This year, we are encouraging shoppers to support local businesses when searching for the perfect Christmas present.

As well as shopping for homegrown products from local retailers, be sure to think outside the box and support some of your local vendors and venues - especially those who may have had to keep their doors closed for much of last year.

You could support your favourite restaurants and salons by buying vouchers, book a stay at an Irish hotel for the summer of 2021, adopt an animal from Dublin Zoo in your little one's name, or plan ahead with some experiential gifts.

If you want to think outside the box this year, take a look at some of these experiential gift ideas...

Craft Chocolate Tasting
Founded in 1997 in the wilds of Co. Clare, Wild Irish Chocolates is home to founders Patricia Farrell and her "Wilde Bunch" of in-house trained chocolate makers.

A perfect experience for those with a sweet-tooth, this gift offers a visit to their chocolate factory, including a delectable tasting of their artisanal creations. Guests can also warm up on a winter’s day with one of their signature hot chocolates – even the spoon is edible!

The 30 minute Factory Visit & Guided Tasting tour costs between €8-€35 while the Chocolate Factory Taste & Make visit costs between €20-€85.

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Night Time Kayak
The night tours run by Atlantic Sea Kayaking could be the ultimate group adventure or a romantic activity for two, depending on who you're shopping for this Christmas.

Run in two different locations across Cork - Lough Hyne and Castlehaven Bay - this magical trip provides a unique experience of being on the water from dusk into darkness.

The 2.5 hour trip costs €75 per person and is perfect for beginners (as long as they are over the age of 18).

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A Comedy Gig
Give the gift of laughter this Christmas by organising a night of side-spitting fun for you and your friends, family, or co-workers.

Dublin's Laughter Lounge is offering a festive drinks reception, food options to suit all tastes and budgets, grand seasonal decor, as well as three top comedy acts. Prices range between €40-€45 per person.

Alternatively, you could check out the Christmas Party Box which if filled to the brim with treats, snacks, alcoholic drinks and novelties as well as access to a special online show. Contact holly@laughterlounge.com for more info.

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Indoor Golf
If you have a golf-lover in your life, why not give them the gift of indoor golfing this winter? K Golf World is a suite of state of the art golf simulators located at The K Club in Co. Kildare.

Available to up to four players at a time, each simulator will allow players to experience some of the best courses in the world and improve their game in the process - all while staying warm and dry.

The simulator costs €75 per bay per hour and can host up to four players at a time.

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Foraging on the Wild Atlantic Way
At Atlantic Irish Seaweed, your giftee will be offered the chance to go a step further by foraging for seaweed on the coastline of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Founded by husband and wife team, John and Kerryann Fitzgerald, in Derrynane on the Ring of Kerry, the seaweed discovery courses and workshops have been running since 2009.

A €60 voucher will cover one of the three hour workshops on offer.

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A tour of Croke Park
Croke Park has been at the heart of Irish sporting life for over 100 years, and we know that many a fan are missing the grounds of this historic venue.

If you know someone who is a regular at Hill 16, why not pick them up a voucher for a back stage pass? Visitors will be brought on an inspiring journey around our national stadium, learning quirky insights and historial facts before taking a seat in the VIP area, and sneaking a peek inside the dressing rooms. Prices start from €7.

For an event better view, take in the sights of Dublin from 44 metres above the city, as the capital moves from twilight into darkness with the Skyline tour. Prices start from €13.

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Art Gallery
With a mission to care for, interpret, develop and showcase art, the National Gallery of Ireland is an exciting way to introduce your loved ones to a world of art, culture and heritage.

By purchasing a 'Membership of the Friends' voucher, you will be contributing towards future acquisitions and exhibitions of the Dublin gallery as well as giving your giftee endless days of entertainment and education.

Gift memberships can be bought online via e-mail and range from €35 - €850.

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A night at the movies
Whether you choose to go all out on a luxurious night at the Stella, book a Christmas movie marathon at the Lighthouse, or simply invest in a membership card for the Irish Film Institute, a night at the movies is a gift worth giving.

Not only will you have a date night to look forward to, but this purchase will support the cinemas we so badly want to remain open in 2022 and beyond.

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A cooking demo
If you know someone who could do with updating their list of go-to recipes, this may be a fun (if not subtle) gift to get them on their way.

From Christmas starters & desserts workshops and lessons in making the most of your leftover recipes to deep dives into Spanish cuisine a special 'watch any time' class for kids, Ciara's online cooking workshops are run from her home of Delgany, Co. Wicklow.

Dring Covid times, all live demo classes will run through Zoom with full interaction and users will receive an email with the ingredients required 4/5 days prior to the class commencement. Prices vary.

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Seaweed Soak
After a stressful year, we could all probably do with a relaxing and restorative soak. Luckily, the team at Wild Atlantic Seaweed Baths are providing just that with six Irish whiskey barrels filled to the brim with sustainably hand harvested seaweed.

Established during the summer of 2018, the company provide one of the only fully mobile seaweed bath outfits in Ireland, and they regularly set up at various locations on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Gift Vouchers are available from €50 – €70, and it should be noted that children under the age of 16 years old are free with a parent or guardian using the baths but must be supervised at all times.

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NB: It's important to keep in mind that all businesses will be subject to government guidelines as the COVID-19 pandemic continues so be sure to check in with businesses ahead of visiting.