24 November


How’s your Christmas shopping going? If it’s not close to finished yet, it might be time for the default shop: that’s where you choose one shop, walk in[1] and stay there until you’ve found a present for everyone on your list.[2] But don’t be too fussy – by now, although you’re still trying to get a good present for everyone, you can accept that the gifts may not be perfect and that a few people may get something that doesn’t excite them. You do better when you can, but when you can’t, don’t let it worry you. Not every present has to be perfect every time. (But this is not an invitation to throw away your standards entirely, as my colleague Murray did the year after he was criticised for giving his family hampers of ill-fitting underwear, when he abdicated all care and gave everyone supermarket gift cards.)

When your default shop is a fair trade store, you can be certain that someone will get something good for Christmas (the maker for sure, and your recipient perhaps).

I thought I’d finished my own present shopping, but I was just going to send a card to Auntie Gwen and Susan and now that they’re coming to Christmas dinner, I think I should give them presents, particularly since there are only four of us! I don’t have any specific ideas (this is something that I haven’t been working on all year) so I guess I’ll just wander around the shops and hope to be inspired. (People complain (justifiably) about toys being marketed in pink to make it clear they’re for girls, but right now I’d love to go to a shop that had purple packaging on everything that was suitable for retired nurses.) I’ll have to buy some wrapping paper too – I’ve already allocated all the upcycled gift bags that I made.

[1] Or log on.

[2] Don is notoriously difficult to buy for. Last year, when my daughter heard that I was heading out to get a present for him and wouldn’t be back till I had one, she advised me to take a thermos and a sleeping bag.

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