When it comes to gift guides, I always think about the things I’d like to receive. I’m actually very easy to buy for as I’m content with socks, books and edibles. Posh edibles are my top choice as a gift as you can just buy the person the elevated version of whatever their favourite thing is. (Pierre Marcolini chocs are my faves if anyone’s wondering, with Alain Ducasse chocolate and hazelnut spread a very close second.) Tea and biscuits are a particular no-brainer. Fortnums, Liberty and Harrods are especially good for these as the packaging is just sublime and the tins are obviously reusable. Plus, a stroll through the Harrods Food Hall or Fortnum’s biscuit room is surely an essential part of the Christmas experience, right?
Books to me are symbolic of relaxation. I was surprised to learn a few years ago that some people don’t read their coffee table books, they really do just place them as ornaments! Me, I like a beautiful book that smells as good as it looks but also has some content worth reading. This year I can recommend my old boss’s book, Rebel Stylist (I blogged about it here), Black Ivy* (below, Jason Jules’s phenomenal discourse on the history and culture of black preppy style) and Last Dance, Bill Bernstein’s latest tome celebrating the marginal characters of New York nightlife.
For pure eye candy, the Vogue Paris 100 Years* book (below) is on my wish list. And I’ve got Jonathan Franzen’s meaty Crossroads* on my fiction list, although it will take me a year to read it. Books to dip in and out of are great stocking fillers. So please indulge this cheeky plug for my own little book of joy, Face Values; the New Beauty Rituals and Skincare Secrets*. This is both uplifting and relaxing, with interviewees sharing their identity stories and beauty philosophies, alongside ancestral rituals to make you feel and look your best.
On that note, bath time gifts are another no-brainer if you know someone who appreciates the value of self-care. Top of my list always are bath oils as I’m a die-hard aromatherapy freak. Neal’s Yard Geranium and Orange* is the OG year-round comforter, but Olverum Bath Oil with its high concentration of ten slumber-inducing essential oils is a close second. For a satisfying scrub, I love the rose-infused Ultra Smoothing Detoxifying Body Polish* from 79 Lux. Scented candles are an easy-pleaser. I recently discovered the Acqua di Parma X Emilio Pucci version of the spicy-fruity Notte di Stelle candle* with notes of pine oil, spiced clove, raspberry and birch – the ultimate JOMO staying in incentive. (Bonus: a percentage of sales of the Emilio Pucci collab goes to Save the Children.)
My other candle discovery this year is Boujee Bougies, a super-fun concept with deliciously energising fragrances. ‘Succulent’ is my top pick – green, juicy and slightly musky. Perfumer H hand-blown candles are legendary (and refillable), but the brand has also recently added a refillable Cologne-scented handwash* to its inventory. (Pick one up from the new Chiltern Street store for the best experience.)
And for something a bit different, I love this reinvention of the old school cold cream. The Seated Queen* (below) has created a multi-tasking version that serves as a make-up remover, facial and overnight mask. The consistency is decadently thick and the rehydrating formula contains cold-pressed seed oils and botanical actives, plus mentally soothing rose otto, lavender, bergamot and frankincense essential oils.
Still on the feel-good tip, anything practical, cosy and comforting makes a worthwhile gift. Tactile blankets, socks, jumpers, scarves – your #cosygrandma friends will appreciate them all. There’s also been a big trend for outdoorsy gorpcore stuff these past two years too, so fleece-lined walking boots, all-enveloping anoraks, bougie camping garb (basically anything by Snow Peak*), it’s all there for the taking. These Paul Smith cashmere-blend socks* deserve a special mention. I have received a few pairs over the years and they’re remarkably indestuctable with the perfect balance of softness and ruggedness. And jumpers I’m loving include Uniqlo’s generously proprtioned crew necks*, Connolly’s knit tees* and Sunspel’s men’s lambswools*.
On the fashion accessory front, the one thing I’ve found super useful this year is the small cross-body bag. In particular I rate the bags by Bonastre* (founder Fernando Bonastre de Celis was formerly the leathergoods designer at Lemaire), which are so subtle, chic and eminently useful. (Plus some fun ones* too).
I know it’s ever so retro of me, but I’m partial to cash and so I love a classic ‘small leather good’ (aka SLG) from Smythson or Valextra. Loewe has also smashed it lately with its SLGs and mini cross-bodys. Or for a twist on a classic market bag, I can’t not mention Longchamp’s Pliage Filet*. These were sold out for ages but seem to be back in stock (and now trending on Emily in Paris) – ideal for that friend for whom an M&S ‘bag for life’ just doesn’t cut it. (Yes I do mean me.)
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WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Toast; Black Ivy; Vogue Paris: 100 Years; The Seated Queen
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links* and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here
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