Christmas gifting can be hard. Some people are really good at it, others are not. We can't help with those people who love cars, clothes or cold hard cash, but we can help with the ones who love to eat and drink, and if you're sick of your mother getting you hand cream and socks every year, maybe subtly drop this in the family whatsapp. Part 1 is for those of you who feel the need to give a physical gift that you can wrap. Part 2 featuring experiences (that can't be wrapped) is coming next week...
1) Chocolate from the Cocoa Atelier Pop-Up In Brown Thomas
When Cocoa Atelier's Drury Street shop closed in early 2018 wails were heard across the city, and although their pre-boxed chocolates are still available in Dollard and Co and Donnybrook Fair, there hasn't been a base to go in and design your own - until now. The handmade chocolate makers have popped up on the third floor of Brown Thomas until the 27th of December, so you can once again make your own box of 16, 24 or 36 chocolates (€20/€30/€40) or pick up a chocolate Christmas tree filled with velvet almonds, Provence hazelnuts or candied almonds. It's also very important that you pick up a bag each of milk and dark chocolate drops, along with their handmade marshmallows, then go home and make the Cocoa Atelier hot chocolate, which is jaw-droppingly good and will ruin all other hot chocolates until the end of time.
2) A Ballykeefe Gin Gift Set
Is there anyone who doesn't like gin? If there is we haven't found them, but this one's a bit special. Kilkenny-based Ballykeefe Distillery took home gold for their Lady Desart Gin in this year's USA Spirits Ratings - kind of a big deal, and the inclusion of three oriental peppers in the distillery makes this on a bit more interesting than the average. Wild forest and long red peppers are sourced from mountain forests in Vietnam, while the mondulkiri red pepper comes from Cambodia, and we really like this simply served with tonic, but you can also add sliced strawberry and peppercorns. Gift sets which include glasses and mini bottles of their regular gin and sloe gin are €49.99 and are available in selected SuperValu stores.
3) A Sheridan's Cheese Club Subscription
Anyone with even a passing interest in cheese will enjoy this, but cheese fiends will plan the whole month around delivery day. For €40 a month Sheridan's will send you four cheeses (or sometimes three and a jar of something like their famous truffle honey) with a theme (e.g. mountain cheeses, Irish cheeses, Italian cheeses) and notes about each one. You'll learn who made it and how, and why it's tasting particularly good right now, and it's basically an education in cheese. You can buy a gift subscription for a set period or just as a once off, and if buying for your own household make sure there are plenty of cheese lovers there as you get a lot of it. Sign up to the Sheridan's Cheese Club here.
4) A Coffee Subscription From Bean Delivered
Bean Delivered is a new coffee subscription service which launched in June this year, sending out a new Irish roasted coffee each month, from places like Carrow Coffee in Sligo, Tra Coffee Roasters in Waterford and Brother Hubbard's Farmhand Coffee in Dublin. Coffee subscriptions start at €20 a month, and they've just launched their Christmas gift boxes for €50 or €70, containing coffee, a French press, a reusable cup and chocolate. Sign up here.
5) A Bottle Of Grower Champagne
If you know someone who's really into their wine, there are few nicer gifts to give than a bottle of grower Champagne (where the house grows their own grapes - a rarity in the region). Unfortunately there aren't that many available in Ireland, but look out for names like Bereche, Laherte Frères, Egly-Ouriet and Larmandier-Bernier in places like Green Man Wines, 64 Wine and Sheridan's, or buy online from SIYPS. Not cheap, but will be very much appreciated.
6) A Homemade Hamper From The Fumbally Market
Are you the crafty type? If so head to the Fumbally Christmas Market on the 13th/14th/15th December, fill your bags with fermented foods, Scéal's mince meat and brandy butter and White Mausu's *new* cashew nut crunch, then head home and pile it all into a gift basket with tissue paper, plastic wrap and all the ribbon. If you're the not so crafty type, The Fumbally will also be selling their own, pre-packed gift hampers in the café.
7) A Reusable Cup
If your shaming of that family member who refuses to invest in a reusable cup is falling on deaf ears, take matters into your own hands by gifting them one for Christmas - and with cafés like Bread 41 and Tiller + Grain trying to slowly phase out single use coffee cups, you might save them from being in a coffee-less situation one day. We're big fans of the original KeepCup with glass and cork, but there are so many options available now, including the fashion forward Huskee cups that you can find in Indigo and Cloth in Temple Bar. Find them in most cafés or online.
8) A Bento Lunch Box From Reuzi
More reusable equipment from minimal waste lifestyle store Reuzi in Foxrock. We love this bento box and it's many compartments, which we would take great pleasure in filling with a variety of lunch items, but there are so many great gift ideas online, including snack bags, flasks and pocket cutlery. See their eat and drink collection here.
9) A Tour Of Ireland Hamper From Indie Fude
Co. Down based Indie Fude champion the best of Irish food, and while their shop might be a bit of a trek, they have so many great hampers available for delivery, and unlike a lot of online hampers you're not restricted to non-perishables. We're talking butter, cheese, meats, smoked salmon - all the good stuff. We would be all over their "food tour of Ireland traveller suitcase" in small or large versions (always large), containing products like Abernethy butter, Ballyhornan Smokehouse salmon, Ballyhoura mushrooms, digestives with Irish seaweed, bacon jam and Cloudberry sea salt caramel spread. See everything that's included here.
10) A Personalised Cheese Board From Slated
Back to that cheese lover. How better to let everyone know who's cheese subscription it is than with a personalised cheeseboard? Get one from Irish homeware brand Slated, run by husband and wife team Ed and Tara Hammond. A small is €38 and a large €57, and you can order them here.