Here’s a piece of trivia for you: We’re now in Shrovetide until Shrove Tuesday on February 21.
Traditionally, it was when Irish weddings took place because of farming schedules and the period being outside spring and autumn harvesting, and to avoid Christian periods of abstinence.
Even though wedding dates are now
dictated by personal schedules and venue availability, there’s still the association with springtime and getting those save-the-date cards despatched for later on in the year.
It’s time, too, for couples to think about the kind of gifts they’d like, as people are bound to ask, and for some reason, we’ve never really embraced the convenience of gift registries.
The Good Housekeeping Institute’s director of home appliances, Sharon Franke, blogs on wedding gifts and suggests asking some important questions to determine your preferences.
How do you entertain? Do you have a large extended family that dines together for some formal meals?
You don’t have to pick out silver-trimmed dinnerware (that’s not microwavable) if you never have and are unlikely to ever throw formal dinner parties.
Opt for more casual sets that can make your table look special, but not intimidating.
What kind of cook are you?
And, just as importantly, what’s your tolerance for cleaning and caring?
Nothing is as beautiful or high performing as a gleaming set of stainless-steel cookware, but if you’re a serious cook and aren’t shy about using high heat and fat for browning, you’ll find these pans can be a bear to clean.
What do you eat and drink for breakfast? Are you a baker? And get real, will you ever be?
The simple act of owning appliances won’t mean you’ll eat better in the morning or
become a baker. Most likely you’ll want a coffee maker and toaster, but are you really going to bake waffles or juice carrots?
It seems, though, the trend is veering towards higher-end gifts these days, buying better and buying less.
Emily Brophy, marketing manager at luxury crystal brand Waterford, Ireland/UK, says: “We’re generous in Ireland in our spend. Toasters and kettles used to be the gifts.
“Couples now want gifts that will elevate their homes. It’s an opportunity in life to get those luxury items like glass and china, but ones that will be used, not dust-gatherers.
“People have the basics like wine glasses so they’ll go for highball and gin glasses.
“People used to stick to a pattern. Now they’re experimenting and mixing and matching, and with the rise in popularity of zero-alcohol drinks, they’re being served in nicer glasses.”
Clare Grennan, co-owner of the Irish Design Shop, advises anyone buying a gift to consider things of lasting value, drawing ideas from home-grown designers and makers.
“A piece of Irish craft or design holds more value than just function,” she says.
“We attach sentimental value to handmade items and perhaps treasure them more. This might be a set of coffee cups, a wool blanket, or a hand-turned wooden bowl. I think it shows the person gave greater consideration choosing the gift, which means so much to the recipient.”
But then there’s the dilemma of howextravagant or modest to be with our gift purchase.
For wedding guests, Clare says: “A beautiful handwoven tweed blanket by Eddie Doherty in Donegal, a set of hand-cut whiskey tumblers inspired by the landscape of
Dursey Island, or a beautiful set of limited-edition embroidered Irish linen napkins by Jennifer Slattery.
“Some smaller things if they’re just attending the ‘afters’,” she adds. “A hand-turned wooden bowl by Tom Manning made from Irish hardwood — beautiful and practical. A set of two hand-painted porcelain cups by Adam Frew, lovely to hold and use, also really unique — a hand-blown glass candlestick holder from Jerpoint, a gorgeous gift paired with a set of our dinner c