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Christmas Gift Guide – 5 Best Gifts & Souvenirs from Southwest Germany

For most of the past decade, I spent nearly every Christmas holiday in Germany. Living in Berlin, I loved the Christmas markets and all the holiday displays and of course the shopping. Germany sometimes feels like it invented modern-day Christmas!

My Christmas holidays in Berlin were always really special, but I was also lucky enough to travel Germany pretty frequently during the holidays. It’s one of my favorite times of year to be in Germany! Every German city and town with its varied Christmas markets and unique holiday traditions, Christmas in Germany has always been special.

Southwest Germany’s Baden-Württemberg region is one of Germany’s most picturesque regions, home to some of the most special sights and things to see in Germany. Explore this special region’s Christmas spirit through these selected gifts & souvenirs from the region.

Schmalkalden Weinachtsmarkt (Christmas Market)
Schmalkalden Weinachtsmarkt (Christmas Market)

5 Best Christmas Gift Ideas from Southwest Germany

It may not be possible to visit Southwest Germany’s beautiful Christmas markets this year, but you can still go shopping and find delicious and beautiful items to put under your tree or wrap for a favorite friend. While nothing really beats the experience of wandering a local Christmas market, there are still plenty of ways to shop for those special Christmas gifts online.

These are items that are made in Southwest Germany and contribute to the culture and the economy, the taste and feel of the country. Included in this
German Christmas list are products you can actually order from the USA.

Schwarzwald Schnapps

A Surprising Liquor – German Gin

Most people associate Southwest Germany with its delicious wines as it has two extensive, award-winning wine regions—or with beer as the region has many of its own breweries. Many people think of Schnapps, too, because much of the fruit Schnapps are produced in over 14,000 distilleries across the Black Forest.

What many people do not know is that Southwest Germany is an emerging gin producer and a very creative one at that. There are a wide range of extraordinary gins that stand out due to their aromas, the method of production or their design.

In Heidelberg, there is 315 Upstairs Gin referring to the 315 steps it takes to get from the Old Town to the famous castle and the ingredients include blueberry and bergamot. Stuttgart has two gins (GinSTR): 0711, the city’s area code and only 711 bottles are hand made each year and Circus gin which has a 1920s label resembling a circus tent. But it’s not just the label: the special taste of cinnamon and rosemary delights fans.

Mannheim, the chess city, has a gin now called “144 Square gin” and in the Swabian Alb, a quadruple distilled apple brandy, complemented by 78 local botanicals is called “Don’t Call Me Gin.”

Back in the Black Forest, needle gin is made out of handpicked pine needles along with 10 botanicals.

I’ve always thought a gin & tonic was the best Christmas cocktail because it’s earthy flavors always remind me of Christmas trees.

Germany’s Best Chocolate Candy Brand

You can buy the Rittersport chocolate bars (with or without nuts) in 70 countries around the world. Alfred Eugen Ritter and Clara Ritter founded the chocolate and confectionery factory in 1912 at Innere Moltkestraße in the Stuttgart district of Bad Cannstatt and this is where the first Rittersport chocolates were made.

As the company grew, it needed more space and so it moved to the charming town of Waldenbuch in 1930, where Clara invented two years later the unusual square shape. The story goes that she wanted to give her son some energy that would fit in his pocket and would not fall out while he played soccer.

From that simple motherly gesture grew a chocolate square and then an empire that is still based in the same small village. Today there is not only the manufacturer but also an enormous chocolate shop and a really cool museum featuring square art objects that I’ve had the chance to visit in the past.

Look for Ritter chocolate squares around the world. They make a great stocking stuffer!

Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets Berlin)

Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Iconic Christmas Decorations

Unbeknownst to many, Käthe Wohlfahrt, the epitome of all Christmas stores, started in Stuttgart, the capital of SouthWest Germany. The Christmas shop started when Wilhelm Wohlfahrt brought his Saxon music box to Stuttgart. The music box was admired by his American army friends, so the enterprising Wilhelm bought ten music boxes and then sold them to the wives of the American officers.

From then on, Käthe Wohlfahrt become synonymous with Christmas. The brand started selling the music boxes in holiday markets and then eventually established their own gallery outside Stuttgart and finally moved to Rothenburg ob der Tauber in 1977.

Today you can visit the Kaethe Wohlfahrt Christmas Shop and Museum on the Herrngasse in Rothenburg, as well as countless pop-up shops in Germany Christmas markets.

Of course, nothing replaces the experience of visiting and shopping in person, but if you are keen to enhance your holidays at home this year, you can order Christmas ornaments and gifts online.

Steiff Stuffed Animals are the Perfect Children’s Presents

The founder and creator of the first teddy bear, the “button in the ear bear,” Margarete Steiff was last month elected to The Toy Association’s TIA Hall of Fame in recognition of her significant contribution to the toy industry and the positive impact she has had on the lives of children. Stricken by polio at 18 months, Margarete Steiff had only the use of one arm and was paralyzed from the waist down but she was determined and cheerful and she skillfully and adroitly turned to her sewing machine to make a living.

Margarete Steiff founded her famous eponymous company in SouthWest Germany’s Giengen an der Brenz in 1874 when she made a pin cushion shaped as an elephant. She gave this to friends and families as gifts and the children turned them into toys.

Her talented nephew came up with the Teddy Bear, named after U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. Margarete Steiff was one of the most successful women CEOs in Germany and to this day, the company invokes her memory in all of its efforts. Families and children can visit the shop and the museum and the playground and petting zoo.

For people looking for a perfect keepsake for young children this holiday season, Steiff toys can be ordered online.

Mercedes-Benz Museum

Luxury Cars from Germany 

One of Germany’s best exports has always been its luxury cars. In Southwest Germany, you can find one of the world’s Most Unusual Car Museums which has a lovely history of the automotive industry and Germany’s place in it.

Many Americans come to Europe for pick-up of custom-made luxury cars, often at more affordable rates than what you’d find at a car dealership in the USA. While you may not be able to do European pick-up at the moment, if you do purchase a car for from Mercedes or Porsche this holiday season, you get access to photos, videos, and online tours of both museums.

Save the dream of owning a German car for later, and plan a car-themed trip to Germany for the next safe time to visit. You can stay at car-themed hotels, visit vintage car shops, the original Daimler studio, the Porsche Museum and Mercedes Benz museums, and of course plan a German road trip along the Autobahn!

Germany has so many great souvenirs and its rich culture and history is a great match for the holiday season.