Like Christmas but hate shopping? Can’t face the thought of elbowing through the frantic masses in El Cort Ingles? Make friends with modern technology and all your Christmas shopping could be done in a few minutes with the click of a mouse and a couple of phone calls. Of course, the tree-huggers would say that shopping locally is far kinder to the planet, and in some ways they’d be right. However, there are ways of reducing your carbon footprint whilst on-line and there are also plenty of websites that specialise in eco-friendly pressies and organic treats; you just need to know where to look. Some of our favourites are below. For those who feel guilty about not buying locally, the Carbon Neutral Company’s dedicate-a-tree scheme (www.carbonneutral.com/shop) is a nifty way of helping the environment and solving last-minute present worries. For £10 (€12.70), they’ll plant a tree in one of their native forest projects and send a dedication, by email or post, to your loved one.
Who wouldn’t want to be an astronaut when they grow up with one of these at home? For kids with inter-planetary ambitions and wild imaginations, the Cardboard Rocket Playhouse is a real find. Young astronauts can decorate it both inside and out with paint, collage, pens or crayons, before zooming off to galaxies far, far away. Made from very robust and sturdy re-cycled cardboard, the rocket can be dismantled and folded flat for storage when not being used for space missions. Suitable for toddlers who are stable on their feet up to about 7 years, it’s sure to be a hit at Children’s parties and can be packed into the boot of the car if they refuse to leave home without it. The rocket costs £29.99 (€38) & VAT and usually ships within 24 hours to the UK with delivery at £6.95 (€8.80). Delivery to Spain costs a much heftier £25.99 (€33.20). Space cadets can find it at www.nigelsecostore.com, where they’ll also find wind-up toys, eco baby wear and a rather fabulous baseball cap that has a built-in solar-powered fan to keep kids cool. This is also a great site for green gifts for all the family, from energy saving devices to planet-happy clothes and accessories. They also stock eco-friendly Christmas cards, lights and decorations and give advice on how to have a greener festive season.
For perfect pampering
If your loved ones are tired of toiletries or ties and sending them yet another Amazon gift voucher is out of the question, a day of pampering at Magma, a thermal leisure centre just outside Girona, might be just the ticket for stressed out mums, busy dads or friends who deserve a treat.
Located in the pretty spa town of Santa Coloma De Farners, a few miles from Girona airport, Magma is a bit of a one-stop shop when it comes to relaxing. Posher than an ordinary pool but not as snooty as the average spa, 25 euros buys 3 hours in the centre (prices and discounts vary, see website for details). Visitors can splash about in the thermal area’s indoor and outdoor pools, Jacuzzis and massage jets or dare each other to try the ice pit. For those who tire of the water, there’s a body care zone with saunas, Turkish baths and heat beds, and a special baby spa for miniature VIPS. To make a day or weekend of it, there’s a buffet restaurant on site and the Hotel Spa Termes Orion is just down the road.
For those that really need to be spoilt, there’s also a Spa Club that offers everything from body wraps to manicures. Have them slathered in chocolate for €52 or massaged until they are whimpering quietly with pleasure for €45.50 for 45 minutes.
Magma’s detailed website is available in Spanish, Catalan, English and French. Unfortunately bookings can’t be made online, but gift vouchers can be bought by ringing the reservations line: (0034) 972 843 535. They’ll send a form to fill in via email through which treatments can be booked for yourself or others. For those worried about their language skills, there are operators who’ll speak enough English for you to muddle through.
For stocking fillers
Remember when sweets came in big glass jars, all lined up in rows at the corner shops, and friendly folk in aprons weighed them out? Remember when kids spent hours salivating, with eyes the size of flying saucers, deliberating between lemon sherbets or a bag of rhubarb and custard? If so, help is at hand this Christmas, thanks to www.sweetthingsdirect.co.uk.
This family-run company originally started as a gift shop in Warwickshire over 30 years ago, but they expanded to sell traditional, old-fashioned sweets 4 years ago when part of the team moved over to Catalunya and realised how great it would be if they could send sweets to family and friends.
Big kids with a sweet tooth will be leaving the Turron untouched this Christmas when they tear open the wrapping to find their old retro favourites, and dentists will be pleased too. Sweetthingsdirect really do have it all and if they don’t, they promise to try and source it. From white mice to black jacks, rum and raisin fudge to Parma violets, kola cubes to chocolate limes and the fabulously noisy Spacedust. Sugar-free, gluten-free, gelatin-free and organic ranges are also available, and for Christmas they stock chocolate tree decorations, advent calendars and boxes of Christmas crackers.
250 grams of aniseed balls will set customers back £2 and a pack of 5 gobstoppers a mere £2.25. Orders can be placed through the website, and they deliver to anywhere in mainland Europe. Postal rates range from £1.60 to £5.99 within the UK and start at £2.50 to Spain.
For Organic Smellies
If the man in your life could smell of anything, what would it be? How about the smell of your favourite cocktail? Mojito Man is a gorgeous range of organic shaving products from Californian based The Grapeseed Company that can all be bought online. The luscious combination of fresh mint and citrus will have you dreaming of drinks on the terrace every time he wafts past and what could be better than that this winter?
Made from 90% organic ingredients, the Mojito Man gift box contains an 8oz shave gel, a 2oz moisture mist and an old fashioned shaving brush, all wrapped up in a recycled paper gift box. Go the whole hog and include their scrub and shaving prep too, which is designed to eliminate nasty razor burn, remove dead skin and prepares the skin for a smoother shave. The gift box is priced at $20 (€14.75) and the shaving prep retails at $9 (€6.64).
For the girls, Grapeseed have a divine list of naturally fragranced products that includes Freshly Cut Herbs, Lemon Cake and Sunshine Day, a summery mix of orange and vanilla. A Grapeseed Gals gift box costs $29 (€21.40) and includes sugar scrub, lip balm and bath and massage oil in your choice of scent.
Pooches haven’t been forgotten either. Dismayed by the lack of natural pet care products on the market, Grapeseeds’ founders Kristen and Peter introduced Dirty Dog Organics, an eco-friendly range that have all been tested out on their rescue dog Surf. He recommends their $10 (€7.37) gift box that includes pet wash and fur freshener.
Shipping from the U.S. doesn’t come cheap, and here it’s certainly worth thinking about placing a larger order to save on the crippling postage costs that affect orders under $40 (€29.50), and don’t forget to allow plenty of time for delivery.
Published in The Resident (Costa Brava) — December 2008