Christmas Gift Guide 2014

15.12.14 Unknown 0 Comments

I love buying for other people. Whether it is Christmas, a birthday or an anniversary; I love seeking out the perfect present for that certain someone. The best indicator that you're giving a good gift is the moment when you come to wrap it and you realise you actually don't want to give it away. That may have happened to me once or twice this year and it is soooooooo tempting to give in (I may have been weak and kept one for myself...I couldn't resist!!!).

As it is now only 10 days until the big day, I have spoken to my friends and family and compiled a short list of the best gifts I have given over the past few years. They range in price and effort put into them so hopefully there will be something for everyone.

1) Tea and Tea Cup
Tea - £4.50 for a box of 20 teabags.
Cup - £6.
Stand - £2.
Total Price - £12.50.

Effort - 2/5. If there isn't a store near you or you don't have the time to go, Rituals have a website.

Personally, I am not a tea-drinker. I prefer the stronger caffeine hit achieved by coffee. However, both my parents love tea and last Christmas I bought mum a special Earl Grey brew from Rituals. She had never heard of the shop before, and had never tried the tea. It has now become one of her favourite blends and every time I come home from Leicester I am under instructions to bring a box (or three) of Earl's Secret back with me. To make this into more of a present, I bought a handmade tea cup and stand with it. The teacup has no handle and it's outside is entirely silver making it unusual. I wasn't sure when I bought it as I didn't think it would be to mum's taste, but when I asked what the best thing I had bought her had been - she said this.

2) Memory Book
Book - £5-15 depending on what type of book/paper you want.
Photos - £0.38 per photo if you print using the Kodak Instant photo kiosks (£7.60 if you print 20 photos).
Total Price - £22.60 for a high quality book with 20 prints.

Effort - 4/5. Caitlin's Florida memory book took me 3 weeks on and off, dad's took me 1 full day. The more you put into this, the more the recipient gets out of it.

This is a gift that you can personalise a lot more than the last. I like to think of myself as a crafty person, I'm always making stuff for my student house to make it feel more lived-in and welcoming and, if I have the time, when it comes to gifts I like to try and make them unique. In terms of a memory book, it's pretty much a glorified scrapbook, but I love them. I've made two as gifts in the past, one for my best friend and one for my dad so both were pretty different.

Caitlin's I made just under 4 years ago after we had been to Florida. I filled it with photos, song lyrics, ride tickets and restaurant receipts from our friendship up to that point. I'm a sentimental being and keep pretty much everything that has a memory attached to it, so filling the pages was pretty easy.

Dad's was simpler. I went and had black card bound together as a ringbinder by my local stationary shop and filled every other page with a different photo. Taking a silver pen I wrote down memories and things that he has taught me throughout the years on the opposite pages. This is a very personal gift and means a lot to both me and him.

3) Blown Ink Canvases
30cm by 30cm Canvas - £16 for a pack of 3 from Hobbycraft.
Winsor & Newton Ink - £4.49 per 14ml bottle.
Straws - £0.50-2 depending on where you shop.
Total Price - £22.49.

Effort - 4/5. The reason this took a fair amount of effort was the drying time needed in between each layer of ink, other than that it was a pretty simple project. I'd definitely do it again!

Again, this is a homemade gift and was actually a Mother's Day present a few years back. However, as it is not particularly seasonal, it would turn into a great Christmas gift. To create your own simply pour a small amount of ink onto one area of the canvas and use a straw to spread the colour round. Keep the canvas laid flat until completely dry. This takes a lot of time as I'd recommend leaving 24 hours between each ink layer to prevent smudging and the colours running into each other, but when it's finished the result is really lovely. This canvas currently takes pride of place in my mum and dad's bedroom.

4) Holiday Reminder Box
Box - an old shoebox will do!
Photos - again, £0.38 per photo when using the Kodak Instant photo kiosks (£3.80 for 10 prints).
Bits and Bobs - £5-15, depending on how much you want to put in and where you shop.
Total Price - £18.80.

Effort - 3/5. The tricky part here is deciding which photos go on the top of the lid and which go underneath.

This would work particularly well for Christmas if you have been on any snow holidays. There seems to be a theme here...homemade anyone? This is a fairly quick gift to put together so if you're feeling the last-minute rush this year, I'd recommend this one! Fill the box with little bits and pieces that remind you of places, conversations or activities to do with a past holiday. I made this for Caitlin after a trip to France a couple of years ago and filled it with mini Sudoku books, temporary tattoos, French syrup etc. It doesn't have to be much but it will bring a smile to your face as you are making it and theirs when they open it.

5) Experience Day
Total Price - £13.30-£189 from Debenhams depending on the experience you choose.

Effort - 1/5. You can either buy these online or pick them up in the shop.

This is the gift that involves the least effort on your part and yet for the recipient creates the opportunity to try something they may have always wanted to do. Last year I bought one of these for the first time for my parents. A brewery tour and tasting for £30. Whilst it's safe to say that my dad enjoyed it more than my mum, she said she still enjoyed the day out and the opportunity to see how a brewery operates. The best thing about Experience days are the variety that are available from racetrack days to photo shoots and days in London, you are bound to find something for everyone.

Let me know what your favourite idea is! Have you left your shopping until the last minute this year?