I am from a family of seven. I am also unreasonably forgetful, and often do not keep myself abreast of the ever-encroaching march of annual festivities (how is it less than a week until Christmas already?). For these reasons, and these reasons alone, I consider myself the unchallenged master of the last-minute Christmas gift. I have selected ‘next-day’ delivery in the sweaty haze of unmitigated panic more times than I can count. I have been battle hardened in the art of wrapping a gift approximately eight minutes before it is meant to be gifted. In short, I have a wealth of experience that is equally 1) necessitated by my own poor planning more than anything else; 2) useless at any other time of year; and 3) duly invaluable in December.
In the festive spirit of generosity here are some ideas for your Christmas shopping list. I will make the necessary disclaimer that the best received gifts are personal, and that the joy of Christmas is in giving- but you know all that. Think of this list as an inspirational mood-board for when it unavoidably slips your mind to buy Kevin, your younger brother, a present. Consider this my gift to you this year. In any case, Kevin will thank me for saving him from self-immolating on the altar of yet ANOTHER Lynx Africa box-set…
For the younger siblings:
Three younger siblings have taught me this: younger siblings are a pain. Amazon, on the other hand, is your friend. DO NOT invest in DVDs. This used to be my go-to for my younger siblings, but the internet has eradicated both the digital disc optical storage format and any dignity you might retain in gifting the former. Lego is excellent because it is age-graded, so can do you from 3 to 10 years old quite comfortably. If they are too old for lego, get them a nice notebook and claim you are nurturing their budding artistic talent. It doesn’t have to be a Moleskine. Remember it will get lost within five minutes of being gifted.
For the dad:
The problem with dads is that they buy themselves the things they want, so when Christmas comes around they desire literally nothing. The singular advantage of fathers is that, in general, (I speak confidently for someone who has experience of only one father) they have hobbies! And hobbies require particular equipment! That’s where you come in. Dad likes whipping up a carbonara? APRON! Dad likes painting? Get him some nice WATERCOLOURS! Dad likes gardening? 600 SQUARE FOOT LUXURY GREENHOUSE!
For that tricky secret Santa who is closer to an acquaintance than a friend:
If they’re of age and like that kind of thing, alcohol. One of those gift boxes you get in the drink section of your local supermarket will do the job, but a litre is more cost effective. Or 750ml if that comes more neatly under your price range. In this situation, I advise you to evaluate the strength of your friendship and determine the alcohol percentage accordingly.
Remember- the supermarket own brand tinny can be re-branded as a craft beer if you write ‘bulldog’, ‘punk’ and- the golden ticket- ‘IPA’ across its front.
For the grandparents:
Grandparents are some of the only people- excepting your adoring mother- who love you more than they love themselves. There is no greater time to indulge in a little heady narcissism than when buying a gift for your grandparents. Making a calendar of your best moments throughout the year is a shout, but anything personalised requires a significant level of fore-planning – a practice which is admirable but not possible in all instances. VistaPrint, Snapfish, and Photobox do online photo-prints. I recommend you print out at least 50 copies of you looking your best for them to give their friends. Or stick up in every room in their house.
For the older sister:
How could you forget to buy your older sister a gift! Older sisters are the easiest to buy for. Admittedly I don’t have an older sister. Jewellery, you fool.