Fun & Frivolous Christmas Stocking Fillers

Seriously, after the year we’ve all just had it’s going to be fun and frivolous stocking fillers all the way from the tops of your thighs to the tips of your toes. Some are foodie presents, and some are not, but the common denominator is they are all created by Irish businesses. Another aspect links them – each business has an online store facility. In any other year, as much as 70% of Irish online consumers purchase goods from non-Irish companies. This year, we owe it specifically to those that have been run ragged by the pandemic to keep Irish firms trading. And that means spending and supporting local, local, local. May your stocking be big enough to fit everything in. Here’s to 2021!


CUPS RUNNETH OVER

Or should that be mugs? These ceramic beauties are from Loaf Pottery and are handcrafted in Bangor, Co Down. Aside from the aesthetic and practical advantages of having mugs much prettier than yours, it’s good to know that if you purchase a set of four (approximately €70) all profits support the services of NOW group, a social enterprise that assists people with autism and learning difficulties across Ireland. www.loafcatering.com


ANYONE FOR COFFEE?

Now that you know about mugs, what better stocking filler to have than coffee for them? Based in Bettystown, Co Meath, Studio Coffee Roasters have been on the receiving end of UK Great Taste Awards in 2018 and 2019, and a Best of Ireland Award in 2019 and 2020 by the redoubtable McKenna Guide. From their online store, you can choose from a wide stocking-friendly range of international beans (Colombia, Ethiopia, El Salvador, Tanzania, and so on) as well as Nespresso-compatible ‘specialty grade’ capsules sets. www.thestudiocoffee.com 


SEAWEED BEAUTY

Certified organic and sustainable, so Irish-made and hand-harvested you can smell the Atlantic waters, and so healthy it’s a superfood second to none – Connemara Seaweed may be better known as a food producer but its beauty products are just as must-have. There are many beauty products in its range, but because we crave the familiar this year we’re going for an old reliable: the seaweed face mask, which is suitable for all skin types. www.connemaraseaweedcompany.ie 


FUDGE IT!

For those between-meal, treat-yourself nibbles you won’t go far wrong with Man of Aran’s cream and butter fudge. Made by Tomás Póil at his base on Inishmore, Co Galway, ingredients include Kerrygold butter (for its cream input). The range of flavours on sale, meanwhile, comprise cappuccino, caramel, Christmas pudding (of course!), zesty lemon, peppermint chocolate, and the award-winning Baileys. Try the Ready-To-Go and Yummy gift boxes and you won’t be disappointed. www.manofaranfudge.ie 


SEE EMILY PLAY

A family-operated chocolate-making business based in County Dublin (and one, incidentally, named after a family member), Chez Emily offer a full array of quality choccie goodies. This time of year, however, could be a good time to avail of their broad range of seasonal products, from the cleverly named Christmas Caraques to their many Santa-related odds and ends, which are perfect for stocking fillers. The company also has a standalone coffee/chocolate shop in Ashbourne, Co Meath. www.chezemily.ie 


SAINTS PRESERVES US

From selling surplus-to-requirement homemade preserves at local country markets to, over 25 years later, being stocked in fine food stores and shelves throughout the south of Ireland (and to a small batch of international food stores), Crossogue Preserves has held firm through the decades. All produce is still handmade in the kitchen on the family farm in the heart of Co Tipperary, and while every item is lip-smacking, perhaps the smartest thing to do is to go for the gift box option. Our cheeky tip? Once delivered, unpack, wrap separately and stuff them into various stockings when no one is looking. Say nothing! www.crossoguepreserves.com 


SAUCY!

If you’re looking for a range of gluten-free sauces, then you’ve come to the right place. Unglu-d is based in the village of Annagassan, Co Louth, and was set up (by Dundalk’s Aileen Markey) initially as a pop-up shop. Dedicated to making the dietary requirements of coeliacs and “gluten-freers” (as Aileen calls them) much less frustrating and much more fulfilling, sauces include Tomato Ketchup and Chilli. They can be bought separately (in handy 100ml bottles) or in a Sauce’n’Seasoning six-pack gift set. www.unglu-d.ie 


Mock up poster frame on the table, 3D render

POSTERS

We agree that trying to fit a framed poster into a Xmas stocking would be unwise, but you can certainly slip in a poster carefully inserted into a hard cardboard tube. One of our favourite designers is Roger O’Reilly of Ireland Posters, which began as a creative project of sketching and illustrating various nationwide landscapes and landmarks. If you’re a fan of vividly designed ‘retro-look’ artwork detailing various Dublin villages, Irish lighthouses, pubs, bird varieties, and acclaimed scenery then get thee hence. www.irelandposters.ie 


WAXING LYRICAL

Life and career plans for the vast majority of people were thwarted by Covid-19, not least married team Joe O’Regan and Deirdre O’Connor, who hadn’t planned on ending 2020 with a start-up business. So say hello to Put Your Feet Up, a premium candles and diffusers business that match aesthetics with functionality. With a commitment to sustainability (renewable plant-based waxes, 100% vegan) as well as a remarkable fragrance range that we have never seen before (including Irish whiskey, Honey & Tobacco, Havana, Coconut, Driftwood & Rock Salt, Sweet Orange & Chilli Pepper, Tuscan Leather), you can only say the following: absolutely heaven scent. www.putyourfeetup.com 


HANDS UP!

Handcrafted bars of soap created by a ‘zero waste’ work ethic (using fresh rainwater to conserve water, reducing energy consumption, minimal but smart packaging, hand-stirring, 100% vegan) is exactly what you get from Co Clare-based Palm Free. Handy sized pieces of soap are perfect for the stocking, but if you fancy choice over chunks then the company’s gift pack of mixed soaps would be the better option. Fragrances are plentiful and range from Honeysuckle, Rosewater, and Wild Irish Seaweed to Oat Milk & Porter, Lavender, and Lemon. www.palmfreeirishsoap.ie 


GAA/RUGBY GEMS

This is a brilliant idea for the GAA/Rugby-loving person in your life: forget the headbands, beanie headwear and scarves. Instead, think of wearing the colours of your province, club, county and country around your wrist and neck, on your fingers and ears. From pendants to bracelets, from rings to earrings, what we have here is distinctive jewellery with Swarovski crystals that sparkle, Based in Ballinasloe, Co Galway, Shuul Colours also has a range of county-based Christmas gifts. www.shuul.com 

WRITTEN BY TONY CLAYTON-LEA

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