06 December 2013

Bex's 2013 Gift Guide: Stockings and Secret Santas

Last week, I revealed my Christmas gift picks for girls and for guys. Today it's time for my suggestions for stocking fillers and those often tricky Secret Santa presents. The price limit for all of these items is £15, but a few are under £10, in case your budget is a little tighter.

1. Map and planner notebooks from Present & Correct. £7.50 each. I am a huge stationery geek, and thought that this pair of notebooks was really cool. One lets you plan out your week, simply and stylishly, while the other is divided into a grid section, where you can sketch out a map, and a section to mark in your itinerary. Yes, you could just use your Google Maps app, but there is something visually and nostalgically appealing about this low-tech option.

2. Pair of stripy notebooks from Quill London. £8.50. Quill London has great stationery and this pair of notebooks — one pale green, one pastel pink, both with metallic gold stripes on the cover — will look good on any desk or in any handbag.

3. Know-it-all pencils from Present & Correct. £11.75. I really liked this bright pink pencil set from Austique, but they were over my budget, so instead I'm recommending Present & Correct's know-it-all pencils, each of which highlights a useful fact. Perfect for the person with an answer for everything — or for the pub-quiz goer.

Food & drink
4. Custom-designed liqueurs from Alchemist Dreams. From £15. Alchemist Dreams lets you create your own liquer by selecting a combination of fruit flavours, herbs and spices. If you're uncertain, you can either pick one of their house blends or write a description of the recipient in a box and the Alchemists will seek inspiration from your words. You can also customise the labels, so this is a great personalised gift. A 200 ml bottle of your custom liqueur is £15.

5. Two-bag subscription to Pact Coffee. £13.90. I've sounded the praises on this blog before about Pact, a coffee subscription service that sends you a custom-selected bag of really good quality coffee for £6.95. As the coffee will usually arrive the next day, it's pretty convenient, and although I have a lot of other places to buy good coffee beans nearby, Pact does offer a great service. They will grind the beans for you, if you don't have a grinder, and their packs fit through most letter boxes (sadly not mine).

6. Clever Coffee Dripper from Clinton Coffee Company. £14.50. If the coffee lover in your life wants to take the next step towards coffee geekery, but isn't quite ready for an Aeropress, the coffee dripper could be a good choice. It makes a really good cup of filter coffee in three minutes — just add a paper filter, your coffee and some just-off-the-boil water, which filters through perfectly thanks to the ridged surface of the dripper. It will make an ever better cup of coffee if you use coffee from Pact, rather than a pre-packaged bag from your supermarket.

7. Christmassy treats from Hope & Greenwood: North Pole Party caramel-filled chocolates (£4.99) and Christmas Sweets Shaker (£6.99)*. In my family, no Christmas stocking is complete without a sweet treat (or five), and Hope & Greenwood have a great seasonal offering this year. The chocolate caramels are shaped like snowmen and Father Christmases, and the sweets in the shaker add a touch of retro that will go down well with the whole family: flying saucers, sugar mice, candy canes...well, you get the idea.

8. Geometric leather purse from Luna & Curious. £14. A sleek, 10-by-15-cm leather purse with an embossed, geometric design. It comes in a range of colours: turquoise is my favourite, but the navy is also nice.

9. Happy Socks from Selfridges. £8. I like the idea of having socks in a Christmas stocking, and Happy Socks does have some lovely designs. Two pairs of socks in cute navy-and-red designs: one pair with big dots, the other with a contrasting toe and heel.

10. Arne Jabcobsen letter cup from Heal's. £13. I picked up one of these handle-less cups with the iconic, capital-letter design a few months ago, and use it to keep the pens on my stationery shelf in order. You could use it as a mug too, of course, as long as you weren't drinking anything too hot. You could also buy a few and spell out a word or a set of initials.

* I was sent these Hope & Greenwood products to try. The opinions stated here are, as always, honest and my own.

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