"Oldies but goodies", "it's the thought that counts", "you can never have too many..." - the British are a polite nation, maintaining a stiff upper lip while, inside, we're throwing the mother of all tantrums. But the truth is that no matter what good intentions we start the Christmas season with, by the time we've done battle with the crowds, frozen half to death, and spent most of our paychecks, we're generally clean out of fresh ideas for presents. So, if you are going to plump for the obvious, at least try and do it in style.
1. The Mug
Personally, I love a good bit of mug, but it can all go so wrong - as an ex-boyfriend of mine once discovered after proudly presenting me with a Disney-esque one some years back. It wasn't the sole reason for our break-up but certainly didn't help matters! These Pantone ones, however, are mug-ilicious, being just the right size, infinitely collectable and totally cool!
Once the recipient has got over the initial disappointment of finding yet another pair of socks under the Christmas tree, they will discover that a killer pair like these cashmere ones from Paul Smith quickly become the most treasured thing in their wardrobe.
3. Slutty Underwear
Apparently Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. On Mars, it is commonly understood that women spend their days pillowfighting in prozzie-Red crotchless thongs. In reality, Venusians are much happier on the sofa with a bar of Galaxy while wearing cream silk granny knickers beneath fur-lined velour tracksuits. So what happens when these two worlds collide? A compromise must be reached. The girls at Agent Provocateur and Myla are well-versed mediators.
4. The Merry-go-Round bath products
By merry-go-round, I mean that box of 'smellies' that re-appears each and every Christmas and is passed on to the next unsuspecting recipient like some kind of evil-scented chain mail. With each December I am consumed by an overwhelming fear of the whiff of a Body Shop dewberry gift set. Break the chain with this set from Cowshed, which reeks of glamourous mini-breaks, rather than mouldy bathroom cupboards.
5. The Book
If you do insist on verging towards the educational when it comes to gift giving at least make some effort to blow their tiny minds. Pick a book packed full of sex, drugs and gratuitous violence and that has ideally been banned at some point in its history. Include an inscription along the lines of 'this book was an inspiration to me' and ensure that your relatives fear for your mental well-being to the point of letting you pick the Xmas tv-watching schedule. Result!