8 December 2017

It's Christmas again! Looking for some different gift ideas?

| Maryann Mussared
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It's almost Christmas! Here are some unique Christmas ideas.

It’s almost Christmas! Here are some unique, out-of-the-box Christmas present ideas.

Any reminder at this time of year about Christmas gift lists has the potential to send a chill up the spine of many, especially if the list contains the names of people who are ‘difficult’ to buy presents for. I fall into that category and I hope I have made it well-known that I no longer want to be given lovely soap or a cookbook; I buy both when I need and want them. What I always value is something that shows the gift-giver might have thought about what they know about me. So here are a few ideas that I brainstormed with friends who have gift lists that contain people who are difficult if not almost impossible to buy for, or who may have ‘everything’! We can all buy ‘stuff’ for friends and relatives but buying something that lasts all year or is a true ‘experience’ that makes memories is quite special. Here are some suggestions that range from $10 up.

Oxfam has a variety of ‘donation’ cards available in their Canberra Centre Store. Photo: Maryann Mussared.

A friend who knows how much I love ducks gave me a simple card a few years ago. It showed a photo of a garden-variety duck and inside indicated that, on my behalf, my friend had paid $40.00 for the cute card. Much to my delight, the money went directly to buy a duck for a family in Vietnam. There is a whole range of cards at Oxfam Shop right opposite H & M in the Canberra Centre. Prices start from $10.00 for a chicken for a family in Vanuatu so they can both eat the eggs and sell the excess, right through to clean water for villages. Both Oxfam and World Vision sell these cards online and is a wonderful example of ‘letting generosity shine through’. If you have any doubts about giving a donation this way, I encourage you to look at the World Vision Facebook page and read some of the stories of how the money donated by the purchase of these cards assists in developing and changing communities all over the Third World.

Touch of Siam is located on Trevillian Quay at Kingston Foreshore. Photo: Maryann Mussared.

By the time most of us get to Christmas Eve, we are likely to be experiencing some sort of stress. I like to combine a coffee or lunch with a massage, so Touch of Siam located almost on the corner of Trevillian Quay and Eastlake Parade at Kingston Foreshore works well, especially as there is plenty of two-hour free parking in the precinct. Touch of Siam is an oasis in the middle of the bustling Foreshore and offers a calm, discrete environment. I enjoyed the level of privacy, the low light and the beautiful refined oil used in the Thai massage. Reservations for their therapeutic massages can be made online with all costings clearly set out, and gift vouchers can be purchased in-store or by phone. Prices for Thai massage start at $50 for half an hour, with lots of other options including Swedish massage and aromatherapy, and is open over the Christmas/New Year period except Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

There is a real thrill to flying low over the coastline. Photo: South Coast Seaplanes.

The coastline of NSW is very beautiful and what better way to experience it than from the air. South Coast Seaplanes, based at Moruya Airport, have a number of ‘air thrill’ packages that will be hard to resist. From a simple take off and land, just to experience the sensation, to a whole range of flights taking off from the Moruya River, taking in Montague Island, Bermagui, Tuross Falls and even whale watching packages tailored to your requirements. Prices start from an amazing $88.00 and the website also has flexible vouchers.

Gardening Australia magazine, the perfect gift for your favourite gardener. Photo: Maryann Mussared.

I have used isubscribe for some years and I get regular reminders that people I have gifted an annual subscription to, or my personal favourite subscription is about to expire. I think every gardening whizz in the family will greatly appreciate a Gardening Australia subscription and currently, there is a great Christmas discount available for $32.00 for six months. isubscribe also has an amazing range of subscriptions covering everything from cooking, health and beauty, travel, science and nature, to politics etc etc etc! Digital versions of many publications are also available.

Moroccan Kitchen Masterclass with wonderful chef Peter Young at Pialligo Estate Academy. Photo: Maryann Mussared.

I have made time this year to attend a few of the brilliant Masterclasses offered by the Pialligo Estate Academy. The Garden Pavillion has the perfect kitchen space for small classes and I have met some really interesting people this year, including an international visitor who was passing through Canberra on business and had a spare day. This year I have, under guidance from some charming and very experienced chefs, ‘mastered’ pickling, soups, Italian cuisine and just recently learned my way around the “Moroccan Kitchen”. Classes on offer in 2018 include exploring French, Italian and Moroccan kitchens, pastry and pies, Seafood Secrets and lots more!

Exploring family trees. Photo: Maryann Mussared.

This is a somewhat unusual suggestion that will appeal to your family historian (and these days most families have more than one!) or fans of “Who Do You Think You Are”. It is the gift of an Ancestry DNA test. With a 30% off incentive until Friday 22 December, this will provide endless entertainment not only for the person who has their DNA tested but all of their relatives as well. At its simplest, the results will reveal an individual’s ethnicity and it is amazing how much Neandrethal DNA some people have. I had mine done out of curiosity, and without even considering how accurate these tests now are, located my long-lost grandfather: he was one of sixteen children and I seem to be related to half of Wellington, New Zealand. The special price is currently $104 plus postage. 23andme is another large DNA testing company who present DNA results in a slightly different format and are also offering a discount.

Madame Butterfly will delight audiences in 2018. Photo: Georges Antoni.

It would be a very difficult person that could not be matched to something in the forthcoming season of the Canberra Theatre. Offerings for 2018 include drama, musical theatre, and opera. I have bought two tickets for Madame Butterfly; ticket prices start from $69.90. The lucky recipient of my gift will receive two tickets that include my company and a complimentary glass of bubbles at the interval. The latter is an option offered at the time of purchase and is a nice extra touch. Canberra Theatre 2018 subscription season has been launched and is selling rapidly.

Cartier: The Exhibition is set to thrill audiences Autumn 2018. Photo: Maryann Mussared.

The National Gallery of Australia will be presenting over 300 exquisite examples of masterpieces by Cartier, charting the prestigious Paris Jewellery house throughout 20th-century history. Think sparkling diamonds, glistening emeralds, gold platinum, celebrities of the 20th century, and much more. Cartier: The Exhibition opening on the 30th of March. Ticket prices start from $20 for National Gallery members, and $25 general entry, and are now on sale for this exciting event. I defy 50% of the population not to be delighted to receive the gift of a ticket or two. Keep an eye out for the very special events that will accompany this fascinating exhibition.

Happy last minute Christmas shopping!

Do you have any suggestions for those difficult-to-buy-for people on your Christmas gift list? Please share in comments below.

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