I realised today that Christmas is now less than 8 weeks away! If you haven’t thought about what you’re going to give to family and friends this year, I’ve got some suggestions to make it easy for you. This year, more than ever before, it’s so important that we support our local businesses. Illawarra business owners have been hit hard with Covid-19 and could really use our support when we’re deciding how to spend our money this festive season. Here are some easy gift ideas, including vouchers other than the usual, boring Coles/Myer or Bunnings vouchers you give to those relatives who seem to have everything.

1. GIFT IDEAS FOR PAMPERING AND RELAXING

People are often reluctant to spend money on just indulging in something nice for themselves. Why not give someone you care for a guilt-free relaxing experience? Here’s a few Illawarra venues that will ensure your loved ones get spoiled:

Massage Voucher:

Pretty much every massage therapist in the Illawarra will happily write you a gift voucher. Have a think about what sort of massage the recipient would most enjoy – remedial, deep tissue, therapeutic, relaxation or Thai? I personally received a voucher for Classic Siam Massage at Dapto recently and have to say, I was really impressed. Once inside, I honestly could’ve believed I was on holiday in Thailand (remember overseas holidays?) with the sounds, the smells and the overall experience exactly as I remember it. I was struck by how incredibly clean this venue was and the staff were all lovely. Check out their website for more info.

Float Tank:

If you know someone who could do with an hour of “unplugging”, a float tank session is a unique and thoughtful gift. Read more about what its’ like to experience floating here. There are float tank venues located across the Illawarra in Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama.

Locally made Health & Beauty Products:

Bath & Body Delights make a range of awesome gifts for men and women, from seasonal hampers to gym packs and rejuvenating bath and beauty products. Based in Port Kembla, these guys are just operating online at the moment, but have a massive range of products available on their website.

2. MEAL VOUCHERS

Restaurant vouchers are a great way to treat someone you care about as well as support local businesses. My latest recommendation to suit every occasion is in Shellharbour Village. Relish on Addison operates as a great café offering top quality food and coffee during the daytime, but then transforms to a modern Australian restaurant in the evenings with an award-winning chef and a killer cocktail menu.

Babyface Kitchen in Wollongong have been as adaptive as possible this year to keep their doors open and their staff on the books. During Covid restrictions, they ran with takeaway menus and Sunday bake sales to keep the lights on and have now returned to offering their amazingly delicious in-house dining again, albeit with reduced opening hours. A gift voucher for Babyface is always on my personal Christmas wish list!

While we’re discussing vouchers, if there’s a nice little cafe within a stone’s throw of your child’s school, a coffee voucher is a great way to say “thank you” to your child’s teachers, who pulled off an impressively smooth adaptation to remote schooling earlier this year and really deserve the recognition.

3. FOR BEER LOVERS

The bottle shop is a popular choice for Christmas presents as it’s easy to find something that you know will be enjoyed. Let’s face it, most Aussies have a pretty voracious appetite for alcohol! Why not spend your dollars with one of our Illawarra brewers this year and help out a small business as well as making your gift more thoughtful, personalised and unique? Here are some local brew crews to check out:

Reub Goldberg Brewing Machine have created a cute beer garden located at 81 Meadow St, Tarrawanna. They offer takeaways and even home deliveries of their craft beer. Find out more on their website.

Resin Brewers are a microbrewery and have a great set up at 8 Station St Bulli. All their craft beers can be canned on request and have that Illawarra feel to them and they also sell Growlers in store, which is a sustainable way to grab takeaway beers. I recommend the Ginger Sandon on a hot day! Check out their brews here. 

You might have seen the offerings of Coal Coast Brewing Co on tap at a few local establishments. You can also buy their brews in cans, which make a terrific gift. They’ve also got some quality merch, which not only looks good, but gives them a plug every time you wear it!

4. SWEET TREATS

For festively themed baked goods, that have that home-made feel, but are also beautifully presented (I know my own home-made creations never end up looking beautiful!), there are lots of Illawarra bakeries and cafes who are taking orders ahead of time.

Gypsy Jones Café are already underway making their traditional mince pies, Christmas puddings and cakes as well as White Christmas rocky road. They have gluten free options available, so check out their specialty Christmas range online.

Berkeley Cakes and Pies have a range of Christmas hampers available as well as a Christmas log, puddings and festive chocolate jars to choose from. They also make grazing boxes, Christmas shortbread and good old fashioned Christmas fruit cake.
Contact them on Facebook to discuss how to order ahead or drop in at 2/65 Winnima Way Berkeley or call (02) 4272 7779.

5. COOKING CLASSES AND WORKSHOPS

Buena Vista Farm at Gerringong run farm tours and workshops teaching you to make cheese, fermented foods and other ‘from scratch’ goodies. It’s a great way to give someone a memorable experience and spend quality time together. Visit their website here.

Balinese Spice Magic in Wollongong offer vegan and Balinese recipe cooking classes, teaching you to prepare a 3 course meal. They book out fast, so drop them a line to find out what’s planned for after Christmas. You can check out their upcoming classes here.

6. LOCAL ARTISTS

There are loads of Illawarra artists who create amazing stuff. When it comes to gifts, I particularly like SaltCalls Aerial Photography’s beach towel range, which feature awesome shots of local beaches and Art By Jess-Anne, who specialises in drawing and painting animals and can make a custom piece of art of your loved ones’ pet.

With weddings being cancelled everywhere during 2020, photographers have been hit pretty hard. This could be a perfect year to organise a family photography session as your gift to the extended family and it helps out these local business owners at the same time. The Evoke Company from Kiama are just one of those Illawarra businesses who offer spectacular packages that really capture special moments and will create a timeless piece of memorabilia for your whole family to enjoy.

7. HANDMADE JEWELLERY

Katrina from Wild Studs Jewellery usually frequents Kiama and The Farm Markets to sell her handmade polymer clay earrings, necklaces and keyrings. She is taking orders for Christmas and offers pick up and delivery options. Find Wild Studs on Facebook to see her latest creations or send an email to wildstudsaustralia@gmail.com.

Looking for gifts for young girls? Sweet As Sugar Jewellery is a home based Shellharbour business creating fun and colourful jewellery and accessories for children. If unicorns, mermaids and bright colours are on the cards for a little person in your life, visit the website to see the full collection.

8. ILLAWARRA BASED HOMEWARES AND BOUTIQUE STORES

For beautiful and unique homewares that will delight any gift recipient, there are many specialty stores across the Illawarra to choose from. Drop into Home Thyme at Albion Park or find them online.

55Parrots have three convenient locations in Bulli, Thirroul and Coledale, where they offer beautiful homewares, ceramics, and interesting décor inspired by travels across the globe. You can see their range and shop online here. The Candle Kitchen in Bulli make superb quality candles that will make any space feel inviting and luxurious. You can visit them in person or shop online.

9. SUSTAINABLE GIFT GIVING

Drop in to one of our beautiful florists across the Illawarra and pick up an indoor plant or a stunning succulent display for your loved one. From hanging baskets to glass terrariums, there are so many pretty ways to incorporate greenery into your home. Cherry Rose Blooms at Figtree always have a great display of decorative plants and Bunches in Wollongong, boast a spectacular assortment of indoor plants to choose from and the largest variety of flowers in the Illawarra region. They are open 7 days a week to make last minute gift buying easy!

Have you heard of seeded cards? Local artist Glenda Hill-Baulch creates beautiful and original designs, which are then printed on to cards with seeds embedded in the paper. Once enjoyed visually, the cards can be planted to be enjoyed in a whole other way! Visit Glenda’s Etsy store, GlendalaArtDesigns to find out more.

10. FOR THOSE WHO ALREADY HAVE EVERYTHING

What better to give to someone who already has everything they need that to make their treasured memories accessible? The Illawarra’s own PipeWolf Media can convert VHS and camcorder tapes into digital videos to be viewed easily on your computer and shared online. What a joy to see childhood experiences, weddings and family holidays in an accessible format for everyone to enjoy! How sneaky can you be smuggling those dusty old tapes out of your grandparents homes without them seeing you?
Get in touch with Fyona and Dave from Pipewolf Media by visiting their website.

There are so many options available to be able to do your Christmas gift shopping locally. Shopping locally means supporting Illawarra families, providing Illawarra jobs and keeping our local economy going through tough times. If you have a great gift idea to share, please post on The List, Illawarra’s Facebook page or send a message via our website so we can spread the word!