No matter how old you are, one of the best things about Christmas is undoubtedly a gift.
Of course, we love to give as much as we receive them, but the latter will have an element of surprise, unless you’ve spent the previous two months hinting about some of them.
And our favourites are the little surprises in stockings too (you’re never too old for one, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!).
We’ve steered clear of classic tat gifts that wouldn’t last beyond the day (apart from edibles) and instead found genuinely useful products that we’d be more than pleased to receive ourselves, or have even bought ourselves as gifts.
To make this list, we looked to some of our all-time favourite products that we’ve come across over the past year, that we return to time and time again, as well as new found brands, useful ideas and some real luxuries that we know most people wouldn’t buy for themselves, but make wonderful gifts.
Here we’ve included some of our favourite edible gifts like ethical chocolate bars, to gifts that continue to give far beyond the day you opened them (unlike chocolate) such as merino wool jogging bottoms (this is 2020, after all), or beautiful hand made screen prints.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
This Works scent well aromatherapy diffuser
If you’re looking for a gift for someone who struggles to sleep, this is it. Well known for its best selling deep sleep pillow spray, this diffuser is all about helping you to wind down, or wake up, depending on which essential oil you choose to use. And it couldn't be simpler to use – just put a few drops of oil in the top, then turn it on to get the full effect. It turns itself off after an hour, so you don’t need to worry about using it if you’re going to sleep.
Using the deep sleep super blend essential oil (which is sold separately), we found we had a deeper and less interrupted sleep. It’s also a great gift for people who struggle to sleep away from home, as it’s easily portable and small size (its about the size of your palm) doesn’t take up much room. We also like the morning expert wake up drops too, which are great to help you get going on dark winter mornings.
Basil & Ford print stop and smell the roses print
Headed up by Matt and Lucy, from Basildon and Stamford (which is how it got its name, Basil & Ford), they set up the screenprinting business on their first wedding anniversary in 2013. As well as selling stationary, tea towels and other things, the duo hand screen print onto original vintage content including book plates, cigarette cards, maps, and posters using well known phrases relating to the vintage image in fluro typography. These are then sold as a lucky dip, and the customer doesn’t know which variation they’ll get. Our favourite is the “stop and smell the roses” print (30x40cm), which is an illustration by P.J Redouté, with bright print text ontop. There’s plenty of fun with these prints and because they’re so relatable, they make great gifts too.
Somerset by Alice Temperley bobble knit jumper, stone
For a Christmas jumper that’s grown up and doesn’t fall into the novelty category, we know anyone receiving this jumper will live it in through the festive season and beyond onto the rest of winter, for years to come. We’re all living in roll necks this year, and this bobble knit with balloon cuffed sleeves and slightly cropped length is our new favourite. Made from 50 per cent wool, its soft to the touch and cosy to wear. Pair it with jeans or over maxi dresses and skirts. If you, or the person you’re buying for, prefer a pop of colour, it’s also available in cognac.
Tom Lane 100% cashmere grey bed socks
Created by Jayne Ireland, who runs the business from her family farm in Lincolnshire, Tome Lane named after the road running through the village and specialises in cashmere and wool jumpers, socks, throws and accessories. For us, it’s not Christmas without a new pair of socks, and these 100 per cent cashmere socks, which are made in Scotland, are super soft and luxurious, making the perfect gift. We love the cable knit design and turned down tops – they’re cosy and great for wearing around the house. Available in pale blue and lilac and one size, 4-7 but would also fit an 8.
Papier pahri personalised notecards, set of 10
Perfect for a little stocking filler, these cards will win any stationary lover over. As a collaboration with one of our favourite pyjama brands, Desmond & Dempsey, these cards feature its beautiful hand drawn India-inspired illustrations from its Pahari range on the front, and entirely cover the back too. To make it even more special, personalise them with their initials – you can choose from a range of fronts and colours. They also come with a plain white envelope. Hopefully they’ll deem you important enough to send you one as a thankyou too.
M&S faux fur khaki green jacket
A faux fur jacket is a winter essential in our eyes, although there’s no office parties this year or going out out on Boxing Day over the festive period (but there will be again!) to show this one off at. But this faux fur olive green jacket is too good to waste just because you can’t wear it with your glad rags, as we think it’s perfect over a contrasting wool roll neck on a crisp wintery day walk too. It features a large collar, two decent sized side pockets (perfect for keeping chilly paws warm) and large front fastening buttons. We advise sizing up to ensure it fits over chunky knits. Also available in cognac.
Tartan Blanket Co lambswool oversized scarf, cinnamon
Emma and Fergus are behind the brand who are modernising the humble Scottish blanket. Creating everything from classic picnic rugs to baby blankets and a whole range of different sized scarves, there’s a huge choice. The brand uses mills in India and inner Mongolia which were chosen for their sustainable practices, as they support local communities and use 100 per cent recycled materials, while Mongolia is known for having the softest lambswool and cashmere in the world.
We love the cinnamon scarf – it’s a classic design, made with super soft lambswool and the “oversized” style (50cm x 200cm, including fringing) is perfect for wrapping up with, either around your neck for outside or around your shoulders at home.
It also has committed to donating to both1% for the People and 1% for the Planet, wich are organisations that help protect the planet and support those in need. We also love that it comes in plastic free packaging too. Available in 13 other colours and two more sizes, you can also have it embroidered for an additional £10.
Rituals of jing hair, body and bed mist, 50ml
For anyone who struggles to relax, and let’s face it, that’s a lot of us considering the year we’ve all had, this calming spray can be a god-send. Its the updated collection of the Rituals of dao scent, but if you’re not already familiar with it, it uses the fragrance of the lotus and jujube, which is also used in traditional Chinese medicine. Spray the fine mist on yourself, around you or on your pillow before sleep and let the scent help you relax. It’s free of alcohol so won’t stain fabrics either.
Piglet in Bed X WoolOvers cashmere merino lounge joggers, dark charcoal
Another of our favourite pyjama brands, Piglet in Bed, known for its dreamy linen creations has collaborated with WoolOvers, who specialise in wool, cashmere and cotton knitwear to create these devine lounge pants. Made with merino wool and 10 per cent cashmere, they’re super soft to the touch, and most importantly, not itchy. We love tapered style of these joggers, along with the up-turned bottoms which gives them a more unique style. Complete with a small pocket on the back right hand side, they also have a comfy drawstring waist, which is all just what we need for 2020. Available in size XS-XL and in two other colours. There’s also a matching zip up hoody available.
Instax mini 11 instant camera
Instant gratification (not in the form of instagram likes) from print out photos is a joy never to be underestimated. It’s almost impossible to take a bad picture with this too, so it’s practically foolproof thanks to its automatic shutter speed which acclimitises according to the light available, whether you’re inside or out, or in a badly lit space. The lens also pops out so it’s great for closeups too. Picture quality is great and better than you’d expect, and there’s even a tiny mirror on the front so you can nail selfie mode.
Sleeper sizesless black and white stripped pyjamas
This Ukranian brand is loved by the Instagram lot as well as plenty of celebrities too. Whether it's the puff sleeved cute summer dresses in pastel colours, or the feathered silky pjs, we’re sure you’re familiar with the brand. And one of its latest launches is the sizeless pjs. Made from a viscose alternative fabric, known as EcoVero, they feel silky smooth. Obviously they’re oversized, but with a collar, front buttons and upturned bottoms they feel super relaxed. We also like wearing them separately too, like the shirt with jeans. One of our favourite things about Sleeper is that everything is made to order, and you get a super cute hand signed note to say who sewed your set. It also comes in a cute reusable branded cotton bag.
Available in six other colours, these are perfect for anyone who loves the really oversized look. It also comes with a matching scrunchie and har ribbon which are made from offcuts. We know anyone receiving these on Christmas morning will have their outfit for the day sorted.
Olive + Frank Liberte T-shirt
Set up by Chloe Torpey, the brand is all about being expressive, positive and fun with gorgeous designs, which launched in 2014. Focusing on long and short tees, jumpers and jackets with embroidered details, we’re sure there’s lots you’ll want to add to your basket (for you, and them). As big fans of the brands with a few tops, our favourite is this oatmeal organic cotton T-shirt with a bright blue print. The brand team up with illustrator Almudena Rocca to create the limited edition Liberte tee. The hand drawn illustration is all about freedom and self expression and we love it. T-shirts are quite long and are a straight fit, so if you prefer a more oversized, go up a size.
Tony’s chocolonely fair trade milk chocolate bar with almond, honey and nougat, 180g
This brand is about so much more than just excellent chocolate, it’s on a mission to eradicate slavery from its supply chain. It burst onto the scene in the UK in 2019 but began life in the Netherlands in 2015. These chunky bars are recogisable for the unevenly sized shapes, which represents the unfair distribution of how profits in the chocolate industry are shared. The brand goes beyond paying a fair trade price and also pays a supplement to help its worker’s families pay for education and other necessities. Our favourite is the almond, honey and nougat bar, with a little bite and chewyness added to its top quality chocolate.
Onaie shepeskin slippers
A pair of slippers is a go-to Christmas present, but forget your usual beige slip-on mule pair. You might have seen these slippers on Instagram, and hopefully have become obsessed with them as we have. These slippers are the ultimate for those who want toasty trotters. Made from 100 per cent sheep skin, and with sturdy leather soles, the moccasin-style slippers are made in the highlands of Poland and have super soft sheepskin inners and we absolutely love the full sheepskin cuff. They’re available in an array of colours, but we love the dark blue ones with pink, sky blue and red embroidery.
Weleda skin food lip balm
Finding a good lip balm is like finding the perfect bra. Once you’ve found it, you’ll stockpile incase the brand happens to – for some unbeknown reason – decides to discontinue it. That’s how we feel about this balm. The skin food range from Weleda has cemented itself as a cult product, and the balm instantly relieves chapped and sore lips, and we’ve never without it now. Made with rosemary, viola tricolor, chamomile, calendula and beeswax, all of which are sustainably sourced, it’s a perfect little winter essential.
The verdict: Christmas gifts for her
For anyone that has trouble sleeping or relaxing, the This Works aromatherapy diffuser is a great gift that’s super versatile and will be used long after Christmas is over. For art fans, we love the Basil & Ford “stop and smell the roses print", while if it’s clothes you want to give, the Somerset by Alice Termperly bobble knit jumper is an absolute winner.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.
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