Wow 2020, what a year! I’m sure most of us have had a year like no other. It has been particularly hard here in Melbourne where we endured one of the longest lockdowns in the world for what many would consider minimal infection rates. It’s the Australian way though, preservation of human life will always come first. I suppose that’s why Australia is considered one of the best countries in the world to live. Alas, Christmas is on our door step and if, like me, you are struggling for gift ideas look no further, I’ve got you sorted! Here’s my best Christmas gift ideas for 2020 with a focus on home grown and buying local.
Much of the advertising here in Australia focuses around buying local, on Instagram you’ll see a lot of the bloggers using hashtags such as #buylocal, #stayherethisyear, #emptyesky and #holidayathome. These are all to remind and encourage people to give back and help get our economy back on its feet after a year that will go down in the history books as one of the toughest of recent times.
We started the year here in Victoria with horrific bushfires like no one had ever seen before. They devastated much of the eastern part of the state in particular East Gippsland. A countless number of people lost homes and livelihoods and the environment was decimated with wildlife losses estimated to have surpassed 1 billion animals. Some of our native animals are now endangered and we may not ever see them again.
The focus of this years Christmas gift ideas is going to include those principles of buying local and giving back to communities in your region.
Buying Australian made products means that home grown companies are benefiting from your purchase and the money stays within Australia. I always try and buy from Australian companies where ever possible.
This company made my Christmas gift ideas post last year and I still think they are a great Australian company creating products with the Australian environment front of mind.
We’ve all been to the beach and know the feeling of bringing half the beach home with you in the towel! I’m sure you’ve all jumped in the car after a fun day at the beach still wet and thrown your towel across the seat so your bum doesn’t get the seat wet, right?? We’ve all done it, but then you car is covered in sand that will still be hanging around until the following summer.
Well the Tesalate towel will solve all your problems, why? It’s a sand free towel. Literally pick it up, shake it and all the sand falls off. Not like the old towels that collect all the sand and you end up with sand from head to toe and everywhere else.
What’s new at Tesalate you ask? They have introduced a new XL towel that is prefect for 2 people. Imagine going to the beach and only having to pack one towel, that also means you only have to wash one towel! I’ll be using mine for me and Craig and then only having to pack towels for the kids.
They are so light and easy to pack and aren’t heavy when wet. The sand still shakes off even when wet. I think they make the perfect gift for any beach loving people. Throw it across the back seat on the way home and it will keep the back seat dry when the kids jump in. We know how they like to stay in the water until the very last minute.
Tesalate also have a new range of workout towels as well, perfect for all those gym junkies out there.
Check out Tesalate products online by clicking here.
Sister and Soul
Another home grown company, this one originates from Maitland NSW and hope to encourage and inspire women. I purchased a lovely gift back for Caelan’s teacher for her Christmas gift. It has a bracelet and necklace with teach & inspire pendants on them. They are a really nice touch and come in a variety of colours and designs.
They have a huge range of earrings and other jewellery available all made and produced by the owners in Australia. I’ve ordered from them twice during Melbourne’s lockdown and I love that when they arrive there’s a hand written note of thanks enclosed. These smalls touches make a big difference.
Check out Sister & Soul products online by clicking here.
Gift a homegrown experience
Got some thrill seekers in your family? Give them the gift of an experience. Now that my kids are getting older I look back on all our Christmases and to be honest those bright new shiny toys that I loving chose for them are mostly thrown in the corner by the end of January.
So why not give them an experience, something they’ll always remember. I’ve listed some of my favourite experiences below to give you some ideas:
Lakes Entrance Segway Tour – we did this in July and absolutely loved it. Its the only segway tour in the world that takes you along the beach and this isn’t any old beach, Victoria’s pristine Ninety mile beach in Gippsland. Kids must be 12 years and older and its a fun family friendly experience. We loved it and will be doing it again during one of upcoming visits.
Bayplay Kayak Tour – Bayplay have two kayaking options, you choose between Yarra River experience or Mornington Peninsula beach experience. What a great way to see Melbourne city like you’ve never seen it before or choose the ocean experience if that’s more your thing. Either way kayaking is good fun family friendly experience that everyone will love. If kayaking isn’t your thing, Bayplay have various other activities including snorkelling, scuba diving, bike riding or stand up paddle boarding. Their vouchers include all activities so the gift recipient can choose what experience suits them best.
Otways Fly Treetop Adventures – A zip lining experience like no other, gift the experience of zipping through the tree canopy of the Otways National Park. We love zip lining and the kids get to challenge themselves and have fun at the same time. We did zip lining in Cambodia and Mexico and I loved seeing the looks on the kids faces when they were nervous with excitement and the look of achievement once they finished. It’s a great family friendly experience and here in Australia we have the highest safety rating so no need to worry about that.
These are only a few examples, other interstate ideas are Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb, snorkelling tour of the Whitehaven Beach, Uluru Helicopter flight, swim with the whale sharks on the Ningaloo Reef, there are so many different experiences. Make sure you go direct though, to ensure the money stays with the provider and not a third party provider such as Viator or Red Balloon.
gift a long weekend getaway
Who doesn’t love a short getaway or a staycation in your own backyard? I’ve had many staycations in Melbourne and its been wonderful getting to experience different hotels at home. But you don’t have to have a city staycations.
Consider different accommodation styles such as B&Bs or farm stay and contact them directly. You could also ask if they’ll do a voucher for you to gift. There are plenty of options out there and I’m sure they all love the ideas of gifting a voucher.
Here are some of my ideas below:
Windsor House, Walhalla – A recently restored B&B this place would be an amazing experience. We were booked to stay here for Craig’s birthday in August however we were in lockdown in Melbourne. They even have the old stables completely renovated and perfect for families of 5. Walhalla is a gorgeous heritage town with lots of history and plenty to keep the kids entertained. Contact them directly for voucher information.
Jetty Road Retreat, Nungurner – Also located in Gippsland, this is another I will be road testing early next year as it is right near Metung. I drove past it last weekend when I was in town and it looks like a quiet, cozy kind of stay. They can accommodate anything from 2 to 9 guests so perfect for a larger family like mine! The sunsets over King Lake are definitely worth staying for.
RACV Resorts – RACV Resorts have a few different options across Victoria with properties in Cobram, Ballarat, Inverloch, Great Ocean Rd and even a few interstate. Having so many options for your gifted stay is definitely a plus. The voucher could be used for any of the RACV Resorts. We stayed at the RACV Cobram Resort in 2019 and loved the family friendly vibe they had going on there. So many different things for kids to do and mum and dad can relax knowing the kids are in the park and give them a little freedom to be kids and explore.
gift of local produce
Australia has had an explosion of craft distilleries and breweries and we’ve always had amazing produce right on our doorsteps. In Melbourne during the long lockdown I had a number of birthday’s in the family where I had to get creative for gifts as all our shops were closed. This meant ordering online which is also perfect for that hard to buy for person. Instead of gifting a bottle of Jacob’s Creek or Jim Beam research some of the local brews. For Craig’s birthday I bought him a gin appreciation course conducted through Zoom and a bottle of gin from Bass & Flinders located on the Mornington Peninsula.
I also had a cheese pack delivered for our afternoon tea. I chose Gippsland cheeses as the Gippsland area has really done it hard this year with the bushfires and COVID travel restrictions. For Father’s Day I had a grazing platter delivered for lunch for all 5 of us to enjoy. All these types of companies will do a gift voucher for you to gift and to be enjoyed at a later date and with the new laws introduced late last year, all gift vouchers now have to be valid for 3 years.
Here are some of my favourite local companies that I highly recommend:
Four Pillars Distillery, Healesville – voted best gin distiller in the world the last 2 years. This distillery has only been operating for 7 years and have really taken the craft gin market to a new level in Australia. Their Christmas Gin has hints of plum pudding and would be the best gift.
Bass & Flinders, Mornington Peninsula – I purchased a Gin Making Master Class for Craig for his birthday, perfect for the budding distiller. Not only do you learn the fine art of distilling but you also get to leave with a bottle you created yourself.
Reed & Co Distillery, Bright – A small boutique distillery that’s been around a couple of years now. They only have a small range of products but the distillery has a cool and funky vibe and definitely worth a visit in you are in Bright.
Milawa Cheese, Milawa – We always make a stop at Milawa on our way through to Bright. Great for afternoon platters at beer o’clock while camping. We have also been known stop in on the way home and enjoy a cheese platter before tackling the long drive home to Melbourne. Orders over $100 receive free shipping.
Gippsland Cheese – Another local cheese producer, we had the Tarago River triple cream from the Metung Market last week and it was so delicious. They do a very popular blue cheese as well, however we all know its an acquired taste! I prefer the brie and creamy cheeses personally.
The Farmer & The Cook, Metung – This deli is new to Metung and taking the town by storm. We had a grazing platter for lunch on our last visit and it fed all 5 of us with plenty left over. I’m looking forward to getting back there and purchasing some of their Christmas hampers to give away as gifts.
These are great gift ideas that can be enjoyed once the craziness of Christmas is over. Loads of us head away for a break during January so if you know where your friends and family are heading you could find a company online in that area and give a gift voucher for a restaurant, winery or hotel in the area. Also if you are having trouble finding something have a search on Facebook for ideas. I’ve found some of my best ideas on Facebook.
Take a December road trip
I’ve used companies that I know and love in areas that I regularly visit as I’m very familiar with them. These types of stores can be found in many Victorian regional towns so you can tailor it to fit the area you live closest to.
I highly recommend taking a break in December, head out to some of our regional areas you might be surprised by what you find. I know the locals will be happy and it will be much quieter than visiting after Christmas.
Looks like we will be holidaying at home this year with Australian borders predicted to stay closed to recreational travel. Some predict possibly mid-2022, we’ll have to wait and see. Maybe this time is best spent exploring your own backyard. You’ll have extra money to spend on yourself as you don’t have to fork out for expensive airfares. There are so many amazing places here on our doorstep, I recommend you get out and explore them.
Sally, Craig & Our3kids