Here we are again. Galloping towards the end of November, but we’ve barely started our Christmas shopping. We’ve taken a few rambles around the local shops: Boots offers the same old FCUK and Nando’s gift sets, M&S wants you to give your grandad another mug to remind him he’s “Head Gardener”, and a scarf for, well, every female relative you know, just isn’t going to cut it this year.
Ok, ok, before you tell me off, I know that shopping local is great. It’s the best. But let’s not get into Perth local politics. In fact, I’ll be buying a fair amount from good local businesses, but we’ll get into that nearer the time. Just now, though, help is at hand. With a little bit of time, organisation and a sufficient number of postage days before The Big Day, you can really break the back of your Christmas shop in a relatively short amount of time. It won’t even do that much harm to your credit card if you start now during the Black Friday sales.
1. John Lewis
Try to block the terrible Christmas advert from your mind for a moment. I mean, they have put some pretty good ones out in the past. John Lewis is great. It really is. It can be pricey, but not obnoxiously so, so it offers a good range of ideas to suit pretty much every demographic. Even boys.
Their website is really helpful too, with lots of “gift by recipient” categorisation to help you navigate the options available without visiting every department, as well as allowing you to sub- search by budget. So if you want to spend under £30 on your granny, John Lewis has you covered. Genius.
Another thing they do pretty well every year is their selection of hampers. I hear you groaning in boredom already. But hear me out. We hate hampers because every hamper we’ve had has been filled with rubbish no one wants to eat or drink, right? What if you could find a hamper that doesn’t break the bank, that gives someone a load of their favourite things all neatly packaged together and which might just let you get away with a sneaky 1-4-2 couples’ present (smaller price tag than 2 presents, and less time spent shopping)? I told you to trust me!
John Lewis offer hampers ranging in price from £15 to £500 (like you would…) as well as make your own hamper boxes, baskets and trays, if you wanted a more personal touch, so they’re worth a look (especially that Chocolate Cube….). My biggest criticism is that all of them are Christmas themed. Ok, it is a Christmas present, but (think about it John Lewis) who really needs brandy butter and a mini Christmas pudding on December 25th? (Unless you’ve given them a spoiler not to go out and buy one or they’ve burnt the main guy or whatever) That’s why we hate hampers!
2. The Book People
There’s not as much to say about these guys, except I’m not entirely sure how the manage their crazily low prices. As a bookworm and lover of language, I think books make wonderful presents. I’m not a zealot, so I do get that you can take a person to the pages but you can’t make them read, but you can probably find a book on this site for about 80% of people. They do kids’ books, cookbooks, craft books, humorous books etc etc etc.
There’s a bit of nostalgia for me with The Book People because I remember my Mum buying me books from them when I was a kid in the days when their reps would bring books to offices to sell. Weirdly they’ve just started doing that again. Anyway they had a catalogue at that time and have now moved online so I’ve had a great time rediscovering them over the last few years. The best thing they offer, in my opinion, is their collections.
Basically, they offer collections by the same author, for example, the Harlan Coven collection of 10 of his novels for £10, or themed collections (I have the Penguin “Banned Books” collection, for example, whereby the books are sold as a collection for a fraction of the price they would be bought separately. Great, great presents.
3. Not on the High Street
People seem to have mixed feelings about this one; they love its quirkiness or they’re put off by its gimmicks. I have to say I’m somewhere in the middle. The original idea behind this website, as I understand it, is to bring professional small scale producers to the mass market, in a more organised fashion than Etsy can manage. However, the message is getting lost a bit with all sorts of mass-produced gimmicks finding their way onto the site, I mean, who actually wants to receive chocolate Brussels sprouts, let alone pay a tenner for them?!
Still, I do think this website has its place, you just have to be savvy and be careful that you’re happy to pay the price their asking, especially as the base price can really ramp up when you add personalisation, gift wrapping, postage etc. There are some really lovely unique gifts on offer and it’s a great place to get ideas. I bought a lovely (in my opinion!) business card holder for Mr Brooker from this site, engraved with one of his favourite song lyrics. It was reasonably priced and the turnaround time was spectacular. Have a browse!
This website hasn’t been on my radar for very long, but they offer some really nice beauty brands, as well as their own beauty advent calendar which gives you 12 little gifts for £30.
Although a lot of what they have to offer is on the pricier main present side of the scale, they have some great little stocking fillers which are a little bit different from the usual socks and chocolate orange.
Even though you may hate gifting “bath stuff” to those friends and relatives you need to find a gift for about whom you know very little, this site offers you all sorts of lovely gift sets people might actually want and use.
Trusty old Debenhams has a load of good deals on just now; I saved £7 on a jumper I was planning to buy for my Dad anyway yesterday. So get in there before Friday’s over!
Debenhams is a middle of the road alternative to John Lewis, offering everything from slippers to food gifts, as well as the customary Christmas socks and gadgets. You can tick off lots of people at the sane tine with this one, especially your Mum and Granny.
I hope this has been helpful! Let me know if you have any go to Christmas shopping websites.