Natalie Holmes rounds up a selection of Berlin shops with a local, sustainable, eco and fair trade twist…
Vintage & second hand
DeDeRon, as the name suggests, specialises in curiosities from the former DDR, as well as vintage items from way-back-when and newer but equally interesting pieces. Charming turn-of-the-century Christmas tree decorations compete for space with vintage east and west versions of flavoured soda powder – apparently de rigueur at the moment as a vodka mixer. A visit to this grotto will spark the imagination of even the most stumped Christmas shopper.
A tree takes a long time to grow, but during that time it becomes a thing as strong and beautiful as only nature can create. Clearly inspired by this spirit of longevity, Not a Wooden Spoon in Prenzlauer Berg and ShowRaum in Kreuzberg breathe new life into reclaimed wood and other materials, which are reborn as gorgeous, stylish pieces of furniture to be treasured for generations to come.
Every good kitchen needs a decent set of knives. Holzapfel houses an extensive selection of imported Japanese handmade knives and unique kitchenalia.
The showroom in Prenzlauer Berg oozes rustic charm and convincing originality, with a tangibly high quality of goods and an impressive list of clientele that includes master craftsmen from butchers to bookbinders. Kochtail in Mitte stocks a wider and more conventional – but no less impressive – range of kitchen products.
Their Made in Berlin range features Berlin gin and vodka along with accompanying online cocktail recipes for the perfect kick start any ‘slow’ party.
Food and drink
Five Elephant cake and coffee shop sell delicious coffees like the naturally processed, direct trade beans sourced from the Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza project in Brazil. Instant gratification awaits in the form of Philadelphia cheesecake, which Time Out recently described as ‘positively transcendental’.
Also down in Kreuzberg, you can enjoy some tasty treats (or a beer or wine) at Hudson’s Cafe, and browse their shelves for lots of cute food-related gift ideas
Buying a cookery class as a present for your nearest and dearest is surely the gift that keeps on giving. Deli-cum-Slow Food haven Goldhahn & Sampson offer, in addition to their sumptuous selection of foodie delights, a range of evening sessions for all abilities.
Spa & wellness
Why do we always make new year’s resolutions when we know they never work? Each December we fall for that tantalising illusion of newness ahead, as if that arbitrary date upon which we load so much meaning has the power to absolve our actions and strengthen our will.
It takes more than a change in the calendar to shake us out of bad habits, which is why there are few better gifts to give than a break from the old routine.
For the full works, Liquidrom is a wellness centre in the city centre offering extensive thermal baths, sauna, steam rooms and spa treatments.
Prices are slightly higher than other, similar places, but you can easily spend an entire day in this aquatic utopia – a perfect antidote to the post-Christmas desolation of deepest darkest winter.
Luxus International rents space by the shelf to local designers; stepping inside is a technicolour treat. The innovative concept gives artists an opportunity for their products to reach the public, and for shoppers looking for unusual gifts the resulting diversity on offer is a dream come true. In a similar vein, Supermarché in Kreuzberg stocks Hirschkind’s organic, Fair Trade and recycled items, from kitchenware to children’s clothing, all beautifully designed and reasonably priced.
PR company Sieben & Siebzig represents designers and manufacturers of sustainable products, including clothing and natural cosmetics. Their office is Mitte is ingeniously fronted by Eco Showroom, a platform for showing off their clients’ wares.
Books & Paper
The trusty book is a still a stocking staple. Picking out your favourite books for your favourite people is reason enough to look forward to the festive season. Dialogue Books in Kreuzberg has one of the best English-language selections in town, while St. George’s in Prenzlauer Berg is the place to head for second-hand tomes.
If space is an issue, trade in old books at Fair Exchange and save some cash in the process. The cavernous second hand bookshop has some great titles and, as the name would suggest, a fair policy on exchanges.
For a whole range of sexy design books and magazines, you don’t get much better than Mitte’s Do U Read Me!?. Not far away, on Mulackstr. is the small but perfectly formed R.S.V.P., which sells some beautiful notebooks, pens and associated paper-ware. Other local places for stationary nerds can be found in Giulia Pines’s round up here.
And of course if you want to give something you don’t want any more to a stranger, then Berlin has a whole collection of Giveboxes scattered around the city. You might even pick something up while you’re there too.
About The Author
Natalie Holmes lives and works in Berlin as a freelance writer and journalist. She is the founder of Lo/Rez Magazine, which deals with the intersection of art and science, and writes about sustainability and responsible travel on her blog, The Horseshoe Nail.