A Very Beijing Christmas: 11 Local Gifts to Buy Friends and Family This Holiday Season

Christmas is still a growing trend here in Beijing, which can make sourcing local and meaningful presents a little more difficult than the tat that you'll find lining every aisle of every shop at this time of year back at home. Sure, there's always Taobao, but what if you're looking for something with a little extra bite and Beijing charm? Below are some of our favorite localized gift ideas to give to a friend, family member, or loved one. Don't forget, if you're looking for local food items, your best bet is at the remaining Christmas markets and bazaars around town.

Plastered 8 Pollution Globe
Plastered 8 first showed us that you can in fact bottle air and sell it, and now they've gone one step further; capturing a smoggy Beijing scene that can be transported anywhere in the world. Whether you're missing Beijing this Christmas or just want to give your unmotivated parents a taste of what waits for them once they finally get on a plane (still waiting!), Plastered 8's Pollution Globe will make for a prized addition to the mantle.
Buy: Plastered 8 Taobao store

Liuba Draws Calendars, Cards, and Magnets
Liuba Vladimirova turns greeting cards into warm and colorful love letters to Beijing. “I like to create unique things that show the quirky side of Beijing,” Vladimirova says. “My cards are suitable for different occasions, and I made sure to also make the inside of the cards attractive and fun.” Liuba's fun designs also come adorned on magnets, keychains, mugs, totes, and more.
Buy: liubadraws.com; Instagram:@liubadraws; WeChat: liubatje

Sister Hulu (葫芦妹)
Nancy Tong, otherwise known as her crafty alias Sister Hulu, makes cutesy painted gourds throughout the year, individualizing their little anthropomorphic gourd bodies depending on the season or holiday. For Christmas, Tong has made a special range of Christmas tree ornaments and festive shelf-sitters that won't go amiss with any age range.
Buy: Catch Sister Hulu at her last sale before Christmas this weekend at the Farm2Neighbors market or add her on WeChat: nancyjtong.

Drinking Buddies Beer Subscription
The fact is, craft beer is now a multi-billion dollar business around the world and has taken Beijing by storm over the past five years. That being said, you can never have too much variety and Drinking Buddies have made it that prerogative to deliver the best of the world's brews straight to your door. Simply subscribe to a three (RMB 650), six (RMB 1,200), or 12-month plan (RMB 2,000) and you'll start to receive six small-batch brewery beers not otherwise available in China.
Buy: drinkingbuddies.cn

Guava Pass
Now that you've got your beer buddy sorted, it's time to cater to your fitness freak of a friend. Guava Pass is designed to give subscribers a little taste of everything because if there's one thing about exercise we know by now, it's that if you don't switch it up every now and then you're unlikely to do it at all. Guava Pass does that by getting you into classes at affiliated gyms across the city. You pay depending on how many classes you'd like to attend: RMB 288 for four per month, RMB 688 for three months unlimited, or RMB 788 for monthly unlimited.

Migas Mercado "Cesta Navidad" Christmas Baskets
Migas brings a little Mediterranean flavor to Christmas this year with their Christmas baskets filled with Migas goodies, such as wine, sausages, oysters, chili peppers, olives, Castro Iberico ham, camembert, homemade cookies, and honey. The baskets come in two sizes (RMB 908: RMB 1,416) depending on how many mouths you have to feed and make for a good present for the office or Christmas do.
Buy: Head to Migas Mercado to pick one up

Signature Wine Club Subscription
Most of us would like to think we know a little something about wine, but how many of us actually do? Give the gift of knowledge as well as the gift of alcohol with a subscription to Signature Wine Club. Every month, the recipient will receive two new bottles specially selected by Signature Wine's panel of experts, along with tasting notes and access to an online library of wine resources and videos. A three month, two bottle subscription is RMB 1,169.
Buy: sigwine.com

NA Jewelry
If you're looking for something a little more bling this Christmas, you may want to browse the wares of Beijing-based team Natasha Patton and Elena Stukanova, who make well-priced (RMB 100-600) and intricate handcrafted jewelry as NA – bangle bracelets, necklaces, earrings, etc. – using gemstones from Brazil, India, Russia, and China. All of the metal used is imported from the USA and fashioned by the duo into elegant pieces that are suited for both daily wear and special occasions.
Buy: WeChat: Na-Jewelry

TCA Apparel and Crafts
Beijing-based designer and graphic artist company TCA sells colorful reworkings of Beijing scenes (think hutongs, bikes, the ubiquitous chuan'r signs) on coasters, pins, cushion covers and the like. The perfect way to brighten up a bedroom, couch, or coat.
Buy: TCA Weidian

Whotoly Crafts and Fabrics
The two Beijing-based designers behind Whotoly have been friends for over 18 years and together make colorful designs through block printing and textile design. Their goods range from handkerchiefs, tea towels, and bags and incorporate Chinese elements in a creative, fun, and fashionable way. To add an extra element of personalization, the team are currently working their way through 108 original patterns. Each pattern number is written on the product and has a story that can be read via Whotoly's WeChat account.
Buy: Whotoly Weidian; WeChat: whotoly; Instagram: whotoly; at markets across town

Palace Museum Gifts
Beijing's Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, is considered to have one of the coolest gift shops in China and regularly sells out of items before any one of the bazillion tourists make it through the palace's doors each morning. Some crafty individuals even figured out that the museum's lush collection of patterned tapes can be used to cover high-end beauty containers, making them look even classier. Visit their Taobao store for easy shopping with none of the hordes.
Buy: gugong1925.taobao.com

Images courtesy of the brands