Going home from Iceland for Christmas? Visiting Iceland over the holidays and looking for presents to bring home? Worry no longer, Grapevine is here to help.
1. For the music fan
The Icelandic music scene is bubbling, and a record is always a good gift. If you are looking for something special—not to mention cheap and environmentally friendly—the recycling centre shop Góði Hirðirinn (Fellsmúli 28) sells second hand vinyl for 200–400 ISK (also try Kolaportið and Lucky Vinyl on Hverfisgata for more “select” LPs). How about Icelandic Christmas carols or nostalgic folk songs? Perhaps a bit of Vilhjámur Vihljámsson for that special someone?
2. For a friend—when your luggage is full and your bank account empty
The Icelandic Opal candy boxes are small, cheap (209 ISK in Bonus, even cheaper at the airport) and come in Christmas colours of green and red. They are stylish enough for the fancypants young and creative, and you can pump up their street cred with stories of your adventures in the 101 bars pouring the alcoholic shot variety with hot blondes of all genders.
3. For the furry pal
Perhaps an insult towards Icelanders’ taste buds, but the family cat back home will be in ecstasy munching down on the locals’ favourite snack, harðfiskur. Several sizes, shapes and prices, available at grocery stores, flea market and on the airport on your way outta here.
4. For the single friend
Iceland is currently a budget destination, but there is one item that is a bargain beyond the rest: The pregnancy test. In my native Finland, doubts regarding your menstrual cycle can cost you dearly—at least 5 euro, easily up to 20. Here, the budget test is yours for 500 ISK or so (2,5 euro). You share a bit of local social-culture with this present too— accidental pregnancies are a popular pastime in the country, and the number of young mothers is particularly high. Probably works best for female friends.
5. For mother or grandmother
Icelandic wool is great—and, at 300 ISK or so per ball—a bargain buy. With luck, the present may end up coming back to you in the shape of a pair of socks, mittens, hat or a scarf.
6. For the one in true Christmas spirits
Are you or one of your friends ready to turn the other cheek? Why not open an account at the brand new Arion Bank, previously New Kaupthing, previously Kaupthing. Arion “offers you the key to business on the Iceland Stock Exchange (ICEX), as well as all major international markets.” And the custody account is available to those without the Icelandic kennitala. As a bonus, the new visual identity even has a nice Christmassy star-what better to lift the holiday spirits? This present, though, may not be the kind that keeps on giving.
7. For the health freak family member when you want revenge
Now is your chance to have your revenge for all those mornings as a child when you had to swallow the disgusting cod liver oil. Lýsi is an Icelandic product that will have the receiver think of you every morning. It comes in various shapes and forms, and is available in most grocery stores and pharmacies. It’s also pretty healthy, we hear.
8. For a child or someone learning Icelandic
The Skrímsli-series by Áslaug Jónsdottir, Kalle Güettler and Rakel Heimsdal features five excellent books about the adventures and daily quarrels of the big monster and the little monster. Cool visuals, good lessons and plenty of humour—suits both children and those that wish to but don’t yet speak the glorious language of Iceland.