Shopping local has thankfully becoming a more common practice with each passing Christmas but this year, more than ever, our local businesses are in need of our support.
As Northern Ireland enters yet another retail lockdown, small businesses have been dealt a cruel blow at the busiest time in their calendar and attempt to compete with multinational companies who have a stronghold in the e-commerce space.
This is why I've committed to only buying local for Christmas gifts this year and I've spent the last few weeks trawling social media and websites for the best gifts to give my loved ones. I've discovered so many incredible local businesses right here in Ireland and I thought I'd share the best of the best with you guys - we can all share the love of our local creatives, right?
To be honest, it was really difficult to contain the list because the amount of talent that we have in Ireland is incredible. If you've any of your own suggestions, drop them in the comments and we can support even more locals!
So here it is, a list of amazing local creatives & businesses that you can turn to this Christmas and spoil the people you love most.
Fashion & Accessories
Branching out from millinery, Lori is now designing her own jewellery lines with each design drawn from her studio in Co. Tyrone. A piece from her Ecros collection would make an incredible gift for the person who likes their jewellery to be unique.
Claire has curated beautiful gift boxes all containing items from local designers and creatives. Her recent collaboration with Kindred (also in this list!) was an absolute dream!
A firm favourite for most Belfast locals, Lines & Current has created a loyal fanbase that continues to grow in Ireland. Their minimal pieces are jewellery to be worn for everyday life (I'm wearing the Elska in the picture below).
Want to wrap your loved one up in something cosy? Bramble Green have a beautiful selection of super cosy knitwear for women, men and even wee bonnets for the bairns too!
Created by two sisters from NI, Isle jewellery is inspired by the natural beauty of Ireland and its storytelling traditions. There are many collections to choose from with each piece a delicate addition for anyone who loves to accessories.
Kindred has been breathing life in to the once-thriving linen industry in Ireland since 2018. The pieces are handcrafted and made to last, a special gift that can be worn and passed on for years.
Based at the foot of the Mournes in Co. Down, this family-run business has created a line of outdoor wear prioritising function & comfort. Their pieces will keep any adventure-seeker warm and dry while out in the Irish wilds.
Handmade in NI, these premium leather organisers and wallets would be the perfect gift for your Dad, partner or brother. The organisers can be worn on the belt and fit all the wee bits that Dads seem to carry around everywhere.
Oh I love this shop so much. The team have curated the sweetest collection of clothes, toys and accessories placing value on natural materials and ethical production. A great spot for stocking fillers!
Claire at Fable Heart creates little pieces of magic with her children's wear. Crowns, wands and capes are handmade for a wee person who lives in their own fantasy world and deserves something a little bit special.
Made from deliciously soft bamboo towelling, Slobberscarves are exceptionally absorbent, antibacterial and hypoallergenic; perfect for a teething baby. They also make clothes too!
Síológ (Irish for seedling) was created by an Irish mum who wanted to create a source for other parents looking for high quality, ethically made childrenswear and lifestyle products from independent Irish brands. The Christmas PJs are ADORABLE!
Based in Galway City, Wooden Heart has been providing high quality wooden toys in Ireland for over 30 years. They have a great selection of toys from doll houses, trucks, games and even pirate's swords!
Motivated by the need to protect the magic of childhood, the Lottie dolls were created by a Donegal duo as a way to defy gender stereotypes and encourage kids to be themselves. Based on the average proportions of a nine-year-old child rather than those of an adult woman, there are lots of different dolls to choose from like the Sinéad Burke doll modelled on the Irish activist (pictured below) or even the 16th century Celtic pirate, Grace O'Malley.
Created by an Irish Mum, Marram Baby & Kids is inspired by coastal living with a focus on muted, natural tones that are comfortable and made to last. They're currently having a sale so make sure to snap up some bargains!
Dublin Mum Sharon was frustrated by the amount of plastic in toys when she was shopping for her daughter. She saw a gap in the market and a need for a eco-specialist toy company in Ireland and so Jiminy Eco Toys was born! The site is full of toys, books, and craft materials that are plastic-free and locally-made from natural or recycled materials.
Art & Prints
A stationery shop shipping from Co. Armagh, Scurry Home & Paper stocks the most beautiful designs and would make a gorgeous gift for anyone who loves to keep organised (or at least attempts to!).
I've followed Emma for years on Instagram and I was so excited when she made the brave move to start selling her art over on Etsy. Here drawings are minimal but they capture the lines of the Irish landscape and monuments that are loved across the world.
I've met Rachel a few times and not only is she a talented artist, she's just an all-round lovely human. She's recently branched out in to Christmas decorations that have been flying off the virtual shelves - look how pretty the baubles are!
If you'd like to buy something special for someone this Christmas, a hand painted watercolour of a loved Irish landmark or institution would be a sure way to make them smile. Gemma sells paintings, greeting cards and prints all from her website that celebrates the joy of nature in Ireland.
Once upon a Dandelion was born from a desire to have children experience positivity everyday and to keep them encouraged, inspired and challenged to always be themselves. Lisa and Philip make bright & colourful quote signs for kids and artwork for homes inspired by the abundance of natural beauty surrounding them in the Mourne mountains.
I've been Insta pals with Sasha for a while now and I love how she turned her passion for design & adventure in a thriving business. Sash has designed pins, patches and keyrings that would make a great stocking filler for the explorers in your life!
Loaf catering is a social enterprise in NI that employs people with learning difficulties and Autism through their cafés and catering services. They also have a pottery workshop in Crawfordsburn in Co. Down and sell their beautiful creations on their website. When you buy from Loaf you're not just buying a unique gift, you're also helping to make a real difference to lives of those who work there.
Enrich & Endure was founded by a sister and brother in Banbridge, Co. Down after a side project became a thriving business idea. The team make high quality Irish linen products, the most popular being their signature aprons which come in a variety of styles and all made to last. A great gift for the head chef of the family!
Lisa makes her own pottery from her studio in NI and would make a brilliant gift for a teacher or friend who has made a difference this year. She even makes her own clay kits in case you fancy having a go with the kids at home!
Mourne Textiles was founded in the foothills of the Mourne Mountains, County Down by Norwegian textile designer, Gerd Hay-Edie. It's now in the hands of her grandson who has continued the Mourne Textiles legacy from the original mill in Rostrevor. The prices are high-end but is matched by the quality - the blankets would brighten up anyone's winter!
Michael has been my go-to for candles since I first discovered his genius a few years ago. He started out selling his hand-poured candles at St George's Market in Belfast and how he's preparing to open his very own shop in Co. Down. His scents capture the wild and natural beauty of Ireland and could be a gift idea for someone who is nostalgic for a weekend on the west coast of Ireland.
Jenny made the brave leap in to starting her own business during the Spring lockdown and I'm so glad she did! Each tapestry is handwoven at her kitchen table, in her home on the North Coast of Ireland. The pieces are one-of-a-kind and would make a beautifully unique gift for a loved one. The weaving below would be so pretty for a wee girl's bedroom!
Food & Drink
Sawer's are a Belfast institution and are my go-to for hampers when I'm stuck for ideas. The Belfast hamper is filled with goodies all locally made that would feed an army!
OK so maybe I'm a little bias since she is my sister but I truly think there is no one better at creating grazing boards here in Ireland. LadBible recently featured her on their page so I know it's not just because she's family! Her boards & boxes make the best treats and she's now selling vouchers too.
Northern Ireland's first bean to bar craft chocolate makers are just the friendliest chocolatiers you could ever meet. Their products are not only delicious but ethically made and sourced too.
Laura and Johnny's wee indie food shop in Comber stocks the best of the best in Irish food. Given the recent lockdown here, they're selling hampers filled with all their finest goodies that can be delivered straight to your door!
Mike recently opened his own cheesemonger shop in Belfast and it's been going down a storm. If you can't make it to the city, you can order his delicious cheese online and even create your own hamper if you feeling super generous (even if it's just for you).
If you need something to pair all that delicious cheese with, look no further than Boundary! Brewed in Belfast, the team have not only created a tasty range of beers, they've also designed their own range of t-shirts and caps so you can feel just as cool as the folks who work there.
Belfast’s first specialty micro-roastery made a splash in the city coffee scene nack in 2016 and have been satisfying the hipster taste buds ever since. If there's someone who would love to impress guests with their coffee-making skills, get them a bag (or can!) of roasted beans roasted in the centre of Belfast.
Health & Wellness
This completely natural skincare range is an absolute dream and is a perfect alternative for anyone who suffers from sensitive skin. Shauna has started curating mini hampers filled with her most popular products. Her letterbox gift set is ideal for Christmas!
Mimmie created her own skincare company as a way to help people find a little happiness in their own self-care. Her products are simple and all natural - the body butter looks SO GOOD.
I've been buying from these guys for years and love everything about how they're committed to ensuring that their natural ingredients, packaging and processes are as kind to the environment as they are to the skin they treat. A perfect gift for the hands of the NHS worker in your life.
Based in Dundalk, this family-run company has been going for nearly 100 years. They create their own skincare products with a focus on treating flare-ups in sensitive and dry skin conditions, something we could all do with in the harsh winter.
Bamboo and Beeswax are based in NI and started out as a way to help families who were trying to make more sustainable and environmentally conscious decisions in their home. They sell a range of products that would make sweet stocking fillers for the eco-conscious in the family.
Whenever I feel really stuck for a gift, these guys are my trusted friend for last minute inspiration. They stock heaps of Irish products that make perfect presents for those who live far from home.
Based in Portstewart, this home & lifestyle store offers so many options both in their shop and online. A great option if you want something for someone is a little trickier to buy for (they know who they are!).
Another North Coast favourite, BTS is filled with design-conscious items that I continually covet each time I visit the store. Luckily (or dangerously, in my case), they stock all their in-store items online too and deliver to your door.
I think it's near enough impossible for me to walk out of this shop without buying something. Each piece has been thoughtfully chosen with design and style in mind just as much as quality and function. I'm a big fan of the Caman & Co. county prints that would be a fabulous gift for the GAA lovers in your circle.
The Kind Store is a "Zero Waste Lifestyle" store selling eco-friendly products that are both kind to people and kind to the planet. The online shop is filled with ideas for gifts including masks and perfume rollers ideal for the stockings.
Oh this shop is so COOL. I could browse all day online, filling up online cart promising that the gifts are for my loved ones but secretly knowing it'll never reach them. If you're a better person than I am, you'll have no problem finding the gift you need here.
These folks based in Dublin stock some of the most beautiful Irish products you'll find. From homeware to books to food, you'll get most of what you'll need on their online shop.
I want to fill my house with the classic and timeless pieces from this place. Even their online shop feels relaxing! Another great spot to pick up some of the coolest stocking fillers you could get.
Independent bookshops find it hard to compete at the best of times and this Dublin bookshop is no different. On a normal day in a normal year, the bookshop is a real delight to walk through but during these times they've provided a beautiful online shop for dedicated readers. The team aim to provide something a bit different from the range you find in large chain bookshops, a great place to choose something for the bookworm in your family.
Based in Skerries, is the sweetest children's book and toy shop filled with a range of products to fill wee one's with wonder and imagination. There's books for all ages but also arts & crafts, puppets, games and so much more.
Based in Co. Sligo, Liber have moved all their products online with so much to choose from you could spend all day browsing. Not only do they sell heaps of books, they also have beautiful diaries, calendars and games too.
I've spent many a rainy afternoon burying my nose in the books here. Luckily they've never thrown me out but now that they're online, I can spend as long as I like on the website! It's a great spot for stationery lovers like me and for plenty of children and adult books to please all ages.
Another beautiful bookstore adapting to the times. These guys also sell "Book Bundles" based on the interests of the person you're buying for - takes the pressure of, right?
The Evelyn Rose Books workshop is based in rural Country Antrim, Northern Ireland where they hand-bind personalised leather journals. I love making lists (many times abandoning them, mind) and its gifts like this that feel very special.
Music & Technoloy
Records never go out of style and while their infamous shop may be closed during this lockdown, Belfast Underground are still catering to music-lovers online.
It's hard to find tech retailers that make their own products but these guys have designed their own brand of high-quality, wireless audio earphones and headphones.
If you're under a tight budget this year, the folks at Mint+ are a good place to start looking for high quality devices that won't cost the earth. The cover everything from smartphones, iPads, speakers and heaps more.
The Sound Shop based in Drogheda, sells musical instruments, music books, PA and sound equipment, DJ equipment and pretty much everything else a musician (or anyone who likes to play it loud) could ever need.