Don’t worry — high street shopping might just save your skin next week if you are leaving Christmas gift buying until the last minute, writes Carol O’Callaghan.
Procrastination is reaching critical mass — leave shopping until Christmas Eve and risk getting caught in over-spending and panic, while hopes of a speedy run around the shops are impeded by retailers enticing us to linger in the aisles with jingly music and scents of cinnamon and cedar belching out of the air-con.
Stay calm and remember there’s late night shopping next week and one more weekend to go, and, of course, the internet.
It’s so convenient or would have been if you’d tackled it a fortnight ago, but there’s still time if you’re prepared to fork out big bucks on expedited shipping so everything arrives on time.
If not, then the internet offers the convenience of seeing what’s available in the shops before facing the hoards of fellow procrastinators. It also limits the amount of time spent lurching from one shop to the other and more time to sit with a latte and muffin, ticking off the naughty and nice from your shopping list.
For home birds and friends who love to entertain, how about some lovely wooden boards? What was once a humble chopping board has been elevated to table superstardom as a way of presenting cheese and crackers or folds of smoked salmon and charcuterie.
Coppercoast Woodcrafts’ beech sushi board (€60) is a thing of beauty while being practical, available at Waterford Crafts Fair at Garter Lane Theatre until 23rd. Just picture slices of turkey, ham and spiced beef artfully arranged on it when everyone comes round for leftovers on St Stephen’s Day.
Caulfield Country Boards (from €15) offers another variation on the notion of a chopping board doubling up as a platter. Sold at Kilkenny and Brown Thomas, there’s the option of adding some stocking filler coasters (€19.95 for four) to make a bigger gift.
More crafty options can be picked up at Cork’s Lavit Gallery, including fine bone china tea lights by Cillian Gibbons (€65).
A quick run around the local shopping centre and it’s hard to avoid the faux fur look in everything from clothes to furniture upholstery. Somewhere in between are gorgeously soft, comforting throws and cushions in natural tones of bear brown and mink grey (from €40 at Harvey Norman, cushions from €20 at Argos and Next).
Gift vouchers might be the last resort of the procrastinator and also make for a limp gift which won’t elicit too many oohs and ahhs when everyone else is exchanging beautifully wrapped boxes. Make the voucher more appealing by slipping it into a book.
This year one of my favourites has been A Sense of Home by Helen James (€28), filled with everything from homemaking tips to recipes and heart-warming photography.
For a gift that keeps on giving after Christmas, what about a voucher from a favourite coffee shop for a caffeine-loving friend? It can be folded inside an eco-friendly reusable coffee mug for a nicer presentation.
Furniture might seem like a difficult thing for Santa to get down the chimney unless you opt for something compact like a trendy drinks’ trolley. Meadows & Byrne has a beauty in brass called Push (€198).
For something more imaginative than a bottle of wine when invited round to friends, what about a Christmas lucky bag? Aim for three items, minimum. Rathbones, the oldest candle maker in the world, has just launched a range of diffusers (€60) and candles (from €36) with scents of florals and exotic spice (from Kilkenny and Interiosity).
Include some seasonal textiles like a fancy tea towel or the Carolyn Donnelly vintage style beaded napkins (€3), and holly shaped nut and dip bowls (€5), all from Dunnes Stores.
Once you’ve ticked everyone off your list, all you need before heading back to the park ’n’ ride is wrapping. Sostrene Grene’s selection of paper rolls and bags are designed without being especially Christmasy, so they could be reused for birthdays and other non-Yuletide gift-giving too. Reusable string and stems of foliage twisted round it add to the visual and eco-credentials.
But just in case you have a late Christmas Eve crisis and realise you’ve forgotten someone, there is the fall-back of re-gifting. If you’re feeling guilty about recycling a present remember it’s the thought that counts, all the more so when it’s beautifully wrapped.
Faced with the dilemma of where to fit the sprouts and roasties among perfectly styled candles and foliage on the Christmas dinner table?
Try getting your centrepiece off the table altogether and suspend it overhead. It’s an idea borrowed from chichi weddings with a country barn theme, where all you need are some strong hooks to screw into the ceiling — or an overhead beam if you have one — adding a twist of chicken wire or florist’s wire.
Tie on greenery, including dried flower heads, like hydrangeas, with some holly and ivy to make it seasonally appropriate. Intersperse with battery operated twinkly lights, dispensing with the need for candles altogether.
Metallics continue to trend, with warm copper and rose gold tones offering vintage styling. Check out this selection from Debenhams.
Drinks anyone? The mixologist in your life might like to get measuring, shaking and stirring over Christmas with the Gentlemen’s Society cocktail set (€28).
Picture having a yummy coffee in these stylish glass mugs which come with a box of rich roast coffee for gifting (€25).
The traditional ceramic teapot is reinvented with the J by Jasper Conran glass version featuring an integrated strainer (€37.50).
Brew up some fresh coffee in this four-cup cafetière to enjoy on lazy Christmas mornings with the book Santa Claus brought you (€30.80).