Santa Claus is coming to town, but what should you put on your wish list? And, more importantly, what should you get for her, for him and of course for the little ones, who are impatient to see what they will find in their oversized stockings fixed precariously above the fireplace?
More often than not, it’s not an easy task as mostly we don’t need anything. The wonderful targets of male love and attention adore make-up, shoes, clothes and perfume – no surprises there. At this time of year, most make-up brands create special festive Christmas packs with winter shades and colours at reasonable prices (CHF 40 – 150). Similarly, perfume and body cream packages are almost always beautifully gift-wrapped. But it is all too easy to get it (very) wrong or to end up giving the same as usual. So we suggest, guys, that you stick to more interesting, but nevertheless safer, options.
If you think she is more of the house cocooning type, then head to Manor and choose a set of soft fabric PJs by YES OR NO (CHF 40). Jewellery is generally a winner to be put at the top of your list. Think earrings, bracelets, necklaces and rings – with matching pieces if your budget (and sense of aesthetics) allow.
If you’re buying for the man in your life, things could not be easier – except that jewellery is often not held in particular esteem by many men. Their idea of personal adornment is frequently limited to a watch, cufflinks and possibly a wedding ring. This leaves you with the frankly boring key fob or, less often these days, a tobacco-related accessory such as a cigarette case or luxury lighter.
Thankfully there are a host of more popular items you can choose. Leather gloves and a cashmere scarf or a stylish hat are always warm and appreciated gifts. He always has room for T-shirts, sweaters and sportswear, and if you are looking for something a little special, then an old-fashioned shaving kit is great. Avoid buying him an electric razor unless you are 100% certain he wants one. And there’s an element of self-interest at play here as well. Electric razors are not ideal if you want your man to keep his boyish skin and good looks. Playing it more or less safe, you could go for headphones (wireless is definitely the technologically cool statement), with the added advantage that they may save you from having to endure his music choice or the soundtrack of movies such as Predator Chainsaw Bloodlust Killer 4 or Alien Terminator Psycho-revenge 6. For other electronic gifts think tablet, Kindle or digital camera with detachable lenses. One of the advantages of gift shopping in Switzerland is that you can generally ask for an exchange voucher (bon d’échange) so that if you’ve got it wrong(ish), he can change it easily and at no cost.
Last, but not least, what about the children? According to child psychologists, children remember emotions rather than material things. Bake biscuits or cookies with them in the kitchen and involve them in the whole Christmas process. Decorate the house with them, take them to choose the tree, and let them advise on where and how to place the ornaments. Make hot chocolate with marshmallows and snuggle up with them to watch their favourite animated movie. After all, they will not stay small for ever. And don’t worry about buying masses of presents for them. One or maybe two small gifts and one “special” present, when added to their stocking fillers, gifts from friends and relatives plus their intake of copious amounts of sweets and goodies, will more than satisfy them. In fact, moderation is surprisingly (and counterintuitively) successful when it comes to delivering sheer pleasure.
To maximize children’s general sense of warm and positive emotion, it’s a good idea to focus on their interests – obviously – but not necessarily to succumb to short-term fads and fashions. Educational games such as puzzles and memory card games are a lot of fun – for all the family. Kids relish the challenge and the interaction with others, and they learn far more broadly than when playing electronic games. Dolls, Playmobil figures and creative games such as Play-Doh, Lego and Meccano make great gifts that will keep them amused hour after hour, month after month. And then there are the mobility presents – scooters, bicycles and games such as ball games – that can keep children beneficially busy and engaged for years. Whatever you do, though, keep your presents appropriate for their age.
Above all, don’t feel coerced into spending more than you want to or need to. Remember, it is always more pleasurable to give than to receive so just give the kids what they value most – a lot of TLC, or tender loving care.