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Christmas, much like my student debt, has come out of nowhere this year. And, again much like my student debt, I’m trying not to think about it. Christmas shopping is an intimidating thing for students with £3.87 in their bank account (that much if you’re lucky!), and amongst the panic it’s easy to fall into the trap of 3-for-2 giftsets, of which 90% of the gift is the tacky plastic packaging. But this year I’m taking a stand against disposable junk that slots easily into a £5 budget: I vow to only buy gifts that will stay in the heart of the recipient long after the holidays have passed, and avoid spending more than £10 per person (sorry Mum and Dad).

for these gifts, the inside of the wrapping paper isn’t half as important as what’s inside the cover.

Bookseller Foyles chose the tagline for their Christmas 2016 marketing campaign with the premise that they could provide a gift that doesn’t end up in Oxfam by February, or re-gifted for an acquaintance’s birthday. Pitched as “the gift they can open again and again”, books seem like the perfect solution to my gifting ambition. Looking at my own bookshelf of cluttered and tattered paperbacks – many gifts and recommendations themselves – Foyles has me sold. This Christmas, my nearest and dearest will exclusively receive books as presents.

Luckily, my family are the reading type: I’m certain they won’t grimace in horror they peel back the easily guessable wrapping. However, the issue of taste is one that I am less certain about. My reading choices rarely extends to Russian history (Grandpa) or historical thrillers (Dad) or twee World War Two romances (Grandma). Certainly, this task isn’t going to be a case of grabbing the nearest gift set from the shelf in Boots – gifting books for Christmas must be a meticulously considered task.

Luckily, the literary world has got my back. Publishers Penguin have recently released a new website called ‘Penguin Flipper’, which allows users to select criteria of the recipient (an ‘child 9-12’ who likes ‘magic’ and ‘animals’, for example
), upon which they’ll be recommended a selection of Penguin books that fit the choices. Using Flipper, I got Pigeon Tunnel by John leCarré for my Dad, spawned from my pickings of ‘an adult’ who is enjoys ‘thrills’ and ‘the past’. From its blurb, I think he’ll like it.

I vow to only buy gifts that will stay in the heart of the recipient long after the holidays have passeD

It’s not only Penguin that are offering tools to make book gifting a little easier. Waterstones has divided their Christmas website into different categories for easy searching, from the reliable ‘Ladybug Books for Grown Ups’ to the 2016 popularity of ‘Hygge’. The ‘Seasonal’ and the ‘Beautiful’ selections are perfect for the anti-dog-ear aesthete who prefers preserving books to reading them. With 25% off many, it’s almost convincing enough to avoid Amazon altogether and make your Christmas goodwill of 2016 to preserve bookshops.

Gifting books may have taken more time and consideration than popping into Tesco for a Ferrero Roche selection box; nonetheless, they will be presents that last longer. This year, there might be very little need to shake to guess the contents of the presents on Christmas Day but, for these gifts, the inside of the wrapping paper isn’t half as important as what’s inside the cover.

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