After some mild panic, whimpering and foetal rocking in the corners of various stores in Oxford and London, here’s what I ended up getting some of my family & friends for Christmas:
My Dad once attended a conference in the US where a beverage station was laid out every morning, including a coffee machine, tea bags, sugar…and an industrial-sized vat of Skippy Peanut Butter. For the first few mornings he thought it was mislaid, and would helpfully cart it back over to the toast table. On the 3rd morning, he was halted in his tracks. “Here in the States,” the beefy-necked hotel chef drawled, “we stir a couple tablespoons of PB into our cawfee. Makes it bulletproof.” If your friends are similarly barbaric (eg. my old housemate refused to drink ‘leaf liquid’ and insisted on triple-shot espressos with a dollop of coconut butter), they probably won’t appreciate Williamson’s ‘well-balanced and aromatic’ and ‘unusually delicate’ tea blends. But for everyone else, tea is a pretty failsafe gift.
I chose the elephant caddies because they’re whimsical, super pretty AND useful. After you’re done with the tea, you could use the jar to store cookies, pushpins, slips of paper with your hopes and dreams…endless possibilities! Personally, I’d be happy to have my cremated ashes stored in one (at least until my heartbroken next of kin could throw my desiccated remains into the wind across a Nordic fjord).
Unless your friends have no feet, socks are also pretty failsafe. These woodland creature socks would be especially cute teamed with Charlotte Olympia kitty shoes or Marc by Marc Jacobs mouse flats (for a Babushka doll effect of small furry mammals). These socks were 2 for the price of 1 (pairs, not individual socks, duh) before Christmas, but when I went to the till, the Urban Outfitters salesgirl tried to charge me full price. I politely enquired if they’re weren’t half-price. “How should I know?!” she spat at me. We then engaged in a tense game of chicken until she finally stormed off to check, came back 20 mins later, gloweringly plugged in the discount and then refused to give me a shopping bag. Another reason I hate Urban Outfitters.
For my family, sweaters! I got my Mum the cashmere sweater I’ve been eyeing off for ages. Come to think of it, I might end up getting one for myself too. We often end up with the same clothing (our wardrobes are approximately 50% matching) which is bizarre because physically we couldn’t be more different. Shape-wise, I’m a pear (Beurre Bosc on a good day, William Bartlett if I haven’t exercised for a while), she’s a sparrow. I’m 5 ft 9, she’s 5 ft nothing. Colouring-wise, my Mum is a nice babycino colour, while I’ve been described as jaundiced (like I’m under a halo of the kind of fluorescent light which is good for growing African violets). BUT we have really similar taste, so hopefully she likes it!
According to the website, the sweater I picked for my Dad “speaks for itself”. So, yep. Bye.