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The Nordic country of Finland might not be squarely on the tourist track, but in terms of culture, food, geography, and modern design, the nation certainly has more than enough to attract visitors. If you’re one of the lucky ones who get to visit, you’re likely going to spend time browsing great homeware shops, getting pampered in the country’s many saunas, and sampling the incredible gastronomy. Though you may do some shopping for yourself (who can resist), you'll probably also want to bring a little piece of the country back home to friends and family. Below, we’ve rounded up the best gifts to bring back from Finland — from what’s arguably the best chocolate in the world, to an iconic modernist vase that can be passed down for generations.
Our Top Picks
Since 1951, Finland’s Marimekko has been making a splash with bold, modern prints that translate beautifully into both fashion — the architectural shapes of the design house’s dresses were a hit in the ‘60s and still sell today — as well as affordable home accessories like towels, tablecloths, and pillows. You’ll probably recognize its spirited Unikko pattern — designed in 1964 out of rebellion against a company-wide ban on floral prints — with bright florals in classic combinations as well as limited edition seasonal ones.
While the bedding, arguably one of the company strongest suits, is gorgeous, it’s hard to bring back from a trip. For something a little easier to tuck into the suitcase, the brand also does a stationery line that incorporates some of its most famous designs into notebook covers and cheerful pencils that make writing assignments and grocery lists far less of a chore. We’re loving this set of three notebooks, each of which features a different iconic pattern from the design house.
Finns love their sweets, and Fazer is one of the go-to brands for a little chocolate top-up. Although available on online, they’re extremely rare in the U.S., so chances are your gift recipient hasn’t stumbled upon these yet — unless they’re the most dedicated of chocolate connoisseurs. Falzer knows what they're doing, too; the company has been in business since 1891, and its perfected recipe for milk chocolate yields silky smooth, creamy chocolate that doesn’t taste as packed full of sugar as some American brands. Those who sample the stuff say it’s the best chocolate they’ve ever had — and we’re talking out of all the chocolate in the world — so if your lucky giftee is a fan of the sweet stuff, they’re definitely going to love this. Split up the two bars (we won’t tell if you keep one for yourself), or use them as stocking stuffers for those on the nice list.
Finland’s sweet tooth isn’t too stuck on the “sweet” part of things. One of the country’s most popular treats is salmiakki, or salty licorice — and this handy container is perfect for on-the-go snacking. The candy’s unique flavor — licorice with enough salt to offset the sweet — also comes with a unique mouthfeel, as foodies call it.
If the candy form isn’t right for your adventurously eating recipient, the same flavor can also be found in liquors and craft beers from the country’s breweries. Whether your recipients wind up hating this unique flavor or loving it—and, like with Marmite, it’s definitely going to be one or the other—it’s definitely going to be a fun gift to remember, with a great story behind it, too.
The Moomins are one of Finland’s most iconic cultural exports. The series came around in 1945, thanks to the talents of illustrator Tove Jansson, who depicted a fictional Moomin Valley with a variety of delightful characters with whimsical names like Snorkmaiden, The Groke, and Toffle. Today, the stories continue to be passed down through generations, both on screen and in books, and Moomin characters remain popular with kids and adults alike.
Mugs are especially popular for paying tribute to the brand, with classic ones always in demand and seasonal designs making for great collector's items. This porcelain design by Tove Slotte-Elevant, released in 1996 and loved for decades, features the Snorkmaiden and Moomintroll hugging. It’s a nice moment, and a cheery way to start the day. If it’s not quite what you're after, there are plenty of other designs as well, including this gorgeous Japanese-influenced monogram mug by Yamaka.
Iittala Aalto Finlandia Vase
Iittala is one of the Nordic region’s most recognizable homeware brands, with a proud history of making timelessly modern tableware and design-driven objects like vases and objets d’art. The brand sells everything from cast iron casserole dishes to champagne glasses, but a vase (filled with fresh flowers, perhaps) always makes for a nice gift.
The company’s Aalto vases, which have been made since 1936, are icons of modern design and gather their inspiration from waves (the translation of the Finnish “ aalto”). We love the moss green glass vase above, though there are other beautiful color options as well, from a matte white glass for super-modern homes to a vibrant red that’s guaranteed to make a statement.
Lumene Sisu Moisture Remedy Day & Night Cream
Housed in a TSA-friendly 1.7-ounce jar, Lumene’s Sisu Moisture Remedy Cream is a wonderfully restorative skincare treatment to bring back home for the product junkies on your list. The cream is specifically designed for city dwellers, whose skin is exposed to nasty urban factors like exhaust. Lumene uses its Nordic credentials — it’s one of Finland’s best skincare brands — and incorporates specific regional ingredients to combat the side effects of air pollution and free radicals in the city. Nordic pine bark from Finnish forests and spruce knot, for example, are packed full of antioxidants, and they’ve put to work in this formula to help protect your skin. Anti-pollution technology formulated in Lumene labs helps to truly finish shielding the skin. With a price tag that comes in at less than $20, this gift is incredibly good value, with a luxe feel to the formula that feels far more expensive than it is.
Dronningholm Cloudberry Jam
Cloudberries, like the slightly magical-sounding name implies, are beloved by Finns and rank among the most valuable berries in the country. They’re beautiful (starting red and turning paler as they ripen) and highly nutritious — one berry has more Vitamin C than an orange, and it has omega-3s and -6s to boot. The effort of harvesting them, of course — there’s only one berry per stem — wouldn’t be worth it unless they were genuinely delicious, and trust us, they are. Interestingly enough, they also contain a certain kind of acid that lets crushed berries stay preserved in their own juice, making them ideal for jams just like this. Foodies can mix jam made from these berries in with some plain yogurt, use it to top pastries or sweet breakfast breads, or pair it with some leipäjuusto, or “squeaky cheese.” Finns say that the berries taste of summer — a pick-me-up during dark Scandinavian winters — and we don’t disagree.
Rento Eucalyptus Shower Gel
Rento is one of Finland’s best suppliers of sauna products — and that’s a big deal in Finland, where there are almost two million saunas for 5.3 million residents (even large companies have their own saunas). Sadly, while you can’t exactly bring an actual sauna back with you — and it’s a bit impractical to buy sauna aromatherapies without one — Rento’s eucalyptus shower gel will do the trick. It’s especially good for winter gift-giving thanks to its scent; if your gift recipient is prone to winter colds and coughs, using this in the shower with some hot water will be a nasal-passage-opening treat. The mildly lathering product is made to be eco-friendly and biodegradable as well, so you don’t have to worry about the environment with this purchase.