The Malta Independent 9 June 2023, Friday
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FIRST: Community Christmas – Filling your stocking whilst supporting local creatives

First Magazine Sunday, 17 December 2017, 17:26 Last update: about 6 years ago

In a bid to encourage local gift-giving this season, first magazine speaks to ten Maltese makers about why their locally-made products make the perfect Christmas presents. Words by Ann Dingli. Photographs sent in by the creatives.

We all know the benefits of shopping locally - reducing shipping footprint, buttressing local wages, encouraging entrepreneurship, bolstering competition, and so on. And Christmas is the perfect testbed for gauging whether or not the market for locally-made products is abundant, varied, and - yes - high-quality enough for us to buy into it in a serious way. For better or worse, a lot of money is spent at Christmas, so choosing products just for the sake of their localness is also not a good sustainability model. They need to be robust, lasting, and conscientiously made. 

Even if we take all the benefits of buying locally as given, it's genuinely not always easy to put our money where our local products are, and that purely boils down to the size of our market and its irrefutable limitations. Happily, this year's Christmas shopping comes at a moment of particular richness on the local market. There's been a monumental return to craftsmanship in recent years, with a specific inclination towards products that convey a very Maltese spirit. Around ten or so years ago, we enjoyed a spike in high-quality locally-made food and drink products -which remain perfectly desirable gift ideas today. But recently it's the Maltese art, craft and design scene that has been lit up like over-zealous house decorations, and - for once - we're not complaining. We've hand-picked some of the most exciting products available to fill your stockings and place under your trees.

Play your cards right

Solitary Christmas-card-giving has largely lost its popularity - how often do you receive a card in the post unless it's a promotion? KrissZammitEndrich'sIslandand the Prairiescard collection might just have the back-bone to restart the tradition. "You might not be able to get every friend a Christmas gift, but you can finally get them a card they can relate to!" ZammitEndrich says.Her illustrations are fun, unpretentious, and at times locally-themed. Think climbing Santas and lzuzgiving side-eye.

Where to get Island & the Prairies cards:On sale at Emma's Kitchen in San Gwann, on Etsy at You can aslo email [email protected] to arrange a local pickup.Single card price is €3.50

Patterned presents

The holiday season has a way of springing gift-giving occasions onto consumers in all manner of formats. Whether it's a Secret Santa event, or a dinner invitation that warrants a gift, an intimate staff party - the list goes on. Local designer Stephanie Borg has emerged on the scene to put an end to the frustration of trying to find a meaningful gift that fits within such parameters. Borg designs a number of gift-worthy products from prints to mugs, aprons, art cards and calendars. Her packaging is as attractive as her products, and she designs it all herself - down to the finest detail. "My daily tear-off calendar comes in its own customised gift box, which I designed purposely," Borg explains. "The calendar is quite a unique piece in that there hasn't been anything like it locally before, and there won't be another one exactly like it, ever!"

Where to get Stephanie Borgproducts:Visit Stephanie's studio boutique on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 4-7pm, and Saturday mornings between 10am-1pm for the period between the 4th-22nd December, and 10am-5pm on December 8th & 13th. The studio is located at 33 Triq Santa Katerina, Rabat. You can order directly from the designer at: [email protected], or visit her website: 

Tiny treasures

Self-described as being created with "ink and magic", Tiny Island's whimsical prints will put a smile on the end of any gift-giving transaction this year. "In Malta, we put Christmas lights on palm-trees," illustrators Jimmy and Max tell us. "Charged with the island's energy, our hand-pulled, limited edition prints irradiate sunshine all year round". These Gozitan-made prints are simple, fun and uncluttered by needless metaphor. They'll put the sunshine back into Christmas in a heartbeat.

Where to get Tiny Islands prints:Visit the brand's website at:


A print for all seasons

For anyone who's fully on the prints-wagon but looking for something that feels more like Christmas, the Te fit-Tazza design duo are back this year with a new collection of prints called Colours of Malta. This new line still smarts of their quirky, angular style, but its colours are richer, deeper and more suited for the winter season. "We know that Maltese life surrounds us in every way," the designers tell us,"so we're constantly thrilled by a dancing changing colour palette - whether it comes from Valletta's horizon or the warmth of a stunning Riviera sunset".

Where to get Te fit-Tazzaprints:Visit the brand's website at:

Poster perfect

"My posters are perfect for people that love illustration and are looking for an unconventional present, or [for those who] want to share their love for Malta and Valletta," explains Italian illustrator Magda Azab. Azab has made Malta her home, and whilst discovering the islands' sights and sounds, has produced a handful of charming illustrations that celebrate theircolour and character. Her posters are bright, playful, and make a perfect Christmas gift for anyone who loves design.

Where to get Magda Azab products: You can purchase prints online

Gifts that won't suck

And while we're in the neighbourhood of token gifts that are actually meaningful - the designers at Souvenirs That Don't Suck have made our job of seeking these out delightfully easy. "They may be called souvenirs, but these gifts are really for any Malta-lover with a sense of humour," the team explains. "From keychains to hoodies, our products highlight the beauty and culture of Malta, with a designer twist". Their range of products are perfect gifts for friends, parents, even grandparents who have a fondness for pleonasms and bright colours.

Where to get Souvenirs That Don't Suck:Available in the brand's Sliema shop, located at 108, TriqManwelDimech. You can also order online at: - shipping to Malta and Gozo is free.


A bit of burlesque

Going local is not the only measure of sustainability to be taken at Christmas - there's also a great opportunity to seek out products that are sustainably made. Burlesque's luxurious, triple scented candles are made from 100% clean burning soy wax, free from artificial ingredients, petrochemicals and paraffin - they even use organic, lead-free cotton wicks. "[Burlesque candles are] hand made in Malta from a unique blend of exotic fruits, flowers and spices, made from natural essential oils and candle fragrance - each one depicted by its very own burlesque dancer". With scents including lavender and mint, mandarin and French vanilla, Bulgarian Rose, and more, these candles will ensure that yours are the sweetest-scented Christmas stockings on the islands.

Where to get Bursleque Candles:Visit their Facebook page: @BurlesqueCandles


Considerate confectionaries

There are some people who just want to indulge at Christmas. No matter how creative you try to get, they're much happier with something that's going to get their taste buds twitching. The delicious, localHonest food line of home-made dessert products will tick this precise box. "Our artisan chocolates are a guilt free indulgence, infused with a pure devotion to your health and vitality," says Emma Camilleri from Honest. "Not only are we organic, vegan, paleo and gluten free, we are also low GI, so you don't get those nasty sugar spikes". Meaning - these gifts will satisfy your loved one's longing for luxurious confectionaries without even a trace of guilt.

Where to get Honest Food products:Visit their Facebook page: @Honestfoodmalta or contact Emma at: [email protected]


Christmas cheers

People overdosing on all things mulled, spiced or nutmegged is a guaranteed eventuality during holiday season; so a drink that will cleanse the Christmas palette is always a welcome gift. Stretta home-brewed beer came onto the market just about a year ago and has been making leaps and strides in its popularity ever since. The beer makes a perfect gift for anyone who appreciates lovingly crafted products. The brew firm today has two beers on the market -India Pale Ale No1 and Muzajk - Transatlantic Pale Ale. "Both these beers have been brewed using a method called dry hopping," brewer John Borg Barthet explains. "We add specially selected hops post-fermentation to bring new dimensions of flavour to the beer". In plain English: it's love and devotion - bottled.

Where to get Stretta Craft Beer:You can purchase the brand's products directly from The Store at P.Cutajar& Co, located at P.Cutajar& Co. Ltd., Capital Business Centre,TriqTaz-Zwejt,San Gwann,SGN 3000


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