Christmas holidays are around the corner and it’ll soon be time to open a bottle of Malbec and celebrate the season of generosity, something prominent in Argentine culture.
If you can’t be in Argentina to bring a souvenir back to your loved ones this year, fear not! From stocking stuffers and cultural souvenirs to personal gifts, we’ve compiled a list of the most authentic Argentine gifts that you can buy online.
Whether you’re buying for someone reminiscing about their holiday in Argentina, have an Argentine in your life, or are looking for something special to wow friends and family back home, these cultural Christmas gift ideas include something for everyone.
If they’re not already lovers of Argentina then they sure will be after receiving one of these meaningful and unique Argentina-inspired gifts.
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Alfajores & Dulce de Leche
Argentines are the number one consumer of alfajores, and it’s a country where dulce de leche is added to pretty much any dessert.
Argentina has many delicious confections perfect for any sweet-tooth. These sweet treats are a great stocking stuffer idea, or you could buy a box to take to a holiday event or as a little portable treat for friends.
• Flavored dulce de leche — For a new twist on traditional dulce de leche for the true sweet-toothed connoisseur, there are specialty food companies that sell flavored dulce de leche — that’s a new idea!
• Cachafaz Alfajores de Maicena – Many people’s favorite brand of alfajores is a slightly different type, consisting of two cornstarch cookies, a dulce de leche filling, rolled in grated coconut.
• Or you could really treat someone this Christmas with a special gourmet Argentine Dulce de Leche & Alfajor Gift Basket
Argentina-Related Foodie Gifts
Argentine cuisine is delicious, hearty and influenced by Spanish and Italian-style dishes.
A cookbook of Argentine recipes is not only a thoughtful and personal gift for the foodie in your life, but if you’re lucky enough you might find yourself being treated to a delicious home-cooked Argentine dish yourself!
Even if you have someone in mind that isn’t perhaps the most talented chef but still a big foodie, an authentic jar of the famous Argentine chimichurri steak sauce will bring the taste of Argentina to the table without them having to spend the time and fuss in the kitchen.
Another fabulous gift for food lovers is a ‘picada’ board. A picada is a wonderful Argentine tradition of serving a platter of charcuterie, cheese and olives — perfect as an appetizer or for entertaining friends and family during the festive season.
And what is Argentine cuisine without mentioning the famous asado. For the asado fanatics, a unique gaucho style steak knife is the perfect gift.
• The Food and Cooking Of Argentina: 65 Traditional Recipes from the Heart of South America — A compilation of some of Argentina and South America’s best recipes
• Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way — Learn to cook Argentine asado like an expert
• Dulce de Leche: Recipes, Stories and Sweet Traditions — All the dulce de leche recipes you can think of for Argentina’s favorite sweet spread.
• This Argentina Coffee Gift Basket maybe a little kitschy but as a gift that includes gourmet coffee along with tango-themed coasters and mug…what’s not to love?
Wine Glasses & Decanter
Argentina is also increasingly famous for its wines as well as its cuisine, and the festive season certainly isn’t the same without a few bottles of that on hand!
Whether for a wine-connoisseur or someone who just appreciates a good tipple, these wine gifts are a wonderful way to accompany a bottle of Argentine Malbec this Christmas.
• Gold rimmed flute champagne glasses to bring in the new year
• Last but not least, a wine decanter with a built-in Aerator for the wanna-be sommelier in your life
Classic Penguin Pitcher
If going home for Christmas, a traditional Pingüino-shaped beverage pitcher is a fun gift. It may seem odd but it’s something that rings true to Argentine culture as the steak houses traditionally used the penguin-shaped pitchers to serve their house wine.
The larger version of these quirky serving pitchers aren’t available online but the penguin coffee creamer jugs are a close second and make for a very unique present for the coffee and/or penguin lover in your life.
Yerba Mate Kit: The Gift of Health!
True Argentina lovers know that Yerba Mate (read all about it on our post!) is not just a staple drink of everyday life. It is an embodiment of Argentine culture tied with many customs and traditions. What better gift is there to receive than something that is a true taste of Argentine culture, as well as having tons of health benefits?
Being the literature capital of South America, Buenos Aires is home to uncountable writers. From romance novels to philosophical works, there is something for every book lover. We’ve picked out the best must-reads to suit the taste of any bookworm in your life, including some older classics but also the best emerging writers in Argentine literature today.
• Or why not gift a loved one the experience of getting lost on a literary trip to Argentina with one of these 10 best books set in Buenos Aires, which include the literature classics of Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar?
• Bruce Chatwin is an English writer and journalist who ended up spending six months in the wilderness of Patagonia. His book ‘In Patagonia’ is an account of his travels and not only includes witty anecdotes but also explores the history of the region. Perfect for those wanting to travel to Patagonia themselves!
• The novel ‘My Fathers’ Ghost is Climbing in the Rain’ (audiobook or paperback) is written by award-winning Argentine author Patricio Pon. It offers a contemporary insight to what it was like living in Argentina during the turbulent era of the dirty war and a depiction of how the younger generation to this day live with the consequences of the military dictatorship.
• ‘How I Became a Nun’ is a funny, short autobiographical novel set in the 1950s by one of Argentina’s most prolific contemporary writers, César Aira. Set in the city of Rosario, this picturesque book has a quirky plot which chronicles the story of a young child named César who refers to herself as a girl but is seen by the rest of the world as a boy.
• Samanta Schweblin is one of the best emerging writer’s out of the Latin American literary scene. Her novels challenge the border that separate the real from the surreal. Schweblin’s thrilling first novel ‘Fever Dream’ found international fame after being translated into English for the first time.
Her latest novel ‘Little Eyes: A Novel’, recommended by Oprah magazine and the New York Times and long-listed for the Booker prize, is described as the Argentine version of the Handmaid’s Tale. Schweblin’s books are wonderfully translated by American translator, Megan McDowell and both are available on Kindle, as Audiobook and Paperback.
Kid & Kid-Friendly Books
Younger readers, or anyone who just loves the Harry Potter series, would love author Romina Russell’s best selling book, ‘Lobizona’ (available on Kindle, as Audiobook and Paperback). The captivating book is a supernatural coming-of-age novel about young girl who is living undocumented in the United States. She stumbles upon a journey to find herself after she is invited to join a magical academy in the Everglades.
The beloved Argentine comic strip ‘Mafalda’, written by late cartoonist Quino, stars a 6-year old girl named Mafalda who reflects on humanity and the injustices of the world. The lovable character has not only captured the heart of Argentines, but has since become popular worldwide. The most iconic of the comics during the ten years Quino published them, have been captured in a beautiful collectable hardcover edition.
Many people know of Argentina’s revolutionary hero Che Guevara, but how many have read his book ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’? The Motorcycle Diaries, or Diarios de Motocicleta in Spanish, is a series of diary entries written by Guevara when he was a young student traveling around South America on his motorcycle.
This book is appropriate for teen and young adult readers. For those more into cinema than books, a DVD version of the Motocycle Diaries is also available!
You can also sign up for a 30 day FREE trial of Amazon Prime and watch it there.
For those Tango lovers looking to learn the intricacies of the dance ready to ‘wow’ on the dance floor – we have just the selection of books!
Packed with information about the social complexity of Tango dancing, the book ‘Enjoy Getting the Dances You Want: Filling in the Blanks of Argentine Tango’ aims to get rid of any confusion with the dance and replace it with pleasure! Available on Kindle and as Paperback.
Writer and scholar, Iona Italia, better known by tango fanatics on the web as Terpsichoral Tangoaddict for her now-defunct blog, gives insight into the sometimes socially-demanding tango scene and helps readers learn about the rituals, myths and customs of the world’s most seductive dance. Her two volumes: Our Tango World vol.1: Learning & Community and Our Tango World vol.2: At the Milonga are available on Kindle and as Paperbacks.
Lovers of Argentine Gaucho life will adore some new accessories to dress for the occasion during the festive season. Leather belts and Alpargatas, a fabric shoe with a distinctive style, are just a couple of items that epitomize authentic pampa cowboy culture.
Comfortable, affordable and practical, Alpargatas are essentially an Argentine version of slippers — the only difference being it’s acceptable to wear them outside of the house.
Inspired by the Argentine Alpargatas, Toms shoes are a modernized comfy version and make a great pressie to be worn throughout the year. What’s more, for every $3 they make, they donate $1 to charity, how’s that for some Christmas cheer?
What better way is there to express your love to that special someone this holiday season than with jewelry? Dating back to the origin of the country, silver has always been strongly associated with Argentina, even the name ‘Argentina’ evolves from the Latin word for silver ‘Argentum’.
Today, it’s impossible to go to an Artisan market without passing a stall selling delicate, ornate handcrafted jewelry with silver and usually other precious stones. One of the gemstones found most in abundance in Argentina is the Rose quartz (rhodochrosite), but other stones native to Argentina are the amethyst, topaz, agate and jasper.
Argentine Music Gifts
Bring music to one’s ears (literally) at Christmas with this collection of CDs and Vinyls boasting great Argentine artists. In terms of music, Argentina might best be known for Tango, but it’s also centered around other styles such as traditional Argentine folkloric music. This selection has something for every music lover: it also includes Cumbia, Ska and Indie Pop.
For the Tango fanatics, if not already part of their music collection, Astor Piazzolla’s compositions are an essential addition. Arguably one of the world’s number one composers of Tango music, Piazzolla revolutionized traditional tango.
And for the true music connoisseur, this album entitled Candombes and Milongas includes an unusual variety of tunes sung by Argentine singer and actor Alberto Castillo, another Tango legend, is perfect for under the tree.
Florindo Sassone, Argentine musician and composer, led his orchestra playing Tango music internationally for 3o years. A wonderful stocking filler for classical listeners, Sassone’s ‘ Grandes Tangos Argentinos’ can be found on CD here.
Mercedes Sosa is one of Argentina’s all time famous folklorico artists. Putting on her music makes even the most stoic Argentine break out into song after a couple of drinks. Her album ‘La Historia Del Folklore’ is available to buy as a CD.
Anyone who was around in the late 80s remembers the Grammy Award winning Latin Rock/Ska band ‘Los Fabulosos Cadillacs’, especially their big party hit ‘Matador.’ They are one of the few bands from Argentina’s 1980’s ‘Rock National’ movement whose music has stood the test of time. ‘Live at Madison Square Garden’ is available on MP3 and CD.
Juana Molina is an Argentine singer song-writer who is considered one of the country’s most famous Indie pop/Folktronica artists. She has been praised for her music and experimentation and her first live album ‘ANRMAL’ is available on MP3, CD and Vinyl.
A growing artist in the Buenos Aires Folk scene is the talented Karina Vismara. She has been compared to Joni Mitchell for her sweet voice and acoustic guitar playing – you can purchase her album ‘Casa de Viento’ on MP3 or CD here.
‘Chancha Vía Circuito’ (the DJ, Pedro Canale) fuses cumbia and electronic music with instruments and voices influenced by reggae, folklore and other cumbia music and is one of the most popular Cumbia Electronic/Tropicalia artists to date. The album Bienaventuranza is available on MP3, CD and Vinyl.
For those more into ‘nuevo cumbia’ – a cumbia fusioned with hip-hop, funk, and dance music – ‘Miss Bolivia’ is a popular artist among young listeners. Her ties to Human Rights activism are evident in her lyrics characterizing protest. Her most famous album ‘Pantera’ is available on MP3 and CD.
Gustavo Santaolalla is an Argentine musician, composer and record producer. He is also famous for the soundtracks of films such as Brokeback Mountain, Babel, the aforementioned Motorcycle Diaries, as well as the score of the well-known video game The Last of Us, which is available on MP3, CD & Vinyl.
Although not Argentine, the famous soprano opera singer Maria Callas made her Buenos Aires debut in the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and luckily for Callas fans there is a much-loved recording on CD: Maria Callas: Unknown Teatro Colon Recordings
Soccer Gifts & Regalia
With the Argentine soccer team considered one of the best in the world, having produced stars like Messi and the recently-deceased Maradona, Argentina soccer merch is perfect not just for lovers of Argentina, but football fanatics and kiddies will also get a kick out of these gifts.
Typical Argentine Decorative Art: Fileteado
For a true taste of Buenos Aires culture, Argentina’s cool ornamental art makes for a very memorable gift. Consisting of bright colors and artistic lettering, fileteado is a decorative art born in Buenos Aires. It’s traditionally seen on street signs, taxis and buses.
Now you can buy a special someone their own piece of Buenos Aires decor! Or bring a little touch of Argentina to the tree decorations with a unique Christmas ornament.
• Or buy an actual piece of Argentine Fileteado Porteño
Give a Trip to Argentina!
Last but not least, you could really go above and beyond this Christmas by treating that special someone to an unforgettable trip to Argentina.
Nothing can beat the feeling of giving someone the experience of a lifetime and creating cherished memories together. Argentina will be open to travel again soon if no more surprises come up.
— Tilly Dale