Buy Christmas gifts from home-grown producers

Hands up — who has a cardboard box under the stairs full of unwanted Christmas gifts going back several years?

You’ve thought about re-gifting haven’t you, but forgetting to keep note of who gave you what, you’re now terrified of presenting them back to the friends who gave them to you in the first place.

So under the stairs they’ll stay unless a pang of seasonal philanthropy sees you dispatching them to a charity shop.

Gift buying is challenging in an era where our homes and lives are over-stuffed with gadgets and gizmos. If we want something new, we tend to go out and buy it without waiting for a special event. So when it comes to buying Christmas gifts and we’re strapped for time, we’re prone to impulse buying to get away from the hoards descending on shopping centres. Suddenly our highly organised friends, who boasted of having finished their Christmas shopping in August, are at home relaxing with a glass of wine.

What a pity we don’t apply a wedding gift list approach to Christmas shopping, but perhaps it’s a little too bah humbug at the one time of year where we can relive the childhood excitement of ripping open a mysteriously shaped parcel with glee.

So let’s consider a shopping option to relieve ourselves of stress while having a pleasant day out at the same time. Let’s be extra virtuous and buy from home-grown producers who make and sell authentic, non-mass produced gifts designed and made in Ireland.

To get started: a craft and design fair takes place at Ballymaloe this weekend with over 100 stands selling products including woodwork, textiles, pottery and glass.

Cork’s Crafts & Design Fair runs Nov 21–24 in City Hall, with everything from candles and ceramics to silk work and art prints.

And if you happen to be in Dublin any time between Dec 4 and 8, check out the National Craft and Design Fair at the RDS where over 500 designers, artists and craft makers are on show.

It’s a shame that access to these designer-makers tends to be confined to craft fairs and on-line buying, but this year an initiative by Blarney Woollen Mills sees a group of crafted, design makers create pop-up shops within a mainstream retail environment.

They’ll stay in situ from Nov 29 until Dec 15 selling everything from handcrafted babies’ rattles and wine stoppers, to contemporary home interiors products, created from traditional materials.

And just in case you’re thinking pricey, you’ll be happy to know smaller items like toiletries and candles can start below €10. For around €30, the choice is extensive and you might find a smaller, wallet-friendly and unique gift has more value to the recipient.

You’ll also achieve what seems like the impossible — shopping under one roof in one day, with plenty of coffee breaks thrown in, and without battling your way through the rain-sodden throngs with an inside-out umbrella.

* Next week we’re dressing up your home for Christmas


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