Christmas shopping: so many decisions, so little time! If you’re struggling with keuzestress (aka ‘choice stress’), stick to the William Morris mantra of only choosing things that are useful and beautiful. This is where I come in – novelty gifts are very much not us! Sensible gifts can also be sensorial, so I’m championing rugged sweaters, socks, and blankets, superior stationery, statement breakfast-ware, plus the occasional frivolous beauty balm. And when in doubt, never underestimate a brilliant book. (For your convenience, click on the items in the gallery at the end to shop the gift guide.)
SOCKS AND SWEATERS. Top of the ‘beautiful and useful’ list are socks and sweaters, always a great combo but now perhaps, more than ever. I covered socks recently here and sweaters here. But to recap, the alpaca ‘everyday socks’ from Pairs Scotland are really lovely; warm, well made and nicely packaged. Or for a hardy multi-pack, this Boden 5-pack* is unbeatable. On the sweater front, Skippers Mill’s expansive colour palette is way better than most for its Scottish Shetlands – pick from brushed or unbrushed. For classic merinos, Benetton* is back on track with excellent crew necks that can be personalised with initials, or check out the JCDC* collection for more razzmatazz.
If you’re able to splurge, Begg x Co (below) is fabulous at the moment with contemporary silhouettes (I love the Monterey oversize polo*) and painterly colours, especially the mens’ crew necks and cable knits. And not forgetting my stateside readers, Plain Goods has the best sweater edit around, from shrunken Shetlands to cropped alpacas.
HOME COMFORTS. It’s finally acceptable to be a blanket nerd. Every fashion brand you can think of has pivoted from scarves to blankets, an easy way to flex allegiance to Loewe* or Hermes while entertaining at home. But for practicality, it’s all about the rough-luxe appeal of cottagecore. Toast has many rustic-chic blankets (below) and throws, as does Arket, or if you’re in the EU go to Manufactum for these Bauhaus-esque Norwegian tweed blankets by Røros.
Other great homebody options: Tekla PJs*, a patchwork hot water bottle cover (top), Birkenstock Boston sheepskin slippers or the bestselling Birkenstock felted clogs. Alternatively, go totally old school with an electric blanket – here* or here* – they’re currently enjoying quite the revival and apparently cost very little to run.
MORNING GLORY. Over on the kitchen counter, the best gifts are tactile, unexpectedly ornate or joyfully toylike. Example: Alessi’s delightful Twergi pepper grinder* by Memphis Group founder Ettore Sottsass. Or make your giftee’s morning coffee an event with a baroque porcelain cup* or sugar bowl* – Versace is your friend here. For your minimalist mate, go the other way – this sugar pot by Lucia Ocejo and petite butter dish by Rebecca Williams (below – UPDATE: sold out at Toast, so try here) are beautifully calming and tactile. I also love the delicacy of Feldspar’s fine bone china mugs* – even better partnered with tea, honey and marmalade from Perfumer H.
YOUR ANALOGUE FRIEND. Analogue people are a pleasure to buy for. Treat your tactile pal to delicious paper goods from Choosing Keeping and Papersmiths. Both have amazing destination stores in London, so you might find yourself indulging in a self-gifted Kaweko pen or two, or a signature Papersmiths dot grid notebook. For your friend who never wants to go to bed, how about encouraging them with a phone-free Braun alarm clock, bundled with a good book and bath oil*.
For desk accessories, Abask has everything from vintage fountain pens to Carlo Moretti Murano glass tumblers, while on the high street, H&M and Uncommon Matters* have collaborated on these stone lidded trinket pots and sculptural vases (below). Something for your cash-rich, app-averse buddy? Treat them to a trad Valextra Tallone coin purse or Grip Spring wallet.
R AND R. Help the hedonists in your life recalibrate with a few aromatic and comforting wellness treats. Candles are an easy-pleaser, from the black tea and fig notes of Henry’s Townhouse’s Bohea candle* to Acqua di Parma’s citrus-gourmand Panettone* in its marbled glass jar. Boy Smells’ Grace Jones candle* is the diva’s choice with its spicy-sensuous notes, while Vyrao’s candles* and fragrances are intended to soothe and lift the spirits.
For bath time, Santa Maria Novella’s soaps always go down well, while M&S has gone hard on its affordable ‘Apothecary’ range of wellbeing products for reviving mind and body. Get a ready-made gift set* or combine the aromatherapeutic Restore bath oil*, with a ‘wellbeing fragrance’ (below) for the ultimate care package. In their amber glass bottles with names like Breathe*, Relax and Ease, these eaux de parfum will – hopefully – bestow Aesop-style serenity upon your recipient.
BEAUTYPHILES. Lipstick is the ultimate beauty gift. It’s gestural, symbolic and timeless. If money is no object, treat them to a Dior Addict Shine lipstick along with a limited edition floral case (below, only available in-store at Harrods, where the entire store has been Dior-ified this month – an unmissable spectacle!). Alternatively, Lisa Eldridge’s retro-glam golden tubes are a universal favourite for their velvet-effect formulations and red carpet appeal. For your Gen Z giftee, I suggest Gen See Pick Me Up Lip Matte lipsticks in Irene or Selma – classic statement reds that are vegan and recyclable. For the lipstick-shy, Gucci’s clear Multi-Use Gel Face Gloss* is a great gift and can be used on lips, eyes and cheeks.
This has been the year of the lip mask, led by my favourite Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask*, now available in an entire menu of ‘flavours’, from Grapefruit to Chocolate. Meanwhile, Fenty Beauty has just released its Plush Puddin’ Intensive Recovery Lip Mask*. The lip balm with the biggest wow factor however, is the tinted and refillable solid oil by It’s All Fluff in its Elsa Peretti-esque jewel of a compact (below). Other beauty crowd-pleasers: Chanel Multi-Use Illuminating Eye Gloss*, Rose Inc Cream Blush Cheek & Lip Color* and for men, Kiehl’s Limited Edition Ultra Facial Cream*, Pharrell’s Humanrace Rice Powder cleanser* or an Aesop skincare kit*.
BOOKS ETC. Finally, when in doubt, buy a book. For the music fan: Chris Floyd’s new photo book Not Just Pictures (below) has brilliant portraits accompanied by Floyd’s often amusing anecdotes recalling their making-of moments. Trevor Horn’s autobiography, Adventures in Modern Recording: From ABC to ZTT* is top of my wish list, and for the indie sleaze millennial in your life, revisit Meet Me In the Bathroom*, Lizzy Goodman’s 2017 oral history of 2000s NYC indie scene, now a documentary film.
Meanwhile, fashion scholars will appreciate W David Marx’s latest deep dive, Status & Culture: How Our Desire for Social Rank Creates Taste, Identity, Art, Fashion, and Constant Change* and lastly, for the dad jokes fan, A Small Book of Jewish Comedians is a fun stocking filler of one-liners.
NOW CLICK BELOW TO SHOP THE POST (I MAY EARN A COMMISSION ON THE BASKET VALUE OF ITEMS BOUGHT*)…
WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Toast; Begg x Co; Toast x 2; H&M; M&S; Dior: It’s All Fluff; Chris Floyd/Not Just Pictures
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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