This time last week, I had no presents bought. Now, I'm nearly done and happy to report that I shopped locally, sustainably and with a keen eye on the environmental impact. As I wade my way through Nomadland by Jessica Bruder, I've never been more certain of the need to be cognisant of the source of our products and to support small independent, preferably local, retailers.
I'm happy to share my gift ideas with you. Here's some of the presents I've bought and received over the years, maybe even a few of this year's are included. Spoiler alert for family and friends.
I never hit the shops without a plan. The paradox of choice leaves me reeling. Instead, I start any gift shopping trip with a visit to my favourite café in town (Partridge's) to brainstorm and make a list. Here's a taste of what's to come on Christmas Day:
Experiences: in line with my Christmas Presence card, sometimes a promise of a day out can be the best present. I've been known to magic up and print out vouchers for days out to museums including lunch e.g. EPIC museum, Dublin Zoo (an annual pass is a fantastic family present). I still haven't made it up to MoLI what with commitments and restrictions but I hope to in 2022.
Online subscriptions: for music (Deezer, Spotify), print (The New Yorker, Dublin Review, Granta), and entertainment (any number). It's much better bang for your buck to buy a gift subscription to something like NowTV or Netflix rather than limiting your recipient to one box set, not to mention the eco-benefits of using a service rather than the cost of making/shipping products. I've also enjoyed a few online screenings of shows from The Abbey Theatre, plenty of streaming and gifting ideas from struggling venues around the country.
Pre-loved: I picked up some vintage hoodies for my nieces on @vintagehive on Depop, a pre-loved musical instrument in mint condition. I've also received two gorgeous new to me cardigans recently bought by some very nifty thrifters.
Eco-friendly stocking fillers: shaving kits, shower bars, deodorants, toothpaste, bamboo toothbrushes, reusable drinking vessels and more. Most are bought locally in The Refillery and Wholesome Gorey.
Creativity: one of my favourite shops is Different Strokes, an art shop in Gorey. I've bought many birthday and Christmas presents here over the years including stencilling sets, print-making kits and books, rock and porcelain paints, water colour sets and most recently a tin of postcards waiting to be water-coloured. Adults and kids love them.
Books: this is a given as I come from a very bookish family. My sister has gone to the trouble and expense of buying a dipping box of 13 books from Kenny's which we can all enjoy over the holidays - a nice mix of fiction and fact. I've been badgering her to let me get a head start but I've to wait my turn like everyone else. I picked up 'How to save your planet one object at a time' by Tara Shine in my local Eason's. I have it in mind for my very eco-aware son who has even sourced reusable wrapping paper. Perhaps he already knows it all or has read it before so I'll gladly keep it for my own reference. I'm more of a fiction gal and am looking to dipping into the latest Claire Keegan novel once I finish Nomadland.
The Main Event: Edible Christmas presents
My edible homemade gifts always hit the spot:
Gingerbread house - I use a fab gingerbread recipe from the Irish Time's magazine many years ago. The mould was a present from Germany but I did buy one locally for a gift a few year's back. I usually bake it a few days before Christmas then engage younger family members with the construction on Christmas Eve to distract them from the excitement of Santy's impending visit.
Sauces and Condiments: Cumberland Sauce (Darina Allen's Simply Delicious Christmas), Cranberry Relish (local caterer Margaret Corcoran who did a Christmas cooking demo in our local library), Red Onion Marmalade and Sweet Chilli Jam (Dunbrody House Cookery School day course).
Non-comformist Christmas Pudding (Nigella Lawson's Feast), the most amazing Christmas pudding you'll ever taste with figs, blueberries, cocoa and Kahlua among other ingredients. I've tweaked the recipe to our own taste. I usually host a Christmas pudding night in my house where we chop, blend and stir our wishes for the new year. Alas, the gathering is not to be this year with all this madness.
Anyway, I hope you've got some inspiration from my rambling list. Please feel free to get in touch for any recipes.
Wishing you all a wonderful, safe and fun Christmas,