I don’t know about you but the mad scramble of Black Friday and Cyber Monday seems to have changed the face of Christmas shopping for me. So today I’m stepping up to higher ground and looking at chic Christmas gifts, the things that you would choose for a sister, a mother or that you might pop under a loved one’s nose when they’re asking what you’d like for yourself. They’re items that people probably wouldn’t generally indulge in and I’ve tried to cover all price ranges.
Chic Christmas gifts
I’m starting with Hope House Press, a business that was taken on by Liz Weston, a Midlifechic reader, with her husband this year. They make beautiful notebooks by hand, using luxury leathers and letterpress techniques so that you can create something that is truly bespoke. There are lots of options to choose from such as this one…
… or here’s mine which is in the softest silver grey leather with squared paper. It arrived beautifully packaged in a gift box with ribbon. I am saving it for my very greatest thoughts (hence it is currently empty).
Life according to…notebook. I urge you to support a fellow reader in her new enterprise.
Moving on to something else I really like. As longstanding readers know, the pyjama fairy comes to our house on Christmas Eve leaving new pyjamas for everyone. Each year I select what I think are the loveliest pyjamas of the season and I’m hoping that this year she will leave me these. I love the fact that they are warm but the gold metallic spots add a touch of glamour.
However it was a close run thing and I also especially like this new pyjama brand
You know how fond I am of Claudia Bradby bracelets and I am gradually adding to my collection so that I can build up to this stacked effect. They are the only bracelets I have found that I don’t discard whilst I’m typing because I can tuck them up my sleeve so they don’t clatter (I do take the bangle off)
On Boxing Day it’s good to feel relaxed but still somehow dressed up. This would be a lovely thing to open on Christmas Day, an outfit for ‘tomorrow’ (although you might need to add a cardigan)! By the way I already have these trousers and you need to size up.
You know how particular I am about home fragrance after my experience of working in the marketplace. The mark up on candles is phenomenal (the diffuser / room spray market is even more outrageous) and a lot of the luxury brands are simply not worth the money. Let me demystify it a bit for you.
A candle that burns well is difficult to achieve initially but once a factory has been established, it only costs pence to make. The difference lies in the fragrance and packaging. Even at the absolute top of the market, fragrance oils are going to cost less than £100 per kilo (spend for a run of the mill candle is about £40 per kilo) and only a few drops go into each candle. The rest of the money simply goes towards the packaging, the branding, any overheads and of course, the profit!
So, if you are a Fornasetti collector for example, it is worth paying extra because the vessel has value. Otherwise you need to find good quality at a decent price. Some of the best candles for high quality fragrance are Diptyque in my opinion, although they don’t always burn cleanly and you may see sooting on the glass. This is a really lovely collection.
Alternatively The White Company’s candles are British made and generally good quality. Fragrance is obviously a very personal thing and I wasn’t very keen on their Autumn version because it was too sweet. However for me, their Winter fragrance epitomises Christmas and this year’s limited edition mercury vessels are lovely and would be easy to reuse afterwards – just add a succulent and you have a whole new centrepiece.
Fragrance will always disperse better when it is warmed which is why candles give better fragrance than diffusers. I scent the whole house using oils and burners because it is much more cost effective. I simply buy a bottle of the Winter oil…
…and mix a few drops with water in one of these simple oil burners using a tea light to diffuse the fragrance.
A small bottle of oil will fragrance your whole house during the weeks around Christmas, even if you’re using 5 or 6 burners like I do. I wrote a lot more about buying and using fragranced candles here.
Now, back to gifts. A lot of people love Baileys – here’s a slightly chicer version to give as a present. It has rave reviews.
This is what I will be giving to my red wine loving brother-in-law along with a bottle of Burgundy. It aereates the wine as it pours, cutting down on the time needed to breathe.
I’ve noticed that in the best London bars, there is a move away from flutes. So for champagne or prosecco lovers, these coupes are a good idea…
…accompanied perhaps by a magnum for a really luxe gift. Prosecco seems to be going the same way that cava did and there is a lot of cheap, hangover inducing stuff around but this is well reviewed and it is currently on offer
My friend TheSequinist also recently introduced me to English sparkling wine which is every bit as good as champagne. If you haven’t tried it, start with this (currently on offer). It won a silver medal at the International Wine Challenge and you’ll be amazed.
Something for foodies – ‘where there’s cake there’s hope’ they say. You’ll have seen cake baking mugs before but they’re often covered in graphics. This one is great because it isn’t too big so you don’t feel as though you’re completely overindulging and it also comes with the sweet little spoon attached. With one of these, you can enjoy a freshly baked cake from the microwave in minutes.
This is the sort of thing that I would have had on my wedding list if it had been around in those long ago days but I would never buy it for myself.
Here’s a lovely gift for a friend or even a teacher. It’s a goals journal and I particularly like the fact that you can specify a reward for each goal you achieve (maybe that’s where the cake mug comes in)! It comes in baby blue or a more business like black.
My siblings are much older than me and have pretty much everything they need so I often buy them experiences. Last year national theatre tokens went down well. They can be used in over 200 theatres all over the country and my sister even based a weekend away around a play she wanted to see.
And here’s a great thing, a Mr & Mrs Smith voucher giving someone an excuse for a night away in a really lovely hotel.
Last of all in my Chic Christmas gifts post, here’s something that you might (or might not) like to ask for. You may remember that earlier this year I had some Coolsculpting treatment at The Attune Clinic – here’s the original post and here’s the follow up. It was definitely worth it, it is now 9 months on and the results are subtle but visible. You can see more in my holiday post here.
The Attune Clinic is offering a 25% discount on Coolsculpting exclusively for Midlifechic readers if treatment is booked before the end of March. Simply call Sarah Baldwin, the lead therapist to discuss it and mention that you saw the offer here.
You’ve been telling me that you miss pictures of my everyday village life so I remembered to take some last weekend. We’ve been having the most amazing Winter weather. It’s freezing cold but we have bright blue skies and not a breath of wind. The hills are covered in snow and at times like this, it’s a spectacular place to live. Our house is at the very heart of the village and so we always put on a light display. Here’s Mr MC getting started on his annual task.
It was also the day of the village Christmas fair and we came home laden with cakes and plants courtesy of the village elders. This was at 3pm and you can see from the walls and roofs behind me that the frost just hadn’t melted. (I know my fringe needs cutting, this stage of growing my hair is already driving me mad).
For the last couple of months Mr MC has been in serious training for his next karate Black Belt grade which has taken his time every night and at weekends too so we haven’t spent any time together. He finally graded last week so at last, this weekend we could go out for a bottle of wine and catch up on life. This was taken when it was dark so I have lightened it as much as I can.
The middle son is supposed to be revising hard for his mock GCSEs so was unusually enthusiastic about having a family trip out to a Christmas food market on Sunday. Here I was waiting for him to decide what to eat which took much longer than usual – his capacity for procrastination is becoming an art form.
They are phenomenally comfortable because they are warm but they don’t itch thanks to the cotton blend. I love the fact that the neck stays up and doesn’t collapse. They are also a bargain!
So, back to Sunday, I had my first mulled cider of the season…
…the boys had mulled juice and by the end of the weekend we were feeling very Christmassy.
And this is what I’m wearing for a day in the office with a few meetings today. My Uniqlo Heat Tech is earning its keep!
So I wonder if you’re feeling in the mood for Christmas yet. Because of Storm Desmond, it was pretty much cancelled around here last year from 5th December onwards. All of the bars and restaurants were flooded and the roads were closed. As a result, this year everyone seems to be in particularly high spirits and keen to party so my diary is full from this weekend onwards. I’m really looking forward to it but I suspect I will be on my knees by Christmas Eve! Have a wonderful week everyone and I’ll be back on Friday.