A piece of a place: British gift ideas

British Gift ideas - Classic British telephone booth

Hello everyone and wish you a happy new year! 2013 ended with a much awaited family trip to the United Kingdom and I’m excited to share with you ideas for goodies and gifts that are typically English or British.

Whenever I travel to a new city or country, I try to get back something that is representative of that place. I call it a piece of a place. Sometimes these are simple souvenirs that become a part of my family’s travel memories and many a time they work out as wonderful gifts. My trip to London was a whirlwind of catching up with friends and relatives, sight-seeing and of course gift and souvenir hunting! So here  my favourite British-themed gift ideas.

English Breakfast Set

British gifts from London

What could be more British than an English breakfast with tea and marmalade. As a thank you gift for our friends who hosted us in London, we got them a Crabtree & Evelyn breakfast set of Oat and Fruit Crumbles, thick cut Breakfast Marmalade and bags of smooth English Breakfast Tea.

Queen coffee mug

English and British gift ideas

So what’s the most obvious thing you get back home from the United Kingdom? Well, you can get the Queen. There’s a huge variety of  royalty and Queen-themed gifts you can get. Like these coffee mugs for instance; makes for a nice little gift for the women in your life. If you buy the Queen Elizabeth mug in cream and blue you’ll also be doing your bit for cancer research as these are sold by Cancer Research UK. The white mug with the red crown is available in the Sainsbury’s supermarket chain.

English and British gift ideas

Scottish shortbread 

Double-decker shortbread tin from London

When you’re in London, it’s hard to miss the  double-decker buses. The trip on the upper level of a double-decker bus is a fun adventure especially for kids. And if you’re tempted to take back this little piece of London, you’re in luck. Several stores like Marks&Spencers Food and Churchill’s Confectionery store, among others, stock Scottish shortbread packaged in a red double-decker bus tin.

English toffee telephone box

London souvenir gifts for kids

Combine the old style telephone booths or kiosks with English toffee and you’ve got another British classic that would make a welcome gift for kids. Once the toffee is in the tummy, the telephone box can be used as a piggy bank. It is beautifully designed and can make a welcome addition to your collection of travel mementos as well. You can find these at several stores including Churchill’s Confectionery and Selfridges.

Cricket collectibles

Gift for cricket lovers

If you’re despairing over what British gift you can get for the men in your life, may Lord help you! For a cricket lover, a visit to London would be incomplete without a tour of Lord’s Cricket Ground, the mecca of cricket. And a quick stop at the Lord’s shop should arm you with some cricket collectibles like this antique bronze effect fridge magnet. Non cricket lovers can just put this cricket bat to practical use as bottle opener.

There you go. Five gifts from London that are typically British. Do you have any British favourites of your own?


Christmas gifts for him: Funky custom wallets

Christmas gifts for men

Have you started thinking about Christmas gifts yet? As with other occasions, gifting for men during Christmas certainly calls for more creativity and thought. That’s where this range of fun, custom wallets comes in. You’re probably thinking you don’t want to give yet another wallet, but I can bet these wallets by Dynomighty can change your mind. 

Gifts for him Feel good wallet by Dynomighty

Gifts for him - Feel good wallet by Dynomighty

Dynomighty, by New York based artist Terrence Kelleman, has introduced the Mighty Wallet in a range of unique, fun designs.

Gifts for him - Custom wallet by Dynomighty

Loaded with personality, choose one that suits the men in your life best or create something on your own.

Gifts for him - Superman custom wallets by Dynomighty

Designed to be thin, durable and ecofriendly, the Mighty Wallet is a big change from the regular bulky brown and black wallets.

Gifts for him - Thin durable wallets by Dynomighty

Gifts for him - Thin durable travel wallet by Dynomighty

What’s more you can custom design your own to reflect your personality and life using your favourite images or making a doodle of your own.   

Gifts for him - Cats mighty wallet 1

Christmas gifts for him

Spa gifts for valentines day

Spa gifts for valentines day

I guess you’re probably wondering why I’m thinking of spa gifts for valentines day given that it’s just September. What triggered this idea of spa gifts for valentines day is a couple of surprise gifts I received recently.

A friend of mine got me, as a belated birthday gift, a few things from her recent trip home to France . I was thrilled to find a mini spa & beauty set made up of beautiful Parisian pocket mirror, a bar of honey soap and a citron&clementine  hand cream from L’Occitane.  And a couple of months ago, my husband gifted me a voucher for a spa for my birthday. I had been cribbing about how listless and dull my skin had been lately, so I was more than happy to receive this pampering treat.

Spa gifts for Valentines Dayspa gifts for valentines dayspa gifts for valentines day

A gift voucher for your partner is a lovely spa gift for valentines day or for that matter your wedding anniversary. Do a little bit of research on good spas in your location; ask your friends for spas they’ve been to and would recommend. Gift vouchers for spas can be pricey so it’s a good idea to ensure it is money well spent.

Alternatively, you can make your own spa gift set. For women, you can make a pampering spa gift set made up of  a shower gel, a soap bar, a hand cream, a foot scrub and a loofah.  If you’re making a valentines day spa gift for a man, you can include a shaving cream, an aftershave balm, a soap bar and a shower gel. Since the main idea of a spa gift is pampering, choose brands that specialise in offering products that transform everyday rituals into fun, luxury experiences.

It’s never too early to start planning a surprise and a spa gift for valentines day or your wedding anniversary could be a good way to start.

Daddy’s gift

A simple Father's Day giftWhat can I get my daddy

For this special day?

He needs nothing,

“I have everything”

I always hear him say.

Boy, this is really got me thinking

So I guess, this is what I’ll do…

Gift wrap

A big empty box

Put a note in it

That says,

“I love you!”

–      By D. Alsup

When was the last time you gave a handwritten note to someone? This Father’s Day, pick up a pen, take a piece of stationery and write “I love you dad” on it. Give this to your father.

Sometimes, the simplest gift is the best.

P.S: This year, Father’s Day is on June 17.


A gift for dad: This time it’s personal

Taking heed of the advice I generously dish out to others, I gave myself ample time to think up the perfect gift for my husband’s birthday this year. Much thinking later I still had no idea on what I was going to do.

Having ticked off the normal suspects like shirts and ties (has several!) ), I realised I needed help and decided to revisit one of my earlier posts — gift ideas for the hard to gift — in which I had shed some light on some gift ideas for the singular group of people who are hard to gift…men! As I read the post, I mentally crossed out the options. Books? Nah, I’ve given them before. Watches? No again. It wouldn’t be special enough as my husband has already has received watches as gifts from others.

A painted set of my daughter's hand and foot prints

A painted set of my daughter’s hand and foot prints

It was time to do some serious thinking. After putting my brain into the overdrive mode for several days on what could be the perfect gift, I decided to do things differently. This time the gift would be personal… this year I, no make that two of us, would make the gift. What could be more personal for a father than getting a gift made by his little girl?

I decided to make a painting with a set of four canvases I painted in bright, cheerful colours. My daughter, just two and half years old, pitched in with her hands and feet (literally) by turning out a perfect set of her hand and foot prints in just one go. That she had loads of fun playing with normally inaccessible colour goes without saying. Completing the painting was a message that read, “To dad, with love”.

So if you’re in a quandary about what to gift a man in your life, I would say maybe it’s time to get personal. From a collage of special photographs to a set of coasters with personal messages, a framed hand painted caricature or a beautifully designed family tree, the options can be endless. Give it a shot.

Gift ideas for the ‘hard to gift’

Red Panda from Titan's WWF collection

Red Panda Titan watch, a perfect gift for the animal lover

Men…sigh. They really can be troublesome right?

Before you think of the many possible reasons for this statement, let me get straight to the point. The problem with men that I’m referring to is one several of you will identify with, but thankfully a small one. You know how some people can be really hard to buy gifts for? For me, men top that list. They definitely belong to that singular group of people who are the ‘hard to gift’. Let’s face it. All of us have at some point in time had trouble coming up with a really good gift for the men in our lives — father, brother, lover, husband or friend.

This is certainly true for my life. In my family, this group of hard to gift people is led by my father, father-in-law and husband. Creative and thoughtful as I am with my gifts, there have been occasions when I just haven’t been able to figure out the perfect gift for them and, the nice people they are, they’ve pretended that they really liked what I got for them!

So why are men so hard to gift? I have a simple explanation for this. Men just don’t use the numerous things women do and even among the things they use, the choice is pretty limited. Let’s take a few examples, shall we? For instance jewellery – for women the list includes finger rings, ear rings, bangles, bracelets, anklets, lockets, chains, and necklaces. And for men? Finger rings…yes, cuff links…yes, ear rings…rare (generally in just one ear), chains…maybe…and that’s the whole list!

How about clothes? Women have a repertoire of clothes to wear – blouses, skirts, dresses, pants, suits, jeans, t-shirts, salwar kurtas and sarees. Some of this can be accessorised with scarves, stoles and dupattas. Contrast this with the clothes men wear — shirts, pants, jeans, t-shirts, shorts… that’s it and that too in very few styles!

But there is hope. Here’s my recipe: Know the man’s likes & dislikes (essential), put in some thought and, give yourself ample time (very important!) to source out the gift. You will find that getting the perfect gift becomes a little easier.

Here are a couple of gift ideas that have worked for me. Try them out.

Books: I am of the firm opinion that books can be great gifts even for people who aren’t too fond of reading. For the book lover of course, there are options galore depending on his preference. But nothing can beat gifting an early/special edition that is hard to find.

Even for the not-so-much-into reading man, you can choose from coffee table books, books on specific topics like say cricket for the cricket lover or a book on gourmet cuisine for a person who likes to cook. Even comics can work well. I know someone who didn’t really read too much, but was thrilled to receive a big fat, hard-bound book. And what book was that? It was a compilation of his favourite comic strip…Calvin&Hobbes! The idea is to know the person’s interests and hobbies and choose a book that caters to that.

Watches: Here’s one thing that all men wear irrespective of who they are and the kind of work they do. Better still, it’s something that most men would be happy to have more of. A word of caution here: the kind of watch a person wears is to a large extent influenced by the kind of person he is and the lifestyle he leads. For example, the watch of someone who loves nature and is outdoors a lot would have to be robust, waterproof and have some kind of in-built navigation support. On the other hand, a man with simple preferences would be happy with man a classic and elegant watch, while a teenager who like something flashy. The good thing is that there is an amazing range of watches suiting different preferences and budgets. Try the Titan WWF collection for the animal lover…it’s sure to work.

I guess, you’re thinking that’s it, just 2 gift ideas! Well, I haven’t included things like shirts (common), pens (can be boring), ties (not everyone wears them) and shoes (great gift but really difficult to get the perfect fit without trying it on the feet in question).

I did warn you that men are hard to gift:-)