SUZANNE HARRINGTON: Barking good idea for the perfect Christmas present

IS IT better to give or to receive, or to simply hide in a cave until it’s all over?

Giving is all very well, unless you are forced to do it by a certain date, alongside everyone else, so that the annual gift gathering becomes as joyous as being trapped on a rush hour train with norovirus. Nothing says ‘Christmas’ like an elbow in the temple as you wrestle your way to the till.

And obviously, your gifts have got to be perfect. Not only must they reflect the character of their receiver, but they should also be simultaneously tasteful, playful, meaningful, and totally original. Thank goodness then that every magazine and newspaper supplements — not to mention all those thousands of blaring telly adverts — has been helping us with the process for months, rolling out the colour spreads of super-styled photo shoots full of silver and gold themed artfully arranged stacks of pressies that are not just pressies, but individual mini-statements reflecting your generosity, thoughtfulness, humour, and psychotic attention to detail.

For him, for her. Gifts to suit every pocket (unless you’re skint). Gifts for discerning newborns, for distant relatives who live in different time zones (hurry now, don’t miss the last postal date!), for the neighbours you spend the rest of the year avoiding. What to get the impossible teenager, or the man who has everything (I’m thinking a job volunteering to dig latrines in Liberia for the former, perhaps a divorce for the latter).

But that might not be quite the seasonal spirit. Although it does rather depend on how you are feeling — at Christmas, there is a well documented spike in murder and domestic violence. And that’s just in our house, when the presents fail to score a perfect ten. So if that cave is looking more appealing by the second, but as a parent you are legally obliged to participate in the yuletide frenzy, there is always the GYO solution.

Anyone under twenty gets a GYO Amazon voucher — that’s Get Your Own. And anyone over twenty gets a tin of homemade gingerbread — okay, so your kitchen will have to be converted to a gingerbread factory for a day or so, and you will inevitably get high on your own supply, and gain ten pounds in two days, but it’s still better than being elbowed in the face in a queue for scented bloody candles.

That leaves you free to buy pressies for the ones you really love — the dogs. With them, you can go into genuine pressure-free pressie-buying bliss, knowing there will be no judgement, no snarky glances at the label, no fleeting disappointment. Just pure doggy joy, as they salivate and wag themselves silly when you produce a lovingly selected array of chewy treats, chosen in the quiet hush of the local pet shop. Obviously I realise that going Christmas shopping for your dogs is wrong on many levels, but I don’t care. It’s that or the cave. Happy Christmas.


Keep chomping on those carrots so your eyes will be in perfect working order for that prolonged annual gaze through the keyhole as Home of the Year returns for a sixth series next week.Home of the Year offers a good excuse for a bit of good-natured interiors voyeurism

They differ from the more prevalent oranges we eat because their flesh, and often the skin, is crimson or deep red in colour.Michelle Darmody: The best time of year to buy blood oranges

The annual Members Exhibition now underway at the Lavit Gallery in Cork features 92 works from 72 artists.The exhibition runs until March 7.Under the hammer: Your guide to upcoming auctions

There’s an oriental theme at the James Adam ‘At Home’ auction in Dublin, says Des O’SullivanAuctions: Sale full of eastern promise

More From The Irish Examiner