Ah, the art of Christmas gift shopping. As wonderfully exciting and Love Actually-esque the idea may be to stroll along the snowy streets (or, you know, Westfield Shopping Centre) laden with carrier bags overflowing with expertly wrapped, ribbon-decorated bundles of amazingness that will send the recipient's heart in a flutter of joy, the reality of festive gift-giving is often that we find ourselves on Christmas Eve with four identical Body Shop shower gel kits and no idea how to avoid Mum, your work colleague, your cousin and your boyfriend's sister finding out that their gift from you came from a take-four-pay-for-two deal.
My gift to David were tickets to see his favourite guitarist. And as for my gift....we're shopping for it today, along with my sister's gift (to avoid her actually seeing us buying it, as she's coming to London on Monday), which inspired this post!
DO keep the person in mind and not yourself. You will forget about the gift with your third glass of mulled wine, while the recipient actually has to live with it. And use it/keep it on display whenever they see you.
DON'T use your own imagination. Ask the person what they want. Really, ask. Be honest now: who the heck really cares about the "surprise" element? Isn't it much nicer to actually like the gift?
DO look in unusual places. Little markets and vintage shops? Yes, yes, yes!
DON'T have your mind set one one particular gift. Be flexible.
DO forget about the gift the minute you give it. Asking about it or insisting the person wears/uses it puts you right up there with Smelly Aunt Bertha.
DON'T, ever, do "funny" gifts. Would you like a glow-in-the-dark whoppee cushion for Christmas? No? Then don't give one.
DO answer the question of what you'd like. You don't need to roll out your NET-A-PORTER wishlist, but be honest and give the person some very good hints. Which brings us to...
DON'T, when faced with the above question, reply with something cliché like, "oh, whatever you choose!" That's how you end up with a reindeer sweater. Just ask Mark Darcy.
DO pretend you absolutely adore it. Even if it is aforementioned reindeer sweater.
DON'T exchange it. EVER. Under no circumstances.
DO point out things you like so that the person learns your taste. However, DON'T expect them to read your mind and return to DO number one.
DON'T re-gift anything. It will come back to bite you in the butt. I promise.