The good gift guide: 50 inspiring Christmas present ideas

Stuck for inspiration on how to gift the people in your life? Keen to make this year’s festive haul a little different from usual? These Christmas present suggestions range from eco-friendly gems to ideas on how to make 2021 a better year

Outdoors subscriptions, memberships and experiences

1. OPW Heritage Card Available here
For the history buffs in your life, an Office of Public Works Heritage Card unlocks pretty much every OPW site in the country for a year. Enjoy 12 months of ancient churches, beautiful gardens and impressive castles. Cards are €40 for adults, €30 for seniors, and €90 for a family of four.

2. Powerscourt Estate membership Available here
Craving nature and memorable family days? With annual membership to the Powerscourt Estate, Co Wicklow, people can enjoy year-round entry to Powerscourt Gardens as well as the waterfall and river walk. Individual membership costs €95; couple’s membership is €130 and family membership is €165.

Birdwatching

3. Birdwatch Ireland membership Available here
Budding conservationists will find much to like in Birdwatch Ireland’s annual membership, which includes issues of the charity’s print magazine, as well as ongoing updates about birdwatching/wildlife events happening throughout the year. Individuals can sign up from €30 a year, groups can enjoy membership for €80 a year.

4. Dublin Zoo annual pass Available here
A great way to support the capital’s much-loved zoo in difficult times, this annual pass also affords holders admission to Fota Wildlife Park in Cork, and a handful of UK zoos. Discounts on events like Wild Lights can also be enjoyed. Individual passes are €130, allowing you to take along an adult or two children, while a family pass costs €190.

5. Community Gardens Ireland membership Available here
Membership of Community Gardens Ireland (CG Ireland) is free, but if you’d like to make a donation on behalf of someone to CG Ireland, a donation will help the organisation in their ongoing conservation work, and will help to support social community gardening initiatives across Ireland.

6. Wilderness Ireland gift voucher Available here
If you know someone with a keen adventurous spirit who would benefit from an incredible holiday experience, the Wilderness Ireland gift voucher allows them to book one of the adventure company’s scheduled group tours, self-drives or even a customised holiday. Gift vouchers are available for as little as €50.

7. Extreme Sports gift voucher Available here
The adrenaline junkies in your life will no doubt love a white-knuckle experience from one of Ireland’s most established extreme sports companies. Choose white-water rafting in Donegal (€300), sea kayaking for two in Donegal (€80), or clay shooting in Monaghan (€80). Alternatively, simply avail of an open voucher and let the recipient do the choosing.

Why not give the gift of surf lessons this Christams? Photographed are surfers at Rossnowlagh strand in Co Donegal. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times
Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

8. Bundoran Surf Company gift voucher Available here
Family surf lessons are available to gift (€110) or, if you’d like to push the, um, boat out, a two-day “surf and stay” voucher, including surf lessons and two nights in Bundoran, costs €258. There are also individual surf lessons available (€35 for adults, €25 for kids aged 8-16).

9. Adventure West Mayo gift voucher Available here
Thrill-seekers are spoiled for choice with bestselling experiences, from abseiling (from €30) and coasteering (from €35) to hillwalking (from €30). A great way to enjoy the greater Clew Bay area in Westport.

10. Newcastle Airfield Available here
Is someone you know craving to get back up into the air? With overseas travel still hanging in the balance for now, a flying lesson over the Wicklow landscape is the next best thing. At this Dublin airport, enjoy flight simulator sessions (€70 for 30 minutes) or €160 for a 30-minute flying lesson.

Cultural subscriptions, memberships and experiences

National gallery

1. National Gallery membership Available here
Want to support the gallery and avail of a number of perks? Members enjoy free unlimited entry to ticketed exhibitions, live virtual events and access to digital content, as well as discounts at the gallery’s shop and cafe. Individual membership costs €100; joint membership is €150, while concessionary membership is €85.

2. Newspaper subscriptions Available here
From €3 a week, you can gift someone a subscription to The Irish Times, which enables readers to access irishtimes.com, avail of subscriber only content, and access over 160 years of Irish Times archives. Alternatively, the New York Times can be accessed for €3 every four weeks, for a year. See nytimes.com/subscription for the lowdown.

3. IFI membership Available here
Cinephiles are no doubt chomping at the bit to get back to the cinema, and those in the capital would probably love membership to Temple Bar’s Irish Film Institute. For €25 (€15 concessions), members can enjoy a free preview screening every month, a free cinema ticket, discounts on tickets, among myriad other perks.

4. Little Museum of Ireland, Dublin membership card Available here
It’s the Stephen’s Green cultural centre that’s small but packs a mighty punch. Dual membership usually costs €40 but is now available for €25 (given that they may be closed for some of the year ahead). For that price, enjoy free museum admission with a guest, a discount in their bookshop/café, and access to their programme of events.

MoLI memberships

5. Museum of Literature, Dublin, membership Available here
A visit to MoLI is a great gift idea for the bibliophiles in your life. For €50 (individuals) or €60 (families) can avail of free museum entry, a private members’ library, discounts and exclusive event invitations to Dublin’s newest cultural hotspot.

6. Donation to the Glucksman Gallery, Cork Available here
Take care of the suggested donation of €5 to enter the much-loved riverside gallery, or for someone who might like to support the gallery even more significantly, donations of €100, €250, €500, or €1,000 are available to gift.

7. Become a friend of the Crawford Gallery, Cork Available here
Know someone who would like to join a vibrant community of art lovers in the People’s Republic? Members are invited to participate in a programme of events, previews and private tours throughout the year. Individual membership is available from €60, while couple’s membership costs from €90 yearly.

8. Royal Hibernian Academy Friend’s Benefit Available here
For €60 (individuals) and €80 (families), enjoy a raft of private tours, artists’ studio visits, and a chance to participate in the RHA’s annual cultural trip. Deeper pockets? Try the Benefactor Gold package for €650, which includes advice from the RHA’s curatorial team on art collecting and buying.

Abbey Theatre membership

9. Abbey Theatre membership Available here
Members of Ireland’s national theatre can avail of perks from as little as €10 (for students and seniors) including ticket discounts and €10 standby tickets. An ensemble membership (€60) includes benefits like invitations to special member events.

10. Buy a ticket for the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival Available here
In March 2021, Diff showcases the best in homegrown and international cinema, and tickets are usually white hot. A four-ticket bundle for Diff’s regular screenings can be bought for €55. Prefer to stay close to home? Enjoy 10 online screenings for €60.

Eco up your life

Reusable bottle

1. Mother Reusables thermal bottle, €34 Available here 
The super stylish artist-designed stainless-steel bottles with copper inner plating keep cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours, or hot drinks hot for up to 12 hours. Mother Reusables bottles are available in two sizes; 500ml, or a 330ml kids’ bottle - perfect for encouraging kids to have their own bottle.

Save a sod

2. Save A Sod, €25, Green Sod Ireland Available here
If you’re serious about the environment, you can adopt a sod from €25, which will help to protect our natural ecosystem. Plus you get a nice certificate to keep. Alternatively, head to grownforest.ie, where you can buy a gift card (from €25) to have a nice native tree planted in your name in their very own forest in Wicklow.

Jumper from Grown.ie

3. Higher frequency jumper, €80 plus shipping Available here
There are hundreds of printed tees for men and women to choose from, with an added bonus: the Irish ethical clothing brand will plant a tree for every garment purchased.

Ultimate Sustainable Home Gift Box

4. Ultimate Sustainable Home Gift Box, €99 plus shipping, Faerly Available here
Gifting household cleaning products might be considered a high-risk strategy, but not with this show-stopping box. It’s packed with natural and sustainable cleaning/household products to help any homeowner get off to a more sustainable start in 2021.

5. Pull along penguins, €14.70 plus shipping, A Greener World Available here
Head to this green site for all kinds of eco-friendly toys, pet accessories and gifts. Everything on the site is vegan and sustainable, which should appeal to green types hoping to buy presents with a minimal carbon footprint.

6. Hand-poured candle, €18 (or two for €30) plus shipping, Sala Soys Available here
Made in small batches in Dublin, Sala Soys candles are made with eco-friendly, non-toxic soy wax. Inspired by fragrance combos by the likes of Jo Malone or Tom Ford, choose from Pear & Freesia, Tobacco & Vanilla, Sage & Sea Salt and Peppercorn & Raspberry, among others.

Sandstone

7. Sandstone gift box, €45 plus shipping, Wild Child Available here
Created by midwife Niamh Kelly during lockdown, Wild Child is an online baby store that stocks eco-friendly baby accessories and toys. Containing muslin blankets, a soother, rattle and soother clip, this gift box is perfect for a new arrival.

Yoga mat

8. Yoga/meditation mat, €100 plus shipping, Reuzi Available here
Unlike most yoga mats, which may contain rubber or glue, this mat is made from raw flax linen and organic hemp filling, which should offer a little bit of peace of mind.

Home blanket

9. Blanket, €100-115, Home Available here
An Irish company determined to promote the “sweetness of a slower lifestyle”, Home is packed with all kinds of cosy lifestyle and interiors gems. Their new wool blanket is hand-knitted in Kildare and works well for the fireside.

Bamboo toothbrush

10. Personalised bamboo toothbrush, €9.99 Bambooth Available here
Suitable for adults and kids, this toothbrush is made of 100 per cent biodegradable bamboo and is naturally antibacterial to boot. And with a personalised name or word on each toothbrush, there need never be confusion at the bathroom sink again.

Support local

Beardbox

1. Wee Beard Box, €29 plus shipping, from Bare Blue Available here
Packed with Beardsmith products made on the Wild Atlantic Way, keep the hirsute types in your life happy with beard oils, beard soap and styling wax. All eco-friendly and made with organic beeswax.

Loki the Husky God

2. Loki the Husky God, €49.95 (plus shipping) Available here
Loki is one of Santa’s special husky pups and comes with his own backstory, and needs to be trained by little ones in the run-up to Christmas (to be gifted with a special diploma on Christmas Day). Part of the sale proceeds go to the Irish Guide Dogs, too.

Dear Trudy print

3. Neon Print, from €15, Dear Trudy Available here
You can’t get more Irish than a sign that says vernacular staples like “Now We’re Suckin’ Diesel”, “Scarlet For Yer Ma”, or even “Shure Look, Be Grand”. See the entire selection of slogans, printed in vogueish neon signs, on the website.

4. Frida Kahlo lampshade, from €38 plus shipping, Mr Kite Designs Available here
Among the gorgeous printed lampshades on offer here on this contemporary homeware online store, (wildflower, velvet Passiflora, tiger), you’ll find this eye-catching Frida Kahlo lampshade.

Connoisseur box from Byron & Stone

5. Connoisseur box, €200 plus shipping, Byron & Stone Available here
Friends Adrienne Murtagh and Sally Stone joined forces 10 years ago through a shared love of food and cooking, and have now created a luxury gift box containing only sustainable, recycled and reusable products solely championing Irish artisans. Their Connoisseur Box (€200) contains an apple aperitif, whiskey coffee, truffles, and tons of other treats.

AWE jewellery

6. Handmade glass and wire necklace €10 plus shipping, Awe Accessories Available here
Thirteen-year-old Ava Watt turned her creativity into a money-spinner, creating eye-catching accessories that have seen the young Dubliner’s Instagram following swell. The perfect place to buy one-of-a-kind pieces.

7. Magic Moments Callebaut Dark Fondue Gift Box, €36 plus shipping, Chocolate & Decorations Available here
This Irish company specialises in creating whole-bean roasted chocolate gifts that’s suitable for vegans. Enjoy a fondue experience with dark chocolate callets, a fondue set with forks, tea lights and a jar of marshmallows.

Teddy

8. Memory Bear, €60 plus shipping, Taylor Bears Available here
Handmade in Dublin, Taylor Bears are created in collaboration with each client, so that bespoke toys are made using existing items. Whether you want a teddy made from baby clothes, or a bear made from a loved one’s item, this gift is a good way to keep memories close to hand.

Avoca dressing gown

9. Hot pink bird dressing gown, €59.95, Avoca Available here
A 100 per cent cotton dressing gown from Powell Craft is sure to make an impact on Christmas morning, and many mornings beyond that. Features eye-catching yellow trims and pom-pom detail. One size.

10.Vase, €85, Arran Street East Available here
Arran Street East’s signature style may be clean and simple but it is easily recognisable. The collection is made up of hand-thrown stoneware for eating, drinking and decorating. The makers are also offering pottery classes in their Dublin studio via their website.

Make it yourself

1. Bake something Available here
There’s nothing more heart-warming than offering up gorgeous baked treats (and you get to show off your culinary skills, too). On irishtimes.com, you’ll find a wealth of showstopping recipes from pastry chef and baking columnist Aoife Noonan. From nutty mince pies to Black Forest pavlova, you’ll not be short of sweet suggestions here.

For a gift that will cost you little but your time and creativity, write someone you love a song

2. Write a song Available here
For a gift that will cost you little but your time and creativity, write someone you love a song (because everyone wants to be immortalised in music). Soundtrap.com, dubbed a “cross-platform music studio”, offers you an extensive collection of beats, loops and instruments to get you started, while Garageband (often found on Apple Macs) will help you compose and record a potential hit.

3. Create a personalised podcast Available here
Podcasts are massive news right now, so you might as well join the ever-growing number of people at it. Podcard helps you create a single-edition personalised podcast for people you love. The podcast is made up from recorded messages ad stories from friends and families, creating an audiobook of memories to be enjoyed for years to come. Around €110 on podcard.com.

4. Personal voucher to babysit, help someone dig their garden or paint their house, provide a taxi service etc
In 2020, we had nothing but time, yet 2021 promises to be a different beast entirely. If you’re cash-strapped but have time on your hands, offering a friend or neighbour a voucher to babysit for a night, to provide a taxi service, or even do odd-jobs is more valuable than you might think. Irish company Papertwigs offer personalised stationery if you’d like to deliver something fancy. Available here

5. Make cocktails Available here
Pop around to a pal – when advised that it’s allowed of course – and go the full mixologist hog with one of Virgin Mary’s cocktail kits. Cocktail kits from €44.99, or go the whole hog with the All You Can Drink Deluxe set, including aperitifs, alternative spirits, porters, wines and mixers for €449.99.

6. Create your own festive decorations Available here
If you’re feeling a bit crafty this festive season, a DIY Christmas Card Making kit from Liberties Papers (€10) gets you all the glittery bits and snippets you need to create something truly unique. Just add scissors and glue. Or try a readymade, yet still hand-crafted paper garland. Available from €7.95.

7. Make resin art at home Available here
Tipperary-based art company Galtee Resin Art have created Resin At Home kits, allowing people to create their own resin piece of art while following a workbook and online tutorials. The kits contain all the stuff you need: just supply masking tape and a heat source. The kits cost €110, with proceeds from sales going to the Irish Heart Foundation.

8. Create a photo book Available here
Scroll through your phone for the most memorable photos, and screengrab your favourite texts and emails to create the definitive story of your 2020 with a loved one. Myphotobook.ie helps you create a book (up to 250 pages) in any number of styles. A leather-bound A4 portrait book, for instance, costs from €38.

9. Create your own ‘Living Art’ Available here
If you’re craving green spaces but are stuck for room, Kildare-based Artful Green runs online workshops, enabling people to make their own living art, from wreaths to Koki (Japanese moss balls). Online workshops are available for 2021 from €85 but the company can help you get started on creating your own “green therapy” this side of Christmas, too.

Online art classes with Chattytwo

10. Take an ‘art class in a box’ Available here
Suitable for budding artists aged 5-12, Cork company Chattytwo offers online art classes (while everything you need for 12 art classes will be delivered to your door). Young artists either join in on interactive Zoom classes, or via their YouTube channel. One child kit costs €85, two are €157, and three are €225.