Here’s a fun fact for you: almost a third of us move house in the summer and according to a new survey by price-comparison website Compare My Move, August is the most popular month to up-sticks. While that means a lot of people sweated through the heatwave packing and unpacking their stuff, they now are ready to show off their new places. It’s only polite to take something with you when you go round to admire their cushions (or in my case, get serious period-feature envy).
Whether the recipient is renting or has managed to get on the property ladder, they will appreciate the sort of gift that feels a bit decadent to buy for yourself or that will cheer up a space. I will always be grateful for the scented candles that masked the smell of damp in a not-so-salubrious London flat. And let’s not forget that moving house is a very expensive business so forking out for a jazzy house plant probably won’t be top of someone’s list.
We canvassed Poolers to find out their favourite homes pick-me-ups. All of these make gifts we promise will be well-received any time of year. Or they are something to treat yourself come payday.
Greenery always goes down well
You don’t need acres of space to appreciate plants and whether the recipient has outside space or not, there are loads of purse-friendly options to bring a bit of greenery to the party. We’re big fans of houseplants - they don’t just look good on Instagram, they help purify the air too - and Patch plants is our go-to, but if you suspect someone can’t be trusted to keep one alive, then go for a harder-to-kill cactus or a terrarium they can fill with low-maintenance succulents.
There is no such thing as too many bowls
Small bowls are always a winner. My favourite trick is decanting dips into a jazzy dish to make it look like I made them myself (I mean, who really has time to whizz up three different types of hummus?).The best ones will look good on the shelf if someone doesn’t have loads of storage space and will be robust enough to bung in the dishwasher. Ditto with serving platters. Oliver Bonas has a good range of affordable serveware that looks pleasingly expensive.
TEA TOWELS ARE THE PRACTICAL GIFT OF CHOICE
Tea towels are no longer de trop, homes fans. A number of Poolers I questioned mentioned that they are their favourite practical gift as they are must-haves for every kitchen but not something you necessarily want to spend money on. There are lots of cool designs out there and the more colour, the better (to hide any stains until wash day). Anthropologie always has a good selection of pretty, bright options. For a more kick-ass vibe, try American brand Blue Q.
Soap is stylish
Yep, the humble bar of soap is back, people. Imperial Leather wont cut it, so go posh. Liberty's gift sets are a treat to recieve and it has departed from florals with its trios - grapefruit and yuzu is a new fave. Or try the The Soap co, who sell eco-friendly goodies made in the UK by workers who are disadvantaged; the braille on its logo reflects the fact that a large number of the companies employees are visually impaired.
Jugs and carafes are versatile crowd-pleasers
Not just for serving drinks, jugs and carafes can double-up as vases as well as kitchen shelf candy. Tk Maxx has a good range – see also its discounted le Creuset cookware that was out of this round-up’s price bracket and carafes somehow give off a vibe that you have your shit together, well enough to host a dinner party, at least.
Candles make life that bit better (and infinitely more fragrant)
Scented candles feel a bit extravagant to buy for yourself, so give one to someone else. We’d go for soy - no chemical nasties or sickly artificial scents - and there are lots of small independents if you want to stay away from the predictable choices. Earl of East has a great selection of works-for-all scents and the brown glass jar packaging has a minimal-cool vibe.
Coasters are cool
Vowed never to be that person who insists on coasters? That’s all very well until you actually pay for your own furniture and you realise why your mum was so militant about ring marks. The pay off is there are a lot of fab coasters out there that are an inexpensive way to give a room a bit of personality. When I first moved into my flat, my aunt bought me a set of Gillian Kyle’s Tunnock’s coasters, which are still going strong six years later and get lots of compliments.
Go for something that will make them smile
Scandi minimalism is all very well but all that pared back stuff isn’t much fun. I am an unashamed fan of kitsch so was pretty happy when Zoe Anderson of cult east London boutique W.A Green introduced me to the joy that is Wedgie. The brand has reinvented the humble doorstop and fashioned it into a mini piece of art that pays homeage to influential figures. Everyone from Frieda Kahlo to Karl Lagerfeld is represented as well as my personal favourite, Ginger Spice (I am a child of the nineties after all). For something equally irreverant but a little subtler, try Helen Blanchaert's ceramic cups with their witty-and-just-a-bit-cheeky illustrations.