As Tom Lehrer once famously sang, “God rest ye merry merchants may you make the yuletide pay.” Whether you celebrate with midnight mass and Gregorian hymns or Tim Allen movies and pyjamas, Christmas just ain’t Christmas without a few shiny parcels under ye ol’ holiday shrubbery. And now that we’re into December, even though the prospect sickens, there’s no excuse left for putting off gift shopping. So once again, we’ve put together a guide to help you jingle through the shops on a one-horse open credit card! Ho ho ho!
For those on your list who can’t resist a nice stack of pages beautifully bound together, how about offering some new Icelandic publications, such as Sigrún B. Birnisdóttir’s collection of short stories ‘Wandering Sagittarius,’ the natural health guide ‘Medicinal Plants of Iceland’ by Arnbjörg L. Jóhannsdóttir or the family novel ‘Story of the Hidden People’ by mother and son Sigrún Elsa Smáradóttir and Smári Rúnar Róbertsson. If they prefer their books with more visuals than words, collected artworks would do the trick with Katrín Elvarsdóttir’s ‘Equivocal’ or Elín Hansdóttir and Rebecca Solnit’s ‘Path, Journey to the Centre.’ All books listed are available at Eymundsson (various locations, www.eymundsson.is.)
Other recommended bookshops: Fornbókabúðin (Klapparstígur 25), Útúrdúr (Hverfisgata 42), Mál og Menning (Laugavegur 18)
Jingle bell rock
If it’s your stereo system that needs a present, then it’s in some real luck, because a whole bunch of brand new albums have just hit the shelves. Among those getting the highest praise are Ghostigital’s ‘Division of Culture & Tourism,’ The Heavy Experience’s ‘Slowscope’ and Sudden Weather Change’s ‘Sculpture.’ For something hot off the record press, pick up ‘Born to Be Free’ by Borko, the self-titled album by Dream Central Station, or the very upliftingly named ‘I Will Die And You Will Die And It Will Be Alright’ by Þórir Georg (deleted line from the Last Supper? We think so.) All albums listed are available at Eymundsson or digitally at www.gogoyoko.is.
Other recommended record stores: Lucky Records (Hverfisgata 82), Smekkleysa (Laugavegur 35), 12 Tónar (Skólavörðustígur 15 & Harpa)
Or perhaps your loved ones’ closets are getting a little ratty and you’re starting to fear their last good pair of pants is going to blow apart! For some of the finest outdoor apparel in town, head up to Geysir (Skólavörðustígur 16) and grab some gear from Farmer’s Market, Vík Þrjónsdóttir, and Fjall Raven. For holiday finery, take a stroll along Laugavegur and try on some well-crafted clothes from Einvera (35), Herrafataverslun Kórmaks og Skjaldar (59), and Kiosk (65). You can also head over to Kolaportið on any weekend to grab up some locally knitted winter accessories for the hands and head from some delightful characters!
Other recommended retail stores: KronKron (Laugavegur 63b), Spúútnik (Laugavegur 28b), Fatamarkaður (Laugavegur 118)
Stuff your face
Of course, most of us have at least one family foodie that just wants to eat, drink and be merry. For those delightful gluttons, pile on the cheer with specialty cheeses and sausages from Delicatessen Óstabúðin (Skólavörðustígur 8), rich spices, salts and oils available at Heilsuhúsið (Laugavegur 20b) or a decadent chocolate Christmas tree adorned with candies and nuts made exclusively by Sandholt (Laugavegur 36). Help them wash that all down with Christmas beers (jólabjór) by Borg Brúgghús, Gæðingur and Einstök, and refined local liqueurs by Reykjavík Distillery available at Vínbúð (various locations, www.vinbud.is).
Other recommended specialty food shops: Búrið (Nóatún), Frú Lauga (Laugalæk 6), Melabúðin (Hagamel 39)
For the shoes!
Finally, here in Iceland we don’t do stockings, but you never know what might turn up in a shoe in the window! For all your own shoe-filling needs, grab some lovely little items from local designers at ATMO (Laugavegur 89) and Hrím (Laugavegur 25), get inexpensive trifles from Tiger (various locations), and sweet treats in the form of good old fashioned candy from Nammibarinn (various locations). And if anyone made your naughty list this year, a nice chunk of volcanic coal will do just fine.