So here we go, it’s clear that thanks to Black Friday, this has become the key Christmas shopping week in the UK. It’s been interesting because last year there was a retail revolt as a number of store groups stood together and refused to run with Black Friday. However this year has seen consistently subdued sales figures. Retailers can usually rely on ‘organised mums’ to start their Christmas shopping as soon as the schools return after half term but even the last three weeks have been quiet. And so Black Friday is going to be a big event – so much so that a lot of stores have kicked off early in an attempt to beat their rivals and accrue marketshare.
So, I’m planning to be strategic about it. I’m running three consecutive gift guides over the next three days: for men, for women and for teens. I’ll let you know if anything I feature already has a Black Friday offer and if it doesn’t but I know one is coming up, I’ll asterisk it for you. You see I have a long list of offers that retailers have sent me so this (*) will be my little hint to you to hold on. At the end of the post I’ll include all the sales that are already up and running and I’ll update it as new ones appear. And on Friday I’ll keep a live list going all day because a few retailers are currently planning to run with changing discounts throughout the day.
Phew – I hope that all makes sense. In the meantime I’m also going to include small brands in each post and they’re indicated by a pink heart with FGF for ‘Feel Good Factor.’ I’ll tell you a bit about them as I go.
10 gifts for men (and three other ideas)
Let’s get started with the tricky task that is shopping for the midlife man who probably has everything he wants apart from a lottery win. Actually a lot of the presents in this list are perfectly transferable to women or teens but I had to allocate them somehow.
1. A chic (but useful) gift
This is the laptop case that I use and I’m constantly asked where it comes from when I’m in meetings or on the train. It’s a Feel Good Factor buy, you’re supporting a small retailer, not one I know personally but a nice little business all the same. You can even buy a matching pouch for your cable which has the added advantage of making sure that the prongs of your plug don’t scratch anything inside your bag. There are lots of other colourways available here.
2. A gift for a minimalist
And this is from a different retailer but it almost matches. It’s another item that I have and can recommend because it means you can leave your bedside table uncluttered – or dedicate it to pretty Instagrammable arrangements if that’s your style. Just a note about our friends from PresentFinder. The company was sold this year but to another small British brand, Suttons Seeds, so they still fall within my band of small businesses that I prefer to support over the Goliaths.
3. A gift to last a lifetime
Now I included this a few years ago but we’ve had lots of new readers join us since then. This was, hands-down, the most successful present that I ever bought for Mr MC. He used to get so worked up about the razor blades that always seemed to be ‘new, improved and more expensive’ every time he went to buy them that this restored his sanity. He now has a few boxes of blades and every time he changes one, he remarks on the fact that he probably has more blades than he will be able to use in his lifetime (which is a bit depressing on a Monday morning but it makes him happy!). This is the model that I bought, it wins all of the ‘world’s best razor’ awards.
4. A gift that’s also kind to the environment
I also bought him this traditional English shaving soap to go with it. Again it’s a very economical buy because one bowl last for about 18 months, it’s also far better for the environment than an aerosol foam and, the walnut bowl is refillable. Trumper’s is a lovely old shop to go into if you’re in London but I’ve found ordering online with them to be fraught with problems so I’m suggesting you buy it elsewhere.
5. A (not) Christmas jumper gift
I always love the look of the chaps wearing their cashmere polo necks in the Boden catalogue but I don’t know of a single man in real life whose stubble doesn’t ruin them. So, in my view, a jersey version is a better option and they’re less likely to overheat too. This one is available in navy or grey.
6. A gift of everyday luxury
I have no relationship with Hotel Chocolat other than an unhealthy enthusiasm for their goods. I ordered this last night, ostensibly as a family present to open on Christmas Day. However I suspect that I’ll talk myself into unpacking it as soon as it arrives (because it will make the run up to Christmas so lovely)! It’s made by Dualit so it should function well and last for a long time. Apparently the hot chocolate result is amazing, the only criticism I’ve seen is that it only makes one cup at a time so delayed gratification will be required.
7. The gift of light
I’m not one for cutesy things but this little mouse really appeals to me and would make me smile on gloomy afternoons at my desk. I’ve also seen him looking rather lovely on a bookcase – as though he’s trying to decide which book to choose. A frippery but a really lovely one… and useful for a dark corner.
8. A gift of understanding
(Sorry that’s one of my dad’s old jokes about socks – I hope you get it)
I confess that in about October I stop replacing socks because I know the men in my life are too lazy to buy their own and they’ll be great as little extra presents. In fact Mr MC used to make a point of putting his most worn ones on whenever my mum was around just for the joy of knowing that she’d look at me with a tut and wonder out loud where my darning needle was! Thanks to my grandma I do, in fact, know how to darn… and I regularly offer to teach Mr MC and the boys how to do it. Anyway – I’m told that these are lovely socks to wear and there are endless different designs to choose from if you prefer something more subdued. They’re already in the Black Friday sale.
Bright socks (currently 20% off)
9. A gift that rolls two vices into one
Another small moment of joy, a little gift that may help keep him away from your own precious Christmas chocolate stash.
10. A gift to tickle the brain
Star Wars is a funny thing amongst men… and some women… but usually men I find. They like to be slightly ironic about it but then if you appear with something like these Star Wars Trivia cards, the gloves are off and they’re all over them.
11. A gift to share
Another one for everyone to enjoy under the guise of a gift – a newish cheese club that celebrates and supports small cheesemakers mostly from the UK, although there are other European specialist cheeses too. You can choose a one-off Christmas box or a monthly subscription. A much nicer way to get your Christmas cheeses than by going to a big supermarket.
12. A gift that will grow
Now this is a really interesting one and if we were playing Top Trumps, the feel good factor would be a 10. This is ethical lending. The idea is that you lend to somebody who is trying to improve their circumstances. You watch their business grow until they can repay you and you can then either withdraw your money or invest it in someone else.
It doesn’t have to be a lot. This is Muhammad from Lahore, he’s an embroiderer who specialises in zari (the elaborate gold thread embroidery that you often see on clothes from Pakistan). He receives orders from local retailers but his domestic outgoings currently exceed his income and so he can’t invest in his business. His aim is to give his daughter the same education as his son has had. He’s asked for a total loan of £253 to buy more materials and thread so that he can fulfil more orders – but you can invest anything from £15.
There are lots of other small businesses to choose from and it would be a fascinating gift as you receive ongoing updates telling you how things are going until the loan is repaid.
13. The gift of time
And one final idea – this is one of the gifts that Mr MC gave me last Christmas and it was my favourite ever present from him. It was the gift of time, signified by the hourglass and the jar of funds. The idea was that I would use it to book a weekend away for us (the poor man is too daunted by my obsession for travel planning to do it himself). And of course there is no small irony in the fact that the time we had planned for ourselves was taken away by the sad turn of events in October but… I have now booked something for our anniversary in February. Again it’s a gift to share but I find they’re always the best ones, something you can enjoy together.
I hope that’s been helpful, I’ve tried to find a few more meaningful than the average gift guide. There will be more like this over the next couple of days, in the meantime, the current Black Friday offers are as follows (I’m not including any ‘up to’ discounts):
Black Friday offers now on
Recent outfits of the day
And just to reassure you that I do still have a life going on beyond my keyboard, here are a few recent outfits that you’ll have missed if you don’t follow me on Instagram.
Annual business dinner
This was the business event that I mentioned we were going to after shooting the JD Williams outfits a couple of weeks ago. I think I’ve told you before that Mr MC is the Vice President of the District Chamber of Commerce. Next year he’ll be president so he keeps telling me I’ll be in a (very small) FLOTUS position – I’ll have to think of the right appendix FLONL (First Lady of North Lancashire) or something.
Anyway it always feels strange because these are exactly the kind of events that my parents used to go to. They’re very formal and for some reason they always make me want to misbehave. However here I am doing my best to look graceful and I’m very grateful to Baukjen for this dress. They saw my eyes light up when they brought it into a meeting we were having in their showroom. It’s one of those effortless, timeless dresses that makes you feel polished. It’s a simple wraparound style which I always like because it gives you the perfect fit. The lace is a fabulous heavy quality so it drapes really well and it has my favourite detail of a dipped hem which breaks up the lines of your body. I was wearing it with silver accessories here…
… but I had a quick change of heart and turned back for my usual red. Having been there all afternoon we had time for a drink in the bar before everyone started to arrive.
This is a quick picture from last Friday when I’d been persuaded that a meeting needed to carry on into a working lunch.
And then this was Sunday when I’d spent the afternoon having a clearout. I’m going to start dripfeeding pre-loved pieces into the shop very soon in another charity sale so watch this space. I did buy this jumper when I was shopping for ham – I know it’s converse logic after so much time spent clearing out but the weather is suddenly cold and it was a bit of a bargain.
Right, I must crack on. Happy Christmas shopping and I’ll see you tomorrow with more gift inspiration!
Disclosure: ’10 Christmas gifts for men’ is not a sponsored post
Other Christmas posts you may have missed
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