According to my mum, the Christmas 24 channel and BBC Radio 4’s Thought For The Day, Christmas is not a time in which adults are permitted to say, “Give me stuff! I like things! Honestly, all I really want for Christmas is for £500 to fall out of the sky and directly into my pocket, so that I might go straight to the Liberty beauty hall and spend every penny in about an hour, without thinking of spending it on my kids, or my mum, or that council-tax bill that was due a month ago.” I think that we’re so anxious about being accused of forgetting the True Meaning Of Christmas (™) that we forget we’re allowed to want stuff. Stuff can be lovely. So, if someone asks you what you’d like, don’t panic and stammer, “Um, peace on earth and the gift of gratitude!” Send them a link to this list and cross your fingers.
The dichotomy of the perfect present is this – it needs to be something you want to the point of needing, but something you would never dream of buying yourself. As a hard shopping Westerner with a long, inglorious history of credit-card debt, there really aren’t that many things that fit into this category. So, unless you’re in a position to buy someone a house, or the Duchess of Devonshire’s lobster-shaped inkwell, this beautiful brush set is the business. It’s expensive, but my goodness, it punches well above its weight. Five cloud-soft brushes, covering pretty much all make-up eventualities (you can contour, you can do a complicated smoky eye) in a beautiful satin-lined burgundy leather case with a gold clasp. It’s the sort of thing that people might see in your bag and ask whether you have any cigars.
Once upon a time, an eyeshadow palette would include a serviceable fawn, a shimmery beige that would do for a party, and 10 democratically unwearable shades of turquoise that suited no one but possibly Peggy in Hi-de-Hi! But now we live in the future and Charlotte Tilbury has created the most covetable Christmas palette that I’m worried I’ll drool on it and muck up all of the shades. You get four trios of shadow, helpfully labelled Day Eye, Desk Eye, Date Eye and Disco Eye, and each part of the trio is part of a three-step plan. You shade, you enhance, you smoke. They’re not too heavily pigmented, which make them light and easy to layer. Obviously, you will run out of Disco Eye first, but that is the way of the palette.
Last year, I gave one of these to each of my sisters and I’m really hoping that someone returns the favour this Christmas. These are covetable, collectable, beautifully designed pots of small batch, beeswax lip balm (and you can get refills once you’ve used them up.) There is a lip balm for everyone in your life, and if Santa wishes to bring me the Busby Berkley Skating Beauty, I promise to do something sensible and environmentally friendly with the 50 other lip balms that I have lying in various places around the house.
If we were going to play a game of word association, if you said, “Christmas,” I would immediately say, “Mariah Carey.” I have decided that there is nothing more Mariah than a silk pillowcase. This May, events manager Luigia Minichiello told the Daily Mail that she brings her silk pillowcase wherever she goes. “When travelling, every night I’d unfold my pillowcase and know I was staving off the effects of ageing,” said Luigia, which is a little different from my own personal credo. “When travelling, I’d eat every single bit of tiny shortbread by the kettle, weigh up the pros and cons of paying £7 for a tiny bottle of minibar gin, and engage in a deep and meditative contemplation of the baffling ubiquity of the Corby trouser press.” Still, I love to sleep, I like things that feel nice and I’m all for any beauty ritual that positively encourages laziness. The silk is meant to make my face and hair smoother, and I don’t have to do a thing other than lying down and shutting my eyes.
In my head, I have decided that I am the Henry VIII of baths. I’m a sybarite, I love a fancy hat and I’m not above a chomp on a meaty haunch, but in my court, my commitment to luxury would be associated with my excessive fondness for a small, scented body of hot water. If Henry VIII had lived during an era of improved plumbing and sanitation, I’m pretty sure that this is what he would have put on his Christmas list. Noble Isle is a relatively new British brand with its roots in the countryside, and this set, with sweet, spicy Fireside and the crackling amber scented Whisky and Water, is called Cosiness Encased. Surely that’s all any of us want to give and receive at Christmas – the very essence of cosiness? In fact, if you’re into self-gifting – and goodness knows I am – this set is a great way to show you how much you love you.
One day, I hope to be a dog owner, but for now, I’m practising on my hair. The grooming bills are astronomical, I eat special food in order to maintain a shiny coat and, despite my best efforts, I sometimes look like I’ve been dipped upside down in fox poo. The gift of nice shampoo and conditioner would make my heart sing, yet it’s not something friends and family ever want to buy for me. Weirdly, body wash makes a fine present, but shampoo seems to be one step away from handing someone a gift wrapped bottle of Cif. So HOORAY for Philip Kingsley, for making shampoo into a proper present. Everything here is full-sized and you get Elasticizer, the great love of my mask life (when I am not dallying with my flashy mistress, Olaplex). If you know someone with hair, who has more than a passing interest in the way that the hair looks on their head, this is how you earn their eternal love and gratitude.