Men’s grooming is slowly, but surely, making a comeback to the mainstream. For a hot…
Christmas shopping. Now there are two words sure to strike terror into the hearts of the most hardened Canberra woman.
Even the most dedicated shoppers amongst us (and I proudly count myself in this group) can find something overwhelming about having to source enough gifts to fill multiple Christmas stockings as well as provide a suitable spread beneath a tree.
In fact, as the city begins its annual spending binge, shopping malls can transform into places of extreme duress and excess.
So there is something extra appealing about this year’s Handmade Canberra Christmas Market taking place at Exhibition Park on the 10-11 December.
For one thing, it continues a wonderful tradition, started eight years ago when Julie Nichols and Rachael Evagelou set up the first market showcasing 35 local designers to a few thousand curious shoppers.
Now the markets attract tens of thousands (they stopped counting at 26,000 at their last event) of local and interstate visitors. And they’ve broadened their talent pool to more than 250 local and national designers.
Even though the Christmas Market is likely to set a new attendance record when it opens, the venue has enough space and parking to accommodate everyone. With gourmet food stalls a lovely part of the experience, Handmade always makes for a good day out. But more importantly, it provides shoppers with a one-stop shop to purchase handmade, locally sourced and often sustainable gifts that are not rolled off a production line somewhere in China.
And to that end, I am making the effort this Christmas to buy more mindfully. I am planning to make a day of it at the markets, knowing my gifts will be handmade, knowing my dollars will stay in the country, and most likely the territory, and knowing I am supporting the livelihoods of people who live to create and who give a damn about the quality of the products they produce.
So I have taken the liberty of picking some of the eyes out of this market’s list of stall holders with a view to buying gifts for my immediate family – two kids, a husband and a handful of besties.
Of course, the day itself will lend itself to the odd impromptu personal purchase (put me in a cavernous hall of funky stalls and how could I possibly not be distracted by purchases not strictly on my Christmas list.)
Here is a taste of what’s on offer…
I once attempted a Christmas gingerbread house. It looked like it had barely survived a hurricane and the toffee burns took weeks to heal. Now I buy them ready-made and they really are a treat to crack open on Christmas Day. Homemade Sweet Delights and Lavender and Lace Cakes will have a range of baked goods ready to put on the table.
Meanwhile, how could you walk past these Dinoplanter, sure to brighten up any kid’s room?
Birdy and Clementine are beautiful ceramics produced by Robyn Stewart. Alternatively, the Hayden Youlley ceramics are delicate yet functional.
I have been buying Leafy Sea Dragon cards for ages, as they allow Mick Ashley’s iconic scenes of Canberra to travel the world. Similarly, Trevor Dickinson’s bus shelter images are so much fun. They will both have small and large artworks on sale.
If you want something less distinctly Canberra, Little Noisy Minor drawings are simple and beautiful.
Jewellery lovers will have a field day, you can buy from a range of makers covering everything from the chunky resin of Own Sweet Time to fine silver ring from A Silver Circle Design. I’ve got my eye on the teeny gymnast in silver from Alex Stone for my own little gymnast.
Jasper and Myrtle chocolates are a cut above. Buy some of the dark stuff safe in the knowledge that, just like a bottle of wine, these chocolate are blended with ingredients right here in Canberra, meaning each batch is distinctive.
Speaking of food, I’d love to cook a curry as competently as Jeff Piper of Thirst Thai Restaurant and Wine Bar, but I know my culinary limits. A delicious array of curry pastes, Pad Thai sauces and Thai dipping sauces will be on sale, as will some gorgeous salted caramel – perfect for a small gift for someone special.
Meanwhile, Eat Me Chutneys are sure to impress the most ethical recipient – they use wonky, bruised and unsold organic products to create “rescued” chutneys. Handsome Devils Hot sauce is also worth a try.
Baldwin Distilling Company specialises in American style whiskey, only using water from the Cotter River and corn from the Riverina. This is sure to get a taste test in our household.
The Canberra Distillery started its range with a London Dry style Gin and has expanded to include seasonal Gins, the Canberra Fog (made from a Murrumbateman shiraz) and liqueurs made from locally sourced fruit. Supporting gin and supporting local equals a win-win in anyone’s book.
Mi Amor soy candles tick all the boxes – soy wax scented with essential oils and packaged in beautiful table-worthy vessels. Likewise, The Little Flame Co. and Space Candles will have a range on display to help enhance any room in your home. Candles are a little luxury I afford myself most days. It’s time to stock up both the gift and personal supply.
The delicate Kanimbla Clay homewares would look beautiful in any space. Tea lights never looked so good.
Happy shopping and happy Christmas.
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