A really good friend of mine had a birthday last week and as usual I was last minute for gift buying. In an ideal world I would love to make birthday gifts myself (homemade cookies, face masks, body scrubs, photo collages and hand written poems beautifully decorated) but I barely have time to make a cup of tea these days so it’s just not going to happen.
I found myself heading in to town with about an hour to spare – determined to not only to find the perfect present but to shop small and support a local business. Hmmmm. Problem number one being I wasn’t really sure where to start looking as my trusty fave shop had recently closed down – and problem number two – exactly what to buy. I have only known this lovely friend as a mum – I never knew her pre-kids and pretty much all of our social life has involved our little ones. We have obviously connected outside of our mum personas but I just wasn’t sure exactly what I could buy that would be especially delightful for her…it is so tempting to gift things that are mum friendly or practical or can be enjoyed with the kids.
Since the weekend I’ve chatted to some of my expert mum friends on their best ideas for mum friend presents and these were the top ideas:
- Decadence – a really nice version of a day to day item – like lovely PJs or a robe, or a really trendy umbrella or picnic rug or beach towel
- Stuff that smells good – everyone was a fan of this one – candles, incense, essential oils, or those bamboo sticks that sit in perfume – look like a gimmick but actually make your house smell fab
- Tea or coffee – a gorgeous or different tea blend from your local tea shop – or search for some local suppliers or boutique tea vendors online. Or some local coffee beans or blends. Or a tea set or cute coffee mug to enjoy it from.
- Experiences – a voucher for a massage or a pedicure, movie or theatre tickets. Something that can only be used for her – go one step further and buy a double pass for something so you can go together.
- Alcohol. Who doesn’t like wine!
I was not prepared with this list before heading off on my shopping adventure, but luckily a few weeks ago I stumbled across Oceana Walk in Cairns city centre – full of gorgeous little stores (including a British store which delighted me with their crisp and treat selection – let the eating of my whole body weight in Monster Munch begin!) and I was sure the perfect non-mumsie present would just leap out at me. But for some inexplicable reason all the shops had closed by 4.15pm in the afternoon. I stared longingly into the window of Eggplant and Poppy wondering if I could call the owner and make them come in and open for me – seriously there were at least a hundred things just in the window that would have been ideal – but then I realised I was wasting precious time drooling onto their window and needed to find a new plan.
I wandered back out into the blinding afternoon sun – desperately conscious of the clock a ticking and feeling the almost irresistible pull of Kmart just around the corner, when I almost walked crash bang into a sandwich board on the pavement enticing me into another city arcade to search for ‘Making Whoopee’ Gift Shop‘. I almost handed the lovely lady inside my credit card saying ‘one of each please’ – it was an absolute treat for the senses with wares from over 40 local artists and crafters – all handmade, all Australian! Awesome. I ended up choosing a ridiculously cute pink Godzilla succulent and a pair of handmade earrings in the shape of mini scissors (she loves to sew) and the present was gift wrapped and presented beautifully for me – ready to go. They have gifts for all ages and all price ranges too – and you can see the passion they have for handmade creations on every shelf and wall. You can find them at Shop 14/16 City Arcade – 78 Grafton Street. If you’re not in Cairns you can find them on Etsy.
I’ve since been told of some other awesome local shops which I will definitely be visiting soon – The Greenhouse Environment Shop on Spence Street provides a unique selection of Australian made and sustainable gifts, cards and books – all affordable and ethical. Everyone knows that giving makes you feel good but this takes it to a whole new level!
Another hidden gem is the Coffee Works store – also on Spence Street in Cairns with shops also in Mareeba and Port Douglas, a boutique roastery and chocolaterie where each purchase directly benefits a small community and supports a rural Australian boutique industry. And it all looks mouth wateringly good! Coffee, tea, gifts, chocolate, liqueurs – yes please on any of these for my next birthday!
So if you are in Cairns and need a gift for any occasion be sure to check out these fabulous local businesses – if you are further afield they all have website with Australia wide shipping. I’d love to hear of any other great local or online gift stores – also random presents in the mail are always appreciated!