Looking for a Belgian-themed gift? Yes, there are the predictable yet delectable chocolate pralines but also a quirky Manneken Pis liquor distributor and a board game that takes you back to 15th-century Bruges. This Christmas, your Belgium-obsessed friend, or that one aunt who is in love with the quirky nation, is in for a treat.
When Fleming Hannes Coudenys started dropping pictures of bizarre-looking buildings on his blog, he visualized what a lot of Belgians had been thinking for decades: ‘Damn our houses are wacky.’ The perfect coffee-table book to peruse through when in need of a smile, the international edition of Ugly Belgian Houses comes with quippy captions in English.
Price: €25 (approx. $27.10 at time of writing)
Anyone having set foot inside the Belgian capital knows that when the yellow trucks roll around, it’s only a matter of time before the smell of piping hot Brussels waffles fills the air. Recreate the smell and the taste of the crunchy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside street food with this waffle maker.
Price: $24.88 (approx. €22,90 at time of writing)
Only 11 abbey breweries throughout the world have the privilege of adorning their bottles with the Trappist label, a marker of quality guarded over by diligent monks. The patriarch of the family is Belgium, housing six out of the 11 breweries. Show up with this box of 12 different Trappists and any beer lover will count his lucky stars to have you for his Secret Santa.
Price: €27,95 (approx. $30.30 at time of writing)
Hotheaded hitman Ray fails to recognize its splendor (‘If I grew up on a farm and was retarded, Bruges might impress me, but I didn’t, so it doesn’t’), but Belgium’s premier tourist city really can be mesmerizing with its medieval charm. Martin McDonagh’s cult film In Bruges shows you the sights without ever having to leave your couch, with Colin Farrell delivering some top-notch, jet black sarcasm to boot.
Price: $9.17 (approx. €8,40 at time of writing)
Antwerp was the port of call for about two million European immigrants who hoped to embark on their American dream in New York in the late 19th and early 20th century. The promotional posters created for the Red Star Line are things of nostalgic beauty and can now be bought as a vintage poster, laminated, framed or even pressed on metal or wood.
Price simple poster: €15,74 (approx. $17.10 at time of writing)
Nothing says ‘I love you’ to a chocoholic like a box of Belgian pralines. Personal favorite brands range from Neuhaus to Godiva and Côte d’Or, but you can never go wrong with an assortment by Leonidas, which wraps its pralines in a chocolate jacket made out of 100 percent cocoa butter. Order online or search for a store near you for maximum freshness.
Price 1lb general assortment: $40.00 (approx. €36,80 at time of writing)
It may have been published 20 years ago, but Ruth Van Waerebeek’s seminal Everybody Eats Well In Belgium still holds an essential truth about Belgian cuisine: at the heart of it lies comfort. The Ghentian chef’s book is a treasure trove of heartwarming dishes such as ‘Veal Stew with Dumplings’ and ‘Braised Partridge with Cabbage and Abbey Beer,’ perfect for surviving the winter days to come.
Price hardcover: $39.94 (approx. €36,20 at time of writing)
Brussels’ peeing boy statue might be the paragon of Belgium’s quirky and self-mocking sense of humor, making him an ideal target for all sorts of out-of-the-box paraphernalia. One of the most brilliant uses we’ve seen so far is this liquor dispenser for serving up your fancy whiskeys or brandies with a wink.
Price: $19.20 (approx. €17,70 at time of writing)
They called him ‘The Cannibal’ for his voracious determination to win every single race. A living legend, Brussels-raised Eddy Merckx is still considered by most to be the greatest cyclist ever to grace a two-wheeled stallion. For those yearning for his glory days in the 60s and 70s, this Merckx World Champion Cap is a great balm for the cyclist fan’s soul.
Price: $16.99 (approx. €15,60 at time of writing)
If you wanted to catch simple Brusselaar Jacques Brel breaking hearts in the 60s, the place to be was the Olympia, Paris’ legendary music hall in the 9th arrondissement. Olympia 64 on vinyl captures the Belgian master of the chanson live at the highpoint of his career.
Price: $18 (approx. €16,60 at time of writing)
Host your own fry-themed Christmas party with these charming red-and-white checkered cones. Gather up your friends, stake your claim that supposed ‘French’ fries are actually Belgian and feast on the crispy delights that British and American soldiers were so impressed with when they stayed in the small nation during the Great War.
Price 200 cones: $44 (approx. €40,50 at time of writing)
From the mind of Hergé comes the world-beloved Adventures of Tintin, Belgium’s cartoon boy reporter with a lust for travel. This collector’s gift set is the complete package, with 21 classic graphic novels plus ‘Tintin and Co,’ a bonus album that delves into the background of the series’ many wacky side characters such as cursing Captain Haddock and shrill-voiced opera singer Bianca Castafiore.
Price: $88.99 (approx. €82 at time of writing)
Belgian chocolate slabs bathing in the nostalgic atmosphere of the early days of aviation. We’d almost wish ‘Starbrook Airlines,’ with its gorgeous watercolor wrappers by painter Jaak de Koninck, was as real as the over 200 international airports where you can pick up one of their products today.
Price: ranges from product to product
Why a Red Devils scarf? Because the Red Devils will get their shot at a World Championship finale one day, and your Belgium-obsessed friend will need to cheer them on when they do. Or they will, you know, use the scarf to stay warm.
Price: $24.95 (approx. €23 at time of writing)
A gift you can whip out when the Christmas party starts to lag in conversation, Bruges puts you in the shoes of a 15th-century merchant in the blooming medieval town. Stefan Feld, one of the great board game designers of the day, has made sure his card game is easily teachable and plays well with any number of people vying for power and influence.
Price: $78,88 (approx. €72,70 at time of writing)