Happy Christmas! And some last-minute gifting tips…

Venti

Firstly, I’d like to wish you all a merry and peaceful Christmas, and a healthy and happy new year. Thank you for supporting Venti throughout 2019 – it’s very much appreciated!

I also wanted to share a few last-minute gifting tips for those who are in panic-buying mode!

There’s only one (at a push, two!) online shopping days left until Christmas, so if you still haven’t nailed your gifts, why not ace them all this afternoon with our last-minute gift guide?

Here are some top tips to make sure you delight (and not disappoint) your recipients – don’t forget to choose next-day delivery at the checkout!

#1. If you don’t know someone well enough to know what they’d really like… ask!

I used to spend ages trying to figure out what to get people I didn’t know very well; friends I didn’t see often, long-time acquaintances, distant family members.

When you don’t know what someone’s into, you tend to revert to the generic (hand cream, a picture frame, chocolates, some kind of body lotion, supermarket wine etc), but that can feel very impersonal and shows a lack of thought and effort.

If you really want to get it right, ask them upfront about the kind of things they like. I’ve only been doing this for the last couple of years but it it’s helped me make sure I give gifts that will be truly appreciated.

#2. If you’re going to get the obvious – get the BEST obvious

There’s nothing wrong with buying the most common items, as long as you don’t get things that could be easily picked up in any supermarket during the weekly food shop. As above, it’s nice to show you’ve put a little more effort in than that.

Socks

Instead of plain old M&S, get them something a little more unique like a London Sock Company gift box (£36) or these gorgeous cashmere (£37) or alpaca socks (£14) from artisan sock maker Tom Lane.

Chocolates

Forget anything you can get on the High Street or in a supermarket; no Roses, Quality Street, Lindt, Lindor, Thorntons, Black Magic, Celebrations or anything of that ilk!

There are so many more amazing chocolate companies out there! Try this chocolate almond assortment by Farhi at Selfridges (£7.99), these hazelnut truffles by Booja Booja at Harvey Nichols (£15.99), these rose and violet creams by Rococo (£22.99) or these incredible dark chocolate truffles from Willie’s Cacau (£8.99).

If they’re a book lover, a thoughtfully-chosen, freshly-pressed paperback (or a Waterstones voucher, if you don’t know their tastes) and a decadent bar of artisan chocolate like this or this is also a lovely gift.

Candles

Absolutely, under no circumstances, ever be tempted to buy a cheap Yankee or supermarket candle. As with the choc, there are so many incredible independent candle-makers out there. This highly desirable set from Cire Trudon (£80 at Selfridges) is an exquisite gift, while Ideal Home sells this beautiful Peace candle (£14.95) and John Lewis stocks the full Skandinavisk range, a Swedish company which makes nature-inspired candles based inspired by woods, earth and sea. The Skog candle (£30) will make their whole house smell like a Christmas tree plantation!

Alcohol

Avoid mass produced supermarket wines like Gallo – especially the ones that can be bought in a garage. If you’re in a rush and the supermarket is your only option, at least get something a little special.

Be careful of assumptions, too; not every man likes a whisky, and not every woman likes prosecco.

Find out what other alcohol they like and try to go for something a little unique; a flavoured gin like this Sipsmith lemon drizzle gin (£25 at John Lewis), this aged tawny port (£49 at Selfridges) or this salted caramel vodka liqueur (£25 at Hotel Chocolat).

Skincare

There’s really only one fail-safe place to go for lotions, shaving things and skincare gifts, and that’s L’Occitane. Their staff will make up a beautifully-packaged gift box of your chosen products, or you can choose a pre-packaged box like this men’s grooming essentials set (£24.50) or this scrumptious shea butter gift collection (£49).

Some other desirables

If none of the above fit the bill, how about a design-conscious water bottle that’ll look great on their desk or in their bag? Everyone needs to stay hydrated! Chilly’s make the best ones (from £15) but if you need faster delivery, try the more expensive but utterly stunning S’well range (from £25).

Also, this red portable power bank (£20 at Selfridges) is a super-handy, practical gift, this orange penguin hot water bottle (£21 at John Lewis) is really cute, and this Christian Lacroix notebook (£15 at Harvey Nichols) is perfect for stationary lovers.

Some seriously undesirables

A few things to steer clear of, though – novelty items (ties, jumpers, jokey things like rude games, huge glasses that say things like ‘Gin O’Clock’ or mugs that say things like ‘Badass Babe’) and any kind of ornament.

Novelty items are generally in poor taste (unless you know their sense of humour and you’re sure they’ll find it hilarious), and people have very personal tastes when it comes to ornaments – gifts like these will likely end up in the bin.

#3. Don’t underestimate a good voucher

Sometimes, the only way you can guarantee you’ll get something someone really wants is to give them a voucher.

People tend to shy away from vouchers as they feel it can look impersonal or insubstantial, but it doesn’t have to – place the voucher in a small gift box with a few wrapped chocs scattered inside, and you’re done!

Waterstones, Amazon and Netflix gift cards are always winners, but I’d also  recommend a Neal’s Yard voucher (they can be used on skincare items or treatments like a luxurious aromatherapy massage) which staff will package beautifully in a gift box for you.

A leisure voucher for a meal or overnight break like this, an action-packed gift experience like this or a voucher to a fitness class or creative workshop you can do together are also wonderfully thoughtful.

#4. Give gifts with a feelgood factor

If you really don’t know your recipient, or you’re looking for something a little bit different, the charity route is also a great option.

You could adopt an emperor penguin in their name through the WWF (£3 per month for a year), adopt a beautiful donkey through the Donkey Sanctuary (£36) or feed a family in Africa through Self Help Africa (£100).

You can also adopt a tree or habitat through the Wildlife Trust (from £8); as an example, you could adopt a Shropshire holly tree or an acre of Gors Maen Llwyd habitat.

#5. Don’t wrap up unwanted presents

Wrapping up an assortment of random things you’ve found in your cupboard, or giving previously unwanted gifts that might be in good condition but are unlikely to be anyone else’s cup of tea either, is rarely a good idea – unless you’re a gifting guru and you’re great at putting the old and new together to look completely new.

People can usually tell, and if you get it wrong, it’s not only the height of poor gifting etiquette but sends a clear message about how little thought, money, time and attention you have for your recipient.

It’s only the ‘thought that counts’ if your gift shows actual thought. Every gift you give should feel completely personal to whoever you give it to.

If you’ve amassed a collection of unwanted things, donate them to a charity shop – but always gift something new. If money’s tight, you can still find wonderful things out there for under £10 – just hop on a department store website’s gift section and sort by price for inspiration.

#6. Gift things they’d like, not things you’d like

This is probably the trickiest aspect of gift-giving, and it’s taken me forever to understand this – but when we buy for others, we subconsciously tend to buy the things we like.

If you’re into outdoorsy things, for example, you might give people practical hiking-related things that you feel they need, like a head torch or a pair of gloves (incidentally, it’s bad luck to give gloves!), but if they’re not remotely into walking, they’ll be disappointed.

Training yourself away from gifting your own tastes to someone else with different tastes is the hardest part of good gifting, but if you can get it right, your gifts will always be something to really look forward to.

#7. Presentation is everything

Last but not least, some packaging tips. If it’s an awkward shape, buy a gift box from Paperchase, fill it with tissue and nestle your gift in there. Boxes are so much easier to wrap and look much more elaborate.

Alternatively, many stores have a gift-wrapping service and it’s very much worth it to do your gifts justice in the presentation department!

If wrapping really isn’t your thing, package your gift in tissue paper and pop it in a good quality gift bag, with a flourish of tissue paper on top.

Hope that helps! Happy gifting – and a very Happy New Year from Venti Comms.

Lara x