And drum roll… just like that it’s time for the first of my Christmas gift posts. Today I’m taking you on a virtual shopping trip with me and showing you some Christmas shopping shortcuts at John Lewis & Partners. Over the next two weeks I’ll have three more gift ideas posts including all kinds of things dedicated to: teens/young adults, men and women and I’ll try to include suggestions that you might not have thought of before. I do have a Christmas outfits post coming too but not until next week because there are still a few delays on pieces arriving. And that I think will be enough. We’ll have reached the end of November by then and so we can hopefully just move on to enjoying ourselves. I’m tentatively imagining that this Christmas might be much more fun-filled than last year – I have my third booster jab tomorrow which I’m grateful for – don’t forget that if you’re over 50 you can get yours in the diary now – here’s the link.

So let’s get our crystal balls out shall we and have a think about what it might look like this year. It’s going to be a bit different for us of course because the boys won’t start arriving home until about ten days before Christmas. The late arrival will be the middle one who we’re hoping might just make it home before midnight on Christmas Eve after his final 6.30pm mission to rescue Santa in Newcastle as Elf Fix-it-Up (if you’re local it’s almost sold out but you can check if there are any tickets left here – and spot a familiar face).

Christmas shopping shortcuts to the Christmas Build-up

After looking quite disappointingly empty our diary has slowly started to fill up over the last few days. I think people have been holding off to see how the land lay and now they’re suddenly booking events – perhaps a bit smaller than usual but I prefer that to a big party because there’s a better chance of having a few proper conversations. And when we have an evening at home in December I’ve decided we should elevate it with just a little something special so I’m stocking up on mini treats for two.

I’ve bought some of these tiny champagne truffle boxes as a form of self discipline – if I open a big box I’ll just eat them so this works best for me. There’s classic champagne and a sea salt and caramel version too.

Mini box of champagne truffles (contains just three for a treat)

Looking through the Secret Santa section is always a good Christmas shopping shortcut to these little bits and pieces, I thought I might hide them in different spots such as under Mr MC’s pillow or in his breakfast mug – just to add a festive feel to every day.

Mini port with milk chocolate baubles

Mini gingerbread men

We both have advent calendars to open. Probably the best present I bought last year was a beer advent calendar which was shared between the four of them. Mr MC will be delighted to have it all to himself this time around. I know he discovered a whole new raft of favourite IPAs in the last one and he’s often talked about them when we’ve spotted one in a pub so it was a present that really lasted in a way.

Beer advent calendar

In the same vein I have a wine one this year; there’s no way I’m going to drink a bottle every night even thought they’re small but I thought they’d be great to have in the house for those days when you just fancy a glass but don’t want to open a whole bottle, so again it’s a pleasure that will last beyond Christmas.

Wine advent calendar

While we’re on the subject of advent calendars I should point out that there’s been a restock of some of the ones that sold out early on and they now have a gift attached if you buy them from JL&P too. The Clarins 12 Days of Christmas comes with a whole collection of extra goodies that you could use as stocking fillers or keep as a ‘treat to self.’ I like 12 days advent calendars because I start them on 21st December and they take me through to 1st January – those 12 days are the ones when I stop watching what I’m eating and just enjoy myself but when the calendar finishes I know it’s time to get back on track.

Clarins 12 Days of Christmas – with extra free gift pack (use code CLARINS60)

This one’s a bit more pricey but it includes 24 days of Christmas and it entitles you to buy the best of Clinique Skincare and make-up set for £60 (includes seven full sizes worth £202.50 use code CLINIQUE40)

Clinique Christmas advent calendar

Christmas shopping shortcuts to dressing the house

As far as dressing the house is concerned, I’m sure you’ve seen that JL&P’s stunning principal theme this year is gemstone forest. You can buy the tree trimmings here.

I keep poring over the images because as you may remember we ordered a moss green sofa when we were down in London in August and it should arrive soon so this scheme would be perfect… but Mr MC is resisting painting the walls a deep green too… so far!

There are table-scaping ideas here. If you’re interested in trends and new ideas you can book onto one of the JL&P Christmas decorating talks with the Home Design Stylists  – you either choose to go into your local store or do it virtually online. Details here. Sadly the Newcastle dates don’t coincide with mine or I’d be there like a flash. There are lots of other events such as cooking and crafting too – find them all here, I think they’ll be a really great way of getting into the mood for Christmas.

We spent a whole day Christmas shopping in the Newcastle store a couple of weeks ago – I look as though I’m rather anxiously checking my purse here as I set off with my empty basket.

It was nice to see that the visual merchandisers have added lots of little decorating tips in the home furnishing room sets. It might not be the case in every store but in Newcastle there were lovely little flourishes like these that are easy to pull off if you have an existing scheme but just fancy adding a little update.

Silver felt placemats; mini tree sold out online

Metallic trays; baubles; gin; biscuit tins

It’s good to see that JLP have done away with all of the plastic wrapping on the single roll gift wrap this year too, instead it’s held together with peelable stickers and it’s completely recyclable.

Gift wrap selection (I’m wearing JL&P jumper – sold out, gifted AW21, jeans, boots – in stock in all sizes here, gifted AW21)

And there are Christmas treat sacks filled with goodies packed in reusable fabric gift bags too. You can see the full selection of ready to go gift bags and hampers here at all kinds of price points .

Christmas treat sack

There was so much to see as we walked round and it would take me hours to resize all the photos Mr MC took but I just have to show you how tickled I was by these dog socks (cue endless videos of dogs trying to walk in socks on WhatsApp as the boys begged me to buy them).

Christmas dog socks

And it must be a symbol of the empty nest that I spent as much time looking at the excellent selection of gifts for pets as I did for the boys!

Christmas shopping shortcuts – gifts for women (including you)

Anyway you’re going to lose the will to live if I keep chatting like this so let’s get on with the serious business of shopping for gifts. Today I’m going to take you through the things that caught my eye, mostly with women in mind because I have posts on gifts for men and teens still to come. Let’s start with beauty, things you might buy for your mum, your friends or even put on your own ideas list.

I haven’t tried this but everyone I know who has raves about it (specifically this No.3 rather than the rest of the range). You use it as a once a week treatment to rebuild the bonds in your hair and apparently nothing can match it. Because it’s an indulgence it would make a great gift.

Olaplex No 3

Alternatively you could go for the full works and try the complete power of the range with this gift set

Olaplex gift set

Thinking about stocking fillers or smaller gifts, this little set includes my favourite mascara and you effectively get the make-up remover free so it’s even a great buy for yourself

Clinique mascara gift set

Alternatively this collection includes my favourite night-time mascara (Drama) as well as three others so you’d be able to switch your look up and down depending on the occasion

Lancome mascara collection

Referring back to my recent beauty post again here’s a great way to try the brilliant caviar eyeshadow stick with a mascara too

Laura Mercier caviar gift set

This is a good introduction to REN’s fabulous glow products – they really work.

REN glow starter kit

A gift set of what, in my opinion, are the nicest of the luxury hand washes/creams and we all need plenty of those these days.

Hand wash and hand cream gift set

These crackers would be a lovely hostess gift if you were getting together at a friend’s house…

Beauty crackers – pack of four

… and look how beautifully you can present them, I love this idea.

And I think this is intended for children but as soon as I saw it a friend of mine sprang to mind but of course it would be perfect for little ones too.

Gentle bubble bath set

A superb set of make-up brushes for life here.

Luxury brush collection

With what will hopefully be a wonderful summer ahead for 2022 (nothing ruins a trip like using a rubbish hotel hairdryer…)

Travel hairdryer

Or you could upgrade to this fabulous set which includes cordless straighteners… (I’d love to have some cordless straighteners Mr MC if you’re reading)

GHD full travel set

One little genius gadget that I’ve kept meaning to tell you about since lockdown is this. It’s such a cheap and easy way to keep the peachskin fluff on your face, lip and chin down, especially when it becomes more prevalent at this stage of life. It takes a few goes to get the hang of it but when you do it really cuts down on salon appointments.

Facial hair remover

And last of all for beauty, this is something I couldn’t manage without. A few readers who’ve stayed in the Newcastle apartment have commented on how useful it is so I thought I’d add it to the list.

Magnifying mirror with daylight sensor system (so you can see how your make-up will look in natural light)

Moving away from beauty now, what other ideas do I have for your own personal list? Well I have to start with lingerie. I’ve just given my lingerie drawer a huge overhaul; it felt like time time to get rid of all the utilitarian stuff that could be thrown into a family wash so I decided to upgrade the whole lot. Just about everything I’ve bought has come from John Lewis & Partners. When I was wandering around their lingerie department back in the Summer I was surprised that it was their own ranges that I was drawn to. I tried a few pieces on for size and they fit perfectly.

As you know I’ve often popped into press shows for the big lingerie houses when I’ve been in London and that’s where I learned a lot about getting the right fit (if you’ve forgotten, my post about finding the right bra for your breast shape is here). I can say that the JL&P ranges are every bit as good as the big Parisian houses. I’m not sure how they’re doing it for the price but then I guess mark-ups are always significant when you go into the world of luxury brands. So I’m just going to give you a couple of suggestions here because knowing that you’re wearing lovely lingerie really does make a difference to your day.

This set with its metallic thread is particularly nice to put on, it catches the light when you’re getting ready and I give extra points to the knickers for being comfortable – I always go up a size as well to make sure there’s no pinching of flesh.

Starry night lingerie (also available in black and gold)

Sadly some of the racier numbers that really gave Agent Provocateur a run for their money have already sold out but this set is stunning too. I find there’s little resistance when you put something like this on your Christmas list (from Mr MC I hasten to add, the boys would no doubt howl with horror). I realise the sizes I’m drawn to are the ones with a smaller cup – there’s a full range of cup sizes though, you can see the whole collection here.

Navy lace lingerie

Here’s a pair of pyjamas in modal that are a bit slinkier than standard cotton but still great if you live in a cold house like we do. They also come in teal or charcoal.

Modal pyjamas

And while we’re on the subject of sleep, these silk pillowcases now come in a choice of thirteen different colours, I’m particularly dawn to the gold. They make a difference to your hair giving you less work in the morning – and I like to believe that they reduce wrinkle build up too but I’ll never know for sure. They’re my current gift solution for friends and they never fail to go down well.

Silk pillowcases

This home fragrancing system is an investment initially but it soon becomes far better value than a candle. You can use any oils with it, either single notes or blends like these designed to boost your mood. You’ll get a better fragrance throw in a large space than a candle gives as well as adding a little moisture to the air in a centrally heated house.

Home fragrance pod

I’m going to finish with a few accessories. A lot of you tell me you struggle to wear hats in Winter because they flatten your hair too much. I find the answer is a loose knitted beanie in a light knit like cashmere because it doesn’t compress your hair. These are great and they come in twelve different colours. Just sit them at an angle facing forwards rather than plonking them straight on the top of your head and you should achieve the look you want.

Cashmere beanie

Each one of these is a work of art in itself and small enough not to be too bling. So pretty, choose your own initial obviously…

22 carat gold plated initial necklace

A stocking filler or Secret Santa gift that I find indispensable, this rules the kitchen in our house and makes life so much easier when I sit down to do my online shop every Saturday

7 day menu planner pad

Other areas that are really worth having a look at are the new collaboration that JL&P have done with The Tate. There’s an exclusive range of prints from The Tate’s Galleries, not just London but others such as St Ives too and as they come ready mounted and framed they’re great for gifts. A lovely edit just to browse through.

John Lewis & Partners + TATE collaboration

And there’s always the fabulous plant collection – nobody should ever buy a plant for me but for people who can keep them alive there are some real beauties in attractive pots. I’ve just spotted that there are dried and artificial flowers too, you can find the whole collection here.

Succulent plant gang

And I think that’s probably enough today don’t you? Although if you’re doing an online order at JL&P I just want to show you these crackers. You see crackers are something that are being clamped down on from an environmental perspective because they create so much waste so there are nowhere near as many around this year and I suspect we’ll see them become a thing of the past. However instead of a gift that ends up in the bin with the rest of the table debris, these include a hat and a joke (supplied by a celebrity) along with details of the charity that you’ve donated to by buying the cracker. Each charity is different and so it will get a conversation going too.

Advent of Change Crackers

Christmas shopping shortcuts – easy ways to shop

I will leave you to crack on in a minute I promise but to save you time I just want to point out a few tools that JL&P have introduced to make Christmas shopping as easy as possible this year.

1. Shop by price

They’ve arranged gifting ideas by price which is an easy way to shop if you’ve set a particular budget. You can find them all here:

2. Find inspiration the old fashioned way

If you’re more of a magazine person you can browse through the Christmas edition of the JL&P mag here.

Christmas At Home magazine

3. Get more ideas from an event in store or online

Don’t forget that there are all kinds of events you can attend in person or virtually to really build that Christmas feeling and find ways to make it all even more special, you can see what’s on offer here.

4. Create a list that’s easy to go back to

You know all about JL&P’s wish list feature but I tend only to remember to use it when I’m shopping for clothes. This time though I created a huge ideas list to go back to instead of putting everything in my basket and then losing the will to live when I just wanted to check out with a few of the things I’d seen.

You can create one big list or up to five separate lists so that you can shop for people individually. The lists can be shared with other people and I can’t help thinking how easy that would have been when the boys were little and everyone kept asking me for ideas of what they wanted.

Remember to log in to your account before you start and then just click the heart below the price on any product you like while you’re browsing. I then go back and rationalise it all with a clear head the following day.  You can find all the tips for creating and managing wish lists here.

5. Have everything delivered in a way that suits you

Don’t forget that in addition to the standard delivery to your door, you can actually just go and collect everything at a time that suits you best. You can choose a John Lewis & Partners or Waitrose store, a Booths, a Co-op or a Collect+ location. Just put your postcode in here and all the options will pop up.

I think that’s everything for today and John Lewis & Partners is certainly a good place to start your Christmas shopping – you should be able to storm through most of your list pretty quickly. If all goes according to plan there will be three posts from me next week: gifts for teens/young adults on Tuesday (that one gets harder every year), Christmas outfit ideas on Wednesday and then gifts for men on Friday so keep your eyes peeled. Doesn’t Christmas already feel more hopeful than last year in so many ways? Let’s really make the most of it in whatever way we can.

Disclosure: ‘Christmas shopping shortcuts with John Lewis & Partners’ was commissioned by JL&P but as always I had full editorial control of the brief. Thank you for supporting the brands that enable me to keep on writing Midlifechic.

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