Hand on heart, I love Christmas shopping. I love buying presents – preferring the giving to the receiving (um, most of the time…). I love thinking about what each person would most like, imagining their face when they open it. Unfortunately, the bar has been set very high in the latter respect by my mum – who is the best person to buy for: she opens each present slowly, cooing over the wrapping, and then always reacts just right (she once burst into tears when my dad bought her an antique Victorian ring). Thus my husband (who is scrupulously polite but a self-confessed slow-burner where presents are concerned; three weeks after receiving, he’ll suddenly announce how pleased he is with so-and-such) is a tricky recipient to read. My daughter, just three, is unequivocal: her birthday dolls’ house got a “Wow, wow, wow”, with hands clasped, eyes shining, little jumps up and down; but if not, then she is polite but evidently keener on the process of unwrapping. (There’s no hiding your feelings when you’re three.)
Your mother. Your best friends. The women in your life you would not – could not – be without. Or, um, perhaps yourself? I admit this is a partial list, but I have tried to keep it reasonable
I once read that no woman would ever be disappointed if she found a little blue box under the tree. I’ve been there and, yes, there is something special about Christmas from Tiffany’s. But my latest jewellery obsession is Astley Clarke – and they have a new collection of rings which are designed to be stacked. They call then fractal rings. I call them just plain lovely. They would look gorgeous worn alone or stacked as high as your fingers allow (my little sausage-y digits do not allow more than three, I fear). You can buy a readymade stack for £345. If you want something more substantial, the star shower ring is also a thing of beauty, as is the sea shell honeycomb ring.
Stacking rings, from £75 for a fractal ring, Astley Clarke
Show me a woman who claims to have enough bags and I’ll show you Victoria Beckham. (I also bet that she doesn’t think she has enough…). The Cambridge Satchel Company has branched out recently – and the results are gorgeous and not-at-all-stratospherically expensive. If someone bought me this clutch in navy or blush, I would be a very happy Christmas bunny indeed (and I am prepared to wager this would be true for most women).
The Clutch, £165, The Cambridge Satchel Company
Stars are very much in vogue at the moment. Obviously, her heart yearns after a Chinti & Parker jumper or two (or a bobble hat, should funds not stretch to the jumper), but unless your pockets are very deep, this MiH star print top is a delightful substitute.
Star Breton top, £70, MiH Jeans
The Christmas jumper is in this year in A Big Way. J.Crew has the trend nailed – try this or this. Or if you want something more restrained, Boden’s cashmere is excellent (and currently on offer) – and this rugged, Breton-inspired number will warm most festive cockles (and there’s something about a man in stripes). If your gentleman caller likes a button neckline, this is a splendid option.
Nordic ombre Fair Isle sweater, £44.95 (on offer at £31.47), Gap
On Monday we took the day off and visited the London Transport Museum for C’s birthday (she adored it and I can highly recommend it if you have children). The shop is fabulous (not that I had much of a chance to peruse) – and you can shop online, too. The print shop has an extensive collection – and they can frame for you, too. Note: a retro print of his favourite sport will be so aesthetically pleasing it needn’t offend the not-so-sportily-inclined.
Prints from £14.95, London Transport Museum
Every morning, my daughter and I have a debate about a. when she will get dressed (she knows ‘right now’ means nursery, not a day spent hanging out with mummy/daddy), b. what she will wear (she has an aversion to slippers and has to be coaxed into a dressing gown; currently prefers “a cool dress” and “bear bottom tights“) and c. how she wishes Daddy had a dressing gown. And she has a point: there is something just right about new nightwear for Christmas. (Last year, my Editor bought me these pyjama bottoms, which I adore.) Star-print pjs have ‘Christmas day’. not to mention ‘chilly British winter’ written all over them. (Hush also have something very similar for girls – hint, hint…)
Children love pretending. I spent this afternoon supine on the sofa, having my temperature taken, my foot bandaged and saying ‘ahhhh’ for protracted periods. This is the sweetest doctor’s kit I’ve seen yet.
Doctor’s kit, £28, Little Citizens Boutique
On this subject, Alex’s boys bought my girl this tool kit for her birthday, which went down a storm. We are very keen on fixing things in this house (what this says about my house, I don’t dare to conjecture…). And every child I know loves a mini kitchen, John Lewis’s is adorable. If C didn’t have her very own little oven, handmade by her Grandpa, I’d snap this up immediately. This would be a nice addition.
Mini kitchen, £50, John Lewis
We love Maileg mice. One has taken up residency in the new dolls’ house, and he may well be joined by a little friend on Christmas day. There is something irresistible about them.
Inspired by this, one of my lovely friends bought C a fabulous birthday present – so good I have to recommend it here: dress up mice – quite possibly the sweetest dressing up toy I’ve seen. (Popular with adults, too. And some little boys (although not all, obviously…).
Dress-up puppet mice, Goki, £12.99, Amazon
Children are fascinated by their families – by who they are and where they’ve come from. This family tree print from Bodie and Fou will be a source of delight.
Family tree print, £45, Bodie & Fou
Emergency!/You can’t go wrong with…/Impossible to buy for…
Everyone loves a candle. Have a beautifully wrapped small-size number from a great brand (so they know you’re treating them) to hand, and you will never be caught short. (Keep an eye out for our Christmas Candle guide, coming up soon).
Real Fast Food by Nigel Slater, £14.99 (or £10.34 here)
Made in the UK. Cosy. Can be flung over the end of a bed or the arm of a sofa; used to tuck around cold toes or to zhush a guest bed.