There's no shortage of shops offering “authentic" Scottish souvenirs in the center of Edinburgh. Unfortunately, when shopping for gifts to bring home to your loved ones, it’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that the quirky, but ultimately useless, piece of themed merchandise in front of you will bring joy to its recipient.
How many of us have smiled through gritted teeth at a “hilarious” t-shirt, plastic ornament or hideous-looking confection, knowing that as soon as we're alone, the offending article will be thrown straight into the trash?
Let us give you a little advice for finding truly memorable and enjoyable gifts in this city.
Edinburgh's Royal Mile, perhaps a stop along your holiday shopping journey — Photo courtesy of Kim Traynor
The area around the Royal Mile is probably the worst offender when it comes to selling Scottish-themed atrocities. The aptly named “instakilt” (a tartan beach towel with a sporran motif) may not go down as well as you think.
Be honest: Does anyone really want a Jimmy Hat? Thankfully, there are also some brilliant shops in the area, too.
If you want to buy some Scottish attire, head for 21st Century Kilts. It's a simple fact that men look great in kilts, and they have some beautifully tailored kilts to buy off the rack. You can also follow in the footsteps of celebrities such as Vin Diesel, Prince Albert of Monaco, Gerard Butler and Lenny Kravitz and get a bespoke kilt made out of almost any material.
Women need not feel left out! Mini kilts are incredibly cute, and if that is not to your taste, then the quirky and chic Ragamuffin is jam-packed with beautiful knitwear and soft-flowing fabrics.
Scotland is rightly famed for its produce, in particular whisky. There are many shops selling classic malt whiskies in Edinburgh, but whisky is not made in the capital.
If you want a gift that specifically represents Edinburgh, why not try Edinburgh Rock (crumbly, sweet and delicious) or Lucky Tatties (a traditional confection with a cinnamon flavor)? For the devout gourmand, a hamper of goodies from Cranachan and Crowdie is the perfect choice.
Celtic silver is another great gift to bring home from Scotland. A beautiful silver Quaich with a Celtic knot work motif is a memorable gift that anyone would be happy to receive, and one of the best selections can be found at the Edinburgh jeweler Angles.
You can also find beautiful silver jewelry, cufflinks, hip flasks and many more in jewelry stores around the city center.