Christmas gifts 2022

Why a nightcap is a dream Christmas present

Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? I ask because there is a must-have item for 2022 that may have so far escaped your attention. And that’s a small irony because at some point in the weeks ahead it will almost certainly be staring you in the face. Whether you’re reading A Christmas Carol and enjoying John Leech’s illustrations, or relishing in the monochrome horror of Alastair Sim in Brian Desmond Hurst’s gothic version of 1951, or enjoying once again Michael Caine’s peerless performance in the Muppets’ musical adaption, you will notice that one of Ebenezer Scrooge’s nocturnal accessories is never missing: the nightcap. You don’t have to be a

A guide to buying scent for Christmas

Is it presumptuous to buy perfume as a gift without knowing the recipient will like it? Scent is such a personal choice, we are told, ad infinitum. But those in close confines with a person drenched in fragrance will experience it as much as (if not more than) the wearer. Purchasing an eau de toilette is high-stakes stuff for all. Every fragrance smells different to (and on) everyone; a single spritz at the perfume counter could convince gift-givers that they have found the most charming scent in existence, only to learn it induces abject nausea in their chosen recipient. I know this to be true: a whiff of Angel by

The art of the stocking-filler book

The best stocking-filler present I received last year was the bumper Christmas edition of The Spectator. But it wasn’t the only erudite reading matter crammed into a moth-eaten ski sock. Nestled under a mouldy tangerine and some chocolate money destined to be stolen by my children were: How it Works: The Dad (Ladybird for Grown-Ups); You Do Have the Authority Here!: #What Would Jackie Weaver Do?; and The Best of Matt, 2021. They now jostle for space in a downstairs loo sprinkled with other half-read stocking fillers chronicling the past two decades: Schott’s Original Miscellany; The Curious Incident of the WMD in Iraq; Does Anything Eat Wasps?; Crap Towns; Fifty

The best cookbooks to give this Christmas

I love a good cookbook. In an age where endless variations on any recipe are no more than a few clicks away on the internet, there is still a certain magic to buying, or receiving, a physical, curated collection.  Cookbooks can teach you something in a way that individual online recipes can’t. Whether exploring a new cuisine or trying a new technique, cooking from a cookbook means you can build up a whole repertoire of dishes and hone new skills. I love that you can annotate the pages, and it doesn’t matter if they get mucky (I find you can always tell the best recipes in a book by how

Best of British: Christmas gifts for under £20

Christmas shopping has its challenges at the best of times. Oxford Street crowds and high street tat; Black Friday generating more excitement than a White Christmas. And this year will, for many, be more challenging than ever. Who needs the Grinch when the cost-of-living monster threatens to steal Christmas? When looking to keep down the cost of presents, gravitating towards well-known British heritage brands might seem counterintuitive. The ‘big box’ instinct sometimes kicks in: the bigger the package the more expensive it’ll look under the tree, we reason. And many of us are guilty of buying presents that are more gimmicky and flashy than genuinely likely to get good use.

What teachers really want for Christmas

As the end of term approaches parents may be wondering what to buy their child’s teacher for Christmas. It’s the season of goodwill, after all. It’s also a golden opportunity to win a way to Sir or Miss’s heart, so they’ll continue to take good care of little Olivia or Oliver in the new year. The days of apples left on desks are long gone, so what to give teacher might cause some confusion. Money is tight this year, an added complication – although at some of the independent schools where I’ve taught gifts seem to become more extravagant each December. So what kind of presents do we teachers really