14 May

Tracking down trinkets

The ideal mix of trinkets for your crackers:

  • Has at least one good match for each guest[1]
  • Is within budget
  • Is imaginative and interesting[2]

So keep an eye out for possibilities in every shop you go into: toy shops (of course) are a rich trinket source but hardware shops can yield baby screwdrivers and other blokey items and discount stores will present you with surprising opportunities in jewellery, kitchen gadgets[3] and things you wouldn’t have thought of until you saw them on the shelf.

Also consider any free samples you acquire through the year (weeny vials of perfume can be popular[4] and I got this little packet of crystal gel balls in a show bag that I thought would be perfect) which will have the pleasant bonus of bringing your average trinket price down.

“Add water 400G on the product. about 4 hours it will grow up. one clear beauty satiety face will grow up. when the flower want to oxygen and nutrition, I will help you too much.”[5]
Christmas Day 1970: The best thing about the church service on Christmas Day was that it was short.[6] Also, one of Nanna’s friends gave us all boxes of Smarties which was a bonus (except to Auntie Betty who had to clean her toddler up for the fourth time that day and the sun was barely over the yardarm).

Russell did start crying in church and Auntie Margie took him outside and boasted to Mum later that she’d managed to miss the sermon.

“And the good hymns,” Mum added, trying to deflate her a little.

“Nope: I heard them from outside,” said her sister-in-law triumphantly. (She sang along too, while walking the garden paths with the baby. You might have thought this would surprise the neighbours but this was a very small town and everybody knew all their neighbours and all their visitors and all their peculiarities.)

[1] Although this can surprise you: my father kept a plastic figurine of a giraffe on the windowsill of his tool shed for years.

[2] I like plastic ants myself: they’re so versatile. (My son Jeremy made a diorama with them, my niece Emma had them as pets in her dolls’ house, and I like to put them on cakes.)

[3] Pâté knives shaped like Christmas trees are very jolly, they fit into Christmas crackers very well and the recipient is unlikely to have one already. (Unfortunately, they’re hard to hold when spreading pâté, but you can’t have everything.)

[4] Although it does depend on the perfume. (My daughter Hannah had a bottle of something dreadful when she was a teenager that her brother called “Eau de Odour”.)

[5] Who can say they don’t need this?

[6] Had to get home to those turkeys!

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