How anyone ever gets their present buying list completed in one go, I will never know.   There are just so many destractions when I go out toy or game buying.  I start off with my list – having consulted the owners of any children I have to buy for.    I see all the kinds of toys that my sisters and I used to love or would have done if we’d had the chance.  We did have a large number of toys each but there were those exceptional ones that never made it to our house.   All was not lost though because our family friend who was a very lonely only child, used to have every toy imaginable bought for her at birthdays and Christmas.  Her father also worked as the manager of the most most important Woolworths store in the country.  Boy, in those days that was really something to boast.

There have been a spate of babies born lately – of course there always are, but not in my immediate family.  I have the joy of seeing a young toddler regularly, watching her progress from the age of 7 days in fact.  This little princess is undoubtedly very bright to start with –  The learning toys I bought at a fab kids emporium have been amazing, a really wide range of abilities bein tested.  I note too that she doesn’t just play with her alphabet bricks, she takes them to show the visitor and actually names each one.  I find this remarkable, that a 15 month old can absorb so much, yet other children take ages to develop motor skills.  This little lass does go to a very good nursery three mornings a week.  There the charges get fed breakfast and lunch and with those come social awareness lessons from birth, absolutely magic!

One of the most unusual and unique gift ideas I’ve heard about lately was a chum who’s husband has a rather whacky sense of worth.  He would often take off on his bike in the summer months out into the deep country – the more remote the better, tiny tent and minimal cooking equpment stuffed carefully into panniers.  When he married my best school chum, she took to the mad cap cycle adventures to keep up with him.  This  year for a noteable wedding anniversary, he decided to vary the excitement level and book a useful fun holiday.  So without actually checking with his dear, patient, lady wife, he booked them for 3 weeks in french hostels where they cared for homeless folk.  I have to say that my pal looked utterly crestfallen when she discovered the true plan. but it turned out to be life changing and of greater worth to them both than all the stays in top hotels could offer.

When you have several grandchildren, some toddlers, others in their teens, it can be a real challenge to find the right gift for them.  A couple of times I’d bought what I was advised was the latest ‘must have’, only to see it scornfully tossed aside because the recipient has already got it – not waiting for the birthday!  it’s embarrassing for me, and for the poor mother of the ungracious little beast.   From friends I hear tales of tantrums and ghastly warlike atmosphere’s taking over the household when someone hasn’t been provided with exactly the right product, in this years colour, from a particular shop.  I have therefore vowed to nip this in the bud,   I’ve told all those I still give to, that I will be selecting from favourite gift sites that offer unique and bizarre themes and ideas that will widen their field of interest and life experiences.  Ho ho, I can get away with anything as a result!

It seems like only yesterday when I discussed with family exactly how best to celebrate the imminent 94th birthday of our most senior and cherished mother and grandma.  The various choices were lunch out, afternoon tea out, sweet stuff, toiletries.  The dear lady in question happily enjoyed the afternoon tea extravaganza and all the more so when the very youngest of the clan was included.  What a difference it made to what could potentially have been a dire and tedious affair!  We all got talking about the merits of this entertainment or that, and a fantastic discussion followed on the subject of childrens’ toys, this was totally enthralling.   Although the top 20 favourite toys seemed to flow thick and fast, it was the wide choice to pic from that completely turned it into a brilliant afternoon’s worth of knoweledge based advice to the novice toy buyer!

If you have never had children around you, you will never 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 aailable.

Ho ho ho the happy sound of tills ringing.  Well maybe not as ringing as they might be given that it is very near the big day.  I used to be able to do my Christmas shopping around 15th December – there was never any need to even think about it until the month had started.  These days though the commercial pressure is so intense that families are getting themselves geared up in August before the children have kicked the last of the summer holiday sand off their clothes.

Around my area there are houses with lots of coloured lights and model reindeers in the gardens – I used to get irked when the first ones lit up once December had started, but now we have these little displays shining forth from the beginning of October .  getting back to the presents though – I do not labour for long in the shops – it’s become such a big operation for me that I plan who’s having what, and sort by online buying.

On a recent trip to the capital for a short break with a relative, we decided to take in one or two of the very major stores in the main shopping areas of Oxford and Bond Streets.   One particular one had a fantastic Christmas Town all bedecked with the most incredible display of decorations, party ideas, gifts for young and old.  I can’t recall ever having been to a store and seeing such a beautifully crafted and displayed creation.

We spent what felt like hours poring over the gorgeous models and fairytale settings before moving on to a wonderland of board games, toys, puzzles, craft sets – you name it, we must have seen it.  It would be impossible to narrow down a choice if pushed.  I am so glad I source all my purchases via online emporiums – I can budget and keep on track without going mad and crippling my own economy!

This is a very busy time of year as far as birthdays and anniversaries go in our family.  It starts in July with one, then August has three, September gains momentum with five and October contains six, plus the excitement of Halloween which this year seems to be eclipsing all the other events!

Getting the card and gift buying sorted takes much organisation these days.  Some events call for only a card, where others need a specific kind of gift.  My birthday book has become worn out and a little shabby over the years – when I used to do a haphazard dash to the shopping mall to find that last minute present.  These days I have it totally sussed.  A list is on my laptop, the date reminders come up at the beginning of each month and I have my favourite sites all ready and waiting for me to surf and source to my heart’s content!

Buying gifts for ladies should be easy – there are so many things out there marketed towards ladies!  Here are some ideas to help you in choosing the perfect gift for the woman in your life.

  1. Smellies – every lady loves a nice new bath set with luxurious bubbles and scrubs!  Find a nice one and buy a gift set to make her feel special.
  2. Home items – steer clear of buying a new hoover or iron, unless specifically asked for!  Try to find pretty homewares such as candles, decorative ornaments and vases.  These are much nicer than useful items!
  3. Perfume – be careful with this one, as most ladies have a preferred fragrance which they like to stick with.  If you canl find out which brand or type of scent they like before you buy…
  4. Jewellery – similar to perfume, be careful.  What one lady will think is a gorgeous piece, another will think it’s hideous.  Try to establish if the lady likes silver, gold or rose gold before you buy and take a close look at the styles she tends to choose.
  5. Food – the way to a woman’s heart is also through her stomach.  Choose delicious treats such as chocolates, caramels and cakes if you want to impress.