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Tasteful Jamaican Gifts and Souvenirs

Montego Bay Craft Market
Photo: VIC's Jamaican Gift Shop

by Kesha Stewart | Associate Writer

You can’t bottle or box the sun, sea and sand that you enjoyed in Jamaica but you want something to take back home. Right?

Sometimes it's hard to determine what to take back for your family and friends as gifts or souvenirs.

You really don't want your gifts to be unappealing and set aside in an attic somewhere, do you? Of course not. You want them to be valuable and important, talked about and of course, you want your good taste to be evident.

Today we share some gift ideas that are sure to reflect your good taste!
And, be sure to watch our gift shop tour video for even more inspiration.

Art and Wood Carvings - Wood carvings are artistically done representing nature, iconic figures as well as regular people. Carvings of Jamaican birds, trees and so on.

Jamaican paintings are a hit too! You can get Jamaican scapes, personal portraits and even abstracts. You may find that the best way to preserve your memories of Negril's sunset is to purchase a painting for your living space. Some resorts allow the artisans to come onto the property to sell their pieces and you may be able to find something without coming off property. If you're game you can go hunting for the stuff you like. `

Rums - World-renowned Jamaican rums make good tasteful gifts at reasonable prices. Brands like Appleton Estate Rums are ideal. The Appleton Estates has rebranded its Appleton Special rum series to Kingston 62, but you can still expect the same amazing taste. Other popular local brands such as Wray and Nephew, Rum Bar, Worthy Gold can be bought at your hotel's gift shop, duty-free shops at the airport and even at supermarkets and some convenience stores. Maintain your stock even after you leave by making online orders.

Coffee - Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is synonymous with superior quality and great taste. It is in high demand all over the world. This world-rated coffee is great for coffee lovers everywhere. You may order from duty-free shops, local stores at convenience stores and even your hotel gift shop. It is a flavourful way to remember Jamaica. refill your order online too. It is easy and convenient.

Jerk Spices and other Condiments - Here is a hot and spicy way to Jamaicanize your food even when you're away from the island. Your family will love you for the way these items enliven their meals, remember in Jamaica a Jerk wi seh! Any meat is fair game.

Plus whoever receives this particular package will find unlimited recipes online. You can even stop by your local bookstore to purchase books with Jamaican recipes. Books are available at local bookshops both in-store and online, while your condiments and spices are available from the most basic stores all the way up to duty-free shops and of course online as well. Brands such as Walkerswood, Grace and Spur Tree can help you to get it right.

Roots and Tonic Wines - We use homemade concoctions to remedy our health problems. Consequently, we have learned to commercialize this concept to make available to you natural roots tonics and wines to help with every situation. Think of aphrodisiacs, cures for impotence and infertility, back and joint pain, cleanse, detox, and general vitality and you're sure to find a remedy in a roots tonic wine.

The blends are made from combinations of aloe vera, raw moon, sarsaparilla, comfrey, neem, strong back, blood wiss and even seaweed. These items are available in brands such as Baba Roots, Zion Organic Roots and Samson’s. There are alcoholic based tonic wines such as Magnum and Wincarnis.

Castor Oil - You can't go wrong with Jamaican Black Castor Oil as a gift for your friends or family. Not only are you giving a high quality and widely respected product, but you are also offering that person a product that has many natural health benefits.

It is a good personal care product for both skin and hair. It is a natural way to remedy many conditions. It comes in medicinal/food grade as well. Health food stores, most pharmacies and definitely online outlets are great places to seek the brand and grade you want. A curative and thoughtful gift. Available brands include…

Footwear and Clothing - A great choice too. A Jamaican themed shirt, dress, hat or sandals make cute gifts. A stop at a nearby craft market will reveal offerings as diverse sundresses, shorts and beautiful knitted caps, beanies as well dainty handcrafted leather sandals. The beautiful designs and eye-catching Jamaican or Rastafarian shades will turn heads everywhere.

Some are even captions. Swimsuits are also in the lineup. Wow!

Accessories - Go ahead and shop at your nearby craft market for Jamaican styled accessories. They are sure to be a hit with whomever you choose to gift them to. You will find various items for a subdued to bold expression. Items such as earrings, beaded necklaces, knitted armbands, leather belts and even headbands are available for selection. These items are representative of Jamaica and whomever wears them will definitely be noticed.

Food - Jamaican culinary expressions that won't get you in trouble with customs include bammies, coconut drops, grater cakes, cooked and frozen ackee, canned ackee, fried fish, puddings, roasted breadfruit or yams, frozen jerked pork, and frozen patties. Your friends will get a taste of Jamaica as soon as you unpack.

Many of these items can be bought at local stores, from local vendors and some are likely to be available at airport stores. Pay close attention to the length of your flight so that you do not risk spoilage. Pack carefully to avoid spills and do declare to customs the items you have. Label them in case you forget the names that way your friends and family will have an idea of what they are enjoying.

Household Items - No sweat. Scented candles in tropical fragrances such as papaya, coconut, lime and mango make excellent gifts. Handmade coasters, Calabash and bamboo utensils and cooking implements such as ‘dutch pot’. The dutch pots are sure to go down well with those who want to prepare more authentic Jamaican favourites such as curry goat and even rice and peas.

Top Tips To Note:

  1. Don't walk around with large sums of cash in any currency.
  2. Learn the exchange rate so you don't get cheated if you must use international currencies.
  3. Create a list of the items you want and for whom you intend to purchase. That way you won't become confused and since you may not be able to buy everything the same day/place it will reduce the duplication of items.
  4. Shop around for the best prices. Prices may vary significantly among vendors and stores. Negotiate whenever possible especially when buying more than one item from the same person.
  5. Examine products to ensure they are of good quality.
  6. Check to see if what you're buying is an authentic Jamaican Made product. There are imported Jamaican knock-offs.
  7. Think about the packing and storage requirements especially for foods. Some may need to be frozen for instance and others may spill and damage other items. You don't want to lose anything while en route home.
  8. Make sure you have luggage space and be mindful of your weight allowance so you don't end up having to pay additional costs or worse having to leave your purchases behind.
  9. When shopping, don't be intimidated by vendors. Hold firm to your decision about what you wish to purchase and from whom.
  10. If possible a trusted, honest Jamaican friend or tour guide can accompany you to help you be at ease.

There are surely several things that can tastefully and thoughtfully reflect your Jamaican vacation, generosity and impeccable taste. I can guarantee that none of these will be tossed out or hidden. As a matter of fact, you will be admired by the person who receives them.

You can easily purchase some of these items for yourself too so you will have a taste and feel of Jamaica until you can revisit our shores.

WATCH VIDEO: Check this insightful tour of Ms V's Jamaican Gift Shop on the Hip Strip in Montego Bay, Jamaica

I also recommend you read Best Places For Visitor Shopping in Jamaica!


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A patriotic Jamaican who adore its culture, Wellesley has been using this medium to share what he calls 'the uniqueness of Jamaica with the world' since April 2007.  

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