The holiday season is upon us. Whether you’re buying for Christmas or Hanukkah, we have the perfect presents to offer with our top 10 selection of the best holiday gifts from Israel.
With Thanksgiving over, gift-buying for Hannukah and Christmas has begun in earnest. Whether you’re a present-a-day gift giver for the eight days of Hannukah or an inventive stocking stuffer, the land of Israel is the source of many imaginative gifts.
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite Israeli items of the year. Think of it as the ISRAEL21c version of Oprah’s My Favorite Things. Chances are that you may recognize some of the brands, but had no idea that they were Israeli-made or designed. Well, trust us, they all are, and that’s why we make sure to take these goodies to our friends and families abroad. It’s never the wrong moment to strut Israel’s stuff.
As for seasonal treats, all the items listed can be purchased online or in stores, and we’ve listed all the info necessary to make your gift giving as easy as possible. The price range is wide as well, for the recession-affected and the recession-proof. Happy holidays.
1. Colorful jewelry
For a collection of colorful jewelry and accessories, look no farther than Israeli designer Orna Lalo, who uses industrial resin in bright colors, shapes and textures to design her bracelets, earrings, necklaces, pendants, rings and brooches. There are also hair decorations, bags, key rings and phone decorations and all the pieces are brightly translucent or opaque and often feature funky patterns, beads or writing. Made and designed in Israel and at the company’s factory in Bulgaria, it’s all very affordable and available online at www.lalo-treasures.com.
2. Fashion that fits
For classically simple women’s clothing, it’s time to try on Ronen Chen. His mostly monochromatic collections of clean, minimalist lines have proved to be timeless, well fitting and inimitably user-friendly, because they’re draped (on his favorite mannequin of 20 years), with very few seams for ultimate comfort and ease. Chen creates two major collections each year, one for fall/winter, the other for spring/summer. But every four weeks brings a new mini collection to each of his Israeli stores, usually in accent colors that complement the season. He’s also dreaming of opening Ronen Chen concept stores in the US, starting in New York. In the meantime, head to www.ronenchen.com to find a store offering Ronen Chen styles near you.
3. Games for your Tiny Loves
Israelis Shosh and Isaac Oren gave birth to their second son and started noticing all the baby products missing in the Israeli market. They began seeking, making and selling baby products and services for young families, which developed into Shilav, their chain of baby stores. Shilav has revolutionized the baby and infant retail market in Israel and Tiny Love.
Tiny Love was the soft development toy side of the business, offering the very latest in engaging, interactive toys that nurture babies’ skills and senses. You may know their Gymini activity mats, stroller toys and first books, all of which are created to help babies in each developmental stage, and sold all over the world. You can find their toys online, at www.tinylovestore.com, or at various stores throughout the US and Europe.
4. A beach solution
It’s a problem we’ve all faced, where to safely store your stuff when hanging out on the beach and then heading into the water for some cooling down. The solution is Towel Plus, a simple beach towel with a hidden, water resistant compartment for storing your belongings. Coolest part about it is that it was created by a bunch of 15-year-olds at Herzliya’s Smadar Junior High. They are part of Junior Achievement, an educational program that originated in the United States years ago and is now a staple of Israeli middle and high schools. More importantly, in order to buy Towel Plus for all your beach-centric folks, head to http://www.magevetplus.com/indexeng.php for ordering information.
5. A pillowcase that gets rid of wrinkles
Forget creams and surgeries. Just go to sleep with the Cupron copper ion pillowcase and, according to the company, wake up to a face with the appearance of reduced wrinkles and crow’s feet. Cupron uses a patented technology that binds copper to textile fibers resulting in the production of woven, knitted and non-woven fabrics with antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. The company’s current product lines include socks, underwear, bedding and cosmetics and is sold in stores nationwide, as well as online at http://www.cupronsales.com/. You can also buy the Cupron Skin Appearance Enhancing Beauty Sleep Set, which includes pillowcase, mask and gloves. It’s the fabric that fights back.
6. DIY furniture that’s eco-friendly
Forget Ikea; this is true DIY furniture, and it’s recyclable too. Krooom makes eco-friendly furniture from reinforced corrugated cardboard that is durable, affordable and yes, moisture-resistant, as well as completely cool in appearance. The products, ranging from bookcases, shelving units and file cabinets to a child’s table and an adorable dollhouse, come in flat packages and are easily put together using rivets that resemble thumbtacks. You can find Krooom products at Barnes and Noble and Target.
7. Wine that bursts with flavor
Grand Vin, Domaine du Castel. Wine critic Robert Parker gave high marks to three wines from this Judean Hills winery, including a 92 to the Grand Vin, the family winery’s flagship. He called the Grand Vin “beautiful,” and “bursting with flavor,” while the Petit Castel was pegged as “impeccably balanced” and the Blanc du Castel was his pick for favorite dry white. We couldn’t agree more, and are recommending the Grand Vin as the perfect gift for any wine connoisseur on your list. You can also buy futures in Castel wines, or an entire case, shipped anywhere in the US and Europe.
8. What’s your poison?
It’s not a completely new phenomenon, but there are now an increasing number of Israeli bands and musicians out there performing in English. Aside from Keren Ann, who just produced a solo album called Keren Ann, and The Apples, a funk band who produced a new album called Buzzing About, there’s also Terry Poison. This Israeli electro-rock-pop girl band was recently nominated as best Israeli act for the 2009 MTV Europe Music Awards, and is working hard to retain its bad girl image. With lead singer Louise Kahn, who immigrated to Israel from Norway and three other band members, as well as studio producer and keyboardist – and lone male – Idan Grife, Terry Poison – with its new album of the same name – has become a staple of Tel Aviv’s underground club circuit. Now the band is looking to take over the US.
9. A rubber handbag
You know those rubber inner tubes from tires? Got a good look, right? Black, sturdy, indestructible, and now used for great-looking wallets, handbags, notebooks and laptop bags by designer Ilanit Neutra. The wallets seem to be the most popular item, followed by the messenger bags and handbags, and are now available at various stores throughout the US. For Neutra, the most important element of her design is its eco-recyclability, finding use for something that would normally just end up in a landfill. You can find Neutra’s designs online at http://www.neutrastyle.com.
10. Starting up
Hey, they don’t call us the People of the Book for nothin’. We don’t just like to read books, we’re good at writing them too. And this book is causing quite a sensation worldwide. Start-Up Nation , by Saul Singer and Dan Senor is a feel-good book, which tells the tale of Israel’s incredible success in the field of high-tech and innovation. While the book is about Israel, the conclusions it draws are not. This is a book to get you galvanized, to make you think again about that dream to set up your own company. A great way to begin 2010.