At The Strategist UK, we spend a lot of time finding out about the personal shopping habits of people with excellent taste. Whether they are radio DJs, pop stars, architects, or chocolatiers, we always like to find out about the things they buy themselves.
But when it comes to this time of the year, we thought we’d delve deeper, and find out what they buy for other people — not just their close friends, but their colleagues, cousins, or difficult-to-shop-for friends. We called up 33 people in our contacts book — including beauty directors, podcast hosts, jewelry designers, and models, for their recommendations for the most perfect gift. But because it’s been a particularly difficult year, and extravagant gift-buying seems ill-suited for our current moment, we added a stipulation: It had to cost under £10 (although one suggestion inched over by a mere 40p, which seemed permissible).
“A book on Zadie’s perception of this year. Not only did I find it calming and beautiful, but it helped me to make sense of the in-between or grey thoughts and feelings I’ve experienced. And it was a bonus to find out that all royalties from the book go to charity.”
“I may be fiercely Mexican, and most of my work goes towards promoting my home country, but I have a deep love for the U.K. and my adopted country. I have to say, I am partial to a shortbread biscuit and I adore wandering around Fortnum & Mason’s. Their version are indulgently buttery, perfect for Christmas.”
“My best friend bought me one as a gift. They’re pretty cool, as they move up and down throughout the day - they look as though someone is praying. In a year like this one, it’s good to have something to care for.”
“Ethical shopping is incredibly important to me. This is one of my favourite ethical brands which helps support local weavers throughout Africa. Their baskets are vibrant and joyful and come in all shapes and sizes from handbags to dog baskets! These mini baskets from £10 are a perfect gift to liven up a dressing table, pop your jewellery in, or house a mini house plant, even. Being a designer, any gift for the home is always a winner, Plus you have peace of mind knowing your shopping choices are fair trade.”
“I love to give anything monogrammed — I’ve never known anyone not love something with their initial(s) on, even if they wouldn’t buy it for themselves — and within the budget are these gorgeous mugs from Anthropologie. My husband Dave & I have D & H at home, of course.”
“Kenya was kind enough to ask me to contribute an essay to her beautiful collection of essays on black womanhood. I wrote something on Eurocentric beauty ideals and the issues one faces as a Black person, not fitting into that. But more than that, Kenya’s book is brilliant, thought provoking and also very moving in parts. It covers everything from the political to the social to the personal. A joy to read.”
“I love the Danes’ refined sensibility and particularly Hay’s use of color. These durable plastic coffee cups are great because they can be used for both hot and cold beverages. And even when you’re not using them on the go, they add a nice pop of colour on any surface in your home.”
“I got this book one Christmas and saved it for high summer, solving wintry mysteries in the searing heat. It’s a collection of gripping short stories — including an absolutely savage satire of a traditional Christmas mystery. Consider these well-seasoned crime stories for any season.”
“As kids we remember Christmas being a time where we pulled out the camera to capture the moment, hopeful that the pictures would turn out perfectly. It was also a time where we would all sit round the table and look at photo albums from previous years and spend hours reminiscing. This would be a great present to experience those moments again, and peel us away from our phones.”
“The book shows how everyone can be creative and gives a very good introduction to the world of collage. We all have a lot of imagination and creativity in us, we just have to dare to let it happen — and collage is the best way to do it. I think it is a wonderful gift.” [Editor’s note: This product is actually £10.40, but we’re not sticklers].
“A tradition I love to keep up is sending postcards — as a thank-you, a catch-up, or a random notice of friendship. Recipients never fail to appreciate the time and consideration that go into selecting one, then composing your message, and the handwriting (even an indecipherable font, like mine) is a true sign of care. A set from the V&A’s Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk postcard collection would be pleasing this year.”
“I start every day lighting these throughout the entire office — and have managed to only set the smoke alarm off once.”
“An illustrated dream adventure of an 8-year-old in 1939 Harlem looking down as she soars above her community, Tar Beach is as much a children’s book as it is a work of art that will absorb and inspire anyone who opens its pages. Just over a year ago, we presented Faith Ringgold’s first European institutional solo exhibition at the Serpentine. I’ve returned to this book several times since then, it’s grounding, uplifting, and always gives me something new to see.”
Miranda Raison, actor (Spooks, Warrior)
“I love the feel of really matte stoneware and this black cup is really beautiful and earthy. Stoneware can be quite expensive so these cups are exceptional value.”
“For those feeling a little lost, poet Cleo Wade’s collection of uplifting and inspiring mantras will give you the boost you need for a positive 2021. Featuring affirmations and poetry to warm the heart, it’s perfect for your loved one to keep on their bookshelf or in their bag when they need a little pick-me-up on the hardest of days.”
“Christmas can be stressful — but this is my chill-out accessory of choice. Perfect to light at the end of the day with a chilled glass of something natural.”
“If the people in your life are feeling grateful to be alive and together after a pretty scary year, give a warm coat to a child in a refugee camp from the wondrous Choose Love, who turn your cash into compassion.”
The Strategist UK is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Read about who we are and what we do here. Our editors update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.