Eleven Niche Gift Ideas for Your Friends With Very Specific Interests
The friend who doesn't even remember that it's Christmas? The mate who just won't stop telling you about all the things they've cooked this year? We've found creative gifts for all of them.
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One-stop shopping. Other than 'Christmas cocktails', these might be the best words anyone can come across during festive season. Here's one way to make that glorious phrase even better: one-stop shopping that covers every different type of friend you have.
Because everyone likes making the merriest time of year as stress-free as possible — yes, even gathering gifts for the gang — we've teamed up with the MCA Store at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia to create a one-stop shopping list for all your mates. The pal who doesn't even remember it's Christmas? Yep, they're covered. The friend who won't stop telling you about everything they've cooked this year? Them too. Art lovers of all tastes and interests? Sorted.
And, if you get in quick, you can score a 15-percent discount during the MCA Store's holiday shopping weekend happening in-store and online between Friday, November 26–Sunday, November 28 (and online only on Monday, November 28, too).
YOUR FRIEND WHO NEVER REMEMBERS ANYTHING: MORE THAN MEMORY ($34.95)
Whether it's coming from your mum or a self-help book, the best advice for improving one's memory is simply to use it — and often. So, for that friend who is happily defined by their forgetfulness (happily for them, at least), this ten-in-one games kit is an ace way to give their grey matter a nudge.
More Than Memory features 72 cards all decked out with 36 vibrant Shirley Purdie artworks stemming from Goowoolem Gijam – Gija plants (2013–16). And, as the name makes plain, your pal won't just be shuffling them around, placing them on the table and playing the obvious game. This pack also comes with instructions on how to play Counting Cards, Create a Story, Describe & Draw and Finding Colours, as well as Guessing Games, Identifying Plants, Quick Draw and Sequence Master.
FOR YOUR FRIEND WITH A CAMPERVAN: WELCOME TO COUNTRY: A TRAVEL GUIDE TO INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIA ($39.99)
If your friend is planning to get motoring in their very own campervan this summer, then they're probably intending to hit up more than just the usual tourist spots. You don't commit to living the van holiday life if you're just going to head to the same old beaches.
Professor Marcia Langton's Welcome to Country won't just send your pal off the beaten track. The award-winning travel guide will also help them pair their trips with knowledge about whose Country they're on as they travel. The respected elder has penned a thoughtful exploration of Indigenous culture, and compiled a handy state-by-state (and territory) rundown of First Nations tourism experiences. Galleries, festivals, tours, performances — they'll all be on your mates' holiday list now.
FOR YOUR MATE WHO IS DOLLY PARTON-OBSESSED: DOLLY BROOCH ($29)
Next time your bestie tumbles out of bed, stumbles to the kitchen and pours themselves a cup of ambition — on their way to working nine to five, naturally — help them do it while wearing a Dolly Parton brooch.
Handmade on the south coast by Emma Lee, this bamboo piece features the Nashville icon's shimmering likeness, so the whole world will know just how much your pal adores Parton. There's never a bad time to literally wear your love of Dolly on your person. Plus, if your friend happens to be named Jolene, you obviously have to buy them this. Do it and they'll always love you.
FOR YOUR FRIEND WHO IS ALWAYS LATE: HIGHTIDE HOURGLASSES ($19.95–49.95)
Everyone has one: the pal whose relationship with time resembles something out of a sci-fi movie. You can't buy them a time-travelling car or phone booth, of course, but you can gift them a Hightide hourglass.
These glass pieces make a stunning addition to any shelf or coffee table. And, as well as coming in different hues to match most decorating schemes, they also span four sizes, with the small version filled with three minutes worth of sand, the medium covering five minutes, the large hitting 15 minutes and the extra-large whiling away half an hour. With this gift, they'll have no excuse to rock up late to Friends-mas dinner next year.
FOR YOUR FRIEND WHO LOVES THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT: CHESS SET ($49.95)
This time last year, we all binge-watched The Queen's Gambit, found a drama about chess far more thrilling than we initially expected and also wondered if we were secretly chess grandmasters ourselves. One of your friends went further than that, though, didn't they? Got a mate who organised a boozy chess party or kept talking about their moves during your lockdown zoom calls? This one's for them.
Buying them a chess set might sound like the most straightforward option there is, but if you pick a stylish board, you're getting them a gift that's both practical and elegant. Printworks Sweden's blue-and-white solid-wood set ticks those boxes. So, you now have chess games by the pool in your future since your friend will need someone to play with, obviously.
FOR YOUR FRIEND WHO ALWAYS NEEDS TO KEEP THEIR HANDS BUSY: LEARN-TO-WEAVE KIT ($49.95)
You know that mate who organises every group hang? Who mastered ten new skills during lockdown? Who just can't sit idly by, and always has to be doing something? We'd bet they'd love to learn to weave. This is the kind of gift that really does keep giving, because you're helping your pal discover a new talent and giving them a pastime they can practice for life. And yes, it does mean that you're likely to be given handmade baskets as presents in return next Christmas.
The Tjanpi Desert Weavers kit will teach your friend to weave just like the artists from the First Nations-owned social enterprise, and comes with everything they need to embrace their new hobby. That includes raffia — both in a natural hue, and in different colours — and an industrial sailmakers needle. They'll even get access to a weaving tutorial video to get them started, too.
FOR YOUR FASHIONABLE FRIEND WHO THINKS COMFORT IS KEY: WAH-WAH X KAYLENE WHISKEY JUMPER ($260)
When is a jumper more than a jumper? When it's also a piece of art. And, when it comes to this striking number, it's also a celebration of an Indigenous artist — that'd be Kaylene Whiskey of Iwantja Arts, which is located in the remote Indulkana Community on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands of South Australia — and her eye-catching images of strong women and pop icons.
Fashion enterprise Wah-Wah has taken Whiskey's designs, emblazoned them across Aussie merino wool and turned the whole thing into a limited-edition piece. Sure, summer isn't traditionally the season for woollies, but with the expected cooler summer that's about to hit, this piece might come in handy sooner than expected.
FOR YOUR FRIEND WHO IS ALWAYS TRYING EXPERIMENTAL RECIPES: I'M A MESS APRON ($49.95)
Cooking is messy. Life is messy. They're two truths that aren't ever going to change. And, that friend who is so into cooking that they're always turning their dishes into experiments — even more so during the past two lockdown-heavy years — definitely knows it already.
So, consider this a leaning-in kind of gift. The School of Life's 'I'm a Mess' apron is the perfect present for someone who is well aware of how chaotic their days — and their kitchen habits — can be, and wouldn't have it any other way. Sure, cooking up a storm is messy, but you don't always have to literally wear the splattered evidence on your clothes.
FOR YOUR FRIEND WHO IS A KID AT HEART: MOMA DOMINO SET ($79.95)
As the whole world realised over the past two years, you never really grow out of playing with board games. That covers new and old games alike — especially when a set of dominoes happens to look good enough to frame.
Certain to keep your young-at-heart friend occupied for hours (dominoes is a great game to play over drinks), these blocks hail from New York's Museum of Modern Art, so they were always going to be stylish. Made from sustainably grown rubberwood and housed in their own red box, they're covered in geometric compositions that take their cues from cubist art, high-contrast colour pairings and abstract modernism.
FOR YOUR FRIEND WHO IS INTO VIDEO ART: DOUG AITKEN: NEW ERA CATALOGUE ($70)
Get the right person the right gift, and you won't just show your friend that you care — you'll demonstrate that you really know them. That's what makes the Doug Aitken: New Era catalogue such a winner for lovers of video art. You know your pal has already scoped out the MCA's exhibition, or they're planning to. So it's a no-brainer that they'll probably pour over this collection of interviews and image plates for years to come.
Edited by exhibition curator Rachel Kent, the catalogue dives into Aitken's creative thinking, helping your mate appreciate and understand the celebrated American artist's work inside-out. It also looks impressive on a coffee table, if your friend is a fan of turning their reading materials into conversation pieces.
FOR YOUR FRIEND WHO HAS EVERYTHING: MCA MEMBERSHIP ($50–160)
Things are great. We all love things. We all have plenty of them, though. And, many of us have ordered a heap more things over the past two years so adding more stuff to your mate's pile may be not be appreciated.
Now that life is returning to normality, we're all craving experiences. And, there's nothing quite like spending time in an art museum, peering intently at the lively pieces on the walls and communing solely with artistic creations. With an MCA membership, your pal can experience art all year round. Plus, this gift supports the MCA, so you're giving it a nice little pressie as well.
To give your mates any of the above items for Christmas, or find other creative gifts, visit the MCA Store in-person at the MCA, Tallawoladah, Gadigal Country, 140 George Street, The Rocks — or shop online at store.mca.com.au (just be sure sure to check out shipping dates).
Top image: MCA Store, 2020. Photograph: Daniel Boud.
Published on November 26, 2021 by Sarah Ward