We all should do our bit when buying gifts this Christmas. Photo: Nynne Schroder

Give locally sourced gifts this year!

Each year, I write and publish a Gift Guide for Food Lovers – and this year is no exception. 

But this year, the guide looks a bit different as it has become more comprehensive and includes art, classes, jewellery, craft, food, selfcare, sustainable gifts, kids, pets and so much more.

Everything is different this year as I would normally be very busy with preparations for the Blarney Handmade Fair I organise every year. It doesn’t look good for the fair this year.

While writing and researching the gift guide, I was thinking of how we can support local businesses and I saw that there is already a lot of support out there. Irish people are amazing when times are tough – coming out in droves to help.

The Facebook group Shop in Ireland has grown in the short time of its existence to over 100k followers and the success of being featured in the group (you can advertise your products once a week) speaks for itself as businesses can reach potential customers beyond their own county borders.

Some businesses I follow have done very well after posting in the group. I have also seen some food businesses posting but have to follow up on how they did. But don’t forget your local shops – most of them have adapted and are offering now click & collect options.

In Blarney, we have Horgans, Blarney Woollen Mills and Erin Gift Shop who are selling successfully online now.

Why not look beyond the usual gifts – your friend might need new glasses, so pop into your local optician and get a voucher? Think outside the box this year.

As I do every year, I am making a lot of gifts for friends myself. I have two lemon verbena plants in my garden and dried the leaves which I will mix with loose black tea – infused tea will be one part of my edible gift basket. Other items for the basket will be chutneys, handmade chocolates and infused oils/vinegars.

And talking about infused tea, Barry’s Tea has released four infusion teas. The range includes Night Time, a blend of herbs and flowers that is caffeine free. Turmeric is a blend with spices that should warm you from the inside. Purity includes fennel, aniseed and cardamom, said to leave you feel cleansed and finally Matcha to give you a boost for the day ahead.

The tea comes in biodegradable sachets, a nice change to the current teabags that contain plastic and can’t be composted. Each pack of the infusion range contains 20 teabags and retails for €3.95.

I am a big Barry’s Tea fan and so far I have only liked the original version. Although I love Earl Grey, I don’t like the version available from Barry’s but Original is unrivalled in my eyes.

The gift guide is available online on Facebook (Bia Sásta) and my website www.biasasta.ie. Pour yourself a nice cup of tea and enjoy the read!