Hiraeth is a uniquely Welsh word that encompasses familiar feelings of nostalgia and homesickness: a longing to return to the comforts of home. And, while there are arguments to be made that no word is ‘untranslatable’, hiraeth nevertheless speaks to the love and community so intrinsically stitched into Welsh culture.
Books and Bao is run by two people. One of us is Welsh, the other has lived, worked, and studied in Wales. And so, when we came across Hiraeth Gift Boxes, we were thrilled to try it and to learn more.
Hiraeth Gift Boxes is a gift box filled with uniquely Welsh products for your home, all made by small independent businesses based in Wales. The name Hiraeth wasn’t simply chosen because it’s a uniquely Welsh word, but also because it speaks to the themes and contents of this gift box. These are items to make you feel cozy, comfortable, and warm. Think of it as hygge from Wales, a place of kind people and rugged countryside.
Wales is one of the four nations that comprise the United Kingdom, and yet it is perhaps the most overlooked. It’s small, made up of both tight-knit communities, and bustling cities, and the English government often behaves like Wales isn’t even there. And yet, the savvy and creative people whose products fill this gift box are proof of a beautiful place full of beautiful people, as well as a unique Celtic folk culture and an entirely unique language that remains alive to this day.
Hiraeth Gift Boxes is run by two people, one of whom hails from the mountainous region of Snowdonia and the other from Wales’ second city, Swansea (home of Catherine Zeta-Jones and one half of Books and Bao). All of their products are collected from small family-run businesses that craft beautiful items to use at home. You can learn more about individual products on their Instagram
On their website, you can choose from a variety of different boxes, each with the name of a unique Welsh word (our favourite being ‘cwtch’, the Welsh word for cuddle). The box we received was the standard Hiraeth Gift Box, and inside we found a bar of hand-made soap from the Welsh Luxury Soap Co, a pomegranate scented candle, a tin of hand and body cream from Lan y Mor, a box of Welsh milk chocolate, and the cherry on top: a Welsh love spoon.
Welsh love spoons are traditionally hand-carved wooden spoons shared between lovers. They are often engraved with hearts and filigree. The one found in Hiraeth Gift Boxes doubles as a keyring for you to proudly show your love of Welsh culture and to keep it close to you every day.
There are five different gift boxes to choose from, ranging from £30 to £45, and each is filled with a selection of items like soap, a mug for tea, and even Morgan’s Brew teabags. If you’re looking for cozy items to help you relax and feel soothed at home, you also want to support local businesses, and you have a love for the warmth and comfort found in Welsh culture, Hiraeth Gift Boxes is exactly what you’re looking for.
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Interview with Hiraeth Gift Boxes
We got in touch with Anna and Gwyn, the owners of Hiraeth Gift Boxes, to learn more about their unique and beautiful Welsh gift boxes.
Could you introduce yourselves and why you started Hiraeth Gift Boxes?
Hello, my name is Anna, I started up Hiraeth Gift Boxes with my partner Gwyn. We are a very new company having started in the midst of lockdown. However, the idea had been brewing for a few months before, but now appeared to be the perfect time to put our thoughts into action.
The aim was to be able to provide a platform for people to send their loved ones a piece of “home”. The idea of home not necessarily being a location but whatever makes you feel at home. That is what made us think of the name “Hiraeth” which means homesickness in Welsh. Since I currently work in England and Gwyn works in Wales, it has been a difficult time apart. We knew we weren’t the only ones who felt that way and we thought gift boxes were the perfect way of showing someone you care.
We are both from Wales originally, Gwyn is from the North (a gog) and I’m from the South. We both had quite similar upbringings and yet surprisingly to us we also had many differences.
With Hiraeth Gift Boxes we wanted to promote Wales as a country but also celebrate the unique differences across the country and try to bring them to life in a gift box.
How do you choose the local Welsh businesses that you work with?
We start by deciding on a product that would be suitable for the gift box in mind. Following that we look for quality products that we ourselves would be happy to receive. Our aim is to work with companies that promote Wales on their products along with working with companies who are ethically sourcing their materials with environmental sustainability in mind.
We try to get a variety of different products from different parts of Wales so that we can bring them together in one box.
What’s been the hardest thing about getting started with your new businesses?
It’s been so enjoyable to be able to have an idea and see it come to life, to then share with other people – so much so that even the difficult parts have been overshadowed by this feeling. There are so many ideas that we have and ways to grow the company that sometimes it can become quite an obsession and knowing when to stop and take a break from it is just as important.
What’s been the biggest surprise/thing you’ve enjoyed the most?
Working with such amazing companies is an absolute pleasure, we all have the same goal and that is to get quality products to our customers. The feedback that we have received has been great, we want to further develop and learn more about what our customers are looking for and be able to provide that to them in the near future.
What are your plans for the future?
We want to be able to grow our gift box collection, look more into gift boxes focussing on food and drink along with providing a bespoke gift box option so customers can choose what they want to include in their gift box.
To continue to create a platform where customers can send a piece of “home” to their loved one, wherever they may be.
Make sure to follow Hiraeth gift boxes on Instagram to keep up with their latest products.
Jess is the creator and editor of Books and Bao. She's passionate about the world, its literature, food, culture, and people. She enjoys sharing her travel tips with others and capturing those perfect moments.