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The Odd Socks Christmas Gift Guide

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

There are a lot of Christmas gift guides floating around the internet at the moment.  I love them.  I adore buying presents anyway but with gift guides, someone else has done all the hard work and found amazing things and shops for you.  What's not to like?  If I have a slight beef with them (and I do), it's that they tend to be very specific in their categories - "For him" "For her" "For the kids" "For your mum".  That's not my approach to present buying, or to life in general.  Why categorise things and people?  Just buy good stuff! I got my dad the Adventure Series by Enid Blyton for Christmas last year (which he LOVED btw) and I highly doubt that would have appeared on any of these "For Your Dad" lists.

I hereby dub this The Odd Socks Guide to Shiny, Marvellous Things on the Internet.

Catchy, huh?  Basically, these are amazing things I have discovered. Not your obvious things from places like ASOS and Amazon (although I do very strongly recommend the waterproof mp3 player from my last post cos it's brilliant) because you're bound to come across those yourself during the course of your mooches around the internet. These are just things I've found that I like. If they match the taste of someone you need to buy a present for, get them.  Or just buy them for yourself.  I won't judge.

The beauty of craft kits is that you have a choice: either give a crafty person the kit as a present or buy it, make it yourself and give the finished item to a non-crafty person instead.  I came across Gift Horse Kits on Twitter earlier this year and tackled Project Bunny as one of my summer things to do.  The kit was absolutely wonderful - very nicely packaged up, contained absolutely everything and had some brilliant, clear instructions.  I'd definitely recommend buying or making the Little Red Ted, Love Cats and amazingly cute Robins.

I went on holiday with Heather, the lovely and very creative person behind Custard Bean, earlier in the year.  Look, you can see her larking around in this post! She makes the most beautiful quilts and bunting, some of which decorated our holiday cottage in fine style.  Her etsy store is stocked up with fab handmade festive goodies at the moment, including this tweed stocking and a range of handmade tree decorations.  Or if you know someone with a Kindle, I'm sure they could do with a good Kindle cover.

Book lovers may drool at this one.  It's the Delightful Reading Spa at Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath.  If you live in that part of the world then frankly I don't know why you haven't bought this already.  For the rest of us, it's worth going all the way there just for this.  It's got to be worth every single penny of the £55 it costs.  Book heaven.

Cat fans, feast your eyes upon The Cat Gallery.  One of the volunteers at work introduced me to this website after I went a bit mad at the sight of her brilliant cat earrings one day.  She'd been to the actual shop in York but the website is just as much fun.  They sell pretty much everything cat related that you might ever need.  I'm sure you know a person (or cat) who'd appreciate the Crazy Cat Lady mug, glow in the dark collar, LED miaowing keyring or black cat roll holder.

I like a good papercut.  No, not the incredible painful yet minor injury, the craft!  Rob Ryan stuff is beautiful and readily available but it's worth seeking out some of the other online alternatives, such as Folk Art Papercuts on Etsy.  It's full of stunningly intricate designs available as prints or cards - the above picks are the Folk Art House, Long Necked Cat with Birds, Hillside Village and Horse prints.

My main beef with buying things from the USA is that, unless the total cost is very cheap, you get clobbered with customs and handling charges before the Royal Mail deigns to let you have your parcel. Threadless were awesome anyway but now they are straight at the top of my Hurrah List (yes, there is such a thing) for giving you a postage price which includes pre-paid customs so you know exactly how much you're spending. Also, their sale has been extended until this evening (28th Nov) so you can get loads of their tshirts for $9.99 (about £6ish) each. BUY BUY BUY!

I recommend Toile About You (aka my favourite print in the history of the world EVER), Bunnythmetic and Paper Zoo totes, the Runnin' Rhino iPhone case, and Oscar's Hideout and Captain Obvious tshirts.  But the beauty of the site is that you can pretty much pick your favourite design and you've got a whole array of tshirt sizes and styles to choose from, plus quite often there are other products (phone cases, bags, socks etc) in that design as well.

Sweets!  None of your cynical "oh aren't we retro, lol" packaging here.  This is proper stuff, sold by people who know what they're talking about.  A Quarter Of is my go-to website when I want something delicious and sweet.  Candy necklaces, Christmas Pud sweets, Iron Brew humbugs (zomg, they are truly amazing), vampire teeth... if they don't sell them, they probably aren't worth buying.

The Literary Gift Company is a truly glorious website.  I can browse through it with quite a number of friends in mind and immediately find about 96 things they'd love.  It's that good and that full of fab, quirky items.  I know exactly which people would like the procrastination pen, I Capture The Castle earrings, Go Away I'm Blogging mug, Penguin cufflinks and Shhh mug.

If you're buying for people who are a bit more academic than literary, check out their sister site Present Indicative. We all need a Votes for Women teatowel...

Jezebel Charms is one of my very favourite Etsy shops.  Some Etsy jewellery shops can be a bit samey but this really isn't.  It's full of wonderfully designed and unusual items that span the genres from Austen to Shakespeare to music and steampunk.  The Jane Austen quote necklace, Sherlock Holmes cuff, Regency dancing earrings and antique London map cuff are all fabulous.


  1. At present, the only thing exciting me about Xmas is the thought of waterproof mP3!!

  2. Oh top picks! The Cat Gallery is genius, just right for several of my mates.

  3. All you've done here Alex is give me a load of ideas of things I want for MYSELF! :S

  4. Oh Alex you are awesomeness itself! Such brilliant, quirky ideas. As one half of an academic couple (and many, many academic friends), Present Indicative is the best website ever! I love the Literary Gift Company but that is something else! Thank you xxx

  5. Loving the high quote of bookish presents here! That book spa sounds amazing, who wouldn't want to recieve that as a gift? xx

  6. My stepdad's nick name is Captain Obvious, that shirt is amazing! So many things to make comments on here, it's just all so good. Cx

  7. I actually love you for introducing me to the cat gallery! x

  8. Just echoing what Lucy said: so many of these things are something I'd love to buy for myself. Alas, I don't think my brother would enjoy the Regency dancing earrings.

  9. Oh this post had me dancing around in delight as I read it! Like the above, I would love all the items myself (esp. Jane Austen quotes! I already have obnoxious Darcy quote earrings!) but I CAN think of others who would love them too!

  10. Ooh this is fab, I've been struggling for a friends pressie cause I don't wanna pay US postage prices, definitely checking out all these links, thanks! :)

  11. I would genuinely like to that you for this guide, and especially the introduction to The Literary Gift Company. Very very good call! Thank you Alex :)

  12. The crazy cat lady mug pretty much somes up both me and my Mum perfectly! Love the idea of the reading spa also, it would make a great gift xxx

  13. Ooh thanks for introducing me to the Literary Gift Co - have found the perfect gift for my friend (an ex-librarian and book lover)!


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