Stuck for present ideas? Here's our pick of some fantastic made-in-Switzerland and locally available gifts to give to your friends and family this festive season...
It seems that everyone in Zurich owns at least one Freitag Bag. Like the city itself, they’re cool, eco-friendly, individual-but-not-too-way-out and, of course, "reassuringly expensive" (they do last forever though). So give the gift that shows you’re in the know! While the full-size bags, backpacks, shoppers and totes can be pricey, Freitag also has a range of more-affordable accessories such as zipper purses, MP3 player holders and smartphone and tablet sleeves, all in their signature recycled truck-tarp material.
The Matterhorn is easier to eat than it is to climb – at least, it is at Bäckerei Fuchs in Zermatt. Owners Philipp and Sandra specialise in chocolate Matterhorns that look as exquisite as they taste: they comprise Maracaibo or milk chocolate with a nougat filling and white chocolate-capped summits. Available in cubes, as well as boxes of five to 96, they’re sure to give stocking envy.
Give the gift of beauty this Christmas with natural body care line Engadiner Arve from Drogaria Mosca. The brand whips up sap from Swiss pine trees in the Engadine region into a shampoo, body milk, body oil and protective hand cream. Not only does the sap come from the highest pine forest in Europe; it is also said to grant power and purity.
Le Bâton d'Absinthe
This will be a love or a hate gift. Absinthe-flavoured chocolates are a real taste of Switzerland – and, made by one of Canton Neuchâtel's most renowned chocolatiers, Jacot, they are something of a delicacy. Perhaps just find out in advance whether your intended recipient is a fan of the notorious Swiss drink or not …
Fondue is about as Swiss as it gets. Best of all, it’s very easy to do and makes for a fun winter dinner party with friends or family. There’s a vast range of different fondue sets on the market – from cheesy (geddit) Swiss designs featuring cows, mountains and Edelweiss motifs to more sophisticated ones. Spend an enjoyable hour choosing your perfect set, and matching (or not) accessories such as the stand, plates and fondue forks at your local Globus or visit the Globus flagship store in Zurich.
Experience the romance 2,000 metres above sea level on top of a mountain that is a night in the Love Yurt at Rochers-de-Naye. Easily accessible by rail on the Golden Pass route (round trip train tickets are included in the price), the yurts are cosily decked out in Tibetan-style décor. Throw in champagne, breakfast and dinner for two, and what could be nicer than waking up to this view?
Luxury Watch making in Neuchâtel
We’re in the land of watches but which one to choose? Here’s an original idea – why not make your own! The Beau Rivage Hotel in the watchmaking town of Neuchâtel hosts 1-day courses in which you create your own luxury watch, guided by a master watchmaker from local firm Initium. The package includes 2 nights’ stay in the hotel, a welcome drink, lunch and a five-course dinner.
Who doesn’t want a new bike for Christmas? The Swiss-made electric bikes from Ego Movement are stylish, practical and surprisingly affordable. Ideal for tackling the steep streets of Zurich and beyond, while still looking damn fine. Plus, they are happy to let you try before you buy, so pop in for a test ride.
Really push the boat out this Christmas with one of these exquisite examples of Swiss craftsmanship. The pieces in M.A.D Gallery Geneva are mostly watch-themed but are from your average timepiece – timeless showpiece is more like it.
STOCKING FILLERS BY CITY:
Bern: Yamatuti has a great range of fun and frivolous nick-nacks: everything from toy Trabants to banana guards to ironic religious figurines.
Geneva: Ozone Design has a plenty of affordable retro-fantastic bits and pieces as well as framed prints from the swinging sixties. It also carries a nice range of dog accessories to ensure Santa won't forget your four-legged friend this Christmas.
Lausanne: Particules en Suspension carries a huge selection of unusual goods – whether you’re looking for an umbrella that changes colour in the rain, a set of quirkily-shaped cheese knives or an animal candle that burns down to reveal a metal “skeleton” underneath, you’ll find it here. Cocooning sells lovely smelling soaps, handcreams and other toiletries all made from local organic ingredients and packaged so prettily you’ll have a hard time giving them away!
Zurich: Rrrevolve has some fantastic products for the eco-conscious person in your life, such as recycled records made into wall clocks, solar bags and loads of eco-friendly kids’ toys. Visit their pop-up shop in Zurich HB.
Basel: Xocolatl is your one-stop shop for all things chocolate. From the finest Swiss stuff to delicious, sweet, cocoa-based products from around the world, including a good range of Christmas-themed chocs.