A few days ago, my plane leaving Edinburgh was delayed so I missed my connecting flight. I was stuck in an airport hotel in Amsterdam for 24 hours with only the contents of my unusually empty carry-on bag to get me through the night, and a somewhat utilitarian unisex overnight wash bag provided by the airline. Whoever had “designed” the contents was clearly trying to cram the very bare toiletry essentials into that brown leatherette pouch, to make room for the airline’s branded one-size-fits-all polyester socks and sleep mask. Let’s just say there are other items I’d much prefer to a sleep mask, ok? Maybe some shampoo. A comb. Lip balm. A spare pair of pants.
As it’s so close to Christmas, what would a blogger’s thought process be without morphing into a gift guide? I love the idea of a unisex guide, because much like that wash bag (bear with me here), maybe it’s time we stopped assuming everyone would like a gendered gift. In fact, why gender gifts at all? One of the last presents I gave was to a male friend, and it was a candle from Diptyque’s limited edition Christmas collection. Who exactly is dictating what a woman, a man, or a non binary person will want for Christmas?
So here’s my Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide, suitable for everyone. Man, woman, maybe even child. There’s even a wee gift idea for your favourite pooch.
1. Panasonic High Precision Electric Beard Trimmer*
Yeah, it’s called a beard trimmer. I hear though that it can definitely be used to trim hair on any part of the body. This year we’ve seen so much innovation in hairstyling, including the rise of the undercut; no longer is the undercut the underdog, and it’s been absolutely fantastic to see women jumping on this trend. People are shaving CATS into their hair, how cool is that? Please note I am not suggesting anyone shave a cat. Please put down that cat.
So whether you know a dude wanting to spiff up their beard for Christmas, or a lass wanting to prune a reindeer into the side of their head, this is an awesome gift. There’s even a 45 degree stainless steel blade and various attachments to make things all symmetrical and help with your detailed straight lines.
When it comes to being cruelty-free, we often forget about razors and electronics, but as a general good practice rule of thumb it’s best to go for a brand that isn’t owned by a multi-national cosmetic corporation like *coughcough* Proctor & Gamble. One which might test its cosmetic brands on animals. Panasonic is a great cruelty-free choice, and a definite bonus if you want to be sure no baby bunnies were harmed in the making of that present you just bought Cousin Moira or Uncle Hamish.
2. Dog subscription box
I’ll actually be getting my pup a monthly subscription box in the new year to thank him for 6 years of hard work and tail wagging, belly scratching, ear stroking fun times. I would not recommend giving somebody this is they don’t have a dog, or don’t have access to a dog. If they do though, their pupper is probably the most important person in their life, and what better way to suck up to someone than to give a gift their best friend would love? Their dog will most definitely put in a good word for you, and I know I definitely like someone better if my pooch likes them.
There are so many boxes to choose from, but so far my favourites are the Pawsome Box and Tail Mail. Tail Mail has four types of boxes: the Original, the Playful Pooch, the Wholesome Hound, and the Destroyer. Some are more toy-oriented, whilst others are full of delicious treats for your fuzzbutt. As for me? I’d probably have to go for the Destroyer. My baby can decimate a toy with surgical precision in under five minutes. The Pawsome Box contains 9 full-products in each month’s delivery, including treats for your baby, practical stuff like travel bowls and LED collar lights, cleaning products, and of course TOYS.
If your tastes in fuzzies runs more along the lines of the feline end of the spectrum, the Cat Hampurr sends 5-7 kitty treats, including munchies and a couple of toys. Also – that name.
3. Surya Brasil shampoo and conditioner
Most folk use shampoo. Well, unless your head is shaved, in which case you probably don’t place a huge amount of importance on selecting a ‘poo that builds body or infuses each strand with silk proteins from some rare brazillian nut. I bought some of this cruelty-free shampoo and conditioner from VegFest last month, and it’s absolutely brilliant. My hair has been bleached and coloured, repeatedly, and this makes it all smooth and shiny and sorts out my frizz. What more can you ask for?
Oh wait, no parabens, weird chemicals, and it’s NOT TESTED ON ANIMALS. That’s what more you could ask for. It also has a very subtle scent and doesn’t scream “I am the chemical mutation of a tulip”.
4. Moleskine Petit Prince Diary
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Petit Prince was one of my favourite books as a kid, and I still love it as an adult. The illustrated images are so iconic. A few years ago Moleskine started making this fabulous range of Petit Prince inspired diaries and notebooks, and because I am a notebook hoarder I bought one of each. These are just beautiful.
You could also passive aggressively gift this diary to someone who is always late for appointments with you, so I expect my vet, my doctor, and my dentist will all be sending me one of these for Christmas.
I am a rum snob. I won’t touch the white stuff, though I’m partial to a wee spiced Kraken sometimes. Dark dark dark, all the way. One of my very favourites is this beautiful Diplomático rum which tastes of creme brûlée, tropical fruit and caramel; it’s not too heavy but it still has that distinctive burnt sugar taste we associate with an aged dark rum. It can be drunk neat, on the rocks, or *gasp* with a mixer. Rum and cloudy apple or ginger beer is always ultimately better than rum and coke #justsayin.
Whilst you’re out buying rum, you should totally get someone this limited edition “Sea Creatures” bottle of Kraken, because it looks really freaking cool.
6. Ginger Beard Preserves
Have you seen my chutney cupboard? I have so many jams, chutneys, pickles and preserves, and these guys make some of my favourites. Ginger Beard Preserves is a wee artisanal jam-maker based in Bristol. First of all, their name is awesome, but their jams are absolutely delicious as well. Their jams, chutneys and ketchups are made using beers and ciders sourced from independent breweries alongside fresh fruit and vegetables. The chocolate stout, plum and chipotle jam is incredible. Try it. Buy it for somebody. In fact just eat it yourself with a spoon and pretend Aunt Mavis’s present got lost in the post.
Incidentally this would also make a great gift for your favourite ginger, whether they have a beard or not.
7. Foodie subscription box
Are there people out there who don’t like food? I honestly can’t imagine not wanting to to try out new flavours, foods, textures. There are foodie boxes for every possible food kink and intolerance, and what’s even better is that this is a gift that keeps giving. Just make sure you’re still going to like the giftee in 12 months time, because they’ll still be receiving it month after month.
My current fave is the Flavr box, because they have a vegan/vegetarian option AND everything inside is always sooo tasty.
8. Diptyque l’Eau de Neroli
When I was a child, my parents took me to Paris. That’s where I first came face to face with a scented candle, and I was instantly in love. It was Diptyque Opopanax and I actually begged my mum and dad to get one for our house, because it smelled like literally nothing I’d ever sniffed before.
I’ve never been a fan of overtly feminine or masculine fragrances, and this Diptyque Eau is just the perfect balance of sweet and fresh. It celebrates the almighty citrus without that cloying fruitiness, and is so green, crisp and clean. Yes there’s citrus, but as neroli is derived from the blossoms of the bitter orange tree, the scent is also herbaceous.
It reminds me of a grown up CK One, and Diptyque doesn’t test on animals so they are cruelty free! Do we see a theme with these gift ideas yet?
9. Thug Kitchen Cookbook
Thug Kitchen is one of my favourites, because I’m a a non-hippie vegan. It started off as a food blog to encourage people to eat some goddamned vegetables and stop eating so much meat. I think their style of writing is hilarious, and more importantly, their recipes sound delicious.
The concept of eating healthier isn’t exactly new, with hundreds of new cookbooks flooding the market every year telling us to eat more kale, that tomatoes contain lycopene, and that we should all eat more pulses and legumes and less meat and dairy. A lot of them are at least semi-pretentious. Thug Kitchen’s recipes are healthy takes on foods you’d actually want to eat, like roasted beer and lime cauliflower tacos or pumpkin chilli. I’ve made the grilled peach salsa and it’s absolutely delicious. The fact the recipes are liberally sprinkled with a stray fuck or two kind of adds to its appeal, but it might not be the one to reach for if you’re looking for a gift for your grandparents.
Have you ever thought about how the presents you hated receiving as a kid are actually things you want now? Socks is top of this list for me. Maybe it was because the socks I got as a young un were less flamboyantly ridiculous than the ones I’m gifted now, or maybe it’s because hosiery companies have cottoned on to the funky sock train. Either way, giving somebody a pair of brightly coloured tube of delightfulness for there feet is a bit of a winner if they’re over the age of 16.
If you’re under 16, socks still kinda suck as a gift.
* This was a collaborative post, but all opinions were mine. Of course they were, I mean who else would swear this much in a gift guide?