Wise men buy frankincense

They were the first Christmas gifts, and they're back. Frankincense and myrrh are essential ingredients in some of the luxury gifts on sale this Christmas. Bath oils, room fragrances and eau de toilette containing the two are among the items that top stores such as Liberty in London's Regent Street have on their shelves.

The upmarket giftshop and parfumiers Czech & Speake, in nearby Jermyn Street, is selling its Frankincense and Myrrh range of fragrances, including burning sticks (pounds 13), a cologne spray (pounds 42/100ml), or a frankincense and myrrh soap bar (pounds 6), while Liberty is offering an pounds 11.95 bottle of Aesop's aromatherapy oil with frankincense.

Some present buyers are falling back on that other luxurious standby favoured by the Wise Men, gold.

Crown jewellers Garrard is reporting a roaring trade in chunky gold hoop earrings at pounds 525, while at Tiffany in Bond Street the top of the gift list are a gold pendant called the Eternal Circle, designed by Elsa Peretti, and a small open heart pendant in silver. The gold version costs pounds 750, the silver pounds 145.

While children are clamouring for Buzz Lightyear toys, the must-have gift for adults this year is a mobile phone, not because it's chic but because owners find it reassuring in a dangerous world.

Companies such as the Carphone Warehouse have put together a "Peace of Mind" package. It offers a choice of six phones, 12 months' free line rental and free calls up to pounds 6.50 a month for a year, and costs pounds 199. Last Saturday alone the company made 5,000 connections, mainly for gifts.

Spending on Christmas this year is thought to be at its highest since the peak of the consumer boom in 1988, and is expected to reach pounds 23.5bn, up pounds 700m on last year.

Other popular items include small Calvin Klein knickers, which have sold out at Harvey Nichols, as have items by American designer Tommy Hilfiger. At Waterstones, staff can't get enough copies of Longitude by Dava Sobel, the book about the development of naval chronometers. Last week the chain sold 2,000 copies. At rival bookshop chain Dillons, the bestseller is The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett, closely followed by My Grand Prix Diary by Damon Hill.

Electrical stores such as Comet and Dixons report the continuing fad for Sony Playstations. This year's package with the games Mortal Kombat III and Formula One is pounds 269.97, and demand is unwavering. Shoppers are also spending to replace their standard television sets with those with a wide screen and surround sound.

Other popular gifts for adults this year include the Spice Girls album, videos of Trainspotting and Babe, Marks & Spencer's satin shirts for both men and women, and anything with a dalmatian print, be it a lampshade, a pair of tights or a hat.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links