Today is the 1st of December, which is hard to believe, as we have only really had one hat-and-gloves day so far. Nevertheless, the calendar doesn't lie and it signals me that I have to get organized... for menu planning and gift shopping for the holidays, for the kids' break from school (one of mine is off for 24 days!), for my art workshops, and to start the new year off right. In case you are coming up with a blank in any of these areas, these are some of my ideas:
- Calendars/Diaries - I need 2 of these every year; 1 for my desk and 1 for my handbag. For the desk version, I have bought the same one for the past 5 years, during my August visit to NJ, at Barnes & Noble: Pam Socolow's Family Facts. It's a plastic covered ring binder with week at a glance, address book, helpful pages of lists like car pool, activities, quick contacts and places we like, and a few pages of stickers for things like appointments and birthdays. Ifyou can find it for 2012, it's great. Unfortunately, this year I was let down, as B&N didn't have it in stock when I was in the States. So, I've been searching for a similar system to replace it. I think I may have found it here:
For handbags, I'm still pleased with my brown, faux snakeskin Filofax pocket organiser, received as a Christmas gift last year from my M-I-L, so I will be ordering the 2012 insert. It packs a punch, at only 11.5 X 14.5 cm (4 1/4 X 5 3/4 inches), but with surprisingly large spaces on its week-at-a-glance pages, address book, International information (metric to US equivalents and Fahrenheit to Celsius!) and even a tiny ruler.
I'm all for combining gift buying with charitable giving, where possible. So, if you know anyone who would be thrilled to have a bright pink diary, consider this one that benefits the Breast Cancer Campaign, a registered charity in England and Wales (no. 299758). For every organiser sold, Filofax will donate £2.20 to Breast Cancer Campaign.
2. Experiences - It seems to me as if gifts are getting more impersonal all the time. I'm not sure if this is for convenience or if they think it's truly better to let someone choose their own gift. I think it's a bit of a shame to oversaturate kids with Am.azo.n and i.tunes giftcards... surely their delight wanes after opening the first few? If you must, why not choose a gift voucher with a difference? For families e, I like the idea of giving them a more active sort of experience: consider buying them gift vouchers for indoor skiing, ice-skating, an indoor waterpark (there's one called Gulliver's SplashZone in Milton Keynes) and climbing walls, or signing them up for a holiday art course (I happen to be running several, each based on a different artist). For adults e, you can buy a driving experience at Brands Hatch racetrack, or a spa voucher. (I know which one I'd rather receive!)
3. Pamper and refresh - If your budget doesn't stretch to a whole day, but you want to give your girlfriend, mother or other woman in your life a luxuriously renewing, individual spa treatment, there are many wonderful practitioners around who offer gift vouchers e. If you happen to live in my area of North London/Harrow/SouthHerts, I recommend Teresa Maybury for superb, expert facials using Dr Belter products, in her private and calming space in Rayners Lane, and Julia Jenkins in Croxley Green for massage; especially her Lava Shells treatments.
4. For women on the go, there may possibly be no better gift e than these 2 items I found on the Dynagirl website: e Fizpouch, an organiser for cellphone, makeup and glasses that can be moved from handbag to handbag (briefcase, student book bag or whatever. I like this one in metallic bronze but it also comes in red, black, brown, pink and cream. And e their own-brand SupaSoles; foldable ballet flats that are a lifesaver for anyone who goes out in heels, but limps home in pain.
5. Jewellery she won't have seen in the shops, from American company Stella & Dot, now in the UK
6. Thinking outside the box - Got a really challenging person to shop for? Sometimes the most clever gifts don't come in a box ! How about...
e a personal stylist to refresh their wardrobe,
e cosmetic dentisty to bring some sparkle to their smile,
e a party planner to take stress off the menu at their wedding or other celebration
e a step-up toward Britain's Got Talent or XFactor with singing, drama and dancing lessons,
e makeup lessons by a Mary Kay Professional Beauty Consultant; or even
e a year's membership in a networking organisation to jump-start or revitalize their business; and finally
e for the person who already has everything they want; a donation in their name to charity, especially one that provides for others at Christmas and throughout the year.
7. My personal favourites, received in the past few years , which are neither flash nor expensive, have been a Family GiftCard from Vue Cinemas and a magazine subscription to Psychologies. There's a special deal going for a year's subscription for £22.99. Not bad. This year, I'm hoping for a subscription to Coast magazine (hint, hint Santa), because, well, a girl can dream. I can curl up with this magazine and a cup of tea, winter, spring, summer or fall, and put myself in a completely different place and time. The best deal I've seen is from their own publisher, for £25.99.
I hope I've given you food for thought and lightened the load that sometimes leads up to the festive celebrations. Most of all, have fun!
*Links to service and product providers mentioned here are merely for your convenience and do not come with any guarantees. Some I may have used personally, while I may have received recommendations for others from their clients or customers. I do not have any financial arrangements with anyone on this list, such as commisssions or affiliate fees.