If you’re like me, you’ve been to Kmart about twenty times since the ‘Silly Season’ began and everything is starting to look the same. So while your child might appreciate the wind-up Santa, that depressingly walks round and round in circles, your grown up family and friends may not be so enamoured. Luckily, there are some unique gift shops around the Adelaide hills that offer something a little different, a little nice-smelling, and a lot breakable.
I road tested three of these fancy-schmancy shops with my seven-year-old for affordability, kid-too-tempting-to-touch-ability, range, and general feel.
Everything from cute buttons ($4) and nose tingling scented candles (Small $12) to $210 Light fittings. Most small gifts range from $10-50.
My seven-year-old put her finger in a condiment tray, complete with dried chili flakes. This was right at kid height. Thankfully, she didn’t stick her finger in her eye. She also made a beeline for the hanging jewellery display and kept shoving an elephant keyring in my face.
There is so much crammed into this small store. It has a great range from frilly, flowy clothes to hide your seasonal gut with class, scented candles, soaps, ceramics, jewellery, and of course the obligatory ‘man shelf’ which consists of matte black, sharp edged bottles of moisturizer and shaving balm in scents like cedar and wood smoke. Apparently, men like to smell like the inside of a sauna, go figure. One downside or upside, however you look at it, is they don’t have much of a kids range. You will easily find something for your quirky aunt or sister in here and maybe something for your lumberjack husband.
The Feel :
The owner was very friendly and didn’t track my kid like a motion sensor CCTV, which was nice. It’s crammed but organized in a way where it makes sense and you can find the pate knife with the hippo head as it’s right next to the cheeseboards, if you get my drift.
2. SALT HOME & LIFESTYLE, 143a Mt Barker Road, Stirling.
Ranges from $9.95 for a small scented candle to $895 for a swinging egg chair I reckon I’ve seen at Bunnings. There are plenty of mid-range gifts around the $30-$60 range. Less in the under $20 range.
Seven-year-old went straight for the large, ceramic, replica coral sculpture thing. It wobbled but didn’t topple, phew! She also plunged her hands into all the baskets full of fluffy keyrings and Christmas ornaments made from fallen twigs, that have been lovingingly repurposed into stars and reindeer.
Do you love grey? Not just like it, love it? Then this is the store for you! It reminded me of the movie Pleasantville, before the colour starts bleeding into the world after the mum has her first 'Big O'. Salt has a good range of gifts, if you can pick them out by shape. Everything is in tones of white, grey and indigo. The only exception was the ‘man shelf’, which again displayed a range of toiletries in matte black containers, that you needed to squint at to read what’s actually in them. I’m getting the sense that the 'high-end man' likes to use fancy face creams but he doesn’t want you to know they’re fancy. There are no kid’s gifts in there, unless I missed them due to the lack of colour. There could have been a grey rattle fashioned from petrified driftwood, perfect for the minimalist baby.
The Feel :
Standing in the store in my Mickey mouse dress and sneakers, I felt a little out of place, like it was too sophisticated for me. The shop owner followed me around but this may have been because there was no one else in the store. If I’d worn my grey shirt dress I could have disappeared seamlessly into the displays, living out my days surrounded by neutral timber and chunky wool throw rugs, and chewing on cranberry and lemon myrtle scented candles for sustenance.
3. THREE BIRDS, 1A, 37-39 Mt Barker Rd, Stirling
Three birds probably stocks the more expensive stuff. Extra fancy-schmancy! But it does do smaller, more affordable gifts. You can get something really nice for around $30-$50. You can also buy a pack of three iron on patches for $19.95, which I bought at Spotlight for under $5, just without the cute packaging. Upper range, $550 for a cane chair.
Seven-year-old poked the trays of rice that display all the colourful and super-cute earrings and then went straight for the large kid’s corner. Otherwise, not too disastrous.
Their ‘man shelf’ was actually several shelves loaded with 'manly-man' things like leather goods, toiletries with obligatory black or dark brown packaging, and sharp things like knifes, corkscrews, and letter openers. Real men don’t like colour, it seems. They wear leather, open wine bottles, and smell like they’ve been cutting down Christmas trees all day.
Three Birds has so many quirky, cool gifts, it’s hard to know where to look, from gorgeous stationary, unique toys and candles, to gardening gear, pots, and jewellery. You’ll definitely be able to find something here.
The store owners are pretty relaxed. They’re friendly and welcoming. I enjoy going to Three Birds just to browse and touch things I can’t afford. I also send photo hints to my husband of pretty things he should buy me, that he probably can’t afford either.
I hope that these reviews make Silly Season just a little less silly for you, and you find the perfect gift!