We’ve all been there. You’re given a £10 budget and told to turn a pumpkin into a carriage. Most people, tragically, resort to type. We all know those gifts; the ones that look pretty in a bow, but will ultimately be thrown onto the pile of other pointless crap in our life. This pile includes fingerless gloves, just for the record.
Standing proud at 5ft 3″, I fit the ‘Elf’ bill pretty perfectly. So allow me to honour this role with my breakdown of the presents that will define you as a Santa or Scrooge. No pressure. As Elves like to end on a candy-cane high, let’s start with the gifts that should stay permentantly secret.
1) Bath products.
We will all have received some pretty-as-a-picture lush box before, filled with christmas pudding bath bombs and cinnamon hand cream Where do I begin? Well, for starters we should listen to King Julian: “stop, he’s carrying scissors and hand cream!” It’s just not gonna fly people. Secondly, we’re in student housing. So does the bath bomb you lovingly selected include a bath/seriously efficient bleach? Unless, of course, silver fish are there to add to the sparkle. All we need now is “tinsel lotion” and we’ll rival Edward Cullen. On that note…
2) Books you want to read.
Shock horror, a literature student (and former Books Editor) said no to the sacred written word. Hear me out. Books are like Ben & Jerry’s – one flavour does not fit all, unless you’re Harry Potter/the Harry Potter equivalent of ice-cream (I won’t specify which one, for risk of sparking WWIII). If someone bought me 50 Shades of Grey – on the basis that Christian jingles their own Christmas bell – they’d be seeing one shade of text as I throw the book in their face.
I’m talking both object and film (If I want to cry this Christmas, I’ll watch It’s A Wonderful Life/The Holiday – no shame). Giving someone a notebook, or a calendar for that matter, puts you in the category of “gift someone else is guaranteed to get.” Socks also fall into this category, unless you’re Albus Dumbledore.
4) Fingerless Gloves.
Unless you have the cute little mutton attachments, you are about as much use as pocketless coat. Seriously, why do either of these things exist?
So let’s move swiftly onto how you can be a sassy Santa with £10 (or £5, if you’re an Exeposé editor. We’re not even getting a roast for our committee meal.)
1) Christmas Market.
Despite the University obsession with going to Bath, the Exeter Market is pretty darn adorable and your own Etsy offline. Markets are a tricky one, I admit: some stalls do suffer from ‘pointless crap‘ syndrome, with plenty of bath products, photo frames and plastic jewellery to go round. Think outside the box but inside the context of “they could actually use this”. A bobble hat will never go out of style, artisan biscuits are the Thoughtons of confectionary and some Christmas coffee/tea never goes amiss. Just make sure you don’t get the espresso-machine/loose-leaf variety. I may own a teapot-shaped strainer, but I’m probably the ex(etah)ception to the student rule.
2) Costa card.
On the surface, this is as unoriginal as a “Do they know it’s Christmas” re-re-re-cover (At least pick a different song Bob). Yet this is what makes it genius. No one else will think of something this cliche. The recipient however, will love you come January exam season. You’re basically their Angel Gabriel. Side note: if Camper Coffee did gift vouchers, they would be top of this list because their coffee is the best on campus. Costa didn’t even give me latte art last week.
3) Gloves with fingers.
Not only practical and winter-friendly, but a reminder that some parts of the world actually make sense. Even better, you can find IPhone friendly gloves in places like M&S for £10 exactly. Now there’s an invention to rival Mr Jobs himself.
4) Keepy cup.
A portable tea/coffee cup is one of those items I always wish I had but never do. You can get really cute quote ones online, my favourites being “Espresso Patronum” and “My blood type is coffee”.
5) A life-size Olaf.
Speaks for itself really. So many warm hugs and you never have to let go.
The reality is, being a secret Scrooge will only make you a festive fool. Unless you’re going to do a Michael Caine and recruit the Muppets. So stay away from the High Street Humbugs and go find a Kermit. Don’t think inside the box, look out; send those Joy balls rolling to Festive island.
Get something that is either useful, or so original that the person can’t say no. A life-sized Olaf, for example. A lifetime’s supply of warm hugs that you never have to let go… who could possibly say no?