SWB on Black Friday and alternative gifting

Black Friday has arrived, or so my spam filters are telling me. Except, what with me being of an environmental bent, it’s not River Island and Top Shop sending me bumpf about their top deals, it’s sustainable fashion co-operatives and ‘Koh’ cleaning products.

I got sucked into the whole Koh cleaning hype when I saw it described on  FB ads as a ‘system’. I was lacking any class of a system at the time, and thought that perhaps if I paid for one, it would change my whole approach to housework, rendering my home a more congenial space to live, instead of the stinking hell-hole it resembled. I was disabused smartish of that notion when the delivery lad rocked up. ‘It’s my eco-friendly cleaning products!’ I squeaked, as he came strolling up the drive clutching the box. LSB was bemused: he rarely sees me exhibit enthusiasm for anything in these peculiar times, let alone CLEANING items.  My excitement was short-lived. It wasn’t a system: it was a box of solution, a spray bottle and 3 cloths of varying shades. Oh, and a grout scrubber, for which I’d paid an extra £8.99, because it popped up on the screen when I reached the on-line check-out and in a fit of spontaneity, I had flung it into my virtual basket. I mean, what the absolute f**k?

(Of course, I really should have known I was on a hiding to nothing with an advertisement on Facebook, especially since it (allegedly) sold us a pup on Brexit and Trump.)

That said, what has this whole lockdown experience reduced me to, that the frisson of excitement that I once felt when I picked up a pair of half-price Camper boots, has now  shifted to purchasing all-purpose surface cleansers?

Well, apparently it has, because instead of browsing through the Oliver Bonas website for deals as December approaches, I’m banging on about some more local gift ideas to consider this Christmas.

Two brilliant local companies I am keen to champion are ‘Do Your Bit’ and ‘Earth Made’. They take such care to source eco-friendly products and document them beautifully on Instagram. Our home is far from being a plastic free zone but thanks to these good people we have upped our game a bit. Both of these guys have such passion and energy for what they do and I’m rather taken with their Beauty Kubes shampoo.

If you can’t see yourself presenting your loved ones with aluminium free deodorant come Christmas morning, the Saintfield based ‘The Edible Flower’ might be more up your strasse. This enterprising duo are selling hampers which they have lovingly filled with a selection of their divine creations such as chutneys and florentines and festive spiced Barm Brack. These sounds to me like the perfect way to spoil the foodie in your life who can’t be fobbed off with bottle of Taste the Difference Olive Oil from Sainsbury’s and a packet of 12 months matured Parma ham.

An artist who gets plenty of airtime on this blog is Stephanie Prince, indeed it was she who painted my logo for the blog. Steph has her own Etsy site now which you can peruse, and see all her whimsical creations. Better still, you could commission her to illustrate one of your favourite people and present that to them for a quirky gift. Thoughtful: tick, Personal: tick, ‘Doesn’t break the bank but suggests that you may have’: mega tick.

Now, as you all know, I love my coffee. (Coffee and alcohol, was there any other means to get through 2020?) During the first Lockdown we became somewhat reliant upon the glorious little pouches from local roasters Boden Park Coffee, which combined a smooth aromatic start to the morning with cheery service from Mr McKeating himself, who seemed to appear chirpily   at my doorstep approximately 30 seconds I placed my order.

And obviously, coffee is enormously improved with a slab of cake, and those Harper’s Yard girls just can’t be kept down and have only gone produced a cookbook featuring recipes from some of their most popular bakes, including one from The Mothership, no less. These days, when you’re not sure whether it’s a nuke from the Iranians or the fecking virus that’ll get you first, I find that having a second large slice of Guinness cake worries me a great deal less.

While on the topic of the boil-on-the-bottom that has been 2020, this is probably the only year when you see me recommend gifting someone a face mask as a stocking filler. But plug these I will, because the masks in question are fecking awesome and if we can’t pick up some milk in Tesco without wearing a  face-covering, let’s at least embrace style. My gorgeous friend Ruth and her pal Lesley have been making masks to support the Lagan Dragons.  The fabrics are so beautiful that when their shit show is finally over I want to ask Ruth to knock me up a skirts or two with without ever remnants she has left.  Masks are available at Coffee Box at Stranmillis Boat Club or DM me and I’ll organise to get you sorted with one.


If the idea of any consumerism at all is a bit much for you this year, maybe you would consider Twinning Your Toilet (or someone else’s). This is another ideal gift for those ‘awkward to buy for’ types. You could write some twee verse on their gift tag: ‘Think of me while you’re having a pee,’ or ‘Something to view while you’re taking a poo.’ There’s a novelty factor to this charity gift that I’m quite charmed by, and as one who has sought out toilets in far out lands and remains somewhat scarred by the experience, I’m always happy to invest money in improving conditions for bowel-evacuation.

I think, on that scatological note, it’s perhaps best that I sign off here, but hopefully I’ve given you some ideas on which to ruminate, which don’t involve making Bezos a few more billions this festive season.


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