Good judgement is always what has been called for when it comes to selecting seasonal gifts. In times of plenty, when presents are bought in greater abundance, it’s OK to make the odd error of judgment, but these days you need to shop smarter.
It’s no longer the best plan to buy your loved ones the things that you imagine they would like, or, worse, the things that you wish they would like.
This means no massage vouchers for the family member who favours a handshake over a two-cheek kiss; no shaving gift-sets, however good value they seem, for your bearded brother; and no 90-piece make-up sets for the mum who only wears mascara.
Buy them what they want, which means buy them what they use. Take a look at their shelf of lotions and potions and suss out what they like. Or, if you’re really smart and observant, take a look at the same shelf and try to work out if there are items absent that were once there and may well be much missed. And, if in doubt, ask. If the gift is good enough, they’ll manage to feign surprise.
Lancome Genifique gift set, €85, Lancome counters nationwide There might well be a bit of this brand in most households and when it comes to gift sets, they score well on offering large sizes of their best-loved stuff, with tasters of complementary items that are small enough to get used up quickly and won’t hang around making anyone feel guilty. This comprises a full-size Genifique, worth €71; a full-size Genifique eye cream and a little Visionnaire sample. “I love the Genifique as a serum and I feel it also works as a good make-up primer,” said a panellist. “Hard-to-beat value, too.”
BEST STOCKING FILLER
Jo Malone Christmas Cracker, €34.50, Brown Thomas Dublin and Cork There’s no dud joke in here, just a sprinkling of some best-selling products from this brand, comprising small sizes of Pomegranate Noir Body & Hand Wash, Lime Basil & Mandarin Cologne and Orange Blossom Body Creme. “Three hits and no horrible hat,” said a panellist. “You could then drop hints about what you’d like in a full size later.”
BEST FOR HIM
Tom Ford Noir, €70, Brown Thomas Dublin and Cork This has become a go-to brand for men who are stylish and, further, don’t mind who’s aware of it. This is the latest men’s fragrance from Tom Ford, which is not as dark or heavy as the name might imply. As the bottle design suggests, it’s a slightly Seventies fragrance; it has a spicy pepperiness, but it’s not cloying or nasty like the scents the recipient might have worn in his teens. “This is deep and oriental, but not too Hai Karate,” said one panellist. “Musky, but not musty.”
BEST FESTIVE FRAGRANCE
Lucy Annabella Organics Festive Spice Aromatic Candle, €25, see www.lucyannabella.com Whether it’s a gift you bring on a seasonal visit to someone’s house, or something you give to the home bird who likes to fill the house with fragrance, this is a seriously Christmassy candle. The brand, created by Co Tyrone woman Colleen Harte, uses all-organic essential oils and includes body-care products and a selection of gorgeous candles. The Festive Spice candle is rich with cloves and cinnamon. “This reminds me of the orange pomanders my mother used to make with us, but without the agony of getting cloves stuck under your fingernails,” a panellist said.
BEST SKINCARE SAMPLER
Guinot Beauty Holiday Gift Set, €60, salons and spas nationwide, Lo-Call (0818) 719-303 The brand is one that is much loved and valued and there is value in this box, too. The three 15ml sizes of mask, exfoliant and moisturiser are favourites she will actually use, while the make-up remover is a generous 100ml and the full-size lip gloss is a pretty bonus. “This is my go-to brand for facials, but I only treat myself to a product when I’m flush enough for a facial,” one panellist said. “This would be something I’d want to give myself.”