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10 Christmas ideas (Pt 2): Gifts

Some are weird (well, off the wall), some wonderful and another is socially-distanced plain crackers

What type of present giver are you? Personally, I give money to my sons. Yes, I know it’s a cop-out. But, I defend myself by saying that, at least they get what they want. I hate that “will they be taking it back next week to get it part-exchanged?” feeling when present recipients try to convince you it’s “something I’ve always wanted”.

Fortunately for the companies involved in this blog not everyone spends their Christmases muttering “Bah, humbug” to anyone who will listen. Some really do put lots of thought into the presents they buy. So what’s your preference? Weird? Whacky? Just plain crackers? Or do you like to choose something safe and cheerful (though not necessarily cheap)? Whatever, I hope you find something to your taste here in this 10.

1 Gift voucher for a room overhaul consultation

A bit off the wall this one. But if you know someone who has recently moved house (as I do) then consider this house-warming cum Christmas gift. If fact, this will work just as well – maybe better – for someone who has been in a property for a long time and is in need of inspiration.

Interior designer Benji Lewis, who is the founder of Zoom That Room, a virtual interior design service created during lockdown, is offering gift e-vouchers for video consultations for the chance to completely transform any room in the house. Most people have had to adapt very fast to working at home and rely on video interaction rather than face-to-face engagement. Therefore it has become a time to rethink our homes, and address a total change in how we live and work. After Christmas, it could mean that the majority of the country would’ve been working from home for nearly 10 months, and therefore certain rooms may start to feel tired, repetitive, or even claustrophobic and in need of a refresh.

A one-hour home consultation costs from £90 per Zoomed room. Via whichever video communications platform you choose (FaceTime/Zoom etc.), you can dial in with Benji and discuss your interior design issues and aspirations in return for tailored advice for you and your room.

Benji can host sessions with people across all types of property and locations – from studio flats to country retreats. He is known for his creative, thoughtful but accessible and non-judgemental approach and is much sought-after as a designer.

2 Richard Osman’s House of Games board game

I hope Richard Osman will not be offended when I say I regard him as a bit of a Marmite man – you either love him or hate him. A Fulham fan, but I can forgive him that. I like him a lot. And, whatever your thoughts about Osman, this game looks like a Christmas winner. Based on the hit BBC2 show which recently made an appearance on BBC1, the House of Games board game is the ultimate test of knowledge and skill. Enjoy some of your favourite challenges from the show in the comfort of your home. Team up to tackle some trivia or face off against each other in the iconic Answer Smash. Who will be the House of Games champion in this competitive compendium of games?

Created by the team at Ginger Fox, this game will provide hours of fun and hours of bragging rights to the winners. The Ginger Fox Richard Osman’s House of Games Board Game costs £25 from John Lewis.

3 Travel bags for all

Travel bags from Kovered offer the perfect gift for any man or woman, whether they are looking for a stylish way to carry their laptop on the morning commute or looking for the perfect bag to take with them on their next adventure. Kovered produces lifestyle accessories inspired by the natural world. Each bag is handmade using the highest quality premium leather and canvas and is built to last, making it the Christmas gift they can enjoy year on year.

Humber – Waxed Canvas Holdall – Moss – £95

For those who like to get away at the weekends, this handmade, stylish wax and canvas bag makes the perfect gift this Christmas. The bag is spacious with an internal twin pocket for keeping items separate. Lined with waterproof nylon, users can be sure their belongings and electricals will be safe. The double zip pockets and sturdy brass fastenings give users peace of mind that their back is durable and built to last. What’s more the adjustable shoulder strap provides a comfortable fit for easy carrying through airports, on the train and off onto the next adventure.

Humber – Waxed Canvas Holdall – Tan Brown – £95

This bag is perfect for planning your weekend escape to the country. The premium leather gives the bag a heritage feel – ideal for any style-conscious traveller. The double cotton lining adds to the luxurious look of the bag, while the two interior pockets keep belongings organised. An internal zip pocket allows the wearer to discreetly pack valuables, keeping them separate from the rest of the bag’s contents. The durable brass zips and double stitching means this bag is long lasting and will always be ready for the next trip.

Tamar – Canvas Backpack – Grey – £79

This multi-purpose backpack is perfect for those on the go, as it comes with a practical 14-litre capacity. Large enough to fit a 15” laptop and with an extra strap to keep it secure, this bag is great for taking to and from the office. Plus the reinforced base and zippers make it durable enough to take on the morning commute. The discreet interior zip pocket makes carrying valuables such as a wallet safe and easy. The bag comes with zip fastenings as well as a unique roll top fastening system with a magnetic closure for added security and a stylish finish.

Tamar – Canvas Backpack – Tan – £79

This backpack is great for taking on the morning commute, using as a flight bag or bringing along on your next city break, thanks to its incredible durability. The luxury appearance is sure to last thanks to the lightweight waterproofing applied to the outside of the bag to protect it against bumps and scratches. The fully adjustable straps make this backpack easy and comfortable to carry, whether through the city or through the airport. The two interior pockets are great for compartmentalising personal belongings helping the wearer to stay organised throughout the day.

Kovered sells handmade, sustainable, and stylish luggage for men and women priced from £79 – £95, made with premium leather and canvas designed to securely house your tech, work and lifestyle belongings. The Kovered range is available to buy here

4 The boathouse from Plum

Okay, maybe this is one that will come into its own in the summer. But here’s the chance to make outdoor play fun with this Boathouse from Plum.  The Plum® Boathouse Wooden Playhouse allows little ones to jump onboard and sail away to whatever island their imagination takes them. It allows them to enjoy the great outdoors and embrace the weather rain or shine.

The Boathouse playhouse is crafted to perfection and comes in a lush teal colour, meaning it will look ship-shape in any garden. The boathouse platform allows children to climb the three-step ladder to start their adventure on deck. To go ‘overboard’ they can use the 1.2m slide to return to land.

An apex roof adds a beautiful and traditional feel to the Boathouse, encouraging your child’s imagination to run wild. Whether it is sailing the seven seas or relaxing or in their own hideaway, it is a stunning boathouse that will provide years of fun.  

The Plum Wooden Boathouse – Teal costs £499.99 from PlumPlay.co.uk

5 Pets Love Scruffs launch Santa Paws

The Scruffs® Santa Paws Collection is the perfect multi-product gift set for the festive period. This collection is produced using a two-tone faux fur & super-soft plush combination.

Featuring three popular products, a mattress, soft-walled bed and blanket with toy, the collection appeals to a wide audience. Both the mattress and soft-walled bed are filled with recycled PET fibre to ensure optimum cushioning, resilience and insulation characteristics.

They are finished in a soft knitted fairisle pattern, ideal for the festive season. Both products have a non-slip base and are machine washable.

The Blanket, with squeaky reindeer toy, is a great gift for any dog owner. The reversible design provides a soft, plush lining for cold cosy days and a soft knitted fairisle cover for warmer days.

The blankets hollow fibre core means however you decide to use the blanket your pet will remain comfortable. The squeaky reindeer toy will provide unrivalled entertainment for your four-legged friend. Machine washable at 30 degrees.

Available to buy direct from  www.petslovescruffs.com (Blanket £29.99, Box Bed £39.99, Mattress £39.99)

6 Festive art prints


Get in the holiday spirit with Desenio’s new art prints for the festivities ahead! For the first time they have launched a collection of art prints designed especially for the holiday season. The idea behind the collection came after customers requested festive art styles to decorate their homes with for the holidays.

“It has been really fun creating a new kind of holiday decoration for this cosy time of year,” says Desensio executive creative director Annica Wallin. The collection consists of 20 art prints in different styles ranging from photo art to festive quotes and illustrations. All the prints follow a colour palette consisting of muted browns, greens and reds. Each piece works beautifully on its own or paired together to create a festive gallery wall. “We think this collection is the perfect way to add some holiday spirit to your walls and home,” adds Wallin. The art prints come in various sizes, from 13x18cm to 50x70cm. Prices start at £4.95.

7 Pyjama in bags sets

Three ‘Pyjama in a Bag‘ sets have sold every minute at Boux Avenue over the past few days – proving that PJs are the must-have product for friends, family or even as a treat for yourself this Christmas!

PJs are a big seller at the moment, with google search data showing searches for the term ‘pyjamas’ on the up – rising 185% over the past two weeks! From Christmas novelty styles to on-trend prints, these soft and cosy PJs are a treat for everyone! With a selection of short- and full-length styles, you’re sure to find a pair that’s perfect for you!

Plus for a limited time only they are: BUY ONE GET ONE HALF PRICE

As the chilly, darker nights move in Boux Avenue have launched an abundance of new pyjamas ready to get comfy and cosy in! So step into the new season with dreamy new nightwear styles and cosy pyjama sets, own the night in their latest must-have styles.

8 Socially distanced crackers

How do you celebrate Christmas in a pandemic? With a socially distanced two-metre Christmas cracker of course! Where The Trade Buys, the UK online print company, has developed the novel decoration in time for the festive season to help families maintain Covid-19 social distancing measures.

Gary Peeling, chief executive officer at Where The Trade Buys, said: “The cracker was a specific request from a customer which we were more than happy to create. It’s also nice to be able to put a cheerful spin on two metres as we prepare for the festive season. The two-metre cracker will be a special, festive edition to our range and will be available for customers to order on request. We have come up with a fantastic range of items that can easily be personalised via our website for Christmas which we believe will be more important than ever this year.”

With the uncertainty of a Christmas in lockdown across the UK, the crackers could provide a welcome source of entertainment, with the option of personalisation and filling them with your own choice of gifts. The two-metre Christmas cracker is part of a wider set of seasonal products, with ‘sitees’ – full-size cutouts that can join your family at the Christmas dinner table – in high-demand ahead of the Christmas rush. 

Personalised advent calendars, wrapping paper, and photobooks are all among this year’s Christmas range, and Where The Trade Buys expects a surge in sales as families face a realistic prospect of spending the festive season away from loved ones.

For further information on all Where The Trade Buys products, visit https://www.wherethetradebuys.co.uk/

9 Fine art from graduates

Reflecting on Nature No7
Cheese fondue, oil on canvas
Tom Faber, composition No 5

How about a work of art as an investment or a gift?

London-based creative fine arts gallery Kovet.Art (supported by the Creative Industries Council and the Mayor of London) is dedicated to championing high calibre graduate emerging artists from leading fine art universities.

These are the hottest contemporary artists showcased by eminent international curators and auction houses including Sotheby’s. 

It is offering a selection of curated, unique and limited edition collectible works which could form memorable and investment-worthy gifts for art lovers or those wishing to start their art collection.

The artists included are Loreal Prystaj, Kristy M Chan, Tom Faber and Christopher Pearson.

Kovet.Art’s founder and art world tastemaker Saras Rachupalli has carefully curated a selection of captivating surrealist works by Kovet.Art’s resident artists that would make both the perfect luxury gift and a fantastic investment for any art lover by discovering and investing in the rising artists early in their career.

The prices of the works range between £500 and £3,500 which make them affordable, yet luxurious, gifts for anyone passionate about arts.

10 Sporty stocking fillers

For those that are struggling to find the perfect present for their particularly sporty family and friends, the gift of energy may be what you are looking for. 

More than 80% of the world’s population consumes at least one caffeinated product each day, to mask fatigue, increase alertness and improve focus and concentration. It is also a way to boost performance in the gym, on a run or during any physical activity. At every level of sport and exercise, caffeine offers a helping hand to get started or go further. Now, the caffeine delivery system used by some of the top names in international sports, from the UK’s top female marathon runners – including this year’s champion Natasha Cockram – to some of Australia’s top sports teams, is available to buy through the Amazon.

Revvies energy strips, which contain either 40mg or 100mg of caffeine in each serving – roughly equivalent to either a cup of tea or coffee respectively, are sugar-free, vegan and gluten-free. The strips dissolve on the tongue and take effect in 5-10 minutes without being as hard on the stomach as caffeine pills or gels.

Ten packs of five strips are available from Amazon in two flavours for £25 while five packs of five are available for £13.50.

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

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