Looking for some gift ideas? Here's how to keep it local...

EIMEAR HUTCHINSON shares some ideas ... and advice on how to keep it local!
Looking for some gift ideas? Here's how to keep it local...

La Bougie offers sulty, warming scents for a cosy atmosphere see www.labougie.com.

I HAVE to admit I do love a gift guide. My husband is one of those people who picks up on every hint, even if it’s not a hint. You could mention something in February and he will remember it at Christmas. I, on the other hand, seem to go completely blank when it comes to gifting so I love a browse through a gift guide to find some inspiration.

If the pandemic has done one thing, it has changed the way we shop, the high streets are being challenged by smaller start-ups that are creating and crafting items all over the county and country. People who have lost jobs have taken the opportunity to start up businesses that they dreamed of doing, only time didn’t allow, until now.

There are so many small businesses to support this year, I couldn’t possibly get through them all, local craft or farmers’ markets are a great place to start looking for a unique gift, and the best thing about doing your Christmas shopping at a market are the food stalls! Facebook and Instagram are also great if you can’t get to a Christmas market in person.

None of us know how long more we will be stuck in this pandemic, so I feel like my gifts this year lean towards making the home a little more calming, entertaining or beautiful. If we are going to have to spend a lot of time there, we might as well make it lovely.

IT MAKES SCENTS

The last almost two years have been intense and I find that, more than ever, I adore lovely, calming smells around the house.

I suppose when you spend so much time there, it’s nice when it smells lovely, even if it is perpetually messy.

I genuinely don’t think you can go wrong getting anyone a candle, a relaxing pillow spray, a room spray, or some essentials oils to pop in a diffuser or a body oil. A great gift for a friend, a mother-in-law, a sister, you get the drift, and there is such a great variety in terms of cost, there is always something to fit very budget.

There are so many Cork companies to choose from, some of my favourites include Ground Wellbeing, La Bougie, Gold Leaf Candle Co, Galtee Glow and Somas. If we can’t get out to a spa, why not bring the scent of a spa home?

Why not buy a new family board game?
Why not buy a new family board game?

GAME ON

Every year we get a board game for the girls that we can play as a family. We try to sit down as often as our busy schedules will allow, the winter time favouring the activity because you can’t beat a board game in front of a roaring fire.

Our girls range in age from nine to three so it is hard to find a board game to fit the lot and, to be honest, the three-year-old is generally just intent on swinging her hands around to wreck things, so we tend to wait until she’s in bed to whip out the games.

Last Christmas, we got the girls 30 Seconds Junior and it has been a huge hit ever since, the Irish edition is published by a Cork-based company. You need a minimum of four players that can read, our seven year old needs a little help with some of the words and descriptions but she can still play and enjoy the game.

GET CRAFTY

We are a family of crafters, that much is clear from my columns during the year, and if you are not strange like me, with a room full of the most outlandish and unnecessary arts and crafts supplies, then a great place to start is My Art Box, based in the city.

You can choose a one off box or a subscription and the box is packed with art supplies and inspiration along different themes. We love them in this house, it was fun for all the ages and would be a nice gift to get creating during the lull of the week after Christmas.

 Ceramicist Siobhan Steele.
Ceramicist Siobhan Steele.

BRING IT TO THE TABLE

Something else I have started to gather and collect lately is Irish ceramics. There are so many wonderful ceramic artists around the county, and it is a great way to add a little personality to the dinner table or a shelf.

Charlie Mahon, Siobhan Steele. Jane Forrester, Etain Hickey and Shanagarry Potters are dotted around the county and each has their own unique style, so there is sure to be something to suit everyone’s tastes.

RAISE A CUP

And lastly, if you are stuck for a small gift, I love giving a voucher for a local coffee shop or coffee cart. There are so many around to choose from, it supports local and everyone loves a hot cup of tea or coffee on a cold winter’s day. It would make a nice Secret Santa gift or a gift for a teacher.

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