I wouldn’t consider myself a particularly fussy person, per se. Watching a movie with me? I’m totally down with whatever you want to see. And, I was a parent’s dream when it came to trying new foods - tomatoes, pickles, mushrooms, I would eat them all. But when it comes to receiving gifts, however, that’s another story entirely.
Here at Marie Claire UK, we’ve lovingly curated a range of different gift guides to help inspire you - from the best gifts for her and gifts for him to personalised gifts and even the best gifts for babies. But this tried and tested gift guide has been created specifically for those people who are notoriously tricky to buy presents for. And I can say this confidently because I’m the prime example of a fussy gift receiver.
Seriously, a generic and impersonal bath set is my worst nightmare, and I’m far too particular with scents to get excited at the prospect of a new perfume that doesn’t smell like my signature scent (Chanel, Chance Eau Fraiche, if you were wondering).
Perhaps it’s because as a shopping editor, you'd be hard-pressed to find a new item that I haven't already seen: I spend hours scouring the internet for the hottest new trends, best bargains and generally most shoppable items out there. In short, products are my bread and butter, so I seldom feel really surprised by any that come my way in the form of gifts.
Another issue is that I absolutely hate waste, and the idea of returning or exchanging an item somebody has picked out for me upsets me almost as much as the fact that it would just sit unused if I didn’t do so. So I’ve developed a solution for frustrated friends and family: a carefully chosen list of ‘suggested’ gifts to point them in the direction of if they’re looking to buy me a present.
This system generally works out quite well on both sides, but there are always exceptions to any well-thought-out plan. Over the years I’ve received a few standout gifts that really took me by surprise (that is to say, they weren’t on the wish list outlined above)…but in a good way. Whether I’d never seen or heard of the gift before or I didn’t realise just how much use I’d get out of it, these tried and tested gifts have genuinely impressed me.
What makes a good gift?
To me, a product has to tick a number of boxes to make it a particularly great gift:
- Ideally, it should feel quite unique (or at least have some sort of personal meaning to the gift receiver)
- It should also last them a long time - whether it be a timeless fashion staple or an investment piece of kitchenware
- Finally, it should be genuinely useful to your giftee
So whether you’re picking a Christmas present for somebody who’s tricky to buy for or just looking for a failsafe gift for somebody you don’t know that well, keep scrolling to check out the gifts that genuinely impressed me, the self-proclaimed present police.
Shop the few gifts I’ve actually loved:
This first product actually inspired this entire article - never in my life would I have imagined how much use I'd get out of the Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser. I use it every morning to make my matcha tea or steamed milk for my coffee if I'm feeling a little fancy. It's obviously great at making hot chocolate too, making it brilliant for any seasonal drink you could think of.
My idea of a perfect gift will always feature some personalised element, and this Rachel Jackson locket necklace is the perfect example. It’s personal, but in a subtle way, as you can print a tiny picture or two to pop inside. The classic disc shape is great for layering with my many other gold chains too!
Speaking of jewellery, Astrid & Miyu's welded bracelet service makes for a gorgeous gift. They'll be able to choose from a range of 9k gold chains to be welded onto their wrist as a permanent reminder of your love for them. Book appointments for you and a loved one for matching jewellery gift they'll treasure.
I use my Always Pan all the time. It looks unreasonably chic for a kitchen appliance, has a huge capacity and an unrivalled non-stick base (read: it's the perfect gift for anyone who enjoys cooking).
Troubadour's Apex backpack is the ideal gift for that person who always insists they 'don't need anything', because chances are, they'll probably have owned their most essential products for about 10 years now. This really is the most luxurious backpack I've ever owned - it's waterproof (yes, even the zip), has so many handy pockets and compartments and looks unbelievably sleek.
I adore my Lola massage gun. It helps to soothe sore muscles, is lightweight enough to take with me when travelling and the design is surprisingly chic. It's the perfect practical gift.
I’ll admit, I didn’t get the hype around the viral Stanley flask/cup hybrids until I owned one myself. As someone who likes to drink a lot of water throughout the day but is also unavoidably lazy, I adore the fact that I don’t have to get up to refill my cup too often, as it has a huge 1.2-litre capacity. It keeps my water cold till the last sip and also has a narrow cup holder-friendly base, making it perfect for long car journeys too.
From keeping my water cold to maintaining the cosy heat of my tea to the last drop, the Ember mug was another savvy kitchen item I had no idea I’d get so much use out of. It connects to the app on your phone so you can tailor the heating level to your preferred beverage (yes, green tea, coffee and a classic builder's brew all taste best at different temperatures!). If you're shopping for somebody who loves their tea done right, this is a failsafe gift.
In case you can't tell by now, I love to feel cosy come winter, and if I can look chic while doing it then that's a huge bonus. Enter: this unbelievably luxurious cardigan from Balzac Paris. It's made from the softest alpaca wool and suits just about everything in my wardrobe. A classic piece of knitwear is a failsafe gift, so it was sure to impress even a fussy giftee like me.
I’m terrible at upgrading my most-used items (see the Troubadour backpack example above for reference), so when I was given this gorgeous phone case from Burga it was a very welcome change from my previous yellowing clear case. This bright pattern from Burga's new Aurora range is stunning - just make sure you know their phone's make and model before purchasing!
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that you can’t go wrong with gifting an Elizabeth Scarlett piece come Christmas. This Sun Goddess pattern is beautiful, but they have a ton of other gorgeous velvet designs to choose from too - including ones with personalised elements. Elizabeth Scarlett also donates 2% of their annual sales to the animals that adorn their pieces. Obsessed.
If they're into reading, they're sure to adore a gift card from Bookshop.org. You can choose how much to put on the gift card, and each purchase supports independent booksellers and small bookshop businesses. It's a win-win if you ask me.
I can’t imagine life without my Tile item finder now that I’ve owned one for a year. It might look like a small token of a gift, but for people forever losing their phone or keys, it will become invaluable. They can simply attach it to their keyring and they can ring their phone from their keys and vice versa.
Okay, this is a bit of a wild card as it’s quite a statement piece, but when I received this tassel bag from Fatface I genuinely gasped. It’s such great quality for the under £90 price tag and I can see myself styling it in so many different ways. I will say this though: if you’re buying a statement piece for somebody, make sure you’re pretty clued up on their personal style beforehand.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - the best gifts are the ones that give your most-used products a massive upgrade. Enter SURI's sonic toothbrush. Not only is it sustainable (with a plant-based toothbrush head) but it's also the chicest toothbrush I've ever seen. It even comes with a magnetic wall mount to streamline your bathroom decor.
There’s nothing I love more than a wellness treat once the weather gets grey and miserable, and Sloggi's EVER Infused range feels like just that. This short-sleeved body is woven with micro-capsules of moisturising aloe vera to soothe your skin and senses. Who doesn't love a gift of luxurious-feeling loungewear?
Marie Claire Newsletter
Celebrity news, beauty, fashion advice, and fascinating features, delivered straight to your inbox!
Valeza Bakolli is Marie Claire’s Junior Shopping Editor. She previously worked at BuzzFeed, where she honed her skills in all things shopping - from gift guide curation to being first on the scene to feature the latest fashion and beauty drops. She’s made it her mission to encourage people to shop mindfully and with purpose. That’s why she dedicates hours of her time every day to finding the best products online so you don’t have to - from small and sustainable businesses wherever possible, of course.