Impress your friends and family with our top picks for Irish Christmas gifts
We don’t mean to alarm anyone but it is December. Yes, the other eleven months of the year have come and gone in a blur, the seasons seemingly speeding up in a rush to get to the end of the year. The days have got away from us and now we must all face up to the fact that it is the time for festive cheer; it is the time for mulled wine and minced pies, of caroling and ice-skating, of presents. Ah, presents you say. For many of us, choosing the right gifts for our families and friends is the one, dark cloud looming over the holiday season. We all have the best of intentions to buy our presents early, but thanks to the strange, increasingly quick clip that time goes by at many of us are left empty-handed and despairing come December.
Never fear however, as IrishCentral is on hand to provide you with a fool proof list of Irish and Irish-themed gifts to make you everyone’s favorite present-giver. Of course we all know and love the classic gifts of Celtic jewelry and Aran jumpers, but this year we’ve tried to mix things up a little with less traditional gifts.
For this author, you can never beat the gift of a book and luckily, 2014 was a banner year for Irish authors. Two books that have picked up rave reviews across the board have been ‘Nora Webster’ by Colm Toibin and ‘A Girl Is A Half Formed Thing’ by Eimear MacBride. For something a bit lighter, you might want to try the new Ross O’Carroll-Kelly ‘Keeping Up with the Kalashnikovs’ or Marian Keyes ‘The Woman Who Stole My Life’. For fans of biographies, rugby legend Brian O’Driscoll’s ‘The Test’ and Graham Norton’s ‘The Lives and Loves of a He-Devil’ are sure to delight.
Looking to really impress the woman in your life? Popular US-based Irish designer Orla Kiely might just be the answer. With a cool, sophisticated line of clothing, bags, accessories and more, Kiely’s work more than matches up to other leading designers near her flaghship SoHo store in Manhattan.
Irish Magazine Subscription
A magazine subscription is the gift that keeps on giving – quite literally in this case, as issues are delivered direct to your door every two weeks or month. Not to tout our own horns, but if you're looking for a top class magazine subscription for all things Irish and Irish American, then Irish America magazine is beyond compare. You can pick up a years subscription here. Ireland is also home to some very fine magazines, from auto-trading to sport, fashion and music. Why not surprise that special someone with a year’s subscription to Hot Press magazine? Hot Press has long been the publication with its finger on the pulse of the Dublin music scene, and they interview an impressive array of Irish and international artists every year. For the ladies in your life, there is Image magazine. Image is one of the foremost women’s publications in Ireland and its combination of fashion, beauty and social pages are a great read.
Ireland is famed for its seafood, especially its salmon. Why not treat your family to a hamper of genuine Irish organic salmon from Lisdoonvarna? The Burren Smokehouse offers delivery to the United States and has a fine selection of hampers to choose from, including cheese and whiskey hampers at reasonable prices. However you should get your order in quick if you want it to arrive before Christmas!
Made the heart of Dublin for hundreds of years, you can’t get much more Irish than Guinness. This fall Guinness released a limited edition ‘1759 Guinness’, a special amber ale based on a 200-year old recipe. The drink is presented in a beautiful bottle and is a great gift for Guinness and beer lovers everywhere.
Avoca Handweavers, named for their hometown Avoca, County Wicklow, are renowned for making beautiful, intricate goods. From their foodstuffs to their home wear and décor, Avoca are in a league of their own when it comes to handcrafted Irish goods. Avoca is your one stop shop for beautiful scented candles, body lotions and clothes. Handily Avoca have put together gorgeous Christmas hampers for him and for her.
2014 was an excellent year for Irish cinema, with many releases going toe-to-toe with bigger industries abroad. Why not settle down on Christmas Day, post-dinner, to a top Irish film? There are plenty to choose from this year – ‘Calvary’ is the standout, receiving great reviews in Ireland and abroad. For something a bit more off-beat, there is Michael Fassbender-fronted ‘Frank’. For films to get the whole family laughing, pick up ‘The Stag’ or ‘Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie’ on DVD. While not a movie, the ever popular Love/Hate is always a great stocking filler.
For anyone who has a sweet tooth the perfect gift this Christmas might be some fine Irish chocolate or handmade sweets. Chocolatiers such as Butler’s and Lily O’Brien’s are world famous and for good reason – their chocolates are full of interesting and tasty flavors. Both companies ship worldwide.
In addition to Avoca’s own range of excellent soaps and beauty products, Ireland has a wealth of handcrafted soap producers. The Hand Made Soap Company and Voya both offer organic, well made Irish goods at a great price. If you know someone who likes to treat themselves to long bubbly baths or uses all sorts of oils and lotions, then these handcrafted, organic Irish goods are a safe bet.
Ireland has a rich musical tradition and 2014 saw releases from some of the most popular Irish acts. Bray native Hozier exploded onto the US music scene with eponymous number one debut album. If you’re looking for something from a more established artist, U2 released their long awaited ‘Songs of Innocence’ and the fiery Sinead O’Connor dropped her best album in years ‘I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss’.
Ireland is one of the most scenic countries in the world, with gorgeous ocean views, mountains and green valleys. Ireland has a rich literary tradition and its people are known for their quick wit and kind words. All of these qualities are easily translatable into nice coffee table book collections. One of the most fascinating of these is 'Vanishing Ireland: Friendship and Community' by James Fennell and Turtle Bunbury, who interviewed the oldest living Irish people for their perspective on how the country has changed over the past century. That's just the tip of the iceberg; if you know someone who enjoys coffee table reads, then there are plenty of Irish-themed ones to enjoy.
The Irish Mammy is a familiar trope to many people, and some clever people have capitalized on this with a range of mugs, tea towels, books and more. The goods are adorned with such classic phrases as ‘Those biscuits are for the visitors’ and ‘Come here to me now till I tell you’, these are sure to put a smile on the faces of friends and family. In fact, they've just released a Christmas edition of Irish Mammies' Sayings, so make sure your gift is both festive and funny!
What could be more Irish than flights to Ireland? While it may be on the pricey side for a Christmas gift, no one can ever forget a trip to the Emerald Isle. With more flight routes seemingly opening up every day it is easier than ever to fly to Dublin or Shannon. Late spring to early summer flights are in and around the $800 mark with most leading airlines.
Happy shopping readers, and Merry Christmas!