…. or boyfriend, or wife, or girlfriend or partner. It’s that time of year again! My letter to your other half, whomsoever that may be, about what TF to get you for Christmas so that you do not end up with a set of knives, a pair of floral-patterned gardening gloves, (despite regularly claiming that you’re not interested in gardening, in fact you hate gardening, you are allergic to gardening … and all they heard was “gardening”), and a lacy thong not even in your size. Of course, you might hate all these suggestions and think I am a weird, bourgeoise snob in which case you can quietly delete this email and we’ll pretend it never happened.
I’m doing this early this year because I don’t know, I get the sense that people are starting on Christmas now. I may be wrong about this, as I am about so much. Anyway, let’s get started.
Olverum bath oil
I have recommended this for a few years now – it’s like very expensive Badedas, a eucalyptus-y ointment that you add a tiny drop to any bath for a really excellent effect. One bottle will last a year, easy. I have bought Giles one of these every year. For a straight man he is surprisingly keen on bath things that smell nice, in a very modern way that we used to call “metrosexual”.
A fragrance discovery set
These are really fun and increasingly more brands are into the idea of selling a selection of 5ml bottles of their bestselling scents rather than expecting people who shell out £100+ on one large bottle which will probably go off before you can get to the end of it
An appointment with a great dermatologist or facialist
It’s getting the appointment that’s the faff, so do that please, and also cough up for the consultation fee. The greats are Dr Sam Bunting (020 3475 4773), Dr Anita Sturnham (020 3971 9031)and Sarah Chapman (020 7589 9585). Hit the phones.
Wireless, in-ear headphones are life-changing for listening to podcasts while you’re doing the washing up or making handsfree calls. I have got one set from Huawei, which were a gift and one set of AirPods. Both amazing and I’ve managed not to lose either yet.
Ralph Lauren sweatshirt in navy
Okay you’re all going to laugh at me, but I think Ralph Lauren is about to have a massive renaissance. As far as I’m concerned, a men’s navy RL sweatshirt is one of the hardest-working things in anyone’s wardrobe. Must be from the men’s section for full preppy points. I am a size 10-12 and I take a men’s size M.
Did Ye Hear Mammy Died by Séamas O’Reilly
This is getting on for being my book of the year. It’s a very moving memoir, which is also funnier than anything I have read for a long time. As the title suggests, it’s about the death of author’s mother when he was five. It is also about growing up with ten brothers and sisters on the North/South Ireland border in the 90s and just how the hell his Dad coped with eleven children alone. Usually books about death, grief and sad children are anathema to me. The very real possibility that some form of cancer will take me away from my children is ever crouched at the back of my mind and I really don’t want to read about the actuality of it. But this is irresistible. For O’Reilly’s series of cruel jokes about Irish fruitcake alone I would be willing to also absorb the fundamental tragedy of maternal loss. But there is so much more than fruitcake jokes here, it is a swirling epic of funny and sad, all handled with the deftness of a Riverdance chorus line. I am recommending this rather than other more famous recent books, as it is one of those small masterpieces that has flown slightly under the radar. Without this recommendation you might easily miss it among other more heavily publicised yet massively inferior books. I do hope he writes more.
Eve Lom Kissmix
Stupidly expensive for a lip balm, but it’s the best and, listen – it’s Christmas. Available from John Lewis.
Or maybe even two pairs? Brora or White Company have got you covered.
A Bandolier phone-bag case whatsit
Actual handbags feel increasingly to me like they are going the way of high heels and push-up bras. The closer I get to the masculine freedoms of flat shoes, no underwire and leaving the house with only the things I can carry in my pockets, the closer I feel to true equality. Quite often – not always, but quite often – all you really do need when you leave the house is your phone. (I keep my house keys in one of those metal security boxes screwed to the side of the house.) These Bandolier cases give you hands-free attachment to your phone, make it much less easy to snatch by a passing scallywag on a Tier scooter. It also has a pocket in the back for a bank card. They take a while to ship, so don’t delay.
This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray
I know, I recommend this all the time, but it’s great stuff. I’d love to wholeheartedly recommend a box of Spacemasks as they are really so genuis-ly, almost erotically good, but they also look to me like single-use, unrecyclable nightmares.
Cult Beauty gift card
I would be delighted to get one of these then you can shop for colours, lotions and potions at your leisure.
If you’re in the market for something very, very expensive, but don’t know where to start, consider Foundrae, which is extremely fashionable and insanely pricey.
Otherwise Brooke Gregson is a classic choice.
Back to financial reality, friend of The Spike Margot & Mila has a range of beautiful and unusual jewellery, hand-made in the UK.
I think Jigsaw make the best pyjamas. I know, this is weirdly specific, but if we’re talking about the precise perfect point where quality meets value, these are it. Pyjama bottoms must always be long – I know a shorts set looks nice online but unless you are a pants-with-pyjamas person, you will flash everyone your twinkle (or, possibly just as bad, your pants) at breakfast.
And you? How are you feeling about Christmas this year?