There are countless His and Hers sections across the gift pages of web sites and catalogues. You know the thing: think flowery and fragrant for women; think gadgets and gimmicks for men.
However, we choose not to split this Presents for Adults page on gender because that is to make the assumption certain gifts we might list as suitable for women are not also suitable for men – and vice versa. So read on with an open mind and see if you can’t surprise the adults in your life with a present that’s out of the conventional box.
Drink and Be Merry
There are shelves full of intoxicating liqueur and fine wines at Christmas, sure to delight any would-be recipient. Some boozy ideas involve Christmassy names and flavours to deliver that extra Yuletide oomph – and show you’ve put that further bit of thought into the gift giving. Fortnum & Mason’s Madeira is a special treat and simply delicious. And there’s also the superb Christmas Pudding Madeira from Fortnum’s. When Auntie asks for a Christmas Day sherry – “Just a small one for me, dear” – serve her this and she’ll be thrilled. These are perfect presents for men and women of quaffable age, especially accompanied by Fortnum’s biscuits for cheese and a chunk of scrumptious Stilton.
Don’t be a Scrooge when it comes to gifting red wine. Go for the full-bodied Ebbenezer & Seppeltsfield Australian Shiraz from Marks & Spencer. Don’t be a Scrooge…Ebbenezer & Sep…okay, okay, just making sure you got that one! The bottle top is red; the label is white and red. Again, it just says ‘Christmas’. At this point we could suggest buying some “Marley” coffee to accompany this gift, but that might be over-egging the Christmas Carol vibe.
Champagne is a Christmas must – well, lovely alcoholic fizz of some kind at least. Madame Bollinger said of Champagne: “I drink it when I am happy and when I am sad. Sometimes I drink it when I am alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory.” Booths and Waitrose are among those offering bottles of bubbly by Duval-Leroy, one of the last Champagne houses still entirely family-owned. Prices start in the £25 region. Booths has made its Christmas selection available throughout the country and not just Northwest England. Veuve Clicquot, dazzling yellow label and all, remains a How to Christmas favourite. Prosecco is hugely popular throughout the year in the UK: a fizz for all occasions and less expensive than champagne. For Christmas, we love the Marks & Spencer pink beauty Bellante. Here, the Prosecco grape has been blended with a little Raboso to give this drink its delicate pink hue.
For the whisky lover in your life, look no further than The Whisky Exchange for a spectacular choice. The company offers global delivery and a range of more than 9,000 whiskies and fine spirits. The Whisky Exchange bills itself as the world’s specialist drink retailer and can be discovered at thewhiskyexchange.com. There you will find five-star picks – the customer favourites – as well as new arrivals, exclusive Scotch whisky, products of the month and amazing high-end brands for some added festive extravagance.
Want to go down the cocktail route? Then how about a mince pie martini? You will find one of the key ingredients, Tipplesworth Mince Pie Syrup, at tipplesworth.com. This is a gift we would be only too happy to find under our tree, especially with a bottle of rum to go with it.
Music Maestro Please
For around 15 pounds a month you can purchase the gift of music from one of the world’s great orchestras – the Berliner Philharmoniker. What a wonderful present for friends or family who love their classical music. Concerts can be streamed live into living rooms on TV, computer, tablet or smart-phone. Each season, around 40 concerts are broadcast live and they can also be viewed at a later date in the concert archive. The archive already contains hundreds of recordings with many great classical music artists. Registration in the Digital Concert Hall is free of charge and you can try it out without obligation. A ticket or subscription (including seven day, 30 days, monthly and yearly passes) gives you access to all live broadcasts and videos – as often as you like on the device of your choice. Check out digitalconcerthall.com.
There are festive albums galore, both old and new, that make ideal stocking fillers. Eric Clapton is among those to release a 2018 Christmas album. Visit our pages entitled Popular Carols & Collections and Pop, Soul, Jazz & Legends for a wealth of ideas. Our favourites for gifting include any collection from the magnificent choir of King’s College, Cambridge and the wonderful works of John Rutter.
New York Lovers
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is home to the beautiful Angel Tree. You can bring the museum to you and your loved ones with an array of goods related to the marvellous tree. That’s because they have an online shop that ships to the UK. Check out store.metmuseum.org. With all US orders, we implore you to check posting and packaging fees before you commit to an order. Becoming a member of the Met comes with a 10 percent discount off all purchases throughout the year, plus seasonal double discounts. It allows free admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Cloisters museum and gardens plus delivery of the sumptuous Christmas catalogue. Met membership could prove an unusual and unexpected gift for fans of – and potential visitors to – this great city.
“Humans of New York” is a wonderful hardback book by Brandon Stanton. He has been capturing New Yorkers and their remarkable stories since 2010 and this is a moving collection of 400 of his works. Check across online stockists for the best price. You might also opt to add his follow up books in a similar vein: “Humans of New York: Stories” and “Little Humans”.
New York’s flagship stores like Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue deliver to this country using Borderfree (See the following ‘America on Your Doorstep’ section). There is a website devoted to Christmas gifts from New York entitled NY Christmas Gifts.com. It also ships internationally. Check out nychristmasgifts.com.
America on Your Doorstep
Yes, Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue deliver to this country via Borderfree, but so do many other US stores like Macy’s and Neiman Marcus. Prices are converted into GB pounds and all shipping and customs charges are paid up front. It couldn’t be more straightforward. There’s more on the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book for 2018 further down this page.
Food for Thought
When it comes to gift giving, the belief is that it’s the thought that counts. Give one of these delicious food gifts this Christmas and they will know what excellent thought you’ve put into it…while showing impeccable taste.
Carved Angel White Chocolate and Cranberry Pudding – a Christmas pudding that is smooth, light and not too sweet and comes in its own basin. Christmas pud with a delicious difference that serves 2-3 people. The larger puddings serve 6-8 people and cost a little more. Check out thecarvedangel.com.
Biscuits with style and taste – check out the splendid selections at biscuiteers.com and artisanbiscuits.co.uk. The tins alone at Biscuiteers are a gift to behold.
Nutella – a chocolate and hazelnut spread, delicious on pancakes or with fresh fruit. If you are a fan – or know someone who is – you can personalise labels on 400g or 750g pots of the tasty nuttiness via nutella.com.
Carluccio’s Panettone Tradizionale – Part bread, part cake, Panettone is arguably the biggest food star of an Italian Christmas. Carluccio’s Italian bakers only make Panettone between September and December, so it’s only in the festive season that this sweet treat is available. Light and delicate sponge made with butter, candied peel and sultanas, finished with crunchy hazelnut icing and presented in a festive box, this is a Christmas gift to savour.
Chocolate Dreams – At Christmas, there has to be chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. Out come the tins of Quality Street and Roses, the boxes of After Eight mints and selection boxes. But if you want to give chocolate as a special gift, you need only look at the delicious and inviting selections offered by the UK’s Hotel Chocolat, Belgium’s Godiva, France’s Richart and Switzerland’s Teuscher.
London Eye Tasting Adventure by Hotel Chocolat – This London Eye Chocolate Tasting experience is a dream for the chocolate lovers in your life. Better still, you could join in. You will sip chilled Prosecco while learning all about the world of chocolate, from how to taste it and when, while in London’s iconic London Eye. Prices from £54.
NEW FOR 2018: Department store John Lewis & Partners launched its Christmas shop in its flagship Oxford Street store in London in September, featuring a ‘forest’ of 55 trees, a Rainbow Room filled with more than sixty shades of glass baubles and the much-anticipated Quality Street Pick & Mix. Tins of Quality Street can be personalised with a name of your choice, for example Smith Street, and you can fill the tin with your choice of favourite chocolates. You have to include a minimum of four different flavours and it will cost £12.
Personalised Cornish Pasties – Famous Pasties from Cornwall from Philps, who allow you to personalise giant pasties through their stores and notonthehighstreet.co.uk. This is a Cornish family owned and run business with family values at its heart. As Philps’ website reads: “They’ve helped us face adversity together, shaped our commitment to hard work, and enabled us to keep our founder Sammy Philps’ original vision alive.” Sammy’s dream was to delight people as far and wide as possible with the delicious taste of the Philps Cornish pasty and now their ‘Pasties by Post’ delivery service does exactly that in the UK. With the word of ex-pats and social media, the world is learning about and enjoying these scrumptious treats.
Velvetister by Hotel Chocolat – This sleek gadget is intended to deliver café-quality hot chocolate at home with no fuss or mess. The stylish look is a bonus. It retails at £89.99 at hotelchocolat.com.
Neiman Marcus Fantasy Gifts
American department store Neiman Marcus published its annual Christmas Book of luxury items in October, many so outrageously priced they belong in the realm of fantasy for most. But there are many more affordable choices to covet.
The 92nd edition of the Christmas Book includes a 74-foot Serenity Solar Yacht for a little more than seven million dollars, a Tennis Majors Tour with Sloane Stephens for 550,000 dollars, taking the buyer to Melbourne, Paris, London and New York for all the Grand Slam events and offering a private match against the 2017 US Open champion, and the chance to become a secret agent in Las Vegas for 315,000 dollars. We reiterate, there are many more attainable gifts as well, like the Patricia Breen Winter Passage Santa Ornament (around £215) and Steiff Limited Edition Winter Reindeer Stuffed Toy (around £265). We adore both. The store ships to the UK and converts all prices to pounds sterling. See the full fantasy collection and gifts galore at neimanmarcus.com.
Stuck for Ideas? Don’t Be!
Think unusual gifts: think Firebox. You can give a gift you’ve paid good money for – and yet not actually know what’s inside the wrapping. You can give the man who has everything some Flatulence Pants for those windy winter days. You can even turn the kettle on downstairs while you’re cosy in bed upstairs. And all this by visiting firebox.com, where you will discover many cool, wild, clever and, yes, even some downright rude Christmas presents for those you love (even those you don’t). What’s inside the intriguing black Mystery Boxes? Well, you can opt for a theme (ie Booze, Foodie, Gadget) but not know exactly what gifts are inside when you’re handing out the box on Christmas Day. Sounds like fun to us. We also like the look of (not to mention the taste of) Unicorn Tears Gin Liqueur – but not so much the illuminated Bike Balls. We’ll let you discover those for yourself…if you dare.
Get surfing in 2018 and you will come across the unusual, the desirable and the strangely practical, like this little lot:
Luna Lighting: There are angels, stars, stockings, Christmas trees and hearts among the designs created by Anna Perring, who has been developing her range of playful ivory-white porcelain tea-lights since 2006. Her aim is to create work that captures the purity of porcelain yet is uplifting and makes people smile. All are handmade in her Central London studio. See the collection at hiddenartshop.co.uk/collections/luna-lighting.
Fortnum’s 2019 Diary: Featuring an Edward Bawden illustration from the Fortnum & Mason archive dating back to November 1959, this diary is punctuated with little-known facts and anecdotes from the Piccadilly store’s 311-year history. It is bound in soft-feel Eau de Nil leather and gift-boxed. Visit fortnumandmason.com.
Nathalie Bond Organics: Candles, body oils, body scrubs, soap, bath salts, lip balm, skin balm – clean and classy labels and packaging, all affordably priced and UK made. The company’s website reads: “It all started back in 2014 when Nat became pregnant with her first son and made the decision to stop using beauty products packed with chemicals (did you know the average woman applies 168 chemicals to her skin every day?). After cleaning out her bathroom cupboard, Nat began blending natural oils and butters to create skincare that was gentle, safe and sustainable. Today, we sell a versatile range of products that reduce the amount of ingredients applied onto skin every morning and the bottles cluttering up the bathroom.” We heartily approve. Look out for the Winter Essential Oils candle for the festive season.
Gemma Wightman Ceramics: If you have a really special announcement to share with your partner this year – or someone else in the family for that matter – how about a hand thrown porcelain mug for £22. Inside and on the bottom of the mug are the words: “I’m Pregnant!” Make a tea or coffee in the mug, then break the news in an altogether different way. Make sure they drink all the contents, of course. Check out: gemmawightmanceramics.com.
Rocky on Ruby Sweatshirts: You can buy personalised sweatshirts by “Rock on Ruby” and have matching combos for the family. We like the idea of having the year you were born on each top. The company says it “creates statement clothing and accessories, with fun slogans that can be personalised to suit any personality or occasion.” The full collection is at rockonruby.co.uk.
Predator Adventures Seabreacher Experience: Predator Adventures are half-submersible speedboat tour operators based in the UK. Is there an 18 foot long killer whale with your name on it? Intrigued? Visit predatoradventures.com.
Little People Big Dreams: View this wonderful selection of books and be charmed. The iconic female subjects include Maya Angelou, Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie and Agatha Christie, although the series of “Little People, Big Dreams” books began with Coco Chanel’s story. The illustrations are such that the potted biographies make superb gifts for youngsters as well as adults, with many a role model to inspire young girls. But we believe every grown up girl of strong mind and will should own this collection. Each book retails at under £10.
Trust in This: A National Trust Membership might prove an ideal gift for lovers of the great outdoors or historic house hunters. There are individual, couples and family annual memberships offering access to more than 200 inspiring houses, more than 130 enchanting gardens and expanses of breathtaking countryside and water. Offers are often available when subscribing by direct debit – like three months free membership and a pair of free binoculars. Check: nationaltrust.org.uk/join-us.
Linen Lovelies: Linen loaf bags keep the crust crisp, the inside soft and the overall loaf mould-free for longer. These splendid linen bags have a natural cotton tie and hand-printed designs by Cornwall-based Helen Round. We love Helen’s Honey Bee Collection that includes a glasses case, purse, pouch, bucket bag. Visit helenround.com.
Posterhaste: Ever thought of creating a word cloud? You can personalise a print, poster or canvas from £20 at posterhaste.com. The website reads: “Put your friendship into words and remind your best mate of the times you’ve had together; Immortalise a trip of a lifetime; Share your favourite things…The options are endless.” All you have to do is come up with the key words. With the ability to enter up to 200 lines of text, Posterhaste say ‘Word Cloud’ is one of its most customisable designs.
Emma Bridgewater: The Emma Bridgewater personalised mini mugs are now being marketed as place settings for the Christmas table. A poppy mug, designed in collaboration with the Royal British Legion charity to mark a hundred years since the end of World War I, will be most coveted.
Little Row Boat’s Naughty Pencils: Lots of desirable stationery, some with profanity to the fore. Swear words are not very Christmassy in and of themselves, of course, but the naughty pencils are an x-rated hoot. We are also rather fond of the ‘Nosey Sod’ notebooks. View the range at littlerowboat.co.uk.
CHECK OUT OUR GIFT WEBSITES TO LOVE PAGE FOR MANY MORE SURFING DESTINATIONS AND IDEAS