For members


GUIDE: The Local’s gift guide of classic Swedish Christmas items

Swedish Christmas decorations are minimalist but 'mysig', with the lights appearing in every window around this time of year a welcoming sight to brighten up the darker months in the run-up to Christmas. Here's our guide to some Christmassy Swedish gifts.

GUIDE: The Local's gift guide of classic Swedish Christmas items
A Christmas star in an apartment window. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Christmas lights

Some characteristic Christmas lights you have no doubt spotted in the windows of houses and apartments where you live ar the julstärna or Christmas star and the adventsljusstake or Advent candlestick.

These Christmas decorations are available in countless different variations, both cheaper options at stores like Clas Ohlson and IKEA, and more expensive versions at design stores like Svenssons i Lammhult or Designtorget.

Other popular decorations include the änglaspel, angel chimes which rotate when candles are lit underneath, and the Julbock, a Christmas goat made of straw modelled after the famous Gävlebock, the 13-metre-high goat often set on fire by arsonists in the northern Swedish city of Gävle.

Also worth mentioning is the Jultomte, Christmas gnomes that are often mistaken as Santa. These can be found in almost all souvenir shops in many different sizes and are an unmistakably Swedish decoration found in every household.

Christmas snaps. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Christmas drinks

Many would say that a Swedish Christmas celebration is not complete without snaps – traditionally served at all major holidays, it is essentially Swedish vodka with spices and herbs like aniseed, fennel and caraway seeds.

The ritual of drinking about 60ml of snaps with pickled herring and potatoes is accompanied by singing drinking songs called snapsvisor, which get increasingly more rowdy as the night goes on and as more alcohol is consumed.

Coupled with the other Christmas favourite, glögg (spiced wine), snaps is an essential part of the Swedish Christmas dining experience. You can make your own snaps at home by steeping some spices in vodka or unflavoured brännvin, or buy a bottle to gift to a snaps-loving friend or family member at the nearest Systembolaget. Here is The Local’s Swedish-style snaps recipe and more about its history and why it is so popular at Swedish holidays.

Knäck and pepparkakor. Photo: Jurek Holzer/SvD/TT

Christmas treats

A Swedish julfika (Christmas Fika) is incomplete without a few staples. The most classic are lussekatter (saffron buns), bright yellow buns most often formed into an S shape eaten around Christmas, pepparkakor, which are thin spiced gingerbread biscuits and julknäck, small caramel flavoured sweets.

You can serve these with warm glögg (alcoholic versions available at Systembolaget with low-alcohol or alcohol-free variants available at most supermarkets), or with some sort of Christmas tea or coffee – look for lussete (tea spiced with saffron, orange and sometimes, chilli), julte or julkaffe (tea or coffee with Christmas spices). Pick any of these depending on your preference, these treats are perfect for warming you up on a cosy winter afternoon.

Other classic Swedish favourite Christmas snacks and drinks include juleskum – soft candy with an admittedly unappetising name in the shape of Santa, and julmust Christmas soda. Julmust is so popular in Sweden that it outsells Coca Cola during the Christmas season every year.

Although Swedes might not be massively impressed if you gift them juleskum or pepparkakor as a Christmas present, they can be great gifts for friends and family back home if you’re celebrating Christmas outside of Sweden this year. Most if not all of these items are available at supermarkets, and you might even be able to pick them up in the airport or train station if you’re looking for a last-minute gift.

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For members


How to save money this Christmas in Sweden

This Christmas looks set to be an expensive one, with inflation rising, driven by rising food and energy prices. Here are our tips for how you can save some money this Christmas in Sweden.

How to save money this Christmas in Sweden


Gifts can feel like a difficult expense to cut down on, as you don’t want the person receiving the gift to feel like you don’t value them. Having said that, a gift doesn’t have to be expensive to be good.

One tip for buying cheaper gifts is buying something second hand. You can use Sellpy for second hand clothes and accessories, and Tradera or Facebook Marketplace for general second-hand goods, including furniture, electronics and home decor.

You could also try making something yourself – are you good at painting or sewing, for example? Could you bake them something and package it in a nice box?

For children, there are a wide range of second-hand toys and books available online (again, have a look on Tradera and Facebook Marketplace), and at second-hand shops like Stadsmissionen or Erikshjälpen.


For some families, Christmas is all about food. With inflation rising and the price of both food and the electricity used to cook it going up, this Christmas looks set to be more expensive than usual.

There are a few ways to lower your food costs this year.

You can use a service like Matsmart to buy food at a reduced price which would otherwise go to waste, or you can keep an eye on the offers at your local supermarkets and pick up food you need for Christmas when you see it on offer.

You can also shop at cheaper supermarkets – a 2022 Matpriskollen comparison of over 2,500 products on sale at Swedish supermarkets showed that Sweden’s joint-cheapest supermarkets are Willys and Lidl, followed by ICA Maxi, Stora Coop and City Gross (which was as cheap as Lidy and Willys when the ten percent discount offered to members was factored in).

You can also lower your food costs by asking your guests to bring something with them, such as drinks, bread, or another item they can easily take with them if they don’t live close by.

If you’ll be by yourself or with a couple of other people, see if you have any other friends who are staying in Sweden and don’t have any plans yet – maybe they don’t celebrate Christmas, or aren’t sure what they’ll be doing as they’re also an immigrant in Sweden and won’t be going home this Christmas?

Ask if they want to join you for the Christmas meal, and share the costs of food. You can even skip the presents if you prefer, just make sure you discuss this in advance so you’re all on the same page.


If travelling abroad you’ve most likely booked your Christmas travel by now, but one tip for those of you travelling within Sweden is to look for carshares, like this Facebook group and this website connecting drivers with potential passengers looking to travel between two cities or towns in Sweden. You may be asked to pay half of the cost of petrol, but this will still come out cheaper than driving by yourself in many cases.

Try searching for the term samåkning and the cities you’re looking to travel between if you’re interested in a carshare.

As far as train travel is concerned, the best advice is to book as early as possible – so if you haven’t booked your Christmas travel yet, make sure to do it as soon as you can.


Christmas decorations don’t have to be expensive either. Second-hand shops are full of Swedish Advent candelabras and Christmas star lights at this time of year. Just make sure to check how much energy they use before you buy so you don’t end up with an (even more) sky-high energy bill when January comes around.

Swedes are also big fans of making their own Christmas decorations or julpyssel, like pepparkakor or smällkarameller filled with sweets and hung on the Christmas tree to eat once Christmas is over, so why not give that a try this year instead of buying expensive decorations?

Many Swedes also decorate their homes with natural decorations like small branches, twigs and pinecones in vases or bowls at Christmas, so try picking up some on your next walk if you want to follow this tradition. Do note, though, that you are not permitted to break twigs or branches off living trees without asking the landowners’ permission, so only collect items that have already fallen to the ground.