When you think about festive locations, you might think of Lapland or the North Pole. But with its stunning snowy scenery, centuries of traditions and soul-warming food and drink, Scotland is as much a winter wonderland as anywhere in the Arctic Circle.
If you’re looking to add some Scots flair to your celebrations this festive season, check out our guide to the best gifts for a true Scottish Christmas.
You might be able to make shortbread anywhere, or even make it at home if you want. But this humble biscuit – or flour confectionery, if we’re being technical about it – is a culinary emblem of Scotland and a staple of any Scottish Christmas.
The original shortbread recipe is thought to have emerged from medieval Scotland’s alliance with France (and France’s famous pastry chefs). If you believe the story, shortbread’s popularity soared in the 16th century thanks to Mary, Queen of Scots, who was said to be a keen baker.
Whether it was really thanks to Mary’s patronage or just the delicious taste, Scottish shortbread is now exported all over the world and has earned its place as a classic Scottish Christmas confectionery. If you want to be completely traditional, look out for the triangular variety known as “petticoat tails” – although any shape of shortbread will go down a treat.
Outfit yourself for a Scottish excursion
Part of what makes Scotland such a stunning place to visit at any time of the year is its rugged natural beauty. And of course, that includes iconic wildlife like red deer, wildcats and golden eagles.
If you’re looking for a Scottish Christmas gift to experience that for yourself, you can’t go wrong with a pair of binoculars. After all, the best way to get close to Scottish wildlife is actually to keep your distance, and binoculars mean you can do just that without missing out on anything.
While you’re thinking of the Scottish outdoors, how about a book of the country’s best walking trails? Or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous – maybe enough to tackle Ben Nevis in the new year – add a compass and some maps to those binoculars to make a true Scottish explorer’s kit.
Scotch whisky to light the fire in your belly
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a tipple or two, and it certainly wouldn’t be a Scottish Christmas without some whisky on the menu.
It’s probably no surprise that there’s a lot to consider when choosing the perfect whisky. First of all: single malt or blended? You’ll find plenty of opinions out there from connoisseurs on which is best, but ultimately single malt means a Scotch made from a single distillery, while blended brings together different grains and malts.
Then there are the different regions. Scotland has five main whisky regions, each offering its own distinctive approach to making Scotch. Highland whiskies range from light to salty, and lowland Scotch is sweet and gentle. Campbeltown and Speyside both offer whisky full of fruity flavour and a hint of smoke, while the really smoky stuff comes from Islay.
If you’re not sure which whisky to get for your Scottish Christmas, the best way to find out is to get some sample drams and have your own tasting session. And if you want to make it a really indulgent experience, a bite of rich, dark chocolate after each sip helps to bring out the best in every Scotch.
Wrap up warm in true Scots style
It’s no secret that Scotland can get pretty chilly at the best of times. But that just means we know a thing or two about keeping warm in the bleak midwinter, and there’s plenty to discover to make your Scottish Christmas as cosy as can be.
It’s hard to think of a more quintessentially Scottish symbol than tartan. A tartan wool blanket is perfect for those dark Christmas nights spent snuggled on the sofa, and there’s nothing better than a thick tartan scarf if you’re heading out for a crisp winter walk.
If you’re looking for a Scottish Christmas gift that cries out luxury, Scottish cashmere is known throughout the world as a mark of quality. And then there’s Harris Tweed, which can only be made by weavers in the Outer Hebrides – from suits and coats to bags and accessories, a gift of Harris Tweed can add a touch of Scottish class to any occasion.
Scotland might be best known for its whisky and wool, but if you’re looking to add some sparkle to your Scottish Christmas gift giving, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Scottish jewellery has a rich past dating all the way back to the Iron Ages. Brooches in particular are a strong symbol of Scotland, with styles influenced by the country’s Celtic, Pictish and Viking history. If you’re looking for a gift with some meaning, many pieces of Scottish jewellery are also key parts of local customs – like the Luckenbooth, which is a traditional gift from Scottish grooms to their brides.
Scotland’s silversmiths have also been highly regarded for centuries, so silver jewellery will always be a fitting Scottish Christmas gift. If stones are your thing, pebble jewellery is a Scottish classic. Don’t worry, Scotch pebbles aren’t the kind you’d find on the beach – that’s just a local word for stones like agate, jasper, pearl and Cairngorm.
Experience a Scottish Christmas in luxury
When Scotland has so much to offer for the festive season, sometimes the best way to experience a Scottish Christmas is to be there for it. And with Kilcamb Lodge, you can do just that.
With views over Loch Sunart and its surrounding snow-capped mountains, Kilcamb Lodge is the perfect place to relax by a log fire and enjoy your Scottish Christmas in style. Take a look at our Christmas, Twixmas and Hogmanay breaks and find a warm festive welcome in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.