The annual Nobel banquet is full of pomp, ceremony and supreme elegance. The table settings are matched only by the food, and while you can buy the unique ice cream that is created each year, you can’t bring it home with you. Instead, you can scoop up the dinnerware: everything from the cutlery to the wine glasses to the glasses for aquavit; a welcome addition to any dinner table.
Nobel Museum, Stortorget 2, Stockholm, Sweden, +46 (0)8 534 818 00
If you think you know liquorice, think again. Swedish salted black liquorice is one of a kind, and it’s not for everyone. It’s rich, slightly salty, almost creamy – but that really doesn’t give you the full picture. Try some while you’re there; you’ll either love it or hate it.
Caramella, Slöjdgatan 9, Stockholm, Sweden, +46 (0)8 20 77 92
A Dala Horse
It may be something of a cliché, and not hugely unique, but the Dala Horse is a great symbol of Sweden’s Dalarna region, and of Sweden itself. The best advice is to avoid the tacky mass-produced ones and buy one made in Dalarna; they’re handmade and hand-painted, and as such, each one is unique.
Nordic Museum Gift Shop, Djurgårdsvägen 6-16, Stockholm, Sweden, +46 (0)8 519 546 26
Come summer, there is a special day in Sweden, when people hold their noses and crank open a can of fermented herring. The smell! The taste! The covering it up with potato and sour cream and anything else you can think of! Some Swedes profess to love this incredibly stinky treat, and they love to try it out on visitors as a rite of passage. Bring home a can and open it at your peril, and definitely open it outdoors. Restaurants that host annual Surströmming parties actually close for several days afterwards to fumigate. Seriously.
Hand-Carved Wooden Utensils
Swedes do love a good wooden utensil, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a Swedish kitchen that doesn’t have at least four or five variations ready for cooking. They’re hand-carved and often come with hand-painted traditional designs, and the best bit is that they’re fit for purpose: you can use them every day and they’ll last for years.
Iris, Västerlånggatan 24, Stockholm, Sweden, +46 (0)8 698 09 73
Sweden’s Crystal Kingdom enjoys a well-deserved reputation for creating some of the most stunning glass you’ll ever stumble over. Handblown in southern Sweden at various traditional glassworks, the crystal is whimsical yet practical, and always a talking point.
NK, Hamngatan 18-20, Stockholm, Sweden, +46 (0)8 762 80 00
This unique design shop, which has expanded into several shops, highlights up-and-coming designers and shifts its stock regularly. You can find everything from one-off jewellery pieces to unique glassware and Swedish games, and pretty much anything else the creative Swedish mind can think up. It’s a treasure trove of unique items that the people you know are very unlikely to have come across.
While kids in other countries have their favourite blanket, perhaps made of wool, Swedish kids have a lambskin. It’s an oddly shaped piece of lambskin that is thrown over kids in their pram or under kids when they’re lying on the floor, and is also good for kids to cuddle as they fall asleep at night. Soft, soothing, and very traditional, it looks just as good thrown over the back of your sofa.
Swedish shoe manufacturer Hasbeen has been (see what we did there?) making what look like vintage shoes and putting a modern spin on them. Even better, they’re all about sustainability. Handmade and respectful of the environment, this is the perfect way to get that Scandi look while knowing you’re doing some good in this crazy world of ours.
Hasbeen Flagship Store, Nytorgsgatan 36A, Stockholm, Sweden, +46 8 702 01 01
We don’t promote the use of tobacco in any way, but snus is uniquely Swedish. It’s so unique, in fact, that Sweden got special dispensation from the EU to continue manufacturing it, due to historical significance. Tuck a packet between your upper lip and teeth and make sure you never, ever kiss anyone again.