All presents aren't correct

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 November, 2011, 12:00am


In the run-up to Christmas, as we shop for gifts for our nearest and dearest, I thought I'd offer a gentle reminder on how not to spend your money. In my time, I've been the lucky recipient of gorgeous Christmas trinkets. But there have also been some definite bloopers in the festive hall of shame.

They say it's the thought that counts, but they forget to mention that it matters what that thought actually is. Once I received a George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine - fantastic, but what were they really trying to say? And how lovely it could be to receive a sexy lingerie twin set from Agent Provocateur from your partner, wrapped in lovely tissue paper in a fancy box. But how horrific it would be to discover that it is two sizes too small. (We wouldn't like to be caught in the aftermath of that one.) Some things are not worth getting wrong. If in doubt, settle for a beautiful Hermes scarf - they come in only one size.

Funny presents such as shot glasses with different horoscope signs or sex symbols printed on them are never a good idea. The desperation that ensues when you have to find many gifts at once can lead to the type of shopping that goes on in Koh Samui night markets. Frantic grabbing at cheap tack occurs all too often, and desperation affects taste.

But enough of what not to do. What works wonders? A friend of mine did a leatherwork class, and her boyfriend bought her a leather tool kit. She has since made delightful accessories for friends - gifts that keep on giving. A well-crafted personal touch is worth the time.

Some people must have picked up interesting gifts at the Conrad Fair recently. Unless you are willing to fork out for a Birkin or a Chanel classic handbag (for which she'll be forever grateful), something quirky can do the trick. Think gorgeous and ethically minded Niin jewellery, or cool travel items from Mischa, or bespoke Ethiopian leather gloves by Cabretta Couture. Head to Joyce or to the new Harvey Nichols in Pacific Place for inspiration. If you can bear the crowds in Lane Crawford, the accessories section is full of ideas, and its emerging labels department offers plenty to choose from.

And don't forget Hong Kong's lovely antiques markets, or boutiques like Kapok on St Francis Street, for design-focused friends.