New East Digital Archive

Make it rein: The Calvert Journal’s festive 2021 gift guide

6 December 2021

When we wrote The Calvert Journal 2020 gift guide at the end of last year, it’s fair to say that we didn’t imagine some of our entries would be quite so lastingly relevant. But this year, we’re looking beyond face masks or quarantine clothing and embracing some of the best things to come out of the pandemic: a renewed interest in objects that truly last. As well as a few stocking-fillers that are sure to wow the Eurasian scholar in your life, we’ve also included some of our favourite handmade items crafted by the region’s artists and designers — all sure to take you far beyond 2022.

Sun-drenched, handmade ceramics

From Dunja Ignis Shop, Croatia

Based in Croatia, the Dunja Ignis shop sells handcrafted coffee cups, plates, bowls, and baubles. Some of their winter-themed tableware sees hand-painted skiers glide across a pastel-tinted skyline, while glossy Christmas tree decorations are dappled with petal-like brush strokes.

Our favourite pieces by far are the plates and bowls dotted with hand-painted swimmers. The brightly-coloured figures are suspended mid-dive above their own individual pools of turquoise glaze, conjuring memories of a not-too-distant Adriatic summer.

You can check out the Dunja Ignis online store on Etsy.

Khachapuri socks and shoelaces

From Altersocks, Georgia

As we’ve already covered on numerous occasions here at The Calvert Journal, there is simply no such thing as too much khachapuri. And while we’re still waiting for a major Tbilisi streetwear brand to launch their inevitable Georgian food-themed collection (yes, you heard us, Demna), accessories brand Altersocks is here to fill a very khachapuri-shaped hole in your daily wardrobe.

Working from their base in Tbilisi, Altersocks was launched in 2016 in a bid to add a sprinkle of fun to grown-up closets. They produce socks, shoelaces, and face coverings inspired by everything from artworld masterpieces to Netflix blockbusters. Luckily for us, they also produce a special range themed around Georgian culture, including prints that feature Georgian wine, the Georgian alphabet, and the all important Georgian cuisine. The team’s khachapuri print is available on shoelaces as well as socks, while real fans can even branch out to khinkali-patterned clothes, too.

Run, don’t walk, to the Altersocks shop online.

Fashion-forward puff bags and headscarves

From Another Hat & Bag, Latvia

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the winter catwalks this year, you’ll have seen that quilted outerwear and accessories are quite literally everywhere — from high-gloss puffer jackets at Moncler, to quilted ski boots at Louis Vuitton.

Latvian brand Another Hat & Bag offers pillow bags and headscarves in low-key, powdered tones. Style-watchers will probably find their offering reminiscent of cult Kyiv brand Ienki Ienki — except at a price point that’s a little kinder on your pocket.

Aside from quilted accessories, the label offers a large range of knitwear — and even personalised clothes for your favourite pooch.

If it’s time to treat yourself, then head to Etsy.

1980s-style Russian literature t-shirts

From Culture Package, London

All the cool kids love the 80s. Except in our case, we’re talking about the 1880s.

London-based shop Culture Package treads the difficult line of creating fun novelty t-shirts that are actually wearable. That includes ironic 80s-style prints of all your favourite classical Russian heroes, including Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and Tchaikovsky.

Now, all you have to do is actually get around to reading War and Peace.

Check out their shop on Etsy.

Eastern Bloc toy cars

From Hype&Hyper, Hungary

At The Calvert Journal, we’re big fans of Hype&Hyper a design and lifestyle magazine covering innovation, urban life, and creative ecosystems across Central and Eastern Europe. That means we’re also ardent followers of the Hype&Hyper shop, which offers everything from architectural posters to your own laser-engraved hiking axe.

But at least for now, our favourite store pick is the Chromiez collection: a series of handcrafted wooden cars styled on vehicles made in the Eastern Bloc. The toys themselves include models based on the 1970 Lada 1200, the 1973 Polski Fiat, the boxy and dependable Żuk, and the IFA W50 tanker. Whether you’re buying for your two-year-old nephew or your design-conscious sister-in-law, these are presents that are sure to please all round.

Get your collection from the Hype&Hyper shop.

Cheburashka cookie cutter

From Bakers’ Bay, Russia

Based in Moscow, Bakers’ Bay stocks a massive range of intricate and specialist cookie cutters, including matryoshka dolls, Yuri Gagarin silhouettes, and samovars. But if you really want a crowd-pleaser this Christmas time, then look no further than this cookie cutter dedicated to Soviet cartoon character Cheburashka.

Cheburashka tumbled onto screens all the way back in 1971, but still enchants millions 50 years on with his search for friendship, belonging, and a chosen family all of his own. And if that’s not the perfect analogy for Christmas, then we don’t know what is.

You can get your cookie cutter from Bakers’ Bay on Etsy — but before you click, just bear in mind that some of the moulds on site are strictly NSFW.

Geometric hand-poured candles

From White Linen Shop, Lithuania

Geometric candles have been all over social media this year. Luckily for us, the White Linen Shop stocks hand poured, soy wax candles that measure up to even the most stylish of Instagram accounts.

Soy wax burns slower and cleaner than you’ll often find in other candles. It’s also plant-based, unlike paraffin wax, which is derived from petroleum, coal, or oil shale. But if you were expecting these natural tones to be constrained to washed-out neutrals, think again: these are miniature wax sculptures destined to catch everyone’s eye.

Visit White Linen Shop on Etsy.

Crystal coronavirus sculpture

From the Bohemia Crystal Store, Czech Republic

The year is 2032. Your extended family has gathered around the table for a Christmas meal, but tensions are running high. Great-uncle Alexander is ranting about President Kanye’s economic policy, while your youngest niece, X Æ B-6, hasn’t removed her Metaverse headset since Wednesday. Something is desperately needed to paper over the cracks — except you’re running low on the all-important chocolate-coated cricket legs.

Then, inspiration strikes. You reach to the very top of your kitchen cabinet and pull out your only family heirloom: a crystal sculpture of Sars-CoV-2 virus particle. “Gosh,” someone says, “remember when Covid-19 was still a thing? And we all wanted to panic-buy toilet paper?” “Remember how we thought it would never end?” “Remember how we all pulled through it? And I never wore another pair of jeans again for the rest of my life?”

Everybody laughs (even great-uncle Alexander). Christmas has been saved. And that’s why you too should get a crystal coronavirus sculpture all of your very own.

Get your conversation-starting Covid-19 heirloom on Etsy.

Sauna sausage tubes

From e-Sauna Shop, Lithuania

Sausages are great. Saunas are great. And as we peruse these indisputable facts, we urge you, dear reader, to imagine: what could be better than combining these two, objectively great things into a single package of festive joy? That is why we’re presenting the sauna sausage tube: the perfect way to prepare a mid-steam snack, while slashing the risk of the wrong fleshy appendage being sizzled on burning coals. Whenever people say that there is nothing good left in this world that needs inventing, may the sauna sausage tube forever prove that there are so many more horizons still to conquer.

Get your hands on the pinnacle of human ingenuity at the e-sauna shop.

Limited edition photo prints

From The Calvert Journal, London

Since The Calvert Journal launched all the way back in 2013, we’ve worked to promote and support emerging artists from across Eastern Europe and Central Asia: whether by writing about their work, or by hosting competitions such as the New East Photo Prize.

We hope The Calvert Journal Shop will become another part of that work. We’re offering limited-edition prints from some of the region’s most promising photographic talent. Each sale will give members of our community a chance to own artwork at an affordable price. But more importantly, it will see money go back directly to the artists who produced that shot.

Read some of our interviews with the photographers that we’re working with. Otherwise, you can find their work on The Calvert Journal Shop.

Read more

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