I enjoy the festive season as much as the next person, but at this time of year, there’s always one thing that really punctures the spirit of goodwill for me, and that is gift receiving. Yes, you’ve read that correctly. I don’t like getting presents. Why? Because they are invariably rubbish. Before I continue, let me just clarify that- of course- I am aware that I’m incredibly fortunate to be getting any gifts at all (not least because I’m clearly Scrooge reincarnated). But it’s hard to remain upbeat in the face of a grey dressing-gown, sat in the excitedly ripped shreds of wrapping paper, as I did on Christmas morning, 1996. 

It was at that young age I learned that presents can be disappointing, too. And set out to try and minimise any future dismay.

In the process, I became difficult to buy for. I’m particular, or fussy, or whatever you’d like to call it. The point is, I like what I like. And the thing I don’t like? Surprises. I have a terrible game face, and if I don’t like something, I find it hard to pretend otherwise. That’s why I swear by a Christmas list. Someone asks what you’d like for Christmas, you tell them, they go away and buy it. Everyone’s happy. That, to me, seems like the perfect way to exchange gifts. You get exactly what you’d like and vice versa. No money is wasted, no presents are re-wrapped. Merry flippin’ Christmas.

That is until you meet the people who say: “Oh no, I don’t need a list, I’m a great present buyer!” Huge red flag. The subtext here is that these people assume they know you better than you know yourself. I refer you back to the dressing gown, purchased by the two people who brought me into the world.

Think of it like this: you wouldn’t pop into the barbers and say “Surprise me”, would you? I didn’t think so. Would you turn up to a wedding having gone rogue in B&Q? This is why lists, especially at Christmas, are so important. 

Now, I am not suggesting that should you be fortunate enough to be asked what you’d like for Christmas, you start handing out laminated sheafs of A5, filled front and back with things you’d like. Save that only for your very nearest and dearest. Instead, just try and have two or three easy ideas knocking around in the back of your head, ready to be plucked out at a moment’s notice. 

Stuck for ideas? You could start with some sort of leather accessory like this card case, made by Dunhill. The pandemic has just about done for loose change, which means you can ditch a bulky wallet in favour of something more streamlined.

For something befitting of the season, this cedar stack candle from Boy Smells at Browns Fashion is an excellent stocking filler.

And of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without an underwear re-up, would it? But if you’re going to ask for pants, make them great, like these Micro Touch pants from Swiss brand Hanro. Once you’ve tried underwear in this extra soft microfibre fabric, there’s no going back.

And for those on the receiving end of a list: take the win, follow the list and give someone what they really want this year.