Events and Festivals

All I want for Christmas – some interesting and creative gift ideas

Updated Monday, 2 September 2019

Ding, dong, ding, dong – it’s Christmas. Again. The time of endless standing in queues listening to Boney M re-runs of Christmas carols, tinsel and turkeys begins. Bet last year you made a vow not to get caught up in the mayhem. And yet, here we are…

If like most of us you’ve still not bought all your gifts, we’ve put together some easy, local (well, not all, but most) gift ideas.

Some have a travel theme in keeping with the blog, but we’ve also thrown in a few just because we like them so much, and couldn’t resist.

Here’s to a merry Christmas!

Magazine subscription to Country Life

We’ll start with something easy for you to do (simply a phone call) but an act that will nonetheless bring a ‘gift’ into your loved one’s home every month for the next year. Country Life is about rediscovering rural South Africa and is full of stories about travel, lifestyle, heritage, conservation, green living, food and wine. It’s great to get the lowdown on weekend escapes and getaways in the country. We’re subscribed, so we know what we’re talking about. This is also the gift that keeps on giving, because it lasts for an entire year …

Case of artisan beer

Artisan beer, or craft beer, is beer brewed by independent brewers who consider themselves to be the brewers of ‘real’ beer in South Africa. So much so that there is now a summer craft beer fest in Cape town (at the Biscuit Mill, of course) – this year was their second festival where 10 small, independent breweries and a whole lot of foodie vendors (obviously, you can’t have beer with out a bit of food in between sips) got together to exhibit their craft. Why not order a case of brew from breweries like Brewers & Union, Darling Brew, Camelthorn Brewing, Napier Brewery, Jack Black Beer, Birkenhead Brewery, Boston Brewery, and Paulaner Brauhaus (there are more – SA has at least 20 micro breweries).

The new Kindle Fire

Not yet out in South Africa, the Kindle Fire is nonetheless worth putting your name on the waiting list for. This e-reader gives you access to the web, movies, apps, games, and reading. It is a full colour, seven inch multi-touch display with wi-fi. The tablet that is easy to use, easy to carry and weighs virtually nothing links with Amazon’s collection of digital music, video, magazine and book services (if you’re into books like me, you literally have access to millions, including children’s books). At the same time you can use it to access your email and read your documents.

Springleap tee

Springleap is a great design platform on the web. For designers it’s a fantastic space in which to perform – members vote and comment on designs whilst the artists get to see their work on springleap’s garments, along with their names. But for those after a cool looking t-shirt, this is an easy one-stop shop (for guys and girls), designed by someone who otherwise wouldn’t necessarily see their art work on clothing. The only downside is that you can’t filter designs by country. If you simply can’t make a choice, you can get gift vouchers, or visit your nearest Big Blue store to see some of them in the ‘flesh’.

Heartwood tree

Give a tree as your gift – a wonderful idea. They are, after all, your ‘best antiques’. You can order a heartwood (“at the core of every tree is its heartwood, with rings listing battle scars and new growths, recording a history, writing a poem”) tree online. Heartwood has a selection of indigenous species and a few citrus trees. Each is delivered as a sapling, weighing in at around 4 kg, or a metre high. Order an assegai, berg cypress, Cape ash, kumquat or mission olive and spoil someone in your life. It arrives beautifully ‘wrapped’ in a cardboard box, adorned with a little wooden accessory – chameleon, butterfly, ladybird or heart.


Reusable shopping bags with style. These are chic, inexpensive and compact. They’re bright, fun, waterproof and weigh all of about 40 grams each. Despite this, they are large and can hold the weight of the equivalent of two supermarket plastic bags or 20kg worth of shopping, and send the message of ‘re-use’. Their pouch size is 23cm x 15cm, whilst rolled up it is 10cm x 4cm.

A book on Kalahari

Awesome South Africa by Derryn Campbell will intrigue you, make you laugh, astonish and astound you. It comes packed with information, colourful graphics and photos, as well as interesting facts and trivia about South Africa and its people.

Insider’s Guide, Top Wildlife Photography Spots in SA, by Shem Compion is exactly what it sounds. Perfect for the amateur photographer, this is a field guide of the best places to photograph wildlife in SA, coupled with stunning photography and easy-to-read chapters.

Around Madagascar on my Kayak is Rian Manser’s account of his circumnavigation of Madagascar by kayak, alone and unaided. This incredible journey took 5000 kms and eleven months to achieve. An engaging story with beautiful photos.

Piggy Squeeze Torch

This eco-friendly, LED torch is a fun gift for children and one they can use instead of a night light, or for a quick wee trip from the tent at night. It’s small and easy to use, uses a handle for power and is perfect for camping, travelling and at home. Best of all, it doesn’t need batteries but works with mechanical drive to light up. 30 seconds of hand press will give you lighting for about 3 – 5 minutes. If you don’t like the piggy, there is a penguin too.

Bokashi bin

Turn food waste into organic fertiliser. This is a perfect gift for the greenie in your life (if they haven’t already got one). Whilst your compost heap is perfect for vegetable kitchen waste, the bokashi bin helps you turn leftover meat, fish, cheese and cooked food into compost. Bokashi is a Japanese word for ‘organic fermented matter’, which is exactly what your bin does for you. With it you buy microbes (bran mixed with malt and other things) that help give the fermentation process a bit of a boost. Layer your food waste and the bokashi powder, and then leave to stand for two weeks.

A reversible Shweshwe hat

Get one of these and you can say ‘goodbye’ to your safari number. These beautiful hats are not only pretty, come in two sizes and keep you cool, but they’re also reversible, depending on your mood. The material combinations are gorgeous, trendy and ethnic all in one, and they’re locally made from locally manufactured material.

Locally brewed coffee

Not many coffees can claim to be local. A lot of coffee now selling in South Africa is Fairtrade or organic, but still imported from other parts of Africa or further abroad. You can order Sabie coffee from Mpumalanga – 100% Arabica coffee, grown, processed and roasted to order – via their website. We can recommend their Bushveld Blend.

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