It’s that time of year again. Shops are bursting with red and green goodies, food seems to have that extra spice (usually cinnamon), and the air starts to get noticeably colder. Christmastime isn’t only about holidays, food and presents though, it also marks the nearing to the end of the year, and that certainly causes everyone to dwell upon the previous twelve months that have just flown by. A little self-reflection always comes highly recommended, and this year it’s an even more exciting time for me since I’m spending most of Christmastime in the United Kingdom.
Since arriving in September, all the stationery shops here have had massive Christmas card sections, so for me it seems like Christmastime has long been kicked off. What’s more, it’s undoubtedly colder here in Durham than it is in Malta, and that’s put me in an even cosier Christmas mood. Even as I’m writing this article, I’m getting even more delighted that Christmas is so near. Here lights have been lit in all the streets, a little Santa house has been erected on one of the shopping streets, and restaurants all have ‘Christmas bookings being taken’ signs. Supermarkets are completely heaving with Christmas goodies: mince pies, Christmas cake, decorations, and all the baubles and twinkly lights I could have ever dreamed of. I recently went on a road trip down south, and when I popped into Oxford I couldn’t resist purchasing a pack of absolutely beautiful Christmas cards adorned with luscious cloth-bound Christmas books on their fronts.
Even though it’s ever so atmospheric here, I cannot wait to get home to Malta for Christmas, and be with my friends and family (and cat!). I also cannot wait to see the look on everyone’s face as I hand over their presents, because for me, a big part of this season is picking out the perfect gifts for all the special people in my life. Here are a few ideas that might help with your Christmas lists.
- Stationery – yes, I’m a bit of a stationery junkie, but this sort of gift can be practical, pretty, and very thoughtful. A leather-bound diary for your father, a flowery pencil box for your younger sister, or a set of adorable notebooks for your best friend. Useful and beautiful at the same time.
- Food – this is always a winner. Some nice wine, a huge box of delicious chocolates, cute jars full of candy… who doesn’t like receiving some yummy treats that they probably wouldn’t have bought for themselves? Do discretely check if they have any allergies or dietary preferences before you buy certain things though.
- Subscriptions – I bought my best friend a monthly subscription for her favourite film-related glossy magazine last Christmas, and it proved to be quite a successful gift (that kept on giving!). Find out what the person’s hobbies and interests are and you’re bound to find something that suits them (such as National Geographic, Intelligent Life, Vogue, or The Economist).
- Homemade goodies – gingerbread men, a patchwork blanket (if you’re really committed and patient), or handmade beauty products like bath salts or a lemon-and-sugar scrub. There are countless things you can make with just a little effort and a Google search.
- And don’t forget: presentation is key! Don’t just plonk your gift in an old plastic bag. Put some thought in it. You don’t even have to spend any extra money. Recycle some old wrapping paper, or use newspapers and magazines. Tie it all up in some shiny ribbon, and stick a card along with the gift (with a meaningful message of goodwill and cheer).
Enjoy present shopping (or making), good luck with all the deadlines that have a habit of creeping up around this time, and have a very merry Christmas.
(This article originally appeared in the third edition of The Insiter, Vol. 12.)