From yearly gift cards and art books to vinyl-only compilations and cameras, here’s an alternative guide to 14 of the best presents to give, or keep, for the festive season.
1. WIELS – WE PASS
An all-access card that gives the holder free entrance to a year’s worth of WIELS exhibitions as well as to the art center’s complimentary programme. Perfect for people with a tendency to spend their spare time visiting exhibitions, the WE PASS is as close the everyday public will get to feeling part of “the club.”How much it costs: 30,00 euros. Where you can buy it: WIELS (354, Avenue Van Volxem – 1190 Brussels). Find it online here.
2. THE SECRET LIFE OF PANTS – CRAP WAVE COMPILATION
The sixth in a series of four-way split EPs published by Ghent-based label Kraak, The Secret Life of Pants brings together four bands – Shetahr, Sweat Tongue, De Ryckes en Joe Speedboa – under the crap wave banner, a mix of nihilism, noise and never-ending rawness. Pressed on 7inch record at only 300 copies, this is the kind of gift that’ll make your record-collecting homies look at you in a different light.How much it costs: 8 euros (Includes digital download). Where you can buy it: Kraak’s Bandcamp page.
3. JEAN-BAPTISTE BERNADET – 255 PLATES
Published in the shape of a bulky magazine by Brussels-based independent art book publishing imprint Triangle Books, 255 plates assembles the complete works Jean-Baptiste Bernadet produced during his residency at Moly-Sabata in France and which saw the Belgian artist apply his oil paintings onto a new medium. The perfect gift for the book collector with a penchant for emerging Belgian art.How much it costs: 33,00 euros. Where you can buy it: Peinture Fraiche (10, Rue du Tabellion – 1050 Brussels) and WIELS (354, Avenue Van Volxem – 1190 Brussels). Find it online here.
4. FLAGEY GIFT CARDS
With its wide-ranging programme of music, movies and more, Brussels’ Flagey cultural center is a high ground for high art, its schedule reading like a purist’s dream lineup. Be it through jazz, classical music, cinema or even the variety of specialist festivals it has an offer, the local institution never fails to impress. And these gift cards are the perfect way of immersing oneself further into its world.How much they cost: 5 euros, 10 euros, 20 euros or 50 euros. Where you can buy them: Flagey’s ticket office (Place Sainte-Croix, 1050 Brussels).
5. HERMES WALLET IN SILK & EPSOM CALFSKIN
With its fiery and fearsome prints, this Hermès wallet – part of the venerable Parisian house’s Soie Cool line – references the colours of the Eperon d’Or silk bandana, inspired by Henri d’Origny. A splash of brash colours and sturdy contours – its outside silk is lined by a leather border – the wallet promises to bring a bit of sunshine to an otherwise gloomy period. Perfect for bringing your fashion credentials up a notch or two.How much it costs: 1,100 euros Where you can buy it: Hermès (50, Boulevard de Waterloo – 1000 Brussels) Find it online here.
6. SOUND & VISION – THE GOLDEN YEARS
A mixture of danceable beats and old school 80s new wave music, The Golden Years – the project of Walhalla Records founder Lieven De Ridder – captures Belgium at its best: moody, melancholic and melodic. Released as a four-track EP on cassette by Antwerp-based label Wool-E Tapes, the tape promises to be a collector, and a godsend for fiends of the Belgian underground.How much it costs: 7 euros (Includes digital download). Where you can buy it: Wool-E Tapes’s Bandcamp page.
7. SWATCH LUCINFESTA
The legendary Swiss watchmaker Swatch will forever hold a special place in our hearts as the watch we all learned to tell the time with. And, as is custom every year, the ever resourceful imprint has this time focused its creative spirits on a festival of lights-theme to create a limited-edition, end-of-year special, heavy on the gold and glitter. The ideal gift for someone whose wardrobe is already full enough but who could use an accessory update.How much it costs: 105,00 euros. Where you can buy it: Swatch store (42, Rue au Beurre – 1000 Brussels). Find it online here.
8. LA MONNAIE GIFT VOUCHERS
For the more discerning and hard-to-please people in your entourage, La Monnaie’s gift vouchers are just the thing you need. Giving the lucky receiver the chance to handpick those performances he or she wants to see the most, this gift promises to offer just the kind of emotions and operatic grandeur to be expected of what is one of Europe’s most reputed opera house. Having recently had the chance to witness two of its standout performances of 2015 – Elise d’Amore and Powder her Face – we can only urge you to place this one at the top of your Christmas gift list.How much it costs: Starts at 5,00 euros and available for all productions. Where you can buy it: La Monnaie ticket office (14, Rue des Princes – 1000 Brussels).
Find it online here.
9. COFFEEKLATCH – GREENTERIOR
Subtitled “Plant-loving creatives and their homes,” Greenterior is the brainchild of journalist Magali Elali and photographer Bart Kiggen who together run the blog Coffeeklatch and travelled the world to meet like-minded creatives and capture their plant-filled interiors. A work of passion first and foremost, the book offers a glimpse into the world of some 20 creative souls and even includes a plant index. The perfect gift for people constantly looking for new inspirations for their home, and an object that’ll sit perfectly on any coffee table.How much it costs: 39,95 euros. Where you can buy it: Librairie Candide (2, Place Georges Brugmann – 1050 Brussels) and Copyright Bookshop (Nationalestraat 28/A – 2000 Antwerp). Find it online here.
10. MONTBLANC LEGEND
When interviewing Olivier Pescheux, Montblanc’s perfumer, a few weeks ago, he alluded to Legend as being a scent that went back to the essence of the luxury imprint, a scent that is both strong and sophisticated and acted as a the perfect embodiment of its independent spirit. And, indeed, with its fern-like yet clean and fresh undertones, the eau de toilette creates a certain magnetic force that makes it an unforgettable signature scent.How much it costs: 73,00 euros (100ml) Where you can buy it: Ici Paris XL. Find it online here.
11. FUJIFILM INSTAX MINI 70
Fuji’s famed instant camera series has just gotten a new addition to the family with the Instax Mini 70, a new edition that comes in a palette of three colours – island blue, moon white and canary yellow. Slightly more compact and rounded, the new model comes with new features such as an Exposure Control Adjustment (allowing for detailed backgrounds) as well as a Selfie mode (complete with Selfie mirror), exclusive to the camera. We’d strongly suggest treating yourself with this one.How much it costs: 129,00 euros. Where you can buy it: Photolinea (57, Rue du Bailli – 1050 Brussels). Find it online here.
12. THIS IS BELGIUM
Granted, this is a bit of a selfless promotional plug, but both Guillaume and Capucine pushed for this one to be included to the list and, well, who are we to discard their suggestions. A 164-page guidebook to everything that is great and alternative in Belgium, This is Belgium captures one of the world’s last remaining superpowers at its best, bravest and boldest. With selections including Best for Emerging Art, Best for Record Stores and Best for Vintage Design, amongst others, the book offers a variety of different entry points into the country’s dense cultural landscape. Perfect for both your local, expat and visiting friends and family members.How much it costs: 17,50 euros. Find it online here.
13. FOMU – .TIFF
Want to keep your finger on the pulse and be kept up to date with the latest photographic talent emerging from Belgium? .tiff, the bi-annual magazine published by Antwerp’s photography museum FoMu is your best bet. A beautifully-produced magazine that comes as a series of unbound posters, the publication charts the many different facets of the country’s visual narrative in its earlier stages, often getting its selection right on point with a great many of the photographers it has featured going on to great things.How much it costs: 2,00 euros. Where you can buy it: FoMu bookshop (47, Waalsekaai – 2000 Antwerp).
14. JIMMY CHOO ILLICIT
A hypnotic, audacious and somewhat provocative scent, Jimmy Choo’s new woman fragrance, Illicit, blends top notes of orange and ginger with hints of rose and jasmine to create a sensory pleasure guaranteed to leave an impression.How much it costs: 105,00 euros. Where you can buy it: Ici Paris XL. Find it online here.