So for that awkward person that needs a gift under the tree, here are four treasure troves to be found in our nation’s great capital. Admittedly, it might be worth taking a day off during the week to brave the streets (I have attempted Oxford Street on a Saturday in December. It resembles World War Z), but hey, you’ll be a Christmas hero with the best freakin’ presents ever.
I came across this little gem on a stonkingly good Walking Tour of London. Floris is one of the oldest – if not the oldest – perfumery in London, and has made bespoke perfumes for everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Winston Churchill. For a reasonable price, you can buy the scents of the greats, or for a not quite so reasonable price, make a bespoke one yourself. Head to Jermyn Street behind Piccadilly.
Who to buy for: Mums, grans, aunties or anyone who likes their fragrances to smell like a garden in full bloom
Not exactly a secret, but it’s worth the trek out to Kensington for the shop (and you know, the world renowned exhibitions, but you can’t buy those for Christmas). From gorgeous handmade jewellery from around the world, to exclusive books, and some of the most interesting Christmas cards around, this is culture vulture territory and almost anything in there makes a great present.
Who to buy for: Art and design geeks who will turn their nose up at anything that’s not made by an independent craftsperson
Teeny tiny and higgledy-piggledy, Judd Books is really only for the inner librarian in you. Like a really good car boot sale, the books are random, cheap, and burst with character and history. They sell new books for considerably less than usual, and have the oddest selection that makes you want to buy books you never knew existed. For an understated, intellectual gift, head to Marchmont Street.
Who to buy for: Bookworms who DON’T want the latest crime bestseller or celebrity memoir
Considerably less understated, the Queen’s official greengrocer will, without a shadow of a doubt, have something for anyone in possession of tastebuds. The sheer opulence of the place is almost comical, and if you can brave the crowds it’s worth it just to shop in a place where the cashiers wear tailcoats. The food hall is usually the only department us common folk can afford – and the range is incredible – but to be honest, the present is a keeper just for having the F&M logo. Pay a visit to the Christmas shop on the third floor for an overpriced bauble to keep forever.
Who to buy for: Foodies, over-40s, and er, foodies over 40.
Any more to add to this list? Let’s solve the Great Present Conundrum…at least for a year anyway.