It’s not easy to find the perfect gift for grandparents (same goes for parents, uncles, aunts, cousins…) when they already have everything. So, if you just can’t track down that elusive perfect gift, play it safe instead: go for something handmade and local.
When family members or friends unwrap a locally made gift, their initial reaction might be one of surprise… but, more often than not, the surprise quickly turns into delight. Sometimes they won’t have heard of the product, or had no idea it was made locally. And if it is something they’re already familiar with, it can trigger happy memories.
What you get out of it is the knowledge that you’re promoting the skills and know-how of your region. Here are a few essentials to put under the tree…
A beautiful pottery dish from Bouffioulx
Enhance the presentation of a good meal, nibbles or maybe a dessert with some handmade pottery. These plates, glasses, cups… are all handcrafted by local artisans. Each piece is unique and deserves a closer look to examine the ways in which it is special.
A beautiful object made of local marble
Our region is well known for extracting marble. Sumptuous palaces, such as the Château de Versailles, are adorned with it. The Marble Museum (MAgMA), in Sivry-Rance, tells us the tale of this stone and how it is extracted.
At the museum, you will see myriad examples of items made out of this noble material. There is plenty of inspiration for gifts, too: a candlestick, a bottle holder, or decorative objects that will look great in your home.
A must-have for lovers of the seasons and nature
The Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse almanac is the perfect gift for those who live by nature’s rhythms, or are at least looking to slow down the pace a little. This little book is brimming with treasure: what to look out for each season, ephemera, observations about nature…
It is such a delight learning about seasonal celebrations, finding advice on how to grow a vegetable garden successfully and even discovering regional legends.
This year, the almanac has chosen the tree as the common thread throughout the book as it charts the months of the year.
Book bonus: the ideas for recipes inspired by local products. A genuine goldmine.
A bouquet of dried flowers
Larissa Di Pietrantonio has always been passionate about flowers, and a few years ago she turned her hand to flower art. She started the “For me?” workshop in 2013 to create bouquets and floral installations for events, but also for artistic projects.
Her latest venture has been to open a shop in Charleroi. It is only a few metres from the quays and sells an array of beautiful handmade creations. Dried or fresh flowers, there is something for everyone.
What makes it so special? She makes a point of working with Belgian flowers that are grown in an eco-responsible way.
Handmade and local soap
The advantage of artisanal soap is that it is usually totally natural, without any chemical additives, colouring agents or other processed products, and that it is made using simple, high-quality ingredients.
Alongside well-known shops such as Passion d’O in Couvin or La Petite sorcière in Baileux, the Charleroi Metropolitan Area has a healthy number of artisanal workshops that practice soap-making using ancestral techniques.
Isabelle Corbaye, in her “Corbaye aux savons” in Fraire, offers soaps made from vegetable oils, essential oils and clays. Aurélie Dufranne with Lili Frimousse in Ham-sur-Heure, makes soaps suitable for all skin types. Stéphanie and Rudy, from Olila in Solre-sur-Sambre, make organic and ethical soaps.
A hamper bursting with local produce
Good food and drink are always a delight to receive and, above all, are best enjoyed alongside other good food and drink. Many local producers offer a range of hampers.
The Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse cooperative, Coopesem, has cottoned onto this and is preparing beautiful and tempting arrangements for the holidays, which obviously give pride of place to local produce. A lovely way to surprise someone or treat yourself while supporting local producers.
For that truly personal gift, we can pick out each item ourselves so we know it will hit the spot: a wee dram from the Biercée Distillery or a local beer, good chocolate from the Boite à Chocolat, home-made jam from Nos Gourmandises in Thuillies or a nice jar of local speciality escavèche… You’re not short of choice in the Charleroi Metropolitan Area!
Pay a visit to your local artisans and shops; they are packed with creative ideas. And there is something for everyone.
To find out where they are, have a look at the interactive map made by Food.C:
A packet of homemade biscuits, box of chocolates or a bottle of local beer always puts a smile on someone’s face.