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Women Worldwide Share Gift Shopping Tips...


Evelyn Hannon

Let's face it. As we prowl shops around the world for unique gifts many of the objects we choose have one thing in common -- a label that proclaims ... Made in China. Now, what fun is that? I don't want to buy candlesticks in Paris that are made in China. I'd like the lovely item I choose in Paris to be made in France and I will definitely appreciate items made in China when I shop in China. In other words ... I want a true 'locally made' souvenir from the destination I'm visiting.

It was Jse-Che, a Journeywoman in Toronto, Canada who suggested that we canvas JW readers worldwide to tell us about gifts that are really produced in the area where they are 'for sale.' Here's some of the very interesting feedback we received. We hope this article is a help to everybody when they go shopping somewhere in this great big world.

If you have a suggestion of your own to add, please put it into an email addressed to: and include the words, 'shopping for local gifts' in the subject line. We'll post all suggestions that are appropriate. Thank you everybody...



A lovely gift from Adelaide, South Australia would be chocolate from Haigh’s Chocolates. These handmade chocolates are the best chocolate I have ever had. They make chocolate frogs for an inexpensive gift, sparkling shiraz truffles and my personal favourite ‘aprichocs’ (an apricot mixture coated in chocolate in small balls). For something uniquely Australian and a little more expensive there is the ‘Australian collection.’ These are hard and soft centres made of Australian ingredients coated in chocolate. You can get a boxed collection for approximately $25 (AUD) or buy them individually for about a $1.50 each, as few as three can be put in a small box for a gift. Also, if you are travelling they will give you a thick foil coated bag to protect the chocolates.

There are outlets for Haigh’s in the main city shopping mall and some suburban malls (there are also shops in Melbourne and one in the Strand Arcade in Sydney). If you go to the factory in Parkside, Adelaide (quite near the city centre) you can do a tour to see the chocolates made (and taste some treats). Website:

Also, a friend who moved to London said he could not get some of the Australian lollies overseas - these include ‘Fruit Tingles’ and ‘Minties’. You can get these for $1.50-$3 at any supermarket.
Tammy, Canberra


One great gift that I can recommend is our classic Australian Vegemite, which comes in a tube! I know many non-aussies find Vegemite to be…er…. an acquired taste, but it is a great way to transport vegemite - particularly if you are taking a care package back to an Aussie living abroad! If you are a first-timer to the joys of Vegemite - all I can say is "spread lightly". Enjoy!
Mar, Perth


I would like to alert everybody to the wicked pleasures of Arnott's TimTam, a most irresistible made-in-Australia chocolate biscuit treat. If you buy only a few packages of these you will probably berate yourself when you get back home. Instead, make sure to purchase enough for all the chocoholics on your list. They'll love these tasty cookies and adore you for thinking of them (under$A3.00). Expect to find these treats on most grocery shelves in Sydney.
Ruth, Sydney

The Rocks market held every weekend in Sydney by the Harbour Bridge has a whole range of things, including jewellery (ranging from $20 to $150 depending on the stall you go to), framed photographs, and bright hand painted pictures of Sydney Harbour which range in size from about 2 inches square as fridge magnets for $5 to large wall pictures for $100s. However, most of the tourist and designer stores in the Rocks, open all week are quite expensive (still well worth looking through). I do enjoy looking in the old Argyle Department Store at the Rocks which has vintage clothing among other things. The Rocks is a central tourist location in Sydney, easy to get to, but sometimes over priced. While you are there try Sailor’s Thai Restaurant (106 George Street) for great Thai food, or walk up the hill on Argyle Street to The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel, an old pub which brews its own beer (corner of Kent Street and Argyle Street). Website:
Tammy, Canberra


Toronto, Ontario

The Guild Shop on Cumberland Street in Yorkville has a collection of Canadian artisan works that include very modern jewelry like that of Elaine Wigle (silver with pearls and fossils and wonderful pale stones) and other one-of-a-kinds like Inuit prints, Inuit soapstone carvings, silk scarves, pots, clothing. The staff is friendly and up to date on the latest goodies in. Really worth a visit. The Guild Shop, 118 Cumberland St., (Yorkville) Toronto, Ontario, Canada Tel: 416-921-1721 Website:
Margaret, Toronto, Canada

St. Alberts, Alberta

I live in St. Albert (on outskirts of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada). We have a wonderful street market here during July-September, with lots of fresh foods, flowers, and artisans of every sort. It is on St. Anne Street in front of our city hall. The Canvas shopping bag with local artist Alan Nutall's rendition of the market screened on to it for $10 Canadian, I think is a great buy. He can be reached at:
Lynda, St. Albert, Canada


Some of the neatest gifts I have given and gotten have been local cookbooks (the smaller, more locally based the better). In Puerto Rico I got my hands on one in a grocery store that was made up by and sold as a fund raiser for a local school. Great fun! In Burma/Myanmar many years ago, I was able to find an old cookbook in one of the flea markets. My aunt, who collects cookbooks was thrilled when I gave it to her. When they were in Newfoundland a couple of years ago, my parents found an amazing little cookbook that was put out by a local ladies group. I must admit I am not big on cod cheeks but what a fun insight into the local people and way of life that book was. Cookbooks are small, easy to carry and don't cause problems going through security checks!
Judy, Saskatchewan, Canada



Since we are a tourist destination we have tons of souvenirs, but my recommendation is to look at the food items. We season our food with Bajan seasoning bought in seal packable packs. This seasoning can be used in so many ways. Our pepper sauce is not so hot and extremely tasty. Sweet delights... sugar cakes, rum cakes and tamarind balls, small different delights special to us. I hope this is helpful for other Journeywoman readers.
Rafza, Barbados

St. Lucia

Here are my gift suggestions from this wonderful part of the world. Go natural! With your new digital camera take some extreme close-ups of the resort's exotic flora and fauna. Photos of the lush tropical gardens in fabulous colors are guaranteed to make anybody's heart sing. Frame a few for grandma's powder room. She'll love you for it.

After some taste testing and advice from a bartender in St. Lucia, here are three gift suggestions for dad or any other lovable guys in your life.

Chairman's Reserve Double Distilled Rum chosen for its smooth refined taste.
Crystal Lime Rum which is citrus flavored and can be served with gingerale or straight-up on ice.
Nutz 'N Rum which is a liquor best served on the rocks or over ice cream. Yummy!
Mom will always welcome some new spicy additions to her pantry. We chose local West Indian ginger powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and all spice produced by Baron in St. Lucia. Combine these goodies with a West Indian cookbook and you have a perfect Island combo. P.S. These bottles of spice are under $US1.00 each at Julien's Grocery Store in Rodney Bay (located on the way to the airport).

Your sister and best gal pals will love the island-inspired pareos (beach sarongs) on sale everywhere. From funky rayons to elegant silks, a complete rainbow of colors are available in a myriad of styles and price ranges. I bought extras for my 'gift drawer' because these wrap-arounds are so easy to pack and they make absolutely excellent Christmas and Bon Voyage gifts.

Finally, for the teenagers in my family I couldn't resist a bottle of Baron's Banana Ketchup. This is a sweet sauce made in St. Lucia using bananas and spices, especially great on burgers, and perfect for anything you might use tomato ketchup on. If nothing else, a bottle of this will be a conversation starter for the bigger kids at your next Bar BQ. Also available under $US5.00 at Julien's Grocery Store.
Evelyn, Toronto, Canada



For cheap, cheap, cheap shopping you must visit the Xiang Yang Market located between Xiang Yang Rd. and the Shan Xi North Rd. Expect to find clothes, purses, tablerunners and mats, sweaters, jackets, watches, pashminas, and lots of small items. While the items might say Rolex, North Face and Nike, you are generally not getting the real thing but seconds, knock-offs or imitations. This is the place to bargain. Always offer half of what you have been quoted. If you're a good bargainer you can get it for a third. Always check merchandise( even if it's wrapped in plastic) for sizing and quality before you leave the stall. Never buy anything from touts outside the market. Prices are too high.
Kim, Shanghai



Do you know about MUJI for buying gifts?

Just wanted to share with readers my new favourite shop in London. When I was there in June, I got a chance to visit MUJI and fell in love. MUJI has something for everyone - office/school supplies, home wares, clothes, toileteries and best of all travel products. I bought their stackable pots (a steal at 5 for £1.95), their P.E.T. travel bottles, the multi-tool, some beautiful sleeveless sweaters and my new favourite bag. Next time, I'll be sure to pick up their portable cardboard speakers.
There are 8 stores in London, including a branch in Selfridges & Co. on Oxford Street. Apparently, there are also stores in Nottingham, Reading, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester. Their website is
Nicole, Ottawa, Canada



I suggest you pop into any French grocery store and pick up tubes of Dijion mustard. They're light, easy to pack and it is the real deal -- definitely made and packaged in France. One word of caution -- put them in a plastic bag before you put them into your suitcase. This has never happened to me but just in case you want to prevent mustard spilling on to your clothes.
Lise, Paris



Mumbai (Bombay) is a shoppers paradise and the number of places you can get gifts at is mind boggling. But if you are coming to the city and want to take gifts home, you would like them to be of a certain quality. I am listing below three stores that offer the gamut of Indian handicrafts in a variety of price ranges.

Tresorrie: Linking Road, Santa Cruz West, Mumbai; Infinity Mall, New Link Road, Andheri West, Mumbai -53.: offers handicrafts of all sorts; also stuff made of handmade and recycled paper, furnishings and little the well loved Ganesh--our round bellied GOD--statues, lamps, frames, et al

The Center (also known as the Center for Arts and Crafts), Juhu shopping complex, Gulmohar Road, Mumbai: little knicks and knacks, Rajasthani mirror work, liltle statues, paper weights, pashminas, ladies tops, furnishings, carvings, et al

FabIndia: Pali Hill, Bandra West, Khar West, R-Mall Mulund: Offers the gamut of Indian handloom fabrics. They also offer dresses, skirts, jackets, scarves and the like in Indian fabrics, designs, motifs.

Whenever I have travelled abroad, I have picked up gifts from these three stores and the reactions of the recipients has always brought a warm glow to my heart.

There are many more but I have taken foreign colleagues, friends and family to these stores and we have never returned empty handed. Warm regards to all.
Kirti. Mombai (Bombay), India

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