I NEVER would have suspected that the events of the world would give me so much content for my articles when I started writing this column back in March!
Yet here we are, still on the rollercoaster that is 2020 and we are probably on what most would consider yet another dip.
While we sit in Level 3 for the moment, many of us have probably started to think about Christmas much sooner than other years. I feel there is a collective gearing up of the country, we don’t know what the next few months will hold but what we do know is that this year for Christmas, whatever way we celebrate it, we will try our best to make it a memorable, happy and exciting time.
That said, the most important thing to remember is that, much like the toilet roll debacle of March, we do not need to panic buy. However, being organised is probably a good idea. With the year that’s in it, it might suit many of us to spread the cost of Christmas out over the next couple of months and let it give us some light at the end of this rather long and murky tunnel.
We try and shop local or shop Irish as much as we can on a daily basis and Christmas is obviously no different. I think this year, of all the years, if we can, we should try and support at least one Irish-based business at Christmas. When it comes to toys, there is no shortage of incredible Irish-based toy shops out there selling a fantastic range of unusual, interesting, educational and inspiring products.
Here are some suggestions (not an exhaustive list!) that cover a range of interests, and if you search for the name of each shop mentioned here in Google, you will find their website.
I was chatting online recently about Irish- based toy shops and after the feedback I got there is no doubt there is one Meath-based toy shop that I must mention first. From what I am told, and judging by their website, Duffys Toyworld in Dunleer has the most incredible stock of toys, and whatever they are into I think you are guaranteed to find it there. It is a family run business that stocks all the mainstream brands that kids enjoy like Lego, Playmobil, Generation Doll, Lottie Doll, Melissa and Doug, Orchard Toys, Sylvanian Families and Schleich among many others, and I would encourage you to get lost in their selection of wooden toys and educational toys. It is clear this is a shop with children at the very heart of every toy selected to be sold.
If you are looking for something a little bit different for younger children, brands like Djeco, Vilac, Done by Deer and Maileg are both beautiful and educational. There are some lovely West of Ireland based shops, Freddie and Millie in Ballinrobe, Giggle and Play and Wooden Heart Toys, both in Galway, that stock a great selection of toys from those brands and more. If you are after something whimsical with ample opportunity for facilitating imaginary based play, those three websites have a wealth of ideas.
Little Ones in Clare is a similar shop with both an online and physical presence selling similar products along with a lovely selection of baby items too, from sleeping bags to bibs, moccasins to rompers.
There are some websites with more of a focus on educational toys, companies including Discovery Playtime in Naas, the Peeka Company in Meath and Cogs the Brain Shop in Dublin. The latter has a brilliant selection of board games and jigsaws for all ages for the entire family that I find brilliant for passing a cold winter’s afternoon in front of a cosy fire.
If you are looking for toys that are environmentally friendly Jiminy in Dublin has a wonderful selection of puzzles, toys, crafts and books available for all ages. In this house we are all huge fans of Dr Ziggs giant bubbles because I honestly don’t think you are ever too old to run after a huge bubble to try and burst it!
There are lots of lovely independent books shops all over the country and lots of Irish- based bookshops selling online, so there is a rich selection of books to choose from, no matter where you are. My Higher Self is a beautiful online bookshop that parents might find useful this year specifically, there are books for children that focus on wellness, dealing with anxiety and a variety of topics such as feelings, empowerment and diversity.
I don’t think any article about children’s toys could be concluded without mentioning two beautiful Cork-based shops, J Joyce & Co and Pinocchio’s Toys, that are well worth a visit. Give yourself plenty time as I can guarantee you will lose yourself among the beautiful toys they have,no matter what your age.