This has been a challenging year for all but those who loathe early enthusiasm for Christmas have had it especially tough. The people who will, at the merest hint of Mariah Carey on the car radio, dive to turn it off with the jolt of someone who has just taken a bullet to the shoulder. The rest of us have just been counting the days since Halloween to determine (mostly by feel) how early we could put the tree up without looking unhinged.
Now that it’s “acceptable” to get in the spirit, as it were, there are practicalities to consider. We will be doing Christmas differently this year in many respects, and the choosing and buying of gifts is one of them. Thankfully, brands and retailers are adapting. When I put a call out on Instagram to ask readers of this column what they want to read about in the run-up to Christmas, one preference came back in waves. This year we want Irish gifts and all that goes with them, to redistribute money through local and Irish-grown businesses and communities, to feel that the gifts we buy are “doing something” here at home. I’m happy to oblige.
The Skingredients Preprobiotic Cleanser and Good Fats gift set (€60 at skingredients.com) is the perfect gift set for anyone, male or female, who has skin. The cleanser is straightforward and won't dry or irritate. The moisturiser is perfect – neither too rich nor too light – and will get on with all skin types, especially during cold, drying winter weather.
For a set that mature skin will especially love, try Nunaia's Grounded and Glowing Ritual set (€136 at nunaia.com). With organic ingredients and compostable packaging, the Nourishing Radiance serum is incredibly rich and restorative, while the Superfood Cleansing Balm removes every trace of make-up, leaving skin softened and nourished.
It can be tough to buy beauty electronics that are Irish – the dominant hair-styling tool brands are not homegrown. However, a personalised LanaiBLO hair dryer (€115 at lanaiblo.com) is a lovely Irish option. While it won't rival power of the (far more expensive) Dyson Supersonic, this dryer is peppy, comes in four colours with two nozzle attachments and can be personalised, which makes it a lovely gift.
Ella & Jo Cosmetics was created by make-up artist Charlene Flanagan and skin therapist Niamh Ryan in 2017. You'll find their brilliant make-up brush cleansing spray in the Ella & Jo Skincare Must Have set (€80 at ellaandjo.ie), which also contains their Hydrating Hyaluronic Serum and 3in1 Hyaluronic Skin Mist. The two pair beautifully together for plumped skin that will drink in any moisturiser you apply afterwards.
Finally, if you're lost altogether when it comes to finding the right gift, a home fragrance diffuser will be enjoyed by everyone. The Handmade Soap Company's lavender, rosemary, thyme and mint diffuser (€25 at thehandmadesoapcompany.ie) is nothing short of utterly delectable. Fresh, clean and herbaceous, it's as lovely in a hallway as it is in a bedroom or bathroom.