We are well and truly on the countdown to the big day here. Mariah Carey has convinced my children that Christmas begins after the clock strikes midnight on Halloween and so planning has been afoot ever since.
And yet here I am, as disorganised as ever.
Hopes and plans to be ahead of the game and sorted well before December arrived have gone awry again. And I’m wondering if I’ll ever reach the end of my shopping list, which has grown ever longer o’er the years.
There are so many special people in my children’s lives. People who make their lives better, brighter and happier by being in it. And at Christmas, where we can, we like to say thank you with a small gift. Finding something different is not always easy.
But here’s a few we discovered this year.
It’s been a difficult year for my mam. Just a few short weeks ago, her beloved sister, my aunt, died from pancreatic cancer. Christmas has always been my mam’s favourite time of year and we know this Christmas will be especially difficult for her. Nothing can take away her pain and loss, but we wanted to try to find something tangible in my aunt’s memory that would marry with the time of year it is.
My aunt was a Christmas baby, making the choice of a Christmas decoration all the more poignant. A custom-made decoration from Busybeaders captured what we hoped to achieve beautifully. The children gave it to their nana early. I’m not sure a gift has ever meant quite so much to her.
There are a few people in my life and my children’s lives who fall under the category “virtually impossible to buy for”. There’s only so many jumpers grandads – ahem, cough, cough – need.
But the one thing all these people who fall into this category have in common is their love of a full Irish breakfast. And with that in mind, let me introduce you to the O’Neill’s essential hamper. Packed with sausages, rashers, bacon, black and white puddings and more, it’s a breakfast feast, fit for a grandad – or any other person in your life who has all the jumpers they could possibly need.
It can be difficult to think of something different for teachers, SNAs, lollipop ladies and men or even Kris Kindle when you’re working off a small budget but trying to find something a little bit different.
So, socks it is, but these are not just any old socks. Polly & Andy socks are made from bamboo, keeping your feet cool in summer and warm in winter. Plus, they’re seam-free, so no uncomfortable toes.
And the rugby stripe collection come in your province’s or your country’s colours – an added bonus if the intended giftee is a sports fan.
You cannot go wrong with chocolate, says the woman who considers it one of the main food groups. But if you’re looking for something a little bit special and a bit out of the ordinary, then check out Sugar Plum Sweetery – chocolate really does come in all different shapes and sizes.
For the fashionistas in your children’s lives, there’s chocolate handbags and chocolate high heels (is there a more perfect combination than shoes and chocolate?) And with a variety of chocolate slabs, salted caramel frogs or sweets and jellies on offer, the possibilities seem endless.
Or, if this Christmas you would like to treat someone to what is in my opinion the nicest hot chocolate ever, then Carters chocolate buttons are a must. The buttons melt easily in warm milk and the result is hot-chocolate perfection. The challenge is not to eat them all before the hot chocolate is made.
For whole family gifts, perhaps cousins or friends, you cannot beat the gift of an experience. Find one that suits all the age groups and you’re on to a definite winner.
We recently went to see the pantomime Hansel and Gretel at the Helix in Dublin and I can confirm this is one experience that ticks all the boxes. The perfect amount of laughter, villainy, fun, singing, dancing and acting rolled into one, on this modern take on a classic fairytale. Be warned, your own (ahem, cough, cough) overenthusiastic dance-along may be called out from the stage and equated to participation in a gospel choir. So there’s that.
This one was thoroughly enjoyed by all the ages here, but Influencers of a sensitive disposition might want to take a rain check.
A great gift for those with younger and older kids.