Early February is traditionally the time of year for Pricewatch to moan about jammed restaurants serving special Valentine’s meals – where the only thing special is the price. We marvel at busy streets full of stressed out folk carrying tokens of love and affection, which they have paid through the nose for. We give out about cards and flowers flying all over the country. We point out how expensive and environmentally unfriendly they are.
We are, in short, the Valentine’s Day equivalent of the Grinch, the opposite of Cupid – The Stupid That Stole Valentine’s perhaps.
Well, as the saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til its gone. How we miss packed restaurants and people on streets hugging each other and holding hands almost as if they weren’t afraid of getting or giving the poxy pox right now.
You are probably as sick of reading sentences that include the three words “like no other” as we are of writing them. “A Christmas like no other, a summer like no other, a school year like no other, a trip to Woodie's like no other”. You get the picture.
But here we are again facing into Valentine’s Day like no other. Rather than giving out as we normally do, we thought we might be better off celebrating just some of the Irish businesses who are doing whatever they can to help people celebrate love this February 14th. Fingers crossed we’ll be back to giving out about it this time next year.
The Cake Café is doing a lovely sounding "Love Lunch" and delivering it to homes throughout Dublin next weekend. For €65 you will get loads of sandwiches and crostinis, cakes and cookies, an organic seasonal salad, Niks Teas and a jug of prosecco cocktail made with seasonal fruit syrup.
Market Lane "Celebrate love in lockdown," say the good folk in this highly-regarded Cork restaurant. There are meaty and veggie options and all you have to do is heat it at home. We also like how they are selling "Keep Going Cork" tote bags and giving all profits to the local St Vincent de Paul.
Goyas A fancy dinner for two, starring short ribs or lobster mac n' cheese, amongst other things as well, for €55, or a "truly sinful" sweet treat hamper for €32. What's not to love about that?
Achill Oysters Music is not the food of love – oysters are – and they are also high in Vitamin D which, in these Covid times, is a good thing to be taking. They are cultivated by hand "over a sandy bay that lies on top of an ancient sunken peat bog" and 24 can be yours for €28.
But Achill is not the only place you'll find oysters. You can also have them freshly delivered from Letterfrack to your letterbox with two dozen costing an even more attractive €24.
Winelab has created an "Our Moment" box, which includes champagne or three of their wines alongside some delicious Butler's Chocolates, a bouquet of 10 roses and a Valentine's card from Irish printmakers Jando for just €90. The offer is available in Dublin and Kildare only, with Valentine's Day delivery guaranteed if orders are placed by Friday, February 12th.
The Dublin independent and experimental Still Garden Distillery, has created gift boxes so you can enjoy Valentine's celebrations from the comfort of your home. Priced from €50, each box contains a Stillgarden premade cocktail along with two glasses, two reusable straws, two premium mixers, a Valentine's card and two vouchers for a garden tour to be used at some point in the future.
More oyster stuff here from Sligo Oyster Experience and married to champagne. For €100 you get a dozen oysters, a bottle of bubbles, a shucker, glasses, a candle and a lemon.
An ice-cream delivery service sounds pretty cool, right? Hand Rolled ice cream from Arctic Stone can be delivered across the Dublin/Bray area as a gift for anyone this Valentine's day. They also deliver DIY brownies, cookies, cheesecake and more.
Sweet Trees can be fully personalised and customised exactly how you like them. The woman behind the trees also sources her materials where possible locally from ribbon from my local interior shop to the netting from Homefocus.
In Limerick, The Strand at home has a Valentine's dinner for two starring duck bon bons, steak and apple pannacotta.
The cafe-restaurant Nook in Collooney in Sligo is doing three Valentines meal kits – one meat based, one seafood (all Irish) and one vegan/vegetarian. They are €60 and include an extra gift of petit fours and a bottle of organic wine.
Aimsir at Home is offering an eight-course menu for two. The box contains bread, butter, snacks, starter, main, cheese, dessert and petits fours for two people, with full printed instructions for plating each dish. It costs €210 for two people, which includes all food, Aimsir branded tweezers for plating, a special skill tool in each box, depending on the menu, instruction cards and access to videos to teach you how to sort out the menu.
Of course, it is not all about the fine dining on this page. Romayo's Clonsilla branch is injecting some romance ahead of Valentine's Day by offering wine with your chipper chips and battered sausage.
Poulaphouca House & Falls has a dine-in deal for €59.95 per couple.
Fancy a virtual mead tasting on Valentine's Eve, Saturday February 13th? Book in now and you get tasting kits each containing four of Kinsale Mead Co.'s multi-award winning meads and four Kokos Chocolates. Or if just want a Valentine's gift that will "both weaken the knees and quicken the heart of your loved one", there is a gift pack of a bottle of Wild Red Mead and a box of artisan chocolates.
The good people of Galway know how great the Gourmet Tart Company is and now the rest of the country can learn to love it too as it rolls out nationwide delivery for a fiver. They have created hand-made food hampers in time for Valentine's Day with prices starting from €25.We love the little ceramic hearts they have been including too.
Cafe Rua in Castlebar is standing by and ready to serve the people of its town and the rest of the country. For locals there is the "cake and fizz" and the "dinner at yours" deals, while the Bosca Rua can be delivered nationwide.
Craft Food Traders is a one-stop shop for a wide range of artisan Irish products delivering nationwide. As well as stocking shops across the country, they have hampers and products for sale. Oh, and if you live in Oranmore they do drone deliveries.
Rob Stears, an illustrator and author in Dublin, has new designs just in time for for Valentine's Day.
Joy from Trustword.ie has a range of Valentine's cards catering for every type of relationship – the crush, the new romance, the lockdown love, established couples and even your palentines. She also offers a handwritten postal service for people who are finding it hard to get out and about these days.
MissLeelaSassafras.com "I love a daft pun, good old 'Irishisms' and things that are 'tongue-in-cheek', as well as the cute and pretty things too," writes Lisa Cannon, the creative-designer based in Sligo who is behind this site. You can expect quirky, fun and original cards mainly, and a selection of handmade pins, prints and brooches too.
Jando Irish printmakers are encouraging the nation to lovebomb everyone – not just their partners – next weekend. Prices range from €30 and €300 and for Valentine's Day only, each beautiful gift box sent includes a free greeting card of your choosing with a personalised message.
putyourfeetup.com Candles are going to be big this Valentine's Day as we all spend our days stuck in our houses. These guys sell some lovely ones.
Chester Beatty Lots of super stylish present options to be found here.
Loaf catering Do you reckon your dearest would like a handmade mug with a lot of heart? Made in Crawfordsburn, County Down, each piece takes form on a potter's wheel, before being hand-glazed and kiln-fired with care. All profits from Loaf Pottery are reinvested into the work of the NOW Group, a social enterprise supporting people with learning difficulties and autism across Ireland.
Ninfa studio A biophilic design studio in Marlay Craft Courtyard is where this botanical art is made using real preserved plants and flowers that do not wilt and are maintenance-free. The best seller "which is the perfect romantic gift for Valentine's Day" is a custom made initial letter made with real preserved flowers.
www.mariajordanoreilly.com We all miss human contact. Here you will find a signed limited edition run of an original line and wash piece entitled Holding Hands, "because it is a simple, yet profound, gesture of love, and one which many of us are missing due to restrictions". She also sells a selection of Valentine's and "thinking of you" cards.
Boxable This is a small Irish business in Limerick selling themed gift boxes. They have two gift boxes for Valentine's Day. There is the Galentines Day gift box for €18 and the Valentine's Day gift box for couples for €22. In the boxes there will be cards and chocolates and the like.
www.sarahmckenna.ie Sarah McKenna's handmade ceramic pieces may be an idea for Valentine's or Galentine's Day gifts.
berniemurphy.com Donegal tweed designs from Buncrana with €2 from each order of the Donegal tweed Cabin Fever, Cosy & Slip knot hairband accessories going to Childline.
Melrose Melts This business was only born last October and has grown dramatically since then. The owner says she has already outgrown her house and has had to renovate the shed in the garden for a workshop. She specialises in soy wax melts inspired by popular scents.
Marie Smith The Cavan artist is selling Valentine's Day ceramic tiles under the title "Lovebirds" for €75.
nicolevanderwolf.com Working with local business, this jewellery make has created a special unboxing experience called "Lucky in Love". The offer is free for customers as an add-on to any jewellery bought from her website. You get the jewellery, maybe a chocolate and a hand-written card, all in a lovely box.
Magic Photo A big selection of personalised Valentine's Day photo gifts. The Clontarf company specialises in putting pictures on Canvas. Slates, cushions, candles, keyrings and more besides.
29 Bride Street Love-themed printed textiles and Irish linen.
Wild Bird Studio Glass artist Alison Byrne has found a new way for you to say "I love you" to someone special and unlike regular flowers her pressed flowers handing in soldered frames will last a lifetime.
Hen's Teeth has launched "V-Day hamper, "The World's in Bits, But You're Not." This little number is filled with its favourite bit. It is lovely so it is.
sheenaghevelyngreen.com Handmade jewellery made from porcelain and 24K gold, with the aim of making handmade jewellery affordable. Her first range all sells for less than €60.
www.basketcase.ie We like the name of this site and we like the range of hamper it has at price points to suit many pockets.
www.laurajaynehalton.com To celebrate love in all its forms – romantic, family, friendships and more, especially because so many of us can't be together right now – designer Laura Jayne Halton has created a limited collection of contemporary artwork aptly named "LOVE".
www.silverhavenjewellery.com Cork-based jewellers with gifts for the one you love on our website but here are some we think hit the romantic note.
www.orlaovisual.ie With "Words in Porcelain" you can create gifts that mean something even more special to the getter. There is a general offering, and a bespoke one, which allows you choose the words you wish to immortalise.
www.dedanu.ie This Athlone business sells ultrasonic diffusers, Ireland's first cannabinoid skincare range, organic skincare and natural essential oils that are focused on providing a relaxing atmosphere in the home and invoking wellness. Formulas include oils for relaxation, hormone support, sleep, immune support and clearing airways.
www.brabb.ie If you are in the market for a gift for an expectant mother then this site is worth a visit, with its carefully curated pregnancy care packages, each packed with 100 per cent Irish, sustainably produced gifts and treats.
mohercottage.com Moher Cottage is an award-winning family business in Co Clare that celebrates its fourth birthday next month. There are all manner of Irish-made gifts made by amazing creatives and makers all around the country.
Balloon and Sweet Treats This is a bespoke balloon shop in Carlow and they can deliver many of their post products nationally.
buachaill.com A pair of red Buachaill boxer shorts could be the just the thing for a special buachaill in your world.
elmgrovefarm.ie So much of the focus when it comes to Valentine's flowers is on roses – roses typically grown in Africa, shipped to Amsterdam and then on to Ireland. And that is all grand. But there are local flower growers too. This site is one such place.
They have a lovely looking Valentine's set with red and pink Irish tulips combined with a gift set from the local Irish Handmade Soap Company's range of cedarwood and lemongrass lotions, creams and gels. They have also linked up with the Irish Cancer Society for one of its Irish flower lines and have already raised more than €1000 for them in the two weeks that it's been going and we are optimistic that it will raise multiples of that before our daffodil and tulip season ends in April.
tarahillflowers.ie This site was born last year and offered 100 per cent home-grown floral arrangements from its land outside Gorey throughout the growing season. While the Irish climate is not conducive to producing fresh flowers in February, they will have an abundance of colour in the coming months and they have teamed up with local artist, Kate Kos, to offer something tangible and unique for Valentine's.
www.bloomingamazing.ie Hand-made in Ranelagh, Dublin 6 by a skilled team of florists this award-winning range of flowers and gifts are available to order for delivery throughout Valentine's weekend.
www.joeannacaffrey.ie Fans of Avoca will be familiar with this florist who is pulling out all the stops ahead of the big weekend.
thechocolatemanor.com This is where you will find a Valentine's Chocolate Truffle Kit which the makers say is "a chocolate experience in a box". They have put together "almost everything you need (just add water or cream) to make chocolate truffles for, or with, your Valentine".
luxbiscuits.myshopify.com For the day that is in it, these guys are making Ruby Belgian Chocolate Smashable Hearts called – wait for it now – "Don't go Breakin' my Heart"
chezemily.ie Gift boxes, chocolate slabs, personalised chocolates, you will find all manner of gorgeous chocolate gifts for Valentine's Day on this site.
www.butlerschocolates.com This company has been in the high-end chocolate business for a long time so they know what they are doing when it comes to Valentine's Day.
grachocolates.com Grá as you will know is the Irish for Love so what better way to celebrate Valentine's Day this year than some loved-up chocolates from this Galway company. We have tried them and can say, hand on heart, they are up there with the nicest chocolates we have ever had.
theparcelconcierge.com And finally, something unexpected, or at least we didn't expect it. The Parcel Concierge is a "White Glove Delivery Service" offering the customer the opportunity of receiving their gifts, bespoke hampers and flowers delivered in style in one of their luxury vehicles, BMW 7 series and Mercedes Vianos by one of their fully uniformed chauffeurs in white glove. The site offers a wide variety of bespoke gifts and hampers all guaranteed Irish – bar the wine which is French.
signaturerentals.ie Pricewatch is not proud to admit it did not know tablescaping was a thing until last week. It is though. And we have a tablescaping company to prove it. This site sells and rents all manners of tabletop and event related décor and they have launched a special tablescape for Galentine's and Valentine's. They have Tablescape in a Box options for two people and also for those dining solo.