Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Last minute Christmas gifts - top picks this year


Choosing a gift for someone need not be a chore (picture by Jeremy Richardson)

If you are still undecided, here are TT's top picks this Christmas. 

Time had this habit of creeping up on me. I thought I had plenty of time left for my Christmas shopping and now it is just over a week to Christmas! I thought I would share some gift ideas here, some of which are unique to London, to help those who are too running out of time for their Christmas shopping. If you just happen to be visiting London this can also provide inspiration for gifts that you could get for folks back home.

The gift for everyone

It is not difficult to find that everyday unisex gift, say a mug or something for the home but would that not suggest a lack of imagination on your part? Well, not if that something is from Rob Ryan. Rob is an artist best known for his intricate paper cut designs which have translated well into other mediums such as homeward and jewellery. Every time I walked into his shop at Columbia Flower Market I had to walk away with one of his pieces. I just had a look at his online shop and some popular designs have already sold out but I managed to find this. Cheery and positive, it would just light up someone's Christmas Day.

Rob's mugs and books are stocked on Amazon too. I love Rob's Invisible Kingdom book and for a budget yet thoughtful gift, you can't beat his Listen to The World mug.

Food gifts also work well. Fortnum and Mason has a wide range of beautifully packaged biscuits, jams and produce. I am currently in love with their rose petal jelly though I would be just as happy with a jar of the lovely pear jelly from the Quality shop.

Something for the ladies

I would pop into Space NK and browse their gift sets or you can order online and opt for complimentary gift wrapping which is such a time saver. A Diptyque candle will always be well received.

Jo Malone also offers a wonderful selection of fragrances, candles and skin care products. I bought a gift from their Covent Garden store before and the service was wonderful. Your gift would be perfectly wrapped and spritzed with fragrance. Their online shop also offers one of the latest cut off dates for guaranteed Christmas delivery (3pm, 20 December). One can do no wrong with this beautifully scented hand and body lotion.

A tote bag would also make an inexpensive but practical present. I like the alphabet totes from Rob Bryan and who can resist anything with a Liberty print?

If she is into baking you can of course buy her a Kitchen Aid but if your budget does not go quite so far, there are other kitchen gadgets with a less hefty price tag that would make her life easier. An electric spice grinder would be perfect for the cook who likes South East Asian and Indian recipes given the spice pastes required in such cuisine. You can of course play it safe and get her a cookbook. I can't do without the River Cottage cookbook but I would recommend the Modern Pantry cookbook if you want something with a twist.

What about the men

The obvious choice would be an ipad air but if you have already gotten him that, an Samsonite ipad cover would do just as nicely. Cufflinks might make a good gift though that obviously depends on how well you know the recipient. I like this Kate Spade pair. If he fancies himself as something of a cook, you could get him the kitchen gadgets described above. A particularly blokey cookbook is Tom Kerridge's Proper Pub Food. The name says it all.

Not forgetting the little ones

If you are buying gifts for children, I suggest you ask their parents upfront as to what the children would like from Santa since they know them best. Gifts I have bought for little girls before include this gorgeously twirly tutu pettiskirt from Angel's Face. Packaged in a hat box, it makes a really unique gift and is certain to make any aspiring ballerinas very happy. Hello kitty presents such as this Woodlands Animals backpack also go down a treat. For little boys I have bought This year I have also been asked to acquire robofish, the latest craze to hit town.

Enjoy shopping and Merry Christmas!

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