful wall decorations that are fun conversation pieces, while also adding a cultural European note to your home. Of course, they also tell time! A cuckoo clock is an expensive, well-crafted gift that creates a really thoughtful impression.

Africa: African Masks

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In Africa, masks have played a huge role in storytelling, dance, and culture. The masks tend to be formed from interesting geometric forms and earthy colors, sometimes punctuated by bright tones.

For those looking for a more natural touch to the wall, or perhaps an intriguing juxtaposition against some of their more traditional western decorations, African masks can be a really cool-looking gift.

Mexico: Alebrije

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It may sound like an exotic restaurant, but Alebrije are actually brightly colored statues from Mexico. The figures were inspired by a psychedelic vision of Mexican artist Pedro Linares in the 1930s. They can be made from paper-mache (like a pinata) or wood, and often have strange, exciting forms that combine human and animal shapes. If someone you know would like an awesome splash of color in one of their rooms, an Alebrije might be the perfect gift to give their home a little celebratory Latin flair.

Japan: Lucky Cat

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These are officially called Maneki-neko, and they’re a traditional Japanese good luck charm, often placed at the entryway to a business. The waving gesture of its arms is actually supposed to be beckoning for customers, and that’s why you’ve probably seen them a lot at restaurants.

Most everyone is familiar with the lucky cat, even though it comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. It’s a great gift for those who love collecting Oriental trinkets and decor, but most people actually find them cute and endearing, so it’s a safe-bet gift idea that’s fun and unique.   

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