Bearing Gifts: A Very Non-Beautyish Post For A Beauty Blog…

At this point you might expect a beauty blog to hit you with a list of coffrets and make-up palettes, but I just can’t do it. I’m not saying these things don’t make wonderful presents but I find it hard to get into that particular head space as I haven’t been able to give beauty gifts for years…it looks like I’m palming off freebies. And while a beautiful bath oil is one thing, make-up always seems like a pretty odd present to me. I’ll admit I’m in a minority, but now I have no publisher to please I don’t have to pretend that buying your best friend a lipstick is a brilliant idea and not at all a way of filling up that troublesome ‘under £15’ category. So the following list is stuff that’s worked for me in the past, unless my family and friends are as good at fibbing to me as I used to be to my readers….

Vitis Riesling, £60 for 2

Riedel glassware is arguably the best in the world – you’ll find it on the most sought-after restaurant tables and in the New York Museum Of Modern Art. But the clincher for me is the website, which explains why it’s important to drink different wines from different vessels (something to do with directing it to the bit of the tongue that best picks up the bouquet) then lets you choose a grape or spirit from a drop-down menu and tells you which glass will suit it best. I once matched up every member of my family with their favourite intoxicant and bought the relevant glasses for each. This works particularly well if yours give and open en masse, then everyone will see how clever you’ve been and you can all get horrendously wasted when you start hating each other later in the day. Oh, and if you’ve ever wondered where those wonderful stem-free wine tumblers come from, you’ll find them here as well.

Tabio Wide Striped Socks

Men love Tabio’s Wide Stripe Socks (£15), fact. My brother-in-law requests them every Christmas and every boyfriend I’ve ever had my boyfriend goes bonkers for them. Beyond the super-soft fit and cheery colour schemes (for some reason there’s only one on the website but there are more in-store) I’m not sure what makes them so ludicrously pleasing but I’m thrilled to have hit on such a sure thing. A little bundle of these (or just one pair shoved in the toe of a Christmas stocking) always goes down very well indeed.

Melt Bars

Also lovely tied in a little stack or slipped into a larger parcel are these 90g chocolate bars from Melt (£6.80). How about Strip Bar, Wine Bar and Smoke Bar for an old-school bon vivant? And Love Bar and Christmas Bar (£7.50 each) come with tiny note cards to personalise. Sweet in every way.

I’m also fond of a bottle of absinthe plus fancy sugar cubes. This would be even better with an antique silver spoon but I’ve never got that far. You can print out instructions from the internet so people know what they’re supposed to do (soak sugar, melt, drip into the glass…and it’s a blur from that point on) and if you can find a beautifully packaged bottle (try here) and something other than Tate & Lyle (Fortnum & Mason do all colours, shapes and sizes) this is a splendid alternative to the usual fizz.

Cire Trudon Scented Candle

Finally, I’ll relax my beauty ban for a scented candle…but even then I witter on about having the receipt, just to hammer home the fact that I haven’t dug it out of a bottom drawer. As with the wine glasses and chocolate bars the great thing about Cire Trudon is that the inventive scents allow you to be a bit playful with who gets what. My Mother is strangely obsessed with Che Guevara (true) so she’d get Ernesto (£50), a manly blend of leather, cigars and rum. My friend Emma has just started stripping off for an art class (also true) so she’d receive Odalisque (£50), a cocktail of orange blossom and vanilla inspired by nude models in the French colonies of the 19th Century.

So hardly reinventing the wheel but I hope they help. And do trust me on the Tabio, they really are rather wonderful and not at all the Christmas cop-out that socks usually seem. Happy shopping.

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