10 unique Christmas gift ideas from Madrid

Are you looking for some great Christmas gift ideas from Madrid? The shopping season starts so if you happen to be here, it’s a great moment to look for that perfect present.

From food stuffs to a typical belén, the city certainly has its fair share of amazing typical Spanish gifts. Wondering what to stuff your suitcase with for friends and family this year? Here are 10 awesome ideas to inspire you.

 

1. A Belén

The tradition of creating nativity scenes (belén in Spanish) to commemorate the birth of Jesus in Spain is thought to be some seven centuries old.

Around Christmas time most Spanish families set up belenes in their homes. Actually, you will also see them everywhere: in the City Hall, and even shop windows. So head to any Christmas market in Madrid and you’ll be sure to find nativity scenes figurines and sets for sale.

 

2. Christmas sweets

Christmas is the time when the Spanish rich gastronomic mix is at its high point. There is so much variety of sweets that you’ll want to taste everything! From turrón and polvorones to mantecados and mazapán… Not to mention the classic roscón de Reyes!

There are two traditional, basic types of turrón: soft Jijona or turrón blando, which is so smooth it has the consistency of peanut butter, and hard Alicante or turrón duro, which is like a thick almond nougat candy, similar to the texture of peanut brittle. You can buy the best turrón at Casa Mira (Calle San Jerónimo, 30).

Polvorones are traditional Spanish Christmas cookies that are flavored with almonds and are crumbly in texture. Mantecados refers to a variety of shortbread cookies, featuring a delicate anise flavor accented with lemon and cinnamon. Get them both at Horno San Onofre (Calle Mayor, 73).

Finally, mazapán, made of sugar an almond, can come in the shape of little figures, covered with sugars or pine nuts or can even contain a rich, delicious filling. You can find them at Confitería El Riojano (Calle Mayor, 10).

 

3. A pair of alpargatas

This oldest and most traditional Spanish shoe is called alpargata (espadrille). The basic kind of espadrille is made of two pieces of sturdy cotton sewn to a flat hemp sole by hand.

Even the humble espadrille, though, is subject to the whims of fashion. These days even the most traditional shops also sell factory-made espadrilles in a variety of styles and will custom-make them in different fabrics. Be sure to try them out at Casa Hernanz (Calle Toledo, 18).

 

4. Jamón and cheese

What would Spain be without its famous jamón? There’s no better way to eat ham than pairing it with some incredible manchego cheese and sharing with family and friends. There are so many places in Madrid where you can get some of the best cured products in the country. Mercado Jamón Ibérico might be the best place in Madrid to buy jamón (and some delicious cheeses too!).

 

5. Handicrafts

Some of the must-see Christmas markets located in the center of the city are filled with stalls selling beautiful, unique handcrafted jewelry, toys and ornaments. If you’re looking for a special present this Christmas, here’s where to find it!

 

6. Cooking class

Do you have a foodie friend back home who’s visiting Madrid soon? A cooking class is the perfect gift for foodies and non-foodies alike. And your English-speaking teacher will make sure you learn how to cook a Spanish meal in a practical and enjoyable way.

It goes without saying that an important part of the experience is the taste testing at the end which in typical Spanish style, happens with a glass of Spanish wine in hand!

 

7. Wine

Wine makes a wonderful gift at Christmas time. With so many typical Spanish wines available, why not give your gift a unique twist by purchasing one of the country’s specialties. Head to Bodega de Santa Cecilia (Calle Blasco de Garay, 74) where you can choose from dozens of different wine denominations. Or go to Los Rosales (Calle Echegaray, 17) where you will find some hidden gems to add a Spanish flavor to your festive celebrations.

 

8. Olive oil

The Romans considered olive oil ‘a liquid gold’ and a bottle of Spain’s favorite food accompaniment is a great Christmas gift. With so many different varieties available, it’s best to head to a specialized market stall or shop to find top quality local produce.

My recommendation? Oleoteca Gourmet La Chinata (Calle Mayor, 44) has a huge selection of olive oils and is run by local experts who are happy to talk you through each variety. Alternatively, you can always go to El Corte Inglés Gourmet Experience (Plaza de Callao, 2).

 

9. Christmas lottery

The Spanish Christmas Lottery is one of the world’s largest lottery draws. With a payout of more than 2 billion euros, we usually refer to the biggest prize to El Gordo.

It dates back to the 18th century, when King Carlos III brought the idea from Naples, and it has been celebrated every year since 1812 – even through the Spanish Civil War. So as you can imagine, Christmas lottery is extremely popular and a typical gift among Spaniards.

So it can be a very original gift for a relative or a friend, but most importantly, it will be a wonderful excuse to go back to Madrid: to collect the prize!

 

10. A private photo walk

Why not give the gift of an authentic experience in a new city this Christmas?

The Madrid Photography workshop is available every day so you’re sure to find the perfect date, at the perfect time, for you!

During this unique 2.5-hour workshop, your private host and photography expert will show you all the tips & tricks for you to create the best Madrid street photography. He will take you through the streets of the city, discovering Madrid through photography, getting a better understanding of your camera and returning home with amazing images that will be lifetime memories. All of these, of course, while having lots of fun and enjoying ourselves!

We all know that the best way to really experience a city is to explore it with local experts – and this photography workshop provides you with exactly that!