Sunday, March 3, 2024

The perfect presents for the seven key people in your life

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WE’VE done all the research for you. These are the presents for those key people in your life, from DIY enthusiasts to those who enjoy baking up a storm in their kitchens, to the tech fans with a penchant for the finer things in life. And some people just want to enjoy their living spaces — or slip off for some “me time”.

For anyone who has just bought or rented their property, it’s an exciting time. During my self-build back when dinosaurs frolicked around West Waterford, and I hunkered in a camper van, the best gift I received, bar none, was a modular toolbox in which to keep my rising arsenal of disparate construction stuff.

Depending on the level of sweat equity, the size of the box and the number of variously scaled compartments will count but don’t overthink it. Get something that grows with optional interior detailing like a Bosch System from €36 (pay for that extra snap-in lid container, about €13), or a DeWalt TSTSK VI (compatible with their TSTSK System), €40 B&Q.

Both of these branded favourites are serious performers that can be individualised inside and stacked easily with connectable side latches for a second box. Larger litres (20l plus is perfect) allow the box to ingest larger power tools like drills. If you want them to love your balance — pop a self-levelling cross-line laser level in their stocking — various models from €60.

THE COOK

A stand mixer would be too much of a statement (and would finely mince the budget), but an immersion mixer is a perfect gift for a new cook. Useful for a thousand jobs, it can crunch quietly through frozen fruit, put silk into a soup and blend sauces right in the pan before rinsing off and storing neatly in a drawer. I’m vouching for a counter-mounted battery model, mind you, as it’s just so handsome, with great user reviews and comes with three heads (not typically offered with this mini-machine). The Cuisinart Cordless three-in-one hand blender (CSB300U) comes in silver and sits in a holster to charge. It offers five power levels and features a handy power indicator; €160, juicers.ie.

The Russell Hobbs Desire three-in-one with a manual pulse can sit onto a dedicated 700ml beaker, performing as a static, mini-chopper or wand (the best tiny processors for salsas). Just €58; various outlets including Irwins.

THE BAKER

As someone who lives to bake, there’s only one bowl I return to for caressing bread and tickling scones and cakes — my bosomy, dependable Mason Cash. The heavy, glazed stoneware bowl we all know with its distinct relief design and superbly useful angling “foot” for muscular mixing moments, is an honest staple of traditional and contemporary kitchens. Its design has changed little since it thumped down on an English Edwardian counter in 1901.

Colours and new embossed designs are now running wild, and I love it. Mason Cash products are not expensive despite their rank and quality. I would stick with a charming and useful 29cm mixing bowl, a steal at €20 in a trending dark green, and nestle in a pudding bowl for another €8. Priced at HomeStore + More. For something more Scandi-chic, try the In-the-Meadow and In-the-Forest collections.

Its counter scraper, described as the Swiss Army Knife for the kitchen, €6.99, measures ingredients, cleans worktops, cuts and scoops dough or pastry and strips herb leaves from their stalks.

THE SOFTIE

Helen McAlinden has designed with the team at Foxford, Co Mayo, for over 20 years. She still works “listening to the noise of the looms underneath us. It’s really inspiring. I still love writing the weave plans, that original process is still at the very core of everything we do”. The Neale Multi Check comes from a rich tradition of craftsmanship stretching back to 1892. 100% lambswool in a nature-inspired palette; €125.

Look up Foxford’s beautiful honest tablecloths in relaxed washed linen, €69 for a 145cm x 250cm. The sumptuous linen flower cushions of Katie Larmour, are made to order and magnificent in “Belfast Brick Dust” red. Katie, who trained at The University of Ulster’s School of Art and Design and featured on BBC’s A Stitch Through Time, also includes a Barbie Pink Bow cushion in this year’s collection, perfect for a spring wedding present or a very special friend at Christmas. Prices from €196, katielarmour.com.

THE GARDENER

So many of us get pleasure from rambling the garden and doing small, mindful chores.

Any gardener would welcome a bag that travels with them around the borders with their secateurs, string and gloves stowed. I love the Esschert Design Garden Bag and Stool in Grey, which not only proves generous pockets in an easy-to-tote carry-along but folds out to provide a small, low, stable perch for pruning and digging.

The bag can be easily removed if required, €69 (with other Esschert Design models from just €12, suited to stuffing full of spring seed packets — from €6; see the websites connectingtonature.ie and irishgardener.ie.

For waxed Oxford cloth or canvas garden bags, try Etsy — but check those delivery times and reviews to ensure the bag has robust quality. Recycled Sari Bird Nesters in a teardrop shape are beautiful, hang discreetly from trees and hooked positions, and spell circular economy in the most lovely way.

Made in Southern Bangladesh and Fair Trade certified in silk and seagrass, they start from €28, notonthehighstreet.com. Don’t forget to include a gift card for your target’s favourite local Irish garden centre to plant come spring.

THE TECH LOVER

I have to start with Gingko Design (UK) as they make some of the most interesting, affordable and design desirable, smart things on the market, and I would encourage you to explore their entire catalogue.

Rechargeable, mobile lighting is having a moment. For the lounge, the large Pentagon Desk Bulbs switch between the seven rotating RGB lights and white light mode with a light tap on the wooden top.

Sturdy, frosted acrylic glass ensures the even spread of light to make a space come alive.

The wooden base comes in two finishings: Walnut and White Ash Wood; €59, Meadows & Byrne and other Gingko Design suppliers, gingkodesign.com.

Known for its signature retro DAB radios, Roberts has introduced a vintage inclined smart speaker that would sit politely in the ancient or contemporary space.

The Beacon 320 Bluetooth has high-class audio with dual-bass radiators to purr out sound from every angle. Offering aux-in options, it works with any Bluetooth device and comes in some lovely Edwardian colours. Its four-button control makes it a perfect choice for anyone of any age or ability too; €89, suppliers include Harvey Norman.

THE CRAFTER

For someone very special to you, don’t overlook the profound joy of an “experience present” for anyone who would benefit from getting away from the stress and drudgery of their daily round for a day or two. There are makers and studios to suit all over the country.

One-day courses take place at the Green Wood Chairs Studio, near Skibbereen, Co Cork.

Celebrated creator Alison Ospina demonstrates how to design and make chairs, stools and small tables in foraged greenwood.

There are two or three participants per course, and you’ll have a self-made piece to take home with you! Small table/stool courses, €250, greenwoodchairs.com.

Crafts of Ireland in South Cavan, run by Sandar Coote delivers whole-day workshops set before panoramic views of the Lough Crew Hills, Mullaghameen Forest, and Cairn Hill in neighbouring Co Longford.

Her team can accommodate individuals and groups for crochet, knitting, needle felting, wool spinning, natural plant dyeing, embroidery, pebble art, traditional baking and more.

What about making it a family occasion for 2024? Full and half-day workshops from €50, craftsofireland.ie.

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