Words

A Norn irish gift guide

December 3, 2016

Put simply, here is my super special Northern Irish gift guide.

It is quite literally full to the brim with makers, locations, drinks, interiors and more to help you decide what gifts to buy this Christmas.

I have not been endorsed to do any of this by anyone, I am just an artist who is passionate about and happy to share the love and to support local.

Should I have missed you and you know you are equally as amazing as the businesses I have featured , please know it was not intentional.  The wealth of people plugging away at their craft is immense in Northern Ireland right now so please do find out more by simply googling NI makers, artists, businesses.

Also visit Woven in Banbridge where you’ll see even more hand picked makers and Flow yoga studios now have a boutique and a Christmas pop up with my prints and other NI makers.

I blame the busiest time of the year in terms of my own art business combined with my three wild children (boys) for my being forgetful and unable to enclose ALL the good stuff from ALL of the people.

Girls, share this post on your partners page to give them a (big fat obvious) hint if nothing else. It is bursting with ideas to help the not-so-imaginative-gift-buyer.

Enjoy!

 

FOR HER (you!)

          Scented

  • I love a candle and there are tons on the market in Northern Ireland. Bog standard who really were on the case long before anyone else and still going strong. The bearded candle makers, and filthy velvet candles who I have the privilege of selling alongside in Studio souk in the centre of Belfast.
  • Deborah Toner is one of those artists who comes across as just wonderful and so passionate about her craft. Her embroidery is delightful. From little scented hanging cushions for your home to exquisite Irish linen cushions for your armchair.

     Hair, face and ears!

  • It goes without saying that if you don’t get the hair ties from my collab with my friends Ruth and Rebekah then you can buy headwear and jewellery from Rebekah in her linesandcurrent shop or buy tunes from Ruth in New portals to allow your ears some sweet joy. I am so excited to have my recent stag painting featured on Ruth’s recent album cover which has been picked by huge playlists on Spotify. It is so cool seeing my art on the ipad as I’m singing along in my kitchen.
  • Continuing on the jewellery front my friend Catherine Keenan has award winning glass jewellery and stunning glass pieces which boast quality and colour for your home. We sketched side by side in the art classroom of Friends School Lisburn , have exhibited together as well as featuring in the Giants causeway visitor centre together.
  • Another friend who I first met on the hockey pitch during our college days is Rachel McKnight who adds flare to everything she makes. Bespoke jewellery pieces made from perspex and these coasters which are on my own wish list. *Hint hint hubby, the gin and tonic ones are my fave and will match perfectly with my G&T print.
  • Beauty places by people you can trust and who are awesome- Laura of Blessington beauty in Hillsborough , Helen of  Urban beauty in Dundonald ,KAy of Yaro health and Deborah Harper in Helens bay (who also featured on the blog sharing how to bronze perfectly). Vouchers, vouchers, vouchers is all I have to say on this point. A gift of allotted time for pampering? It’s a no brainer guys.
  • Lashes!! My favourite thing in the whole of the beauty world. Kerrie of The little lash room or The lash lounge Belfast.
  • The Natural beauty pot – so clever with minimal yet cool packaging. I want to try the lavender moisturiser.

     Interiors

  • Susan played hockey with me and we have kept in touch because our farm obsessed turned football obsessed first borns were born weeks apart (we have five boys between us).  If you are thinking of an extension in your home or redecorating from the bottom of the living room to the very top, see Orr and Gillespie for all of this. Even Susan’s clothes speak design.
  • Two of my paintings and a number of prints are in Beaufort interiors in their Duresta for Matthew Williamson room. Another lush interior designers. The Matthew Williamson sofas and striking cushions are incredible and will add flare to any room.
  • Rebecca Killen has nailed the old school milk jug in her ceramics but added finesse because they are fine bone china. Incredible. I just need to get my butt in gear and get one in my hands asap. See all here, and check out her latest china tree baubles on instagram.
  • Derek Wilson is another ceramicist who I have stalked for quite some time. My printers is in the same industrial estate as his studio so I peek through the window when he’s making! He made a homely, quirky range of handle less mugs for stockist Maven (another class store for gifts on the Lisburn road Belfast) which I love.
  • Artist Francis McCrory (or Fra” as we called him in art college) painted the most delicious paintings in the old Ballroom of the Art college. He just understands the translation from reality to paint  and paint to reality so blooming well. He now has prints available and I think you should check out his latest ‘Stormont in the snow‘.
  • Danielle of Flax fox  is a fellow Mum/Artist/Business woman. Danielle’s structure and attention to detail in her freehand is so special. Every screen print is class and she has a wealth of gifts on her store. When you’re flying out for Christmas or New year check out her work in the local airports or browse her fab stall at St Georges market every weekend.
  • Dollybird art’s slogan is “celebrating nature through art”. Could you wish for any better? Please someone buy me the puffin pattern notebook or any of her nature prints. Also spot her work in Avoca Belfast.

     Clothing

  • Vanilla Lisburn oozes style and handpicked by gorgeous Ciara. I recently bought bobble hats for my sister in law and neice (you can get matching ones for you and your daughter) but am dying for these faux leather biker jeans *another hint there hubby*. Sort yourself out with a cocktail dress for the Christmas party and grab one of my cocktail prints from Vanilla also
  • OMMActive is packed with all the leggings and lush sports gear you could ever dream of. They ship worldwide and are based on the Belmont road. They have Christmas hampers available if you want to just send your husband directly to their site!
  • Motion fitness is another local sportswear brand with slick lines and practical pieces (male and female)

    Flowers

  • Flower box in Dungannon have seasonal flowers that I know my neighbour, my Mum and myself will love.
  • Best buds Belfast and I have worked together in the past. Caitlin is full of life which passes perfectly into her craft. Pre order or buy her foil plant bags here or call by her real life oasis in the new hotel Bullit in Belfast (a new spot which I am so excited about and works with NI artists so call in there)
  • Flower crowns and wreath workshops! Twigs and twine is the place to go.

    Eat. drink. move.

  • Cookery classes are just brilliant for anyone interested in food. I loved my experiences with Belle Isle cookery School at a recent hen party. Vouchers are the way forward. Belfast cookery school , Mourne seafood cookery School Forest side cookery School are all fab.
  • If you haven’t tried the Belfast food tour then you really ought to. Caroline’s brainchild which has evolved into a well known informative and sensory filled trip. The best craic when a group of you do it together.
  • Little pink kitchen is a brilliant service where you order lunch and it is delivered to your door. Why not treat yourself, your mates or yourself to Sarah’s creative lunch time specials for Christmas. I treated my hubby a few weeks ago and it is such a lovely experience from start to finish.
  • Women only bootcamps by Tribal fitness. Hollie who has featured here before runs the Belfast one and there are others in Bangor. Buy a block of sessions so you’ll stay on track with fitness into the new year. PT vouchers bought in blocks is a class gift. Ian Young and Gary of Fitness Belfast are two I can recommend.

There are Restaurants and eateries GALORE to visit in Northern Ireland (a whole other blogpost) so below is a minimal scratch of the surface. A full list of NI best is here or here on trip advisor. Grab vouchers for your mates or as a gift for each other, make a date night out of it!

 

  • My latest collaboration / adventure is with Kelly of Panacea drinks. She is similarly wired in her strive for making her product work in today’s market. I have been buying her health drinks (sparkling water kefir made using natural ingredients which cleanse the system and have live bacteria) for myself and my hubby because they are delicious! I am now working with their brand and quest for spreading wellness in an exciting way. I will reveal more soon but go Buy a case of twelve bottles for the holiday season.
  • Locally made craft gins Copeland, Shortcross and Jawbox are just a few of the classics rotating around Ireland right now. A bottle makes a stylish and tasty gift.
  • Baked goods. I follow a ton on my instagram so go see there but some goodies include Jbird bakery , Little buds bakery, Angel cake bakery

    Photography

  • It goes without saying that photographs are hands down the most special gift for anyone. Having been a professional photographer myself before my art gained wings and forced me to stop so I could move forward with it, I can tell you a TON of incredible photographers. Below is a *kind of * short list of my faves. Book an immediate or extended family session with one of them for 2017!

We just had Jamie Trimble take photos of my husband’s family and have him taking some for my Mum and the rest of us next year.

Frame your photographs and your art prints with Danielle of The framing table or Barry of Future framing.

 

      Hotel breaks

  • Lustybeg Island for a get away, so very special with a new spa facility.
  • Portrush Atlantic. I visited here recently with a friend. The location made it all the sweeter and the breakfast set us up for the day.
  • Galgorm (which i have a print of  here) has an array of speciality drinks available in their afternoon tea menu, they also have a gin bar and that spa is one in a million

 

     FOR HIM

  • First discovered through Instagram I kind of want a Finn watch for myself instead of giving it to my husband. Reflecting the Giants Causeway in their shape yet boasting swiss design this well priced piece of arm candy is so gorgeous. Tan, greys, navy straps and a selection of different watch faces to choose from.
  • Bogart mens wear Belfast is one of those stores that reminds you how good men can smell and how sharp they can look. In my opinion there is nothing better than a man in a correctly fitted suit, or a pink shirt or dealer boots. I trust the guys in there to help my husband with clothing when I send him in on his own(!) – that says a whole lot about a store.
  • Bushmills Whiskey. Distilled in Bushmills up the North coast. A drink that reminds me of my Dad. Grab a bottle of the local stuff here and sure send my print of the Bushmills 21 along with it
  • My gym offers a £14 two week membership so if you don’t belong anywhere and want to work out together (most of the time I have my headphones in when my husband and I workout together, but one time we managed to get long enough away from the scamps to enjoy the sauna, outdoor pool and steam room at David Lloyd after our workout. So fun!  Worth a look in to for a gift.

 

     KIDS

  • Cathy and Kirsty of Jack and Jillaroo make the best bibs on the market. And they now make leggings which are incredible. They make a super baby gift, along with their organic teethers.
  • Rink a dink studio has been on the ball for a while with their fun videos and online presence. Book the kids in for a shoot for and enjoy a session with Janine and Lindsay.
  • My kids love cycling. It is such a great skill to have and we love the frog bikes we bought from family run Dave Kane cycles.
  • Recently founded by Rachel who is pretty uber cool herself, a unique and ethical clothing for little people is now live at Uber barn I want Abe to grow so he can wear the Grey melange
  • Another extremely fun and colourful brand is teeandtoast. Again, a creative who had a business head way before the rest of us. So clever in their branding and have local slogans on tee shirts of all sizes, but I ADORE the kids ones in particular the ’bout ye Belfast’ one.
  • Bramble green have the most wonderful locally knitted hats and clothing for our kids. Abe has two hats which get so many comments and they are all made using Donegal wool- brilliant.
  • I love nothing more than being creative with my kids. The oldest two are more interested in kicking a ball about these days but I want to take Abe to Creative natives art sessions. Colour and vibrancy from a young age, magical!

 

And that’s a wrap!! 

As I say in my last blogpost, I never want to be the person who forces you to clutter your home with ‘stuff’.

Hopefully the links, places and makers above will help you make good choices this Christmas to suit your budget.

At the risk of sounding trite; time spent together is above and beyond the most important gift during the festive season.

May you feel loved and enjoy all that Northern Ireland has to offer, whether that be a walk on one of our windy beaches or visit a stunning local landmark.

Merry Christmas! 

15 Comments

  • Reply melwiggins December 3, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    Aly! What a post! The perfect NI gift guide – useful for years to come and every special occasion! Thank you for doing the hard work of putting this together! Xo

    • Reply Aly January 5, 2017 at 8:19 pm

      Thanks so much Mel! Happy new year my dear x

  • Reply Trevor December 3, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    Thanks for the BEAUFORT mention Aly, great post

    • Reply Aly January 5, 2017 at 8:19 pm

      Thanks Beaufort! Happy new year

  • Reply flaxfox December 3, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    Aly, Kind words as always – and what a gift guide. You have everything covered. Lovely (and helpful) ideas for pressies. Thank you

    • Reply Aly January 5, 2017 at 8:19 pm

      Thanks so much Danielle and happy new year!

  • Reply Janine December 3, 2016 at 11:09 pm

    Oh my life this is awesome!! Can’t wait to have some time (post inspection on Monday ) to peruse the list properly!! And thank you so much for the shout out xx

    • Reply Aly January 5, 2017 at 8:18 pm

      Thanks JB and happy new year! xx

  • Reply The husband December 4, 2016 at 8:42 am

    Thanks Aly, I have noted there’s a lot more for her than him. #hastagjustsaying. At least I can avoid the “just tell me what you want” conversation this year.

    • Reply Aly January 5, 2017 at 8:18 pm

      Thanks honey!!

  • Reply Bog Standard December 5, 2016 at 10:23 am

    Thank you so much for the shout out Aly – we are honoured to be names amongst all the other great companies you’ve featured. Fantastic post with TONS of inspiration! Lots of love from the team at Bog Standard

    • Reply Aly January 5, 2017 at 8:18 pm

      You are so very welcome! And thank you for my christmas candle, it was perfect. Happy new year guys!!

  • Reply Sam December 9, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    Tea! Suki Tea to be precise

  • Reply Ella McLoughlin December 15, 2016 at 10:04 am

    What a amazing blog

    • Reply Aly January 5, 2017 at 8:18 pm

      Thanks for reading and commenting Mum. Love you!

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