Thursday, December 07, 2006


I hate the whole hamster in a wheel merry-go-round of Christmas shopping, though I do, I'm starting to remember, love the season itself. But for the past fifteen years or so (give or take a year when my mum did it) I have been assigned the role of family Christmas shopper. With between twenty five and thirty presents to get for my extended family depending on births, deaths and marriages, there was nothing to do but sharpen my elbows and wade into the eye of the high street storm for what I call an extended bulk shop.

My ideal gift giving situation would be to float around, going to open studios and buying handmade, browsing the artists I love on etsy or even (am I dreaming here?) making a few things as well.
Unfortunately because I was so consumed (literally) with buying presents for my relatives, friends often got the short straw, culminating in my handing over a 'fun, stupid book' from Colette to one of my best friends last year and receiving an Ipod in return. Oh, and Christmas cards? No, not enough time, sorry. Everyone kind of knew the deal and knew not to expect much, more expressing shock at the insane amount of presents I was stockpiling, I mean thoughtfully choosing for each and every relative I hardly ever see. Actually I don't know if that's a lot - everyone I know seems to have six to eight presents to get, but maybe there are others out there (apart from those related to me who by random fluke are reading this - in which case I hope they don't take this as a diss). If anyone else has a big family I'd love to know if everyone gets a separate present or how they work it - I always thought secret Santa would be a bit more fair. I'd be more than happy to not even get a present as long as we could all get together and share a meal.

The main thing I've really missed is thinking of the person you're giving to and finding the perfect thing for them. Buying loads of presents (and here I give away my wealth of experience) I often end up putting people into categories so I'll start with Auntie type stuff, then do Uncley stuff etc etc and just hope it all turns out ok. My mum used to go through and comment on what I'd got and usually ended up wrapping most of it. But for the past few years I've done the shopping alone, wrapped everything up and posted the ten or so that need to be posted and brought all the ones to exchange in person on my own.

This year, I felt the strange sensation of putting my foot down, more to make a point than anything. After all it's easy enough to not see what all the fuss is about when it's all done for you and you just magically receive thank you letters for things you didn't know you'd given. So this year's Christmas shopping will get done, how and by whom I couldn't really say.

I have so far stuck to the handmade only rule for the ten or so presents I need to get and my goodness, what a lovely time I'm having. Seriously, ten presents? Pah! AND I have sent real, actual physical cards to people I haven't sent them to for years.

I went to Cockpit Arts last week and found some beautiful things (which I can't share just yet for obvious spoiler reasons), I am having a petite soiree, and I may even make mince pies. My outdoor fairy lights are up and my flat is slowly becoming more festive. Christmas is lovely; funny I never noticed.

And of course Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without Frank on the old gramophone singing:

"I diiidd it myyyyy waaaaaayyyyy."


lottie said...

What a huge amount of presents. I have a teeny family - both my parents are only children - and as a child I used to long for aunts, uncles and cousins, but I had never considered the vast amount of presents that would mean! And you are so right - handmade is most definitely best.

Fiona said...

Hello! This is my first comment, I found you after searching for happie loves it (think I may not be the only person to have done this, either!) (Love those dresses in Topshop!)

Anyway. Just thought I'd say hello and sympathise with your gift buying! I have 3 brothers, each with a girlfriend, 3 nephews, 1 neice, 1 mother of nephew who is in addition to current girlfriend, 1 grandmother, 1 set of boyfriend's parents (in laws from next August!), and MY parents to buy for!! (And then, friends and boyfriend!) And all, supposedly meant to be paid for out of my student loan!

So. Joint presents it is then for all the couples. That's the only way I have found to cope with it.. But apart from that, I do love the festivities & put up a tree yesterday! xx

Bombay Beauty said...

I love the season, perhaps exactly because I don't have to buy *any* presents. Fantastic isn't it? All the good food, all the good (and sometimes bad) cheer, to all of this I am a bystander, a cheerleader, a participant of the good stuff, and archly critical of the excesses.

I know, I can be annoying sometimes...



P.S. I love mince pies!

Lola is Beauty said...

BB I am eating one this very second. I'll save you one don't worry...

Miss K said...

I think you should do a Secret santa,you have far too many gifts to buy.
Even in a group of 6 friends we did it.
Anyway i don't even see my cousins very often and wouldn't even know what they're into.