I’ve unashamedly had Christmas songs stuck in my head since July, and I contemplated buying decorations in September, so let’s just say compiling this Christmas gift guide wasn’t a daunting challenge.
Each item is practical but fun (because, no matter how many times it’s suggested by retailers, it is not exciting to receive a water filter or anti-wrinkle cream), and should stand out amongst the other presents around the Christmas tree. Happy shopping!
Up to £10
The Unusual Notebook (£3)
If you already love Herb Lester’s colourful maps (£4 each), you’ll enjoy the brand’s new notepads (£3 each, or £12 for six) based on fictional hotels, including the Great Northern Hotel from Twin Peaks. The tribute to Agatha Christie’s novel, At Bertram’s Hotel, is similarly tempting. Other Herb Lester products to add to your cart include a set of menu reading phrasebooks (£8), and a guide to visiting New York on your own (£4), which I agree is a good idea! See my solo guide to New York for details.
The Stitched Mini Map (£3)
A postcard might not seem like much of a Christmas present, but this one’s different: take the needle and thread supplied, then stitch your planned route across a map of a certain city, country or the entire world. You can order entire postcard sets if you’re indecisive, and UK delivery is ridiculously cheap at 95p. A word of warning: don’t get overexcited and stitch the map before you give it to someone else – let them chart their own adventure.
Up to £25
The Famous Travel Guide (£17.59; RRP £24.99)
The New York Times is known for its ’36 hours in…’ round-ups, and the 36 Hours: Europe collection offers a condensed guide to 125 cities. They range from the standard big hitters (Edinburgh, Florence, Paris) to the less obvious contenders (Perm, Sofia, Tallinn), with clear maps and updated details for all listings. I’m suggesting you buy the book from Hive.co.uk, as the website benefits local independent bookshops. Though I am a guilty Amazon devotee, I know there are more ethical ways to buy books, so I’m giving Hive a go.
The Self-Aware Luggage Tag (£25)
Part of a collaboration between The School of Life and accessories brand Knomo, this Emotional Baggage Luggage Tag is irresistible. Made of real leather, it’s available in three colours, but I’ve plumped for navy. The matching Emotional Baggage tote bags have been around for a while and I’ve spent a long time admiring them, but this is a more wearable and affordable product for many shoppers. Just don’t buy it for anyone who’s easily offended, or you could be in hot water.
Up to £50
The Failsafe Scarf (£36)
I’ve been waxing lyrical about Irish fashion and lifestyle store Avoca ever since I returned from Dublin. Their Oriental Seas II scarf is beautifully designed, using fragments of old Japanese maps to create an unusual print. Scarves are one of the best items you can pack for travelling, as they weigh virtually nothing and have countless uses (hence the book published last year, 50 Ways to Wear a Scarf). Mine come in handy as wraps, sarongs, sun lounger covers, scrunched up makeshift pillows or towels, and sunburnt skin protectors.
An Intrepid trip fund boost (£50)
If you’re a Tesco Clubcard customer, you can now use your Clubcard points as part-payment for an Intrepid Travel holiday – not just for yourself, but to pass onto family and friends at Christmas. After a few simple steps, your recipient can redeem their personalised gift certificate over the phone by Christmas Eve 2016, putting it towards any Intrepid trip they want (I’d recommend trying Majestic Peru). The maximum voucher value is £800, but I’m assuming your budget stretches to a more reasonable £50.
The Sky’s the Limit
The Great Escape
Rather than picking an accessory or a travel voucher, take a leap and choose where they actually go. You can get a plane ticket to a destination you know they’ll love (and if you don’t like them that much, don’t book a return). Use sites like Teletext Holidays and British Airways for late holiday deals, or browse Eurostar for train tickets, plus 2-for-1 museum ticket offers.
The Domestic Break
Alternatively, ’tis the season for cheap domestic hotel deals, with companies like Travelodge and Jurys Inn advertising cut-price hotel stays, so why not design your own short break in the UK? Use the discount code WELCOME5 to save an extra 10% on any one night Travelodge booking – it’s valid until 31st December 2015. For something more luxurious, the Hotel du Vin currently offers a two person Sunday night stay, with a Monday spa treatment for each guest, from £129.
Have you spotted something perfect for adventurers that deserves a place in my gift guide? Shout about it below.