This year, I’m starting early (well, early for me) on a Christmas gift guide. It is short, sweet, and targeted specifically to people on my list. I think we are all more mindful consumers these days, and the idea of wasteful packaging and wasteful gifts sticks in our throats in a way it didn’t used to. Sure, it’s the thought that counts, but with just a few minutes extra thought, can you think of a present that is truly useful to someone? And by useful, I don’t mean unglamorous, like an oven mitt or something. For me, a beautiful houseplant (My Spekboom plant is so special he has a name) or a fabulous candle provides me with as much ‘use’ and daily joy as I can expect from any gift. So, here is to gifting in a more mindful fashion this year.
The gift of warmth
I don’t use hot water bottles, never have. However, I have friends and relatives who swear by them for everything from relieving cramps to a providing a good night’s sleep in winter. I saw the the YuYu bottle the other day at an event, and thought those of you who use hot water bottles need to know about it. This is the world’s longest (81 cm / 32 inches) water bottle. It is made of natural biodegradable rubber, and comes with removable covers made of anything from basic cotton to cashmere to Liberty prints. Just boil the kettle and pour the warmth in. This is a unique, useful, and well-made gift for someone who is always cold.
The gift of good hair
In the past year that I’ve been using Michael van Clarke’s haircare range exclusively, my hair has been transformed. I don’t need to wash it every day because it (miraculously) still looks good a day later. At the moment, I’m using the Cashmere Protein Moisturising range. It keeps my hair soft in the winter when the weather, indoor heating, and daily styling dry it out. My husband insists on the Exfoliating range for his dry scalp. (I use it myself when my hairline gets eczema). This season, Michael van Clarke has gift boxes of 3 of their hair care ranges (UV Protective, Volumising, and Moisturising). Each cleverly contains his award winning flagship product, Lifesaver, which is my favourite hair product ever (I wrote about it here). One or two nights per week, I let Lifesaver work its magic while I sleep (it isn’t greasy). The brand does not do animal testing, the products are silicon free, and I couldn’t recommend them higher. Also, you get a free Weekender (great for travel) with every gift set purchased by November 27.
The gift of luxury tea
As you know, I am a coffee
addict drinker. I am also a daily tea drinker. I use coffee to power me up in the mornings and tea to give myself a quiet reflective moment at some point in my day. I’ve been served Jing teas in luxury hotels and Michelin starred restaurants, but have never been able to find it sold anywhere, despite frantic googling. Luckily, they’ve just opened a store and website and sell to the public rather than trade-only. I’ll cover them more in a future post, but if you have a tea drinker on your list, this will wow them. This two-cup ‘tea-iere‘ has been in daily use at my house since I got it. The Jasmine Silver Needle White Tea is my favourite tea right now (no jasmine oil is sprayed on the leaves like most jasmine tea; they lay night blooming jasmine flowers over the tea tips for 5 nights to infuse into the leaves). I also adore the Ali Shan Oolong. These are by far the best Jasmine and the best Oolong teas I’ve ever tasted. Each tea has single-garden provenance, no blending or mixing from estates. The Explorer Sets along with an individual teapot make a luxurious and moderately priced gift. The only problem is it will RUIN the recipient for all other teas.
The gift of green
I’ve preferred trees to flowers my whole life, so the experience of participating in planting a tree (or many trees!) is one I’ll do for my son this year. Google whatever is close to you, but this National Forest version of choosing a tree to have planted on his behalf, complete with certificate (what child doesn’t love a certificate?) for £15 is a winner. If we lived closer, I’d take him to plant it himself. I want him to feel a responsibility for and a connection to the earth, especially since we live in a big city and are far from nature.
The gift of Turtle Doves
I have a friend who expects me to get her fingerless cashmere gloves every year for Christmas. Yes, really. In winter, she wears them to work, she wears them to walk her dog, and sometimes she even does non-messy gardening work in them. She sent me a photo the other day of the holes she mended after she went mudlarking in them. I’ve generally bought her ones from a well known UK cashmere store, but I have an even better and cheaper source now. The brand Turtle Doves (Cockney rhyming slang for gloves) recycles post-consumer cashmere that would normally go to landfill. Read their remarkable story here. They create beautiful gloves in every colour of the rainbow, and some fabulous patchwork cashmere blankets.
The gift of housewarming
You can never ever go wrong with a candle. Whether it is a chic and classic Cire Trudon, a delicious Diptyque, or something more modern like this one from Labratory Perfumes, a candle is always welcome (certainly by me!). This Atlas candle is made of beeswax, and the scent is intoxicatingly warming, with notes of ginger, pepper, and cinnamon. The packaging is sustainable, their business practices are admirable, and the low-key vibe feels very 2020 already.