Anybody who loves Finland more than likely loves the Moomins too, and you can find Moomin merchandise everywhere in Finland from high-end jewellery boutiques to small grocery stores. For something truly special, buy your friend the limited edition Moomin Arabia plates, mugs, or bowls – there are new designs every year. The mug shaped like the Moomin house with a removable roof is especially charming.
To make a home feel Finnish, buy some Iittala glassware, since practically every home in Finland has at least one Iittala item. Candle holders made from coloured glass are especially popular, as are the pretty and refined Toikka glass birds.
The Marimekko brand screams Nordic efficiency. The patterns are bold and colourful yet simple and tasteful. Marimekko clothing can be expensive but you can buy someone a nice gift by picking up a bag, purse, or even an apron in striking floral patterns.
To feel as cosy as Finns do during the winter, buy a hand knitted poncho or sweater with a colourful design. You can find these in most city’s artisan districts. They are especially common further up north in Lapland, where you can also find comfy handmade boots, socks, and hats which can keep you warm all winter long.
The Tom of Finland brand is popular worldwide for its kitsch value and unabashed homoeroticism. You can find the artwork on everything from postcards to oven mitts in Finland. But the most oddly appealing of all is the official Tom of Finland brand coffee, which you can find in most large supermarkets in Finland. The coffee is rich, strong, and bold, much like Tom of Finland himself.
Finnish efficiency extends to jewellery too. The jewellery found in Taito shops is beautiful, uncomplicated, and is all hand crafted by local artisans. Most Taito shops will also offer to gift wrap jewellery for you.
Thick gloves lined with reindeer skin are expensive, over €50 each, but essential for preventing frostbite during the cold Finnish winters. While most other countries may not have winters quite as cold, the gloves can still keep your hands cosy. Sales of reindeer skin clothing also help to support the reindeer farmers of Lapland.
Walking around Finland during the winter, you will see that everybody has a reflector on their bag or coat to help them stand out to vehicles in the dark Finnish conditions. These reflectors come in all sorts of pleasing designs and with popular Finnish characters such as the Moomins or Angry Birds. Buying one for a friend means they can wear a common Finnish staple and stay safe during winter at the same time.
Salmiakki, or salted liquorice, is only for those who are truly obsessed with Finland and who can handle the odd Finnish tastes. For something particularly distinct, look out for salmiakki covered in smooth Fazer chocolate. Just be careful trying it yourself!
For those who prefer alcohol as a souvenir, a big bottle of Finlandia vodka is perfect. It comes in many flavours including lime, coconut, and mango plus the plain classic vodka. Be wary, however, as it is almost 40 percent alcohol.
To people outside of Finland it may seem sadistic to eat reindeer meat, yet it is a staple in Finland and even eaten as Christmas dinner in Lapland. For a friend who likes trying unusual food, pick out some canned reindeer meat, which can even be found in regular supermarkets in small villages. You can also find meat of moose, wild boar, elk, and bear which can be cooked in a variety of ways. Fancy some bear pie, moose stew, or a wild boar sandwich?
The use of essential oils has gained some controversy online lately, yet they are still popular in Finland for use in sauna aromatherapy. You simply add a few drops of the oil into the sauna water, throw it on the coals, and the whole sauna is filled with the aroma. Finnish sauna oils come in unusual variants including salmiakki. If your friend doesn’t have a sauna then the oils can be used in a diffuser like regular essential oils (just don’t try using them as medicine!).
For the person who likes practical gifts, anything from Fiskar will make them happy. The Finnish Fiskar brand are best known for their iconic orange-handled scissors, but they also make a range of kitchen products such as knives, cheese graters, and potato peelers, often with the classic orange handles. Fiskars products are incredibly high quality and will likely last for years.
If you want a reindeer souvenir but don’t like the thought of reindeer being killed to make gifts, look out for stalls selling reindeer antler bottle openers. Reindeer shed their antlers every year so their owners collect them, attach bottle openers to the end, and sell them to earn additional income. They also look fun and quirky hanging in the kitchen or being used to open a beer.
For Finnish heavy metal band merchandise which can’t be found anywhere else, head straight to the source. You can find merch for Finnish heavy metal bands including t-shirts, badges, and posters in record stores or at concerts. For more specific items, look out for specialist stores such as the dark metal store KVLT in Helsinki.