Christmas shopping

Well, I've done it. For the first time ever in my life I have done all my Christmas shopping with three weeks to go. At least that is the theory. Sadly when I spread everything out all over the bed with my list by my side I discover that what I have actually done is buy a lot of things for me and for people who are like me.

Damn it. I always do something like this. I have a general cheery sense in the run up to Christmas that there are quite a number of people to buy for who have very similar likes and dislikes to mine: both older and younger daughter, my mother, my sister. Then, to a slightly lesser extent but still within the comfort zone, my daughter in law and my older niece. So out I go, or in I sit at the computer, and wander around shops or cyberspace thinking "That's an interesting book. Ooh, lovely little evening bag. Mmm, heritage seeds and here's a garden diary. Gorgeous embroidered cushion. Cath Kidston slippers. Provencal soaps. More books. Gossamer scarf. Oh this is easy, no problem."

And then I really look at what I have bought and see that it is:
1. pretty exclusively female
2. quite hard to give away because it is all stuff I like
3. no good at all for my dad, my brother, my son in law.

I can in fact make myself give away some of this lovely stuff to all the female members of my lovely family because I know they will like it too but it still doesn't help with the perennially difficult people. My Dad seems to already have everything he wants but hates to be left out. Ian buys what he wants for himself and then insists that the new chainsaw/router/hedge trimmer is his Christmas present - easy but deeply unromantic. My brother loves sailing and old motor bikes so should in theory be easy to buy for but he seems already to have every sailing gadget under the sun and motor bikes are a mystery to me. My son in law's passions are Japanese, Go (a fiendish Japanese game), poker, basketball and my daughter.

Then there are the emotionally tricky ones: my ex-husband and his wife with whom we are warm but ever so slightly distant friends, where the present clearly has to be for both of them with no undertones of a shared history. My sister in law, whom I rarely see but don't want to cut out of my life altogether. Until they both died in the last few years there was my grandmother, in her nineties with diabetes and failing sight, her lifelong interest in sewing and making things now beyond her, and my childless aunt, insisting on providing presents for my then teenage children who would much have preferred a fiver. Buying for them always seemed to have with it an edge of guilt at my own good health or my own good fortune.

I might just do a lot of food to give away. At least it doesn't add to all the piles of waste going into landfill, another source of guilt these days. In fact, if I give all my menfolk drink and get them to piss on the compost heap they will be happy (if cold) and I will be green (with an accelerated compost heap).



  1. Elizabeth! What a lovely blog until the pissing on the compost bit! Have to confess though that my hub does on ours - says it is good for it something! I always think i've got all my pressies, and then I find that I've left out all the hard people too.

  2. You are so right. It is so easy to buy presents that are almost impossible to give away. I envy you having got so far with the present buying. I'm still at the, 'wondering what on earth to buy' stage. Even though I've been out to the shops twice, I've come back with nothing more than a few Christmas cards and some pressies for the children.

  3. Ooh I think you've been shopping for me Elizabeth. Thank you very much, it all sounds lovely! I panicked hugely after the opening sentence - haven't done a blessed thing other than make things for other people's Christmasses and I am usually so organised. Such a big family too.....calm, calm..

  4. Don't you feel great when you are able to buy a gift for a family member or friend that really thrills them? It's like you've said to them: I know who you are and what you're interested in and this gift proves it.

    What special music will you sing at the men's choir Christmas concert?

  5. Loved your blog as usual as I identify so much with what you write. I might get books or book tokens for everyone or drink (your compost heap bit made me laugh) or pampering delights or money! Aren't men difficult though? I am at the wondering stage like lampworkbeader.

  6. My husbands father does it to the Lemon tree - nitrogen I think.... bizarre - why not buy a bag at the garden centre???? Food is always a great gift idea!!! And so well appreciated at this time of year!

  7. you are so funny. i do exactly the same thing! (and i, too, would love all the things you listed.)

    and i agree with you that food is a good idea for "emotionally tricky" people. and how i love that phrase. tha'ts half my family!

  8. You're right about Dads...mine wants a bird feeder this year - so that's what he's got - no personal touch there!! And men always go for a pee in the garden...they kill off hedges, don't you know?!
    Giving pressies to ex-husband and wife - now I feel we should do the same thing (ex-wife and new husband that is!), but ohhhh, noooo! And there is no guilt felt!
    Mootia x

  9. That's what makes Christmas so expensive, having to buy stuff for self along side stuff for Them. All I've done is Father Christmas - that stout old red thing gets FAR too much credit on the day for all my ingenuity! But I dread the day they stop believing, can't quite understand how my 11 year still buys into it, but mercifully it does. But I'm with Ian on getting what you want and not minding it not being perfumed and fluffy and covered in beads (not quite the thing for chainsaws!)

  10. Lovely, Elizabeth. I have such a hard time shopping, mostly because I just hate it. I know it's boring and rather anti-Christmas, but I really just prefer to buy for the children and enjoy the company of my parents, brother and in-laws. Somehow it just never works out that way for me!

  11. This really made me laugh - I started out green with envy because I've hardly got anything yet, then realised that you do exactly the same things as me. And the presents for the grandmother and childless aunt had the ring of truth about them for me too. Love the sound of all your girlie presents though!

  12. Interesting twist at the end Elizabeth.
    So glad to find someone has the same approach to present buying as me. Oh, the agony of giving away the things I have bought because I love them and want them!

  13. I laughed at Pipany's comment ... how true and how nice to be a female in your family. I really don't think Tom and I will go into the realms of buying presents for our exes... besides we can't run to one-way tickets to somewhere very remote. Ooh dear, now you've got my imagination running as I think of suitable pressies for ex-partners!

  14. Hi Elizabeth...this is one of those taggy things ....write a letter to yourself at 13 years of age....ever so weird to do!

  15. Green with envy - but I've been buying things for me instead of things for 'them' too!
    I'm meant to be making things for 'them' but haven't quite got round to it yet. Oops.

  16. This really made me smile. So true. Shopping for all the lovely things (just like your list) is quite pleasurable. And women are so easy. (mostly!) Men on the other hand - pah. Books (usually dull ones) and alcohol but I might have to move the compost heap after that! It's a little too close to the house:-)


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