Christmas shopping sorted: 10 top spots for unique hand-crafted gifts in Spain

After something unique, traditionally Spanish with a modern twist without images of bulls or polka dots? Step out of the souvenir shops and into these curated stores dedicated to the work of artisan craftsmen

A new generation of skilled artisans has raised regional craft traditions from all over Spain to new levels, sometimes by updating them, sometimes by selling them better in hipster establishments. Suddenly, there’s a boom in demand for alta artesania – or all things beautifully designed, handmade, traditional, and of exceptional quality. 

Travelling and shopping locally takes some beating but to save you driving from Valencia to Bilbao to hunt down treasures in the days before Christmas, all the stores on the Olive Press list have online sites. 

General stores

Cocol, Madrid

COCOL has a carefully curated collection of all-star handmade Spanish products and, as everything here is desirable, even the most dithering gift buyer will find it hard to go wrong.

Cocol
Photo: Cocol

For winter warmers, there are the classic hand-woven blankets (€146) from Grazalema (Cadiz), along with their scarves and ponchos; while more summery options include blush rose espadrilles (€57), straw bags, and a nice old-fashioned bike basket (€79) from artisans on the Ruta del Mimbre in Cuenca (Castilla–La Mancha). Blown glass from the Gordiola family in Mallorca, and herb-scented candles from Vila Hermanos in Valencia feature among the homeware gems. 

Top of the quirky options are birds made in Andalucia from wire and dried strips of agave. A quail, crested lark or hoopoe has to be the perfect gift for that person with everything – including a love of ornithology. 

Cost.ª de San Andrés, 18

cocolmadrid.es

Simple, Valencia 

THIS treasure trove with a retro feel stocks much-loved Spanish classics updated by young and nostalgic producers.

Simple
Photo: Simple

There’s plenty here that’s both special and affordable from fancy soaps and colognes in tin boxes to enamel dishes and mugs, traditional toys (including a battery-operated tin train, €40), scarves, bags and ceramics – and who wouldn’t appreciate a ceramic salt shaker in the shape of garlic (made in Valencia, €7.50)?

Carrer del Palau, 5

simple.com.es

Casa Alia, online only

BACKED by an association dedicated to preserving traditional and contemporary crafts and helping crafty folk sell their wares, Casa Alia is the place for unique household objects.

Casa Alia Fajalauza Cup And Saucer
Photo: Casa Alia

The fact they take care of the packing and shipping is a bonus because, aside from the Alpujarra rugs, there’s much here that’s breakable, from that blown glass to ceramics. With pottery from many regions of Spain, including Toledo, Ubeda in Jaen, and Granada, it’s interesting to see the variety of traditions, and tough to make a choice. The  prices are reasonable: expect to pay around €115 for six blue and cream cups and saucers from Granada’s Fajalauza workshops. 

casa-alia.com

Real Fabrica, online only 

LOW on frills it may be, but Real Fabrica is a one-stop shop for handmade pieces for all the family. Gourmet gift packs are available in a deli section along with the option to assemble your own. If you’re buying delicious food items, throw in a couple of plates – there’s plenty more pottery here, including a cheerful range from Caceres, Extremadura.

Real Fabrica Mohair Scarf
Photo: real Fabrica

Warm the heart – and all body parts – of friends and family with mohair berets from Boinas Elosegui in the Basque Country (€29.50); those traditional sheepskin slippers, the Mallorcan babutxes (€14.50); and scarves and blankets – both from Grazalema, and  handmade on 18th century looms by the weavers of Ezcaray, in La Rioja. A generous person might care to splash out on a fuchsia Ezcaray mohair blanket (€245), but if your budget is more modest, hand-painted San Isidro clay whistles that look like birds (€4.90) and soaps smelling of Extremadura’s Jerte Valley cherry blossom, will no doubt do nicely. 

realfabrica.com

Artesania from Murcia, online only

IT’S not festive or joyful, but it is a gateway to artisans from across Murcia, many of whom also have workshops you can visit. Patient sifting online does bring rewards – particularly if you’re looking for leather belts, jam or an esparto cactus.

artesaniaregiondemurcia.es/tienda

Gallery Gravura and La Recova, Malaga

OTHER than the fact the gallery sits above La Recova there’s no connection, but make a trip to the heart of Malaga and seek out both. At La Recova, you can enjoy their €2.50 breakfast of toast with jams and meaty lards served in an egg carton while taking in the artesania and rustic antiques for sale that’s hanging on the walls.

Galeria Gravura Print By Paco Aguilar
Photo: Galeria Gravura

It is the antidote to online shopping and the one exception to our online availability promise. Gallery Gravura upstairs is a printmaking workshop founded by Malaga artist Paco Aguilar, and the place to find exceptional  contemporary prints by Aguilar and the wide range of artists associated with the workshop, all of whom share a passion for copper plate engraving. 

Pasaje Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de San Juan 

gravura.es

Specialists 

Toys: Londji, Barcelona and online

‘WE make the toys we like our children to play with,’ say the Girona based designers at Londji, and that means classic toys, family-friendly games and puzzles, built to last from sustainable materials, no batteries or plugs and cables required.

Londji My Monsters 2
Photo: Londji

Your kids may want to play alone on an iPad, but you can try introducing them to spinning tops, finger puppets and family games like My Monsters, involving a race against time to construct monsters from body parts (€28.90). The shop in Born is a treat, and the online store is easy to navigate. 

Carrer de la Princesa, 49

londji.com

Jewels: Plateria Califal, Cordoba 

LOOKING for handmade Spanish jewellery that captures the spirit and cultural history of the country? Fourth generation jewellers Angel and Manuel Cerezo craft silver and gold filigree pieces inspired by the 10th century Islamic motifs of al-Andalus and, specifically, Cordoba where their two workshops are located – though their unique and exotic dangling earrings, bracelets, chokers and pendants are also available online.

The technique was brought by the Jews who came to the region from Damascus, and, one millennium on, the Cerezo brothers are working to preserve it.

C/ Alfayatas, 7; C/ Buen Pastor, 19

plateriacalifal.com

Hats: Zahati, Gata de Gorgos

THE Costa Blanca village of Gata de Gorgos (Alicante) is known as the place to go for esparto bags and wickerwork baskets, but the team of local artisans behind Zahati have raised the skill to lofty heights.

Zahati S Pamela Maxi Hat
Photo: Zahati

They weave straw and plant fibres in the traditional way to create original, ultra cool, contemporary bags and hats that range from the simply gorgeous to avant garde. The shapes and styles defy description, so take a look. Note: if you’re buying for someone who has too many already, there’s always the Party Bomb lampshade for €305.

Av. de la Marina Alta, 97

en.zahati.com

Bags: La Portegna, Madrid and Palma

IT’S an open secret that artisans in the mountain town of Ubrique, Cadiz, make the leather bags and wallets for the likes of Gucci, Hermes, Loewe and Carolina Herrera. The brand La Portegna is less coy about celebrating these master crafters, who are responsible for all their buttery leather wallets, belts, loafers, luggage and suede-lined bags for men and women.

La Portegna Palma Weekender Marine
Photo: La Portegna

Hand-stitched, coloured petrol, damson and mustard with plant dyes, softened with olive oil, these are gifts designed to last. 

C/ Núñez de Balboa, 62; Madrid

Carrer de Sant Nicolau, 1; Palma

laportegna.com

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