How to survive the pre-Christmas madness
"No space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity misused!"
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Christmas was only a few days away and the day he dreaded the most has come. Having just finished his work, John joined the steady stream of shoppers that pushed and shoved their way out of the grey slush of the street into an overheated hall of a crowded department store. Instantly he started to feel dizzy and hot. The palpable tension and the feeling of desperation to end the gift shopping misery permeated the air. But the merciless clock kept ticking, rushing everyone. For the gifts won’t buy themselves.
The relationship we build with our customers at Murdock extends beyond the comfortable safety of the barber’s chair and we have now been saving men from bad haircuts and other grooming disasters for over a decade. And each year come December, without exception, it becomes apparent that for many men pre Christmas madness and finding the right gifts can be a little overwhelming. So what would be our advice?
If, like John, you tend to embark on a gruelling marathon of aimless shopping, the best advice we can give you is also the simplest one – don’t leave it to the last minute! Set the deadline to get it all sorted by the 6th of December. You will avoid panic buying lame gifts on the 23rd and not risk any online purchases arriving on the 27th. Once this is out of your mind you can fully enjoy all the pre Christmas festivities.
The old saying, “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” rings true especially during the pre Christmas time. Make a list if you’re buying for more than three people. Use the back of your diary or your phone - scraps of paper just add to the chaos and have bad habit of disappearing the next day. Jot down the initial ideas and don’t worry if the list is lacking at this stage. Keep coming back to it, adding and marking the gifts that are done. It’s simple, effective and very satisfying.
We have some great gifts for men at Murdock this Christmas. From Dickens inspired drawer boxes filled with our hero products, expert tools and travel kits to limited edition Gentlemen’s curiosities - gems to solve every gift-giving dilemma. Yes, we are biased here but sorting out your brother, father and mates' gifts during your next Murdock service will tick many boxes off your list. Browse at your leisure or ask your barber for their unbiased, personal advice.
London barbering is the best in the world and something every man should experience. A gift certificate for one of our signature services such as a wet shave, beard trim, haircut or a 'how-to' tutorial (e.g. ‘How To Shave’) is a great alternative or add-on to a product gift. Experience gifts in general make a brilliant present so explore these for other people too. Tickets to a concert, theatre or the opera and you can check off another name on the list.
Be “the coolest brother/uncle” this year and gift your teenage sister/niece, one of the current break-the-Instagram make up pallets by a hip makeup brand like Huda Beauty, Too Faced or Hourglass. Check whom she follows and what she ‘likes’ on social media – your clue is there. If you’re really stuck simply ask. A set of good quality make-up brushes seems to work Christmas wonders for that audience, too.
A magazine subscription is an easy, budget friendly choice. You can sort it out online but take it up a notch. Start with getting a copy of the magazine you want to gift. You will have something to wrap and put under the tree but also, inside the current issue, you should find the details of the latest subscription deal and the free gift that usually comes with it. Little effort and two gifts sorted. You’re welcome.
Here’s one for a more senior family member. An oversized magnifying glass with LED lighting is perhaps not the most obvious but a very practical choice for anyone into sewing, crafts or simply struggling with the small print. Of course skip this advice if the person is more Joan Collins than Emma Webster (aka Looney Tunes Granny).
For any lady on your list who travels lots or simply likes her coffee during the commute, pick a fun, brightly coloured vacuum insulated travel mug. Go for a lightweight, around 350ml capacity, stainless steel version with ‘one-handed open and drink’ and a leak proof lock. It will keep the hot drinks cool to the touch and sweat proof the cold ones. Not to mention score her some eco points by saving all those disposable takeaway cups.
A coffee table book is always a sleek Christmas present. Depending on her interests choose from books on lifestyle and interiors ('The KINFOLK Home', Jennifer Boles’ 'Inspired Design – the 100 most important designers of the past 100 years', Nate Berkus’ 'Things That Matter'), art ('Frida Kahlo Fashion As The Art of Being'), fashion (Grace Coddington’s 'Grace: Thirty Years of Fashion at Vogue', 'Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty'), or for photography, (Herb Ritt’s “The Golden Hour”). TASCHEN or PHAIDON constantly have fantastic selections.
More predictable gifts don’t need to be boring. For the rebel cook or an aspiring veggie, gift the official cookbook of 'Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give A F*uck' – a rather brilliant and hilariously foul-mouthed collection of recipes for “food so good we SWEAR by it”, or instead try 'F*ck, That's Delicious: An Annotated Guide to Eating Well' by Action Bronson.
A mindfulness enthusiast will love receiving a nice sized natural crystal. It makes a beautiful ornamental piece and also provides additional benefits to support their wellness. Go for a calming and balancing Amethyst cluster, electromagnetic smog shielding Smoky Quartz Wand Point or love inviting tumbled Rose Quartz.
You will be relieved to learn that we are not suggesting you take up crocheting, but this gift will require some extra effort on your part. Creating a personalized quality photo book from the selected digital photos you accumulated over the years is easy enough if a little time consuming. You may choose to theme it, revisiting the past Christmas gatherings, family holidays or special occasions. It will bring back lots of memories and makes a perfect gift for your mum. (We’ve gone to Bob Books in the past.)
Speaking of mums. Top up the custom photo album with a bottle of something nice smelling and classic - think Chanel No5, posh bubble bath or fragrant body oil, and your siblings will be asking – “why is he the favourite child?”
That one special name on your list may require a grander gesture. In such cases nothing says ‘Merry Christmas’ quite like a piece of jewellery. Something gold and sparkly might put a darker cloud over your bank statement but adds a surprising brightness to the recipient’s face.
Christmas shopping can cause a great deal of stress. You never see that warning on the (gift) box, but a few common sense steps plus a well organised list and our John’s pre Christmas evening will be looking more like this…
The night was silent. The snow that fell a few hours earlier glistened in the warm light of the lamppost. Everything was still but for the steady stream of smoke coming out of the chimney. John poured himself a glass of whiskey. The light from the fireplace danced around and reflected in the glass. Pausing for a moment, he looked at the stash of ready gifts leaning against the wall and smiled. This year he was ready. He placed the record on the turntable and lowered the tonearm. Joni Mitchell’s ‘River’ filled the room. Christmas was already there.