If you have never had children around you, you cannot appreciate the joy and fun that a busy Christmas with a toddler can bring.   Having been used to my own company for 90 percent of my time, additional adult company is sometimes a rare treat.  So with 8 or 9 adults of varying degree of agedness and one tiny toddler, the possibilities for noisy chaos increased by the minute.  Knowing I had the important task of getting a really impressive but totally suitable present for the little princess, I got all my other handful of adult giving bought, wrapped and right out of the way as early as I ever manage.   I then had weeks to quietly discover what Princess had already got and liked or didn’t like and of course, safety considerations are now critical.  I browsed this dedicated giftware site and memories of fantastic childhood christmas joy came flooding back – such fantastic inspiration and choice available.

Hurrah – shops and busiesses are soon to reopen.  We have had local and national lockdowns with non essential shops having to close – that is open to interpretation of course, as is so much of life.  However we are now looking forward to the listing of lockdown 3 and the opening up of all the stores that still have staff, management and finance to pick up where they left off.  Gifts have been the one area I’ve really struggled with during the lockdowns.  I do like to be able to see and feel the items I plan to present.  However, this is not always possible in this day and age.  Many traders have now shut their stores and work only from online platforms.  Knowing which online businesses offer sensible prices and good service comes with practice and some disappointments along the way.  But when you do find exactly what you think you’re seeking, it is a good feeling and fills you with confidence that you’ve chosen well!

Whenever a certain date in February comes around, I find myself getting extraordinarily crabby. It’s the saturation advertising and marketing that starts way back in January and gets really annoying after a little while.  Mind you ut propbably says much about my watching habits if the same ads appear over and again  I’m either watching too much or I need to vary the channel a bit!    Maybe I’m an old cynic but there was nothing wrong with the old fashioned valentine’s card and perhaps some flowers for the lady of choice.  Nowadays though every single marketing company finds it essential to jump on the Valentine’s band wagon.  From chocolates to flying on exotic holidays or hackneyed jewellery items.   Some of the gifts advertised are crazy – buy a car for the intended? I think not!  But there are some rputable gift sites that keep their sales ideas in check and contact only those who have requested this constant barrage of opportunist sales making!

The usual format of racing around a la headless chicken has now been consigned to the ‘has been’ department.  I have had to buckle down and think more seriously about christmas this year.  I am not a fan of this whole mad commercial lunacy and I whinge and moan loudly and constantly.   Gift chioices are necessarily limited in the stores now – the global virus nightmare is still with us and even more of a problem than it appeared in the early spring.  We confidently assumed it would all be over by end of the summer.  Not a bit of it.  So now we are in and out of lockdown and tiered regulations.  This has definitely affected the supply of  certain manufactured goods.   All sorts of companies are finding they can only get some parts fo their main operations.  so this year I have decided to make a really good effort and organise my gifts online and in some kind of order this year!

In our family we have a small gaggle of teens dispursed throughout the country.  Two of the cousins have reached 18 this year and my goodness, how hard they’re taking the virus related curbs to their partying fun and frolics!   No reminders of their incredible gift buying choices for person or home has salved their annoyance!  As usual I sent money, but a one off higher donation to their lifestyle funds.  When I reached 18,  no-one in my social sphere ever held mad parties or balls.  True, family gifts were more exciting than the average birthday – I received a signet ring from my parents – we’d been out some weeks before to choose it.  I startled them by not selecting one of the dainty but frankly cheap looking ladies’ rings, and not thinking of prices, I plumped for a plain but more substantial gent’s style. Being very tall for a female, it felt ‘right’ and I’ve loved that ring so much that no present has ever eclipsed it!  Surely the mark of a truly special 18th birthday present that could suit today’s teens!

Whilst restrictions were in force, hardly any shops were open for several weeks – just essential suppliers like supermarkets and pharmacies.  Now though the world of commerce is embracing post lock down operation and many little gift and homeware shops that did manage to survive are begging for customers to flock in, down the high street.  Unfortunately many customers have got used to the ease and convenience of shopping online for everything.  Tis is something that has made many people swap to online for everything.  Small shops may have an uphill battle to win back the footfall – the business of only having one or two folk in a store at once and each in a mask has caused many impulse shoppers to put off their meanderings.  It’s such a shame because after being denied this little pleasure, there is nothing nicer than being able to pop down to a favourite little store for a good old mooch about for the perfect gift and gossip with the storekeeper!

Thinking of buying a teenager or  young adult a present, it’s easy to simply get them a voucher and more or less tell them to get on with it.   These days though there are several alternatives.  Depending on the budget of course, one way of helping a y ounger person to get about easily without public transport and without the expense of owning a car is to invest in an e-scooter.   No driving test is needed but if you get a road worthy one, a very thorough knowledge of the highway code will be a lifesaver.  Knowing who has right on the road is essential.   Once the scooter packaging has been removed, reading the supplier instruction is critical too.  Ensuring the first battery charge is for at least 8 hours is always recommended to ensure it starts at its peak.  Then even if the scooter has been used only a little, putting it on charge at the end of the day will maintain it and may prevent it needing changing in the future.

 

Well spring has almost sprung – not quite a case of ‘spring has sprung, the grass is rizzed . . .’   We have the usual intermittent freezing morning followed by bright sunlight, followed by rain showers.  Usually in the same day . . .  but on the whole the winter has mostly departed and we look forward to warmer days ahead.  Usually at this time of  year we have Easter and other celbratory festivals to look forward to.  With the confusion and worry that the viral pandemic has created, it’s not easy to plan ahead for any family gatherings so the easter festivals will have to wait.  However there are lots of companies still willing and able to supply gifts,   These dedicated souls are happily gathering their stocks of home gifts, personal and romantic to make gift buying simpler.  In a time of national uncertainty and worry, knowing we have good options for gift choices really does help lift the spirit and bring some cheer!

Ahh the month of February and all that entails from a romance and gift buying and gift choices point of view…..   I may be an old cynic but the rise in spending around this time of the year does beggar belief.  I only  hope I don’t have any more aged relatives who pop off this mortal coil any time soon –  at least it’s less likely that florists will get their funeral flower orders mixed up with the dozens of red roses going out to demanding girlfriends.  I feel sorry for chaps in fact – they daren’t do anything that suggests they’re only looking out for a bit of saucy fun, but if they don’t buy endless reminders of it being valentine’s day, they’re going to be in deep water.  Gift buying a any time of year can be a bit of a minefield for he haples boyfriend.  He really has to note throughout the previous weeks of ‘courtship’ what his lady friend definitely shows a liking for and what she doesn’t – in terms of normal every day clothes, food, films, tv, concerts etc.  It shouldn’t be too difficult to register whether she’s a fussy eater or doesn’t eat chocolates . . . .  so that limits the possibility for making bad gift choices!  Some lasses really love the idea of being home makers but for valentines, a really nice piece of kitchen equipment may not ring her bell.  Yet how does a poor bloke know the boundaries when it comes to those ghastly tacky lingerie ads.  They fall for them every time!

The many and varied means of gift buying these days does mean that we don’t always have to troup down our local high street for that essenial home gift buying or outfit for the firm’s Christmas dinner and dance.  At one time this was a truly pleasurable occupation for me.  I live in a town that used to have a fantastic little independent retail store.  Definitely very much admired and entrenched in locals’ minds as the essential outpost for quality, style, excellence of service and just the right place to go for anything you needed that was not food or medical stuff.  The store was excellent for any gift choice from glassware to kitchenware – particularly for those upmarket and unusal cookware items.  Now that the tv world has gone beserk over professional chef competitions, home gift items are even more in demand.  It also had an art department where you could hire pictures for a few months for a very modest outlay.  All the goods are available online of course, but the joy of visiting this shop is impossible to describe.