I’m going to be completely transparent with you. Christmas fills me with absolute dread. I am one of those people that curses when I see the first advert on TV, and feel an instant wave of panic when I see shops putting up their premature Xmas displays. It always feels like we only just waved a relecutant and sad farewell to summer. In recent years I’ve realised no amount of fretting or frowning is going to change that fact that christmas will arrive on 25th of December and that I’ve just got to embrace it and attempt to be less Scrooge-y. I’ve found that being organised and prompt with my Christmas gift buying can make the run-up less traumatic. So if you’re fearful of the festive period too, take my advice. Get to the shops, and get cracking on that present buying!
Ahead of my trip to The Oracle I thought I’d continue this theme of organisation and create a plan of the shops I’d need to visit to hunt out the particular gifts I was looking to purchase. So I turned to the PLUS App, downloaded via Itunes or Google Play , headed to the Discover tab and clicked on the different catagories of shops to make sure I didn’t miss out on visiting any particularly relevant shops. It’s my first Christmas buying for multiple little kiddies, so I needed some guidance!
To kick off my day of shopping I thought I’d concentrate on potential gifts for the glam girls in my life, because in theory that should be the easiest. Finding luxurious and feminine gifts was a piece of cake in The Oracle, choosing just one to buy was not…..
Each row – Left to right: House of Holland Xmas Xcess nails (Boots), Expert Palette (Claire’s Accessories) Nails Inc Set (Boots)
Elle Macpherson Intimates (House of Fraser), Dune heels (House of Fraser), Infinite rose gold watch (Debenhams)
Himalayan Charcoal Body Clay (The Body Shop), A selection of fragrances (The Fragrance Shop), Vodka Jelly Mould (Debenhams)
I know plenty of women who like the finer things in life, and it’s showcased by their appearance, lifestyle and (Instagram posts) on a daily basis. Then there are a number of my dearest friends, who have recently become mothers, finding themselves with little time to think about themselves, and very few opportunities to indulge in luxury, glamour or pampering. I don’t blame them either, tottering around in glittery stilettos is neither safe or practical when looking after a child, and I’m sure letting your nails dry is infinitely harder with a child desperate for your attention/affection. However, I think everyone deserves to feel looked after, and we all know how a quick spritz of perfume and well fitted bra can make you feel that little bit better…and sexier.
Dune, House of Fraser, Topshop and Debenhams had some particularly bling party shoes, perfect for all those Christmas parties. Debenhams had party prep covered with not only a huge array of beauty/grooming equipment (spotlight mirrors, hairdryers and beard trimmers) but also items to really get you in the party spirit – Schnapps sets, Vodka jelly moulds and Make your own Pale Ale kits.
The suave gents in your life may apprecaite a shining new watch from the likes of Goldsmiths or Ernest Jones. If their wrist is already adequently decorated perhaps a designer scent, or an aroma endorsed by their favourite man-crush from House of Fraser, Boots, The Fragrance Shop or The Perfume Shop may be a winner.
Spa of the World™ Egyptian Milk & Honey Bath from The Body Shop £14
It is hard to think of an actress that oozed more glamour than Elizabeth Taylor, particularly when playing the iconic Cleopatra. Okay it’s going to be hard to rival her in beauty, but we can gift someone with her luxurious form of bathing, thanks to this kit from The Body Shop.
Each Row, Left To Right: Console games at Game, Gift Cards at Game, XBOX1 Headset, Game
Battery Operated Heated Scarf at Debenhams, Mondo Motors Ultra Drone at Debenhams,
Phone cases at Claire’s Accessories, Massive Sound Speakers at Carphone Warehouse, Seflies Stick at Smiggles
I never thought I’d say this, but tech items are pretty high on my wish-list this year. I want to enhance the quality of my vlogging, so I am hoping the family will club together to get me a new camera with one of those flip screens so I can see what I am shooting. I’ve dropped enough hints! I had a quick browse in Jessops, who had a pretty nice selection of vlogging friendly cameras on display. Sadly I had to be strict with myself as today’s trip wasn’t about me.
Debenhams had a great selection of fun gadgety gifts, some perfectly proportioned and priced for stocking fillers, like a gizmo that helps you find your lost keys. Others objects like The Drones would be perfect for that fun showstopping main presents for big kids.
There’s still a certain amount of shame regarding selfie sticks. You are instantly judged if it is uncovered that you’ve purchased one. However, if we’re honest, they’re pretty useful in this social media age when selfies tend to get the most likes. Weirdly it’s completely acceptable to own one if it was a gift, so go on, help a mate out.
I know Christmas is meant to be about giving to others, and one should hope to give their loved ones presents that would make them happy….surely? Now I know my fella would love a game or accessory for his Xbox, but in doing so I would knowingly be making my life harder. I know it’s old fashioned and un-pc, but he really does fit that mould that says men are unable to multitask. If he’s playing FIFA or knows the possibility of playing FIFA is there, I just can’t get any sense out of him. Maybe in giving his one of the headsets I found in Game and HM, it will come with an agreement that it is only to be used when I am out of the house. Something to consider.
Debenhams Hold and Charge Car Mount £20 (since been heavily reduced)
I eventually settled on this Hold and Charge Mount, as most arguments with my boyfriend stem from my inability to use maps on his phone while he’s driving. I figure this may ease the car based stress…for both of us!
I started my day with a message to my best friends Whatsapp group, as three of the gang have children and would be in the know about ‘what’s in’ when it comes to kids toys and entertainment. Predictably there were repetitions of Peppa Pig, Minions, Frozen and Tangled, as well as a nod to Chugginton and In The Night Garden. I hit the jackpot when I went into Claire’s Accessories who had a whole stand dedicated to Frozen, with backpacks, hair bands, lip balms…and pretty much anything a child could ever want! Turn around and I was greeted by a wall of yellow and rows and rows of goggly eyes…a whole stand of Minion products.
Knowing there were plenty of offerings to tick the Minion/Frozen box I popped into Smiggles, a shop that I could have allocated hours of browsing to. For kids with creative and curious minds this is the ideal destination. With products that encourage writing, drawing, as well as play, and in colours and textures that would keep a child busy for a helpful amount of time it was jam packed full of potential Christmas gift winners. I love stationary so lingered longer by the pen sets, and the fun themed rubbers (my friends and I collected rubbers when we were in school). Mine and many children’s fascination of space was tapped into with a cool light that projected stars onto your bedroom wall.
After minutes of debating whether I should gets lots of smaller gifts or one showstopper, my decision was made.
I saw an unstuffed Peppa Pig poking out of a display outside of Build-A-Bear Workshop. I felt like he was looking into my soul and asking me to give him life. I couldn’t resist his little face, so I ended up spending the rest of my budget. Absolutely no regrets, aside from panic calling him Buddy, finding myself void of ideas when asked to give him a name for his official birth certificate. Peppa Pig will be going to live with my friend Ellie’s son Oliver, who I’m sure will become his best…Buddy.
I like to think I’m still a bit ‘with it’ and have some knowledge regarding the Tween market. Boots had numerous scents that I believe would appeal, with various One Direction and Little Mix perfumes on display. Clintons and HMV had numerous posters and calenders aimed at those with hormonal crushes. Claire’s Accessories delivered again with a section dedicated to 5SOS and The Vamps. If your teen has a record player, there are some great Vinyls in HMV (Vinyl is back afterall).
Homebodies and Foodies
Recently my partner has turned his love of cooking into a hobby and potential career, by starting a foodie blog/instagram. This is something I am in full support of – partly as I am his official taster – so I am more than happy to buy a Xmas gift that will help him in his pursuit to become the next Jamie Oliver. I knew he wanted a griddle pan, but I thought that a bit of a lacklustre gift. I then remembered how he’s mentioned he wanted a Spiralizer, the name alone has a bit more exciting.
Oxo Good Grips Spiralizer at Debenhams £15
I don’t know whether his passion is rubbing off on me, but I found myself excited by immense selection of homeward offerings in House of Fraser and Debenhams. I found myself lusting over ice cream coloured toasters, scales and blenders and imagining a dinner party concluding with a cheese board using
When I think about a night in, it ALWAYS involves chocolate. I feel like my need for chocolate is inbuilt, part of my DNA, and I think, scrap that, I know, that’s down to my dear mum. Even when she’s completely lost her appetite she always finds room for pudding, and it’s always of the chocolate variety. However, another bar of chocolate wouldn’t feel like a special Christmas treat. There were oodles of Christmas themed options in Hotel Chocolat, but as soon as I saw the Christmas Drinking Chocolate (with a hint of gingerbread spice) I knew my hunt was over. Picture the scene. Snuggled under a beautiful House of Fraser Linea Blanket with Just Sheepskin Slippers or New Look fluffy socks keeping your feet warm, with a 1667 candle from the Fragrance shop burning, and a box set from HMV playing. This present would elevate that situation to winter perfection, don’t you agree?
Christmas Drinking Chocolate from Hotel Chocolat £10
Each Row, Left to Right:
Barbour Boots at Clarks, Coat by Superdry, Rucksacks at Superdry
Protein pouches at Holland Barrett, Protein Shakes at Holland and Barrett, Beanie at Superdry
Fitness Matt at Reebok FitHub, Women’s leggings ar Reebok FitHub, SkullCandy Earphones at HMV
For those that revel in the great outdoors, a nice pair of weatherproof boots like the lovely Barbour ones in Clarks would make for a practical but stylish gift. A fashionable utility jacket from the likes of Superdry would be useful while upping your fashion credentials, as would many of the accessories within the store. For keep fit nuts Reebok’s FitHub has some fab gym gear, as well as apparatus to aid your quest for optimum health. If you need some motivation to keep you going during your regime, then HMV has Skullcandy earphones specifically designed for sporting actvity. I was looking for a compact stocking filler, so the protein health bars and sachets in Holland Barrett were ideal for all my relatives obsessed with bulking up.
P.S While I was at The Oracle I made use of the Clinique offer displayed in the Plus App which meant I receieved a Free Deluxe Goody Bag after visiting the House of Fraser counter for one of their smart treatments.
So, I was pretty chuffed with my Xmas haul and now find myself feeling more relaxed. No last-minute late night petrol station purchase for me! Hooray!
And don’t miss out on any opportunities to treat yourself. The Oracle PLUS app has got loads of little goodies to help you recharge during your Christmas shop like –
Free gift at Clinique, House of Fraser when you make a skincare purchase
Free deluxe goody bag from Clinique, House of Fraser when you book a Smart treatment
Free doughnut at Krispy Kreme