Saturday, 1 December 2012

Top Tips For Christmas 2012 - #2

This weeks tips are all about gifts

Think about gifts in advance!

That may seem obvious, but if you go out to the shops without an idea in your head, you will end up buying crazily unsuitable things in moments of fatigue and desperation.

If money is no object and your beloved has already specified that he really wants a “Honda ST1100 Pan European Nitron Sport Shock Absorber (91-03), for £386.99” then fine, go ahead and buy him one [and could you buy my man one too, please?] although that somehow takes away the magic and mystery when the gift is unwrapped.

But try and find things you hope the recipient will enjoy.

pie dishI’m not sure about the idea that “You should give a gift you would love to receive yourself” – would I be utterly ecstatic if Bob gave me a replacement part for the motorbike? and would he be over the moon to receive a set of Falcon enamel pie dishes from me?

Don’t be afraid to repeat a gift!

If it is something you can give to a lot of people, it makes sense to buy/make lots of the same thing. Sometimes it is even cheaper that way. One year when Bob was a student, we purchased lots of ‘Tear Fund’ mugs, and a huge box of Tear Fund Fairtrade teabags – and absolutely everybody on our gift list got a mug with a cellophane pack of teabags inside it. It also makes it easier if your recipients are competitive [oh, I do hope they aren’t!] because that way nobody feels that someone else got a bigger, better present.



Our hardworking deacons, and the people who contribute each Sunday to our worship group, all get a small token of our appreciation each Christmas. And they all get the same thing!

Wrapping should not be expensive!

The gifts above did not cost a lot to wrap – the two outer pictures show gifts wrapped in cheap paper [really cheap – from the January sales] and the centre bags were made from an old roll of wallpaper- which cost 99p and made 30 bags. This year I have been using up all the bits and pieces – and have even wrapped some gifts in a pages from a colourful calendar. I don’t have a carefully colour co-ordinated stack of gifts to put under the tree. But I am not Martha Stewart, and furthermore, there will only be three of us here on Christmas Day. The majority of these gifts will be distributed all over the place, so I do not really need them to match!

Save, and iron, your tissue paper

I don’t know why, but an extra layer of tissue paper, round a gift, inside the outer paper somehow adds an air of luxury. It is amazing how much comes into the house during the year – odd sheets in parcels, or bits inside other gift bags, or between two bits of cellophane round a bunch of flowers. I iron mine carefully. If it is less than A3 size, I fold it neatly, and keep it flat in a rectangular biscuit tin, if it is a full size sheet, I roll it and keep it in a cardboard tube. And use it up at Christmas, then start all over again!

Remember to say Thank You

People complain that “young people don’t writer Thank You letters any more” – and it is a dying art. Buck the trend, show your gratitude – and that will inspire others to do the same. Especially if you follow it up months later with an extra comment [I’m still enjoying the recipes in that book you gave me last Christmas…I get so many comments about that pretty necklace you gave me…we’d eaten all the biscuits by New Year’s Day, but the lovely tin is still being used and admired]

Inappropriate Gifts

These should still be accepted with good grace [and a thank you] I do not think it is wrong to ‘re-gift’ them to someone who could benefit [better than letting things fade on a shelf, or just be put in the dustbin] and I would hope anyone who really didn’t like a gift that I gave would do that. But do wait a little while, before you offload to your cousin or the Charity Shop. Put a post it note on the box so you do not commit a dreadful faux pas, and give a relation on her birthday the gift she gave you the previous Christmas! It has happened.

I am astounded by people’s generosity, and hope I am truly grateful for the gifts I receive. In terms of inappropriate ones, there have been very few in my life.

Apart from the cheeseboards. At our wedding, we received fourteen cheeseboards as wedding gifts. I can’t eat cheese, it makes me ill! 

cheesplateAfter 33½ years of marriage,we have just two left. We kept our favourite – a glass one - and one which makes a good teapot stand [now at Cornerstones] During the early years of our marriage Bob was an impoverished student. We were invited to the weddings of many of our friends of a similar age.

I trust they found a use for the cheeseboards we gave each of them!


Only give what you can afford

I once found myself chatting to a bloke whose daughter was the same age as one of my girls.

“Is she married?” he asked “No” I said “is yours?”

He told me sadly that he’d given her an extremely lavish wedding, she was divorced within the year, and then it took him a further two years to pay off the costs of the wedding day!

If you are still paying off the costs of your Christmas in January [or even February] on your credit card bill then you are spending too much!!!  Be honest with the family now, so they won’t expect everything in the Argos catalogue to be waiting under the tree – and will not be disappointed with a home made pudding in place of Bloomin Hestonthal’s Finest [£13.99! I ask you!]

The greatest gifts are

love, joy, hope and peace


  1. Mine are done! not yet wrapped, but all made or bought.I agree with all you say Angela, Christmas shouldnt be about competing, just about showing love.
    PS Does Heston's pudding come with snail foam, do you think??

  2. One particularly tough year (when we hadn't been in Canada very long) we made all our recipients identical Christmas decorations (a sleigh filled with baubles intended as a table decoration)in the colours of their main room. Some loved it others didn't...they thought we were 'cheap'...well it was either that or nothing!
    Jane x

  3. Wise words indeed. I recycle lots of my paper from gifts I receive - and then transform the paper into various things, from card toppers to gift tags and gift carriers according to how much sellotape ruined the original paper!!! One of my favourites is brown wrapping paper - and even newspaper, though the news is often so ghastly it would not be appropriate to wrap around a gift!

  4. Really enjoyed reading this post. I love the bit about the tissue paper, thanks

  5. Fantastic post - thank you x

  6. Sorry, totally mean to admit it but I am still laughing over the 14 cheeseboards! Ooops! Very important messages in here! Great post.
    I improvise all sorts of things for wrapping. A multipack kitkat wrapper (or Mini-cheddars multipack bag) turned inside out makes a nice silver shiny wrapping!! Or material is used by my fiance's brother to wrap all our presents (silver with stars) and he reuses it each year!


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