Christmas Present Buying Guide

When it gets to about now in December, someone always asks me, ‘Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?’ Finished?! I haven’t even started. Every year I spend what feels like 24 hours in a shopping centre while my brain fries trying to think about 20 people’s tastes all at once.

So if you’re in the same boat, here’s some inspiration to get you going…

Parents/older relatives

Too old for toys, and surrounded in stuff, the older generation can be a bit tricky. So things that taste good can go down well.

Of the edible variety, posh chocolates from somewhere like Hotel Chocolat (about £20 a box) or some Charbonel et Walker luxury truffles (from £11.95) can be a real treat.

The bestseller book list can provide plenty of moderately priced inspiration, but make sure you know the person’s taste to avoid your choice ending up in Oxfam. For a history buff, a non-fiction book with great reviews is The Great Sea: a human history of the Mediterranean (£14.99).

Book lovers on the go might like the Amazon Kindle (£89) or, for a homely gift, Linea do a pair of stag book ends (£50).

In the pampering range, Murad’s ‘Get Glowing’ skin care gift set looks luxurious for female relatives (£49.50) or an alternative relaxing option is the Tokyo Milk bubble bath in Marie Antoinette (£30).

It’s only traditional that someone on your Christmas list should get socks but make sure they’re special. Heat holders thermal socks for £7.99 look as cosy as a duvet.

Romantically involved

When negotiating this highly pressured category, just remember – it’s not what they need, get them something they don’t need.

Men, if you go anywhere near candles, it’s got to be a luxury one and Diptyque do a gorgeous range for £38 each. For the sentimental out there, Daniel Sandler has an ‘in love’ candle for £30. Continuing the soppy theme, you can buy a ‘you’ and ‘me’ pillowcase set but at £30, Outfitters seems to be cashing in on coupledom.

Special makeup can be a lovely gift and Dolce & Gabbana do some lush lipsticks at £24 each. Closer to home, the man in your life might like a London Underground Tube map mirror for £72 and, sticking with the fellas, Dunhill does a bespoke bottle of manly scent and will engrave the cap with your initials (from £42).

For a keen skier who’s confident to whizz off piste, the Fenix HL21 head torch (£30) is a great present. It’s waterproof, sturdy and has an SOS flashing mode in case of any collisions with trees. Booze is another reliable choice and for a handmade spirit in London, Sipsmith do plain or damson vodkas and gins from £23. 

A classy Jameson’s whisky box set (£36.99) might be the ideal present for a man who has seen enough episodes of Mad Men to know how to achieve effortless style. And if you can forgive the gender stereotypes, Tio Pepe has a new sherry selection for that special lady in your life. Fans of dessert wine might enjoy a bottle of Triana Pedro Ximenex Viejo (£9.99) to go with Christmas pud. 


Homemade is back in fashion and at L’Atelier des Chefs, you can bake your own Christmas gifts to give to friends.

Of a less practical nature, foodies might enjoy the rather extravagant 20-year-old Leonardi Balsamic (£39.95) or for a posh extra virgin oil, Chateau d’Estoublon Vallee des Baux (£21.95) fits the bill. A longer lasting pressie is a stylish Sagaform herb pot trio which would brighten up any chef’s window (£42).

For a couple, Fortnum and Mason’s ‘English Essentials’ hamper looks divine, but at £100, it should be.

Female friends might be amused by Smythson’s ‘Happiness is Shopping’ leather notebook (£35) or Soap and Glory do a range of nice smelling toiletry sets from £10 to £60.

A good book for someone who likes to travel is ‘100 places to go before they disappear’ (£15.99).

If you’re time rich, cash poor, the most thoughtful thing you could give is your time. Offer to relieve exhausted new parents with a night of babysitting or maybe you have DIY or cookery skills that someone would appreciate more than you realise.

Image by alliecreative courtesy of Flickr

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