Monday 29 November 2010

Jane's Christmas Gift Guide for the Terminally Difficult

I miss doing Christmas gift guides. I used to love moseying round shops, scrolling through websites, trying to find really lovely, unusual things for tricky people. It was a great way of getting all one's presents sorted out really early too.  However, sadly, this year nobody has asked. *whistles quietly and  mournfully*.  So, I figured I’d do a small one here....just a few rather nice or plain weird things for the awkward squad in the house. 
FOR MOODY STUDENTS: The Dead Beat by Cody James (Eight Cuts, £6).
Indie-literature at its best...from one of the coolest writers going. If this doesn’t gain you instant brownie-points and your tricky angsty relative immediate street cred, I despair. I mean, look at the cover for starters.  None of your sell-out mainstream publishers here, no sirree.  Even if they don't read it, it'll look great slung on a beer crate coffee table or poking out of a rucksack. 
Yes, there’s drinking, and drugs and swearing and sex - not forgetting comets. Well, of COURSE there is. Doh!

FOR FINICKETY FOODIES: Argan oil (from £8.50). Oh ye gods, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this stuff. Amazingly it still hasn’t hit the mainstream but it’s only a matter of time. Drizzle it on salads or pasta or simply pop some in a bowl and use it for dunking good bread. Tastes nutty and gorgeous AND it’s good for you!
Actually, have a browse right around the site because you don't have to just splosh it on your food; you can whack it on your face too.  I swear by their facial oils - scented with sandalwood, neroli, rose...they really work and at a fraction of the price of the big cosmetics houses' creams and serums.

FOR GORGEOUS GIRLIES: Mili B Bottom Chic.  Seriously nice knickers for girls of all ages (from teeny tots through trendy teenagers to, um, the more matronly). These are designed by a pal of mine for maximum comfort and total gorgeousness (a rare combination). From £8. Oh, and there are bras and camisoles and other frilly things. Men – take note – this is a win-win... ditch the slimy red satin tat and go for the real deal.
Check out the baby pants too - soooo cute.  Only problem is picking the colourways - I'm partial to the pale blue and brown myself. ;)

FOR BASICALLY MOST MEN: 1001 Beers you Must Try Before you Die. Edited by my dear husband, Adrian Tierney-Jones. This is beer porn, pure and simple. Luscious pictures of uber-beers from all around the world. There is a Facebook group devoted to trying every one of these – I kid you not. Seriously, it sorts out most blokes. Also available in the US from (with the slightly different title of 1001 Beers you Must Taste Before you Die). But if not....

FOR UNCLE KEVIN AND OTHER AWKWARD SODS: Beer Cans of Birmingham (£9.79) by Elizabeth Tipping. I’ve mentioned this before because it just tickles me pink. A calendar featuring abandoned beer (and cider) cans in their found settings around scenic Birmingham. Actually, it’s not just a silly joke calendar – the photography is really very lovely. Okay, so one daft sod pointed out that there is a bottle included.  Oh, get a life! 
FOR WOMEN YOU DON’T KNOW TOO WELL: Comfort Candle. Yes, it may be a bit of a cliché but I don’t know many women who don’t like good scented candles (note the emphasis on good). Okay so I can think of one notable exception but generally it holds true.  They don’t come much better than Aromatherapy Associates’ (you know I adore their stuff). The old Relax candle is still my all-time favourite but the new Comfort Candle (£24) is a cracker. It’s scented with rose and ginger (an unusual combo that actually works brilliantly) which are uplifting and warming. Aaah.

FOR MYSTIC MEGS: The Mind Body Spirit Miscellany by, ahem, Jane Alexander (£8.40). A cute little hardback book with a ton of information on how to build crop circles, find leylines and identify various Norse ghosts. Essential stuff really. Also available in the US from

FOR FUNKY BABIES: Red-knit romper. I really miss buying James a special Christmas outfit. For his first Christmas he had the softest fleecy babygro with a hood and the most tasteful little reindeer on the front.  So many festive offerings are deeply naff but this ticks all the style boxes – berry red with a cosy hood; there's a bit of fairisle going on and different coloured buttons. Sigh. Almost makes me wish I had a baby. Yes, it's a bit pricey at £14 but hey, it's Christmas.

Actually, I am also pretty smitten by some absolutely gorgeous bootees too (Elf, Santa, Reindeer or just plain heavenly fake mink!) Scroll down to see the pics...(I am not too good at arranging stuff properly on the blog....)

deeply cute for carol singing or Christmas parties...

just HOW flipping gorgeous are these?
Bootees available from 


Kate said...

I'm loving the idea of that calendar; my daughter has just graduated from Birmingham Uni so I'm sure it'll bring back happy memories of the hours and hours and hours she put into her (cough) 'studies' there! Many thanks for the 'thumbs up' Jane :-)

Exmoorjane said...

K&K: Huzzah! Yes, actually, perfect present for students (or ex students!)....

martine said...

thanks for your recommendations, loved the sound of the argan oil, perused their site.
much love

Milla said...

oooh, wanna baybay!! purely for the shoes, well, and the kissing of heads. At least your ideas aren't as idiotically expensive as most of the present guides where the guider thinks you have fifty quid to squander on an Amusing Novelty.
And am I the anti-scented candle person, or do you need to adjust your blog to read, "actually I can think of TWO ..."

Exmoorjane said...

Martine: Argan is manna from heaven, truly!

Milla: I know, I know - those bootees.... And, um, okay now it's two people who don't like scented candles. :)

Fran Hill said...

Do they do those red romper suits in adult sizes? That would do me right now.

Exmoorjane said...

Fran: to be honest, it would need a built-in hot water bottle to work for me right now.

Actually: NOTE - the romper suit seems to have sold out sadly.. But the bootees are still going strong...

Frances said...

Jane, your gift choices are sublime, but ... if only you could see what I am rushing about in my own Santa's workshop, making just about all of this year's Christmas gifts!

I used to do most of my Christmas shopping on what is now over hear called Black Friday, the day after our Thanksgiving Day.

Those days are over now! I will try to stay away from mid-town NYC between now and Christmas, and might even not do much internet shopping.

Just love making the gifts myself.

(Re formal party outfit for James, I know that you got it sorted perfectly.) xo

Rob-bear said...

What have you got in mind for the likes of ASBO Jack and the Soul Puppy?

Lickedspoon said...

Love your gift guide and share your passion for argan oil. I first tried it in Essaouira years ago and have been mad about it ever since. Delicious, good for you, makes you beautiful inside and out, what more could you want?

Esther Montgomery said...

This is a fun post. The best part being plugs for family and friends.

You'd better add me to your list of women who don't like scented candles - so that can rise to . . . does that make it three?


Kitty said...

Some excellent ideas there, funny I just read about Argan oil in the new India Knight novel, and wondered what on earth... you know how behind we are up here in Yorkshire. And I LOVE scented candles, but yes, only good ones. Preferably fig scented. But rose and ginger sounds lovely too.

Wally B said...

Oil and beer book now on my Christmas list.
Thanks Jane