Why not buy an experience for those loved ones who definitely don't need more stuff this year?
For the grand total of €50, this is quite the exceptional gift. If your loved one is a poetry buff or just a fan of the iambic pentameter, then this 10-week poetry course in Trinity College Dublin will make for a very memorable Christmas present.
Called Engaging Poems, the course runs every Tuesday at 7pm from January 20 to March 31, with a break for St Patrick’s Day. It is organised by the university’s School of English and heavy-weight poets like W B Yeats, John Donne, Robert Frost and Ted Hughes all feature.
For more details: www.tcd.ie/OWC/
Thai Cookery Course:
We have mastered the lasagne, the Shepherd’s Pie and
maybe even the curry but when it comes to Thai food, even the best Irish cook prefers to order in than stir up some prawns and lemongrass in the wok.
If you have a foodie who is fond of the chopping boards within your circle of friends, a day-long Thai cookery course could be the most perfect present you have ever gifted them with. Based in the Cooks Academy just off Grafton Street, the class starts at 10am on Saturday January 17, and wraps up at 4pm. Recipes on the curriculum will include Tom Khaa Kai, Vegetable Pad Thai, Thai Green Prawn Curry and Red Beef Curry. It costs €150.
For more details: www.cooksacademy.com
Guided Full Moon Walk:
No, this is not a course, nor will a new skill be acquired, but if it is an experience gift you are after then a full moon walk has that written all over it. These take place about once a month, with the next one starting on January 3, 2015.
Walkers meet at the Clock Tower in Enniskerry village in Co Wicklow at 6pm and head off with their guide along woodland trails to see
panoramic views of the county in the magic of moonlight. It costs €25 per person and it lasts about three hours in total.
For more details: www.hilltoptreks.ie
If a weekend of meditation, yoga and whole-food sounds like someone you know, you can package that all into one and make it a gift with a weekend retreat in the New Year.
From January 9, to January 11, you can treat someone to unadulterated pampering just outside of the capital, on a cleansing yoga weekend in Sli na Bande in Newtownmountkennedy, just off the M11. The three-day and two-night affair costs €295 and that includes everything from two private treatments to yoga lessons and from accommodation to food.
For more details: www.yogaweekendsireland.com
You know that your mother is buying your father a camera for Christmas so the next best thing to get your dad is therefore a course in how to actually use his new acquisition. This one-day photography course takes place in the Dublin School of Photography, which is based just off Aungier Street.
It focuses specifically on owners of a digital SLR camera, the most popular one to buy at the moment. It costs €135 and the next one starts on January 10. It includes lunch and you get to take home your notes on a USB stick. There is also a short field trip to put the lesson into practice.
For more details: www.dublin-photography-school.com
Warning: this present is not suitable for someone with a fear of heights. If you have kept reading and know someone who loves a thrill then a day out in Balbriggan will help you fill up their box under the Christmas tree just nicely.
There is archery, paint-balling, aerial trekking, a climbing-wall and a zip-line out here. You can buy a package or a voucher, go by yourself or with a group of friends. Prices start from €35.
For more details: www.xtreme.ie
What do you get the girl or guy who loves to be pampered but who is not into manicures and such like? Get them an hour-long floatation session for €60.
There is a whole body of science behind why this treatment, where you float in a big capsule filled with heavily-salted water, is good for you.
To sum it up however, after about 40 minutes in the tank, you get so relaxed that your mind and body go into a state that is usually only seen in young children or adults who have been practising meditation for years.
For more details: www.harvestmoon.ie
So there is a ski holiday booked for Poland for February but that comes with one small problem — you and your friends have never skied before. While no one wants to waste their time in ski school while out foreign it can be quite the dangerous sport so practice is essential.
If you do have a loved-one heading off-piste next year why not get them a voucher for a ski lesson in the Ski Centre in Sandyford as a practical but fun Christmas present? Prices start from €49 and it is very easy to get to either by coming off the M50 or by taking the Green Line Luas.
For more details see: www.skicentre.ie
Ready, steady, sew. Sewing has had a bit of a renaissance moment for the last number of years thanks to that bail-out stuff and now it is no longer the preserve of the crafty ones amongst us.
Dublin establishment Murphy Sheehy on Castle Street runs a few courses from alteration workshops to how to make a garment from a commercial pattern. One of these would make a very cool Christmas present and their next courses all start in the New Year, with the first one kicking off on Saturday January 31. Prices go from €99 and courses run during the weekend as well as on weekday evenings.
For more details: www.murphysheehy.com
Learning Salsa or Zumba, or any kind of dance, features on lots of bucket lists but rarely do people sign themselves up in order to get down with it. So if you know someone who is always threatening to break out their dancing shoes get them a dance voucher to put an end to their talking-about-dancing days.
Danzon run classes in four locations across the city centre and if you buy a voucher before the end of the December you get a €10 discount. A €40 voucher will get you six dance classes that would normally cost €50, but it has to be used before the end of February 2015.
For more details: www.danzon.ie
Christmas can become all about the consumer but what do you get your friend or family member who is not that bothered with material things? A course in mindfulness, maybe?
While every second newspaper column and every third online article might be listing the 17 reasons why the practice will change your life a course in it will actually let you try it out for real. The Oscailt Centre, on Dublin’s Pembroke Road, has become quite the popular spot and they run a number of mindfulness courses and workshops. In the New Year the first one starts on January 5 and prices start from as little as €10.
For more details: www.oscailt.com
MakeOver and Photo-Shoot:
A photo-shoot can be a very popular present at any time of the year. Usually it means you don the white T-shirts and jeans and turn up at a studio somewhere but for Christmas you can take the gift a little bit further.
For sisters, mums and daughters or best friends, Forever Fabulous give image consultations and a one-hour make-over before any camera lens starts to zoom. They cater for three outfit changes too. At €99 this gift will make sure those framed photos on the sitting-room wall be pride of place for Christmases to come.
For more details: www.foreverfabulous.com
Hot Towel Shave:
For a man, who has everything, because they all do, beard or no beard, because they all grow facial hair, you cannot go wrong with a hot towel shave. One of these is the male’s equivalent of getting a facial or a manicure.
They get their face all wrapped up in steaming hot towels and get to sit back and relax while someone else worries about the hair on their face. For boyfriends, husbands, colleagues and fathers, this is gift is pretty fail-safe. Prices start from €22 and at that comes with a head massage too.
For more details: www.graftonbarbers.com