Cairo 360 Guide: Cool, Quirky & Weird Gift Ideas in Cairo
Nadine El Shiaty
They say that gift-giving is the purest symbol of friendship, but boy can it be difficult. Ever wondered what or where to get a creative gift for your loved ones, only to find yourself drowning in a pit of uncertainty and indecisiveness? Have you? Yes, you have – we all have. But worry not; Cairo 360 has you covered. We’ve compiled a list of gifts for all the lost souls looking for a quirky, and dare we say maybe even avant-gardist, gift for a change.
Although one of the most generic and oldest gifts in the book, the styles, shapes and designs for candles across the city won’t sell you short. With a wide selection of designs incorporating everything from scents and materials such as copper, to calligraphy, retro celebrity prints, candles are a great gift for those looking for a traditional presents with a modern, edgy touch. Candle prices vary between 40LE to over 500LE—depending on the size and brand. Get your candles from Candle Mania, Home & Beyond or Style Treasure.
Egyptian Retro Cards
Afraid to go a little too experimental and want to go for a safer bet? Well, do that; but you could always spike it with a touch of humour by adding a hip retro card. Whether it is Adel Imam telling you to get well soon or Fouad El Mohandes wishing you a happy birthday, retro cards are a fantastic addition to your gift. Retro cards for all occasions are available in Diwan’s stationary shop Qirtasseya and ALEF bookstores for 10LE.
If you’re looking for style, authenticity and originality, while supporting the local craftsmanship, then handicrafts are an excellent option. With pottery ceramics and statues (ranging from 15LE to 200LE), patchwork bags (80LE to 130LE), customised wooden coasters and trays (15LE average coaster price, 150-400LE for trays), alabaster lamps (15LE to 300LE) and ethnic tribal designs are unique, affordable and there is certainly no shortage of options. Get your handicrafts from dozens of gift and handicraft shops in Cairo including Altay, Home & Beyond, Gallery Balady, Fair Trade shops (available in Zamalek and Maadi), Egyptian Handicrafts page or from the newly established department store showcasing Egyptian ethnic and crafts industries, Creative Egypt .
With more local designers and brands coming to the forefront, fashion accessories is another option guaranteed to put a smile on the gift-receiver’s face – as especially when it comes to leather and hand woven handbags, while supporting your country’s very own young entrepreneurs. The average price for a handmade leather bag ranges from 300LE to above, depending on size, style and colour. The best leather handbags collections are available through Allaga’s Facebook page or at Sami Amin.
If interior design is your game, a mosaic lamp will brighten up any space and, unlike many other gifts, will be out on show to tell the world what a great gift-giver you are. Mosaic lighting, of course, varies in sizes and prices (starting 150LE) and are available in all shapes and colours in Khan El Khalili, gift shops in Zamalek, Maadi and in many booths around Cairo Festival City and Citystars.
Nothing says quirky and cool as much as an original notebook design does – right? New notebook designs and collections are available all over the city. Perhaps our favourites are Mofakera’s quirky collection of 80s’ cassette (15LE), video tape (35LE) and Gameboy (40LE) notebooks, as well as designs by Paper Blanks that take a vintage approach by using old manuscripts, folkloric and religious patterns for a unique writing experience. Buy Mofakera and Paper Blanks’ notebooks from Diwan or Virgin Megastores.
Owning a thermal mug where you can dump your coffee on the way to work is more of a practical need; but there’s room for fun, too. Thermal mugs are available in many gift shops across the city, including Diwan’s Qirtassiya, which boasts a cool selection of thermal cups quoting Arabic movies and online shop Wind Graphic’s selection of retro mugs. Prices range from LE28 to LE150, depending on quality, design and brand.
Remember those not-so-cool wall clocks you used to get on your birthday from your relatives? Well, not this time; because a large collection of vintage innovatively designed wall clocks are available in many gift shops in the city; think Coca-Cola clocks, around-the-world clocks and fantastic shabby -chic designs. Prices for a wall clock vary from 80LE (for small sizes) to 200L for larger pieces. Get your wall clocks from ABn’G store in Zamalek or any of Cow’s branches.
Check out the Cairo 360 Shopping section for more gift ideas – happy shopping!