Christmas shopping can sometimes be one of the hardest things to do. Ever. Full stop. It’s the one time of the year, unless you unfortunately have lots of relatives birthdays clustered around one date, where you have to get multiple gifts. It can be hard to a) know what to get people, and b) afford that kind of thing. This is my guide and ideas-giving post on shopping for your male significant other (super hetero, I’m sorry!) and your parents. It boils down to this: know them well! Their interests, their favourite franchises, their hobbies. Things you might do or enjoy together. Things they might even need, and have mentioned before. It’s all here – enjoy!
Reflecting on gifts I’ve gotten my boyfriend and family before, I know that I tend to go really, really overboard when it comes to my boyfriend. It’s not that Hugo ever asks me to do that, or that he even asks me for anything – it’s a little bit more that first I want to spoil the creature, and secondly that when you’re with someone who’s just so good and handsome, and you yourself are a little boring, you feel like you might want to even up the chances a little bit, you know? Sounds dumb. Totally true. Our first Christmas in a relationship, I sold AUD$600 worth of my possessions, including Gucci sunglasses I had inherited and my old formal dress – and almost all of that went towards buying his presents. On reflection that seems pretty close to insanity. I went all out: he was going to be visiting me in Malaysia, and I booked us a New Years Eve dinner at the rotating restaurant at the top the tallest building, bought him a suit and shoes to wear to the dinner, Armani watch, film camera to take with us to Japan. Yeah. Yeaaaaaah.
Last Christmas it was toned down. Underwear and socks (always a good option!), a model of an alpaca (kind of our thing), and a ticket to see The Who and Johnny Marr play at Hyde Park in the summer. A good gift! I was pleased, he was pleased. This Christmas, I went for something that could work for both of us (literally best presents – something that you get something out of, too. E.g. buying someone a book you really want to read, or (and this is a good one), buying a game you really want to play, and then you get to play it with them!) – a trip to Barcelona. Hugo got to see Messi play, we both went to the darn football museum, but I also got to have my own afternoon alone and exploring the Gothic District, which was absolutely incredible.
So, what can I conclude with? Gifts: something they enjoy personally (football, travelling, concert tickets, video games, a particular franchise like Star Wars or Football Manager; maybe something they collect or like to have a lot of – like Adidas trainers or themed mugs), something they may have alluded to wanting or needing (a particular book, their camera has broken, they watchstrap/wallet/belt is falling apart), and finally, and this is usually quite a good one for the ‘big’ gift – something that they would want to buy for themselves, but maybe can’t afford to, or can’t justify buying. For example, Hugo loves AllSaints, but paying £40 for a plain tshirt is admittedly overkill. However, he does love their stuff – so why not! Finally, my last suggestion, would be something that you can enjoy together – taking him out to see a show or movie, for dinner or afternoon tea, a spa day or trip to the zoo. And, always, socks and underwear are forever the best stocking fillers.
I always panic unnecessarily about giving gifts to my parents. My mum is anti consumerism and hates having belongings, and my dad is very quiet and god knows what he actually wants. I asked them this year about what they’d like and got: a bar of Caramac from the £1 store for mum, and “just you being home for Christmas will be enough” from my dad. Bloody useless. Hugo’s mum is of a similar ilk – she asked for a keyring, and last birthday, asked for some hairties. I understand not everyone’s parents are like this though, my old flat mate’s mum would apparently flip out if you didn’t spend enough money on her and buy her something branded – my flat mate was £600 deep into her overdraft by the first week of term, thanks to her mum’s birthday. So I think the same principle applies: know your recipient. Know their interests, know what they like and what they don’t. Consider their expectations too: my parents are very reasonable, they know I’m a student with a very limited income. Also, mum would probably literally kill me if I got her a branded anything, she hates it all.
Luckily, I have a couple of safe bets and traditions that make buying for my parents easier. If I travel, I get my parents some kind of souvenir or momento from the place I’ve been (even though they are, together and separately, the most well traveled people I have ever met) – last year I was in Rome and bought mum some knickknacks from a cat shelter that was built on the ruins of a fort. There was a cat calendar, with pictures of the cats roaming their fort, a handpainted cat stone keyring, and a little tote bag that she could use a recycled bag for her shopping. All the proceeds of these purchases went towards the cat sanctuary. She loved it! Something that gave back, whilst was still a gift for her. There are lots of examples of those kinds of gifts – a friend of mine has passed on Christmas this year, and instead, his parents are donating all the money that they would’ve spent on presents to a refugee organisation. Donations in your parents name work too, so that they might receive a thank you or small certificate – I know that sites that give microloans from donations do that. Or, for gifts that do give back, you could look to Buzzfeed’s latest article, on gifts that are made sustainably and give back to the local community.
This year I’ve gone for safe bets. My dad is getting a Dilbert desk calendar (as he gets every year), mum is getting travel momentos in the form of a Miffy Christmas bauble (last year she got a handmade bauble from my travels in Poland) from Amsterdam and a Gaudi inspired lizard knickknack from Barcelona. I also made them up a food hamper! TK Maxx is one of my absolute favourite places EVER, and the one in Milton Keynes has a huge selection of food products. Mum loves marzipan, nougat and Turkish delight, and my dad likes traditional German cookies. I created the hamper itself out of an old Amazon box, and covered it in leftover Christmas paper before filling it up with all the tasty bits. And, true to the ‘buy something you’d enjoy too’ rule, I bought both my parents Star Wars monopoly!
Hope this was helpful all! Look out for my next post on Christmas gifts for yourself! Only three days to go, so hope you’re all set for Christmas xxx