Christmas shopping in the islands can be very special. There is no rush, no queues, no traffic jams, no huge malls to navigate amongst stressed shoppers. A stroll along the main street of Vila will provide you with plenty of interesting gifts and ideas. But, you can make it extra special. The Vanuatu Government has been working hard to provide training, workshops and access to market to local artists and artisans. If you are after something different this year, the House Blong Handicraft and Mahitahi market houses, located on the Port Vila Seafront, provide a unique platform to access local craftspeople, skilled weavers and artists. The access breeds opportunity. Opportunity to work directly with skilled individuals to develop….drum roll please… Made to Order products!
Below are some ideas and products that we have had made to order ourselves, to help get you started.
This unisex product is made to measure so don’t worry if you’re trying to accommodate a MacBook or a smaller tablet. The handle length, lining and weave style can all be specified. If you’re looking for something a little quirky, there’s also an option to have a laptop case created with modern recycled plastic rather than traditional pandanus leaves.
The possibilities with customised jewellery are endless. Pick from shells, pandanus, burao, coconut shells and/or sea glass for your material(s). We’d recommend exploring the woven pandanus earrings trend, as we’ve been seeing some great things happening with them.
Perfect for those who collect Christmas decorations or for people who are new and are having their first Christmas in the islands. These are playful and traditional, but have a nice Vanuatu touch to them.
Personalised Drink Holder Baskets
This product is perfect for people needing to order multiple gifts for a group of friends or family. Having everyone’s name or nickname on each holder makes things fun and functional.
Hand painted t-shirts are a particularly fun present for children. A great idea is to request their favourite animal or plant, although sometimes leaving it up to the artist is more fun. Wearing this, there’s very little chance they’ll turn up to a birthday party and find someone else in the same shirt as them.
Because you can never have too many of these in Vanuatu. With a variety of weavers from different provinces stationed down at the markets, you can select from a variety of weaving styles and patterns. Perfect to rinse off after a big day in the sun and sand. Don’t forget to ask for a little pouch sewn in for your wallet or speaker too.
Pot plants are trending everywhere at the moment. They’re a great way to bring a splash of colour and life into your home. Unfortunately, with our limited market, it’s often challenging to find a reasonably priced pot to suit the amazing range of plants on offer. Thankfully the made-to-measure pot plant holders are a great hack and handy way to disguise plastic pots.
Most of the talented individuals at the market houses are open to suggestions and willing to give new product designs a go. Be sure to be clear with your instructions and provide photos wherever possible.
Whilst you’re at the markets ordering, we’d recommend making the most of the opportunity and picking up a few back-up presents for those people who might have slipped your mind, or for those who may decide to call in on Christmas morning uninvited.
For these people we’d recommend:
Decorative lei-like necklaces made from burao (hibiscus bark). These are available in a range of colours, shapes and sizes.
Polished Coconut Boxes
Hand polished and painted boxes which are decoratively painted in a range of designs. Perfect for display or for storing small things such as jewellery.
Hand carved treasures of native wild life and custom tamtams.
Buying local has amazing benefits for the community, environment and in this case, helps to maintain traditional skills. And if your gift is made to order you can be sure it will be the only one of its kind!