… or boyfriend, or “partner” or wevs.
Your wife wants a good present this year and so far you’ve given her rubbish, which is why she has emailed and Tweeted me in her thousands, begging me to write to you and give you some direction.
She doesn’t want to tell you how shite you are at “gifting”, she doesn’t have the heart. But I don’t have a heart, at all – famously, ask anyone. My husband.
And I am here to tell you that a sodding Dyson handheld, a set of knives or a charging case for her iPhone doesn’t constitute a good gift.
SO THANK GOD FOR ME, YES? Just think of me as your guardian gift angel.
And also just by the by, thank god that I am not actually friends with your wife. I am the most nightmarish friend-of-wife. Husbands quail when they see me, with my arms folded and my laser eyes boring into them, going “I see you, fuckhead…”
So give thanks I’m not literally in your life and humbly read these words.
1: Charlotte Olympia Kitty shoes £££
I don’t know why these are popular, they are just mad. But I want some, so I can only conclude others want a pair, too. Just think of them as that impulsive third child/third ear piercing/tattoo that your wife wants, and just be grateful that she hasn’t gone fully Mrs Bercow. Yet.
2: Anina Vogel necklace £££
Anina Vogel is niche and prohibitively expensive, therefore just cool. The fact that everything she makes is fall-to-your-knees-gorgeous is by the by.
4 Astley Clarke Evil eye tiny earring £
If your life is perfect, you need an evil eye about your person somewhere to ward off bad spirits, which seek to undermine your happiness. This is quite a confident gift to give – it says “I know I’ve made you so happy, baby” but if you reckon you can pull it off, do it.
5 Charlotte Tilbury WonderGlow £
Your wife will like this, it will make her skin all pretty.
6 Wyse cashmere sweater ££
And this is cuddly and soft, from a cult cashmere house, meaning not every other bronde on the school run will have one, naming no names Bella Freud.
7 Canada Goose parka £££
This is a tiny bit of an edgy gift – it veers into man-gift (i.e. too practical) territory. Look out for signs that she wants one/is constantly cold/admires someone else’s. Its extortionate price tag means that most people do want one. It’s the Birkin bag of parkas -when you’ve got one everyone else has to COWER BEFORE THE GOOOOOOOOOOSE.
8 Eve Lom Kiss Mix £
Best lip salve ever, but this is definitely an add-on gift. If I see this as anyone’s “main” present I will hunt you down, Mr Husband Sir, and run you over.
9 Bodas pyjamas £
These pyjamas are slightly impractical with their tie rather than elasticated waist, but they are soft as satin and walk a very straight and perfect line between dowdy and mimsy.
10 YSL bag ££££
Errrrrmaaghaaad. Just… want… this… so… bad…lyyyy
11 Dinny Hall earrings ££
Everyone needs a very good, solid, quality pair of gold hoops. What we usually have is a clattery collection of old shit from Accessorize. The problem is that a good solid pair of gold hoops is something we’d never buy for ourselves because we, I don’t know, can’t be bothered? It’s the kind of thing that a stylish godmother would get for you but we mostly all do not have godmothers, stylish or not.
12 Scarf ££
Black and white gingham just like this is going to be ultra-fashionable in about three months’ time and everything by Isabel Marant is cool. Note: do not get an Alexander McQueen skull scarf. They are over. I mean, fine to wear around and about if you’ve already got one, but you do not want to be buying one now.
N.B. Obviously please do not be a total penis about this: if she openly states how much she hates pyjamas, don’t get her the pyjamas or doesn’t have pierced ears don’t get her the earrings. I can’t believe I have to say that but I know how dim some of you are. And also fuck’s sake keep the receipt because if she doesn’t like it, you can blame it squarely on me and then she won’t feel guilty taking it back.
Hahaha! This is so funny, and so true. The Dyson handheld!
I want every single one of these items, RIGHT NOW. My Christmas present from the husband is a coffee machine, which I opened by mistake and have already used. I want to make people worship the goose, though, so maybe I will drop hints for one of those. Or just bloody buy it myself.
This is a super list. The link under 4 isn’t working though.
Did you know that they sell Canada Goose for little kids too? My daughter would look amazing in one (she feels the cold) but £400 for a child’s coat is difficult to justify to my husband.
Love this! Keep it coming.
I love Canada Goose coats BUT very man woman and child in Wimbledon has one… What’s the alternative? I have seen someone in a Woolrich..
Yup, Woolrich, Arctic Fox, Patagonia…
Does this work on mother in laws too? Last year my mother in law got me a milk pan (apparently I ‘really needed’ one) and a ‘jazzy’ (her word, not mine) serving spoon … husband got a Hugo Boss shirt. The year before I got a slow cooker: could have got my head around that one but it was the cheapest, crappiest one ever – practically clockwork. Husband got a Mulberry wallet. She hates me, right?
fucking Nora, I’ve just clocked the Price Of The Goose. It’s a bit dear. Although, having just walked the kids to school in -8, I am extremely tempted.
I like those earrings. I don’t have any gold hoops. I wish my husband could get the hang of buying earrings. He always turns my ears green because he chooses them from a revolving stand at the back of a shop selling mainly clothes rather than from a tray placed in front of him in a place filled with other such trays. I may have ranted on that before. Certainly to him, anyway. I also like the scarf, but I really balk at wearing the ‘popular scarf of the moment’ if you think it’s going to take off. It just makes me feel like giving in and signing up for the PTA. Love the pyjamas and the word “mimsy”. Oh, it’s all good. I think (hope) though that I’m getting my Kindle upgraded, but I can wear earrings and a cashmere sweater while I’m reading, right?
sounds to me like you need those Dinny Hall hoops, stat…
A potato masher, a fish slice and a sudoko puzzle book are recent not well received gifts from my husband. My grown up children have told him these are not acceptable gifts but he just isn’t bothered. My advice is to buy your own and lots of them.
PS ALEXANDRA – of course your MIL hates you – they all do. Mine once gave me a subscription to Readers Digest. That was one of her better gifts.
MILs hating you is international. I’ve been the loving recipient of a knitted beanie hat and matching scarf WHEN WE LIVED IN THAILAND, and last year was a garlic crusher. And they don’t drink alcohol, so I have to fake “fizzy water” when I’m drinking very heavy G&Ts at dinner, just to get through without killing anyone.
I’ve always been bombarded with quirky coasters. I’ve often wondered what it is about me that suggests this gift – the ring marks on my wooden furniture, or something deeper…
Ha, with you on the MIL chat. I mean mine definitely doesn’t hate me, but she is very hit and miss when it comes to gift-giving. One year for Christmas she gave me a pocket pack of tissues. Very elaborately wrapped. And on my 30th birthday she gave me unbelievably ugly table mats. But a couple of years ago, for no occasion, she bought me a much-coveted KitchenAid. Who knows!
Eilidh McDonald says
I feel your pain. My MIL once gave me a small tin cockerel. A sort of cartoon representation of a cockerel. Hideous. Clearly from a bargain bin at some League-of-Gentlemen-esque garden centre. I read too much in to things at the best of times and concluded it was an allusion to me being a cock… Moral: Don’t give crap gifts to paranoid people!
One of my GFs got a years worth of Readers Digests from her MIL too, but it wasn’t a subscription, they were five years old and from the charity shop. Gotta laugh or you’ll cry.
This has cheered me up no end because someone in the comments has used the phrase “fucking Nora” which I haven’t heard for years and which is much underrated. Also, because lists for dithery, feeble present-buyers is a gold standard service and much more coherent than those terrifyingly over-styled ’50 Presents For Him Under £5000′ in weekend colour supplements.
Personally, I won’t be directing my husband to your list as although it is excellent I am fifteen years into marriage and therefore long battle-scarred by disappointing Christmas and birthday hauls. Disappointment is the key word I find. My husband is overall an excellent person but people inevitably go off the boil for periods during a marriage (in my experience after the second child, which is definitely a topic for further exploration) and so I’ve been forced to pull out my disappointed face from time to time, notably at my 39th & 41st birthdays and Christmas 2012. During the hash-down that was my 41st birthday (sad pile of books and a scented candle from two Fulham shops that were next door to one another) I used the phrase “I’m disappointed at the lack of effort”. This, combined with my disappointed face and folded arms was a KILLER! If that didn’t make it clear enough I then bought myself the outstanding necklace that I had wanted the stupid fucker to buy me all along.
I now present my husband with a list, with links and clear descriptions. I don’t care if it sucks the life out of spontaneity and the christian message of Christmas and makes me sound like a monstrous Russian gold-digger. I work my fingers to the fucking bone keeping this family afloat and alive and in clean pants and I want more than a biography of Napoleon and a True Grace fig candle for my efforts.
To my mind, wives and presents falls into the same non-fuss category of mothers in photographs that you once wrote about. In the same way that we hold back from wanting a photo of us with our children we don’t ask for nice things because it seems grabby and demanding and surely mothers should be above want as they lay themselves at the sacrificial altar of “Me Last”. Fuck that. I’m all for my children buying me a bar of strange orange soap and a scented highlighter because with them it truly is the (haphazard, agonised) thought that counts, but I require my husband to put his back into it and show me that I’m worth more than 27 minutes of panic buying in an independent bookshop. I want him to buy me the things I won’t because I’m too busy putting myself last.
NB: all Christmas lists should have a cheap, rogue element. This year, mine is a small plaster bust of Elizabeth I. Vivat Regina!
I loved this. I hope you’re getting some strong drink for Christmas, sounds like you need one x
this is the funniest thing all day. Good on you sister!!!
I have been told this year I am getting a combined Christmas and ‘push present’ (horrible name, I know, but I do deserve a present! Even worse name since this baby is being evicted with no ‘pushing’ required) ANYWAY, this warning already has me preparing for a huge, (probably expensive) disappointment of a gift. Puts me in mind of the year my birthday fell one week after we got engaged and he said, casually, on the morning of my birthday, when we were staying with his ducking mum, ‘I got you a diamond ring last week, can that just be your sort of birthday present too?’ I think I probably cried, not sure if I let him see me cry or not. Definitely didn’t let his mum see me cry. Elaine x
Oh Elaine, I feel you! Others too but specifically Elaine as I am in a similar situation – am about to give birth, am then turning 30, and then it’s Christmas. I really really want NICE THINGS. I started talking about a ‘push present’ in the summer and care not one iota that I sound ‘gift-grabby’. I want a physical representation of his appreciation, damnit! I am growing him a human!
My best worst present story is the year that my husband (then boyfriend) and his parents both bought me stick blenders. As if that wasn’t in itself bad enough, both gifts had been inspired by an incident a few weeks before, where his parents had invited themselves for dinner (requesting a light dinner so I had been and bought nice salads and made quiche etc.), and had turned up bearing soup which was still frozen. His dad then spent an hour trying to defrost a gallon of soup, telling me off for not having a stick blender the entire time, which would have made the job easier and faster. Basically it was all my fault as usual. I responded by saying I’d never needed a stick blender before and was very happy with the blender I had; I didn’t need a stick blender. I expressly remember repeating this mutiple times. Lo and behold both husband and in-laws gift me a stick blender. Both not expensive versions either, to add insult to injury. I cried. But not in front of the in-laws.
But did you cry in front of your husband?
Esther how did you know I wanted that cashmere jumper and the hoop earrings (I want the silver)?! I didn’t even know myself until today. Love Tess’s post so funny (annoyingly can’t like on this blog) esp the bit about the shops being next to each other! My husband goes out shopping every Christmas eve at the same time every year, to the same shops every year which are also next to each other and always at a crucial time when I want him here helping me with some annoying chore that I cant face solo. It used to induce murderous thoughts and huge drunken rows but I have now come to terms with it after 17 years together. I am lucky and have a lovely husband in so many other ways so I try to keep focused on this as it is the season of good will. I buy my own presents (as his are so awful). Good luck everyone X
Sarah I especially liked the ominous “Good lucky everyone” at the end. Ace.
Out of nosiness, what are you getting for your husband? Mine has no ideas, none whatsoever and I am starting to worry.
I don’t know. I am waiting for inspiration to strike x
Love the sweater ❤️
there are so many thoughts and good wishes after reading these comments.
I once won a book with the Christmas present story of a friend receiving slippers – a size small from her M I-L with an added dead mouse inside one toe.
Am I alone in hating presents? I hate being given them so much (don’t mind giving them). I guess it’s because if I am not a stuff person and if I want it, I’ve probably already got it. My dear husband is always longing to buy me things and digs desperately for hints but I would much rather get NOTHING.
It kind of makes me angry to be given stuff…
my sister is the same
if you really feel strongly about it try and work out what he could give as a ‘gift’ maybe you truly hate something he could do or pay someone else to do for you on a ‘voucher’ system like 3 hrs free(where you escape) or paying for the ironing done, gardening, car valet, a deep clean of the oven/house , or a subscription to something you do use/visit . or go further down the donating to charity sponsoring donkeys/tigers/seals/giraffes/rhinos around the world or locally .
Jill Brennan says
I love the comments on here as much as the post itself! X
I found a list recently which included the items ‘winter wetsuit’ and ‘jar of stuff’ written in a combination of my husband’s and my children’s handwriting. I assumed it was their wish list but lo and behold it turned out it was a list of things they were planning to buy FOR ME. I went batshit and in public via a well known social media site and it turns out everyone agreed with me that these were indeed shit presents to give a wife. So I’ve bought myself the Charlotte Tilbury wonder glow and sent him a link to the perfect chambray shirt from JCrew.
I don’t have to get him anything as I went banzai for his birthday and got him a kayak and had it shipped to us as a surprise in the Channel Islands so I’m off the hook for years now.
Mine just asks. Every Christmas and birthday I tell him straight out and it means that he’s happy he got the right thing and I’m happy with him AND the thing. Pretty happy with this year’s lot: Iron Maiden tickets for my birthday and an outrageously sparkly huge Pandora ring for Christmas. Happee Snolly, rocking out in style.
I am ashamed to admit my husband is the better present giver. He just gave me (for Sinterklaas, sort of a Dutch version of Christmas) a beautiful Taschen book on Queen Elizabeth because we watch The Crown, an autobiography by Ingmar Bergman’s daughter and a pin of Iris Apfel’s face! From three stores that are very far from one another. I, on the other hand, gave him Christmas ornaments and something from H&M. I guess that’s feminism for ya.
Jo F says
Love this list, I want it all! Can I pick your brain Esther? Where would you go for a stylish necklace that can be personalised? Notonthehighstteet have heaps but I can’t find anything nice.
Is this for you?
The Charlotte Olympia flat kitty shoes are extremely comfortable. My Mum has a mostly fail safe approach which involves me listening, purchasing and presenting said gift to my Dad. But Dad is pretty good with gifts (he has had 43years of practice) just needs a bit of help with some inventive wrapping. One year he got a garden incinerator (Mum wanted this – was thrilled!) and some pearl earrings. I suspended the small, wrapped box underneath the lid of the incinerator.
I do love your list as it is as useful for ideas for my own gift. The snuggly cashmere jumper looks lovely.
Jo F says
Thanks for the reply. It’s for a friend.
“nice” personalised jewellery gets very expensive, very quickly – at least all the ones I know of. Unless you have a budget running into the hundreds, my advice is to pick another gift or go back to NOTHS and see if there really isn’t anything there you like…
I am trying not to cry with laughter at work whilst reading all the comments.
I do not have any of these problems because I am a widow (and my wedding anniversary is Christmas Eve. What a dick move that was). However, I feel quite buoyantly cheerful about it all because:
A) I just buy myself what I want
B) I use the excuse of being widowed to ‘treat myself’
C) I use the excuse of my Christmas Eve wedding anniversary to ‘treat myself’
Yes, there is a theme.
When my husband was still alive, he would buy me about 17 cookbooks – usually ‘The 100 greatest curries in the world’ or similar – and something like a Swarovski pendant necklace in the shape of a unicorn with dangling star charm. I once got a pot of glittery talc.
I think this gift guide is a genius idea (and I can vouch for the quality and comfort of the Cahrlotte Olympia flats. I ‘treated myself’ several Christmases ago).
Claire I’m sorry but I laughed at your “dick move” comment. Christmas is never easy for anyone, but it must be a roller coaster for you. But I’m afraid the sad truth is that treating yourself really DOES work and having beautiful things in your life just IS nice. Merry Christmas, I will be thinking of you x
Oh Esther, thank you for your lovely response. The flipside of the horror of life shaking grief really has been that the world has somehow thrown a lot of love at me from near enough strangers. It’s quite something.
Merry Christmas to you too x
I think most people WANt to throw each other love, they are just looking for an excuse