AD// Handmade gifts to spread joy this year

Well, it’s been quite the year. Whether your 2020 has been stressful, monotonous, emotionally devastating, or all of the above, we’re all in desperate need a bit of joy to lift our spirits. This gift guide is all about unique items that will surprise and uplift your loved ones – it’s an eclectic mix, for sure! But the idea is that when they open one of these gifts, they won’t be expecting what they find, and they really will be delighted.

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Adventurous foodie gifts

Anyone who loves to try new foods and explore different cuisines is bound to be taking 2020 pretty hard, with cancelled travel plans and closed restaurants. So give their palette the treat it deserves, with this glorious 9 World Spice Blends from Spice Kitchen (£24.95). Chilli honey is probably one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted, so this Welsh Hot Honey (£8) has truly got my mouth watering. This Ultimate Cheese Board (£45) contains deliciously unusual British Cheeses, including ash-rolled goat’s cheese and truffle cheddar. Lastly, for the plant-based foodies in your life, how about this gorgeous Vegan Chocolate Discovery Box (£14.99)? With unusual flavours like coffee & cardamom and almond & rosemary, this is guaranteed to delight anyone who loves gourmet chocolate, vegan or not!

Hugs in mugs

Did did you know that studies have shown that drinking hot drinks actually reduces stress and releases endorphins? Amazing right? Whatever their drink of choice, these selections are sure to delight. For coffee lovers, this Deathly Strong blend (£10) will undoubtedly raise a smile (and a heart-rate), or for something equally as impactful but substantially more mellow, what about this 5 Bag Organic Coffee Gift Box with personalisation options (£39.95)? I also love the idea of these Flavoured Sugar Spoons (£8.50), which I imagine you could use in tea and hot chocolate as well as coffee! For tea lovers, I think this blossoming tea (£9.99) is a fantastic idea, it’s so unusual, and so, so pretty! However, this Wild-crafted Tea Taster Set is also bound to astonish any tea-enthusiast. Using ingredients native to the Scottish Highlands, these teas also help support a woodland regeneration project.

A nature lover’s dream

So many of us have spent 2020 finding solace outdoors, surrounded by nature. Help your loved ones bring nature inside in a sustainable, effortless and beautiful way with a dried flower bouquet. I got a couple for my birthday this year and I’m honestly obsessed. They bring colour into your home without looking artificial, and it’s so easy to find dried flowers to fit in with any decor style! From left to right, shop these gorgeous bouquets here: rustic maroon and orange (£26.70), beautiful browns (£16), festive colours (£15.95) and pretty in pink (£15.95).

Gorgeous gifts for gardeners

Whether your loved one has a whole open space to grow plants in, or just a sunny windowsill, a gardener is a gardener, and these gifts will delight anyone with a passion for plants, nature and growing things. A Bug Hotel (£34) is essential for any garden. This one is particularly gorgeous, and can be personalised if you act fast! These Slate Plant Tags (£5.29+) are a fantastic gift because most gardeners will go for something much cheaper, much uglier for marking up their plants – treat them and make their garden that much prettier! When it comes to houseplants, air plants are some of the hardest to get right, so when one thrives, it needs to be celebrated. This Cork Panel (£15+) is a fantastic way to display air plants, and is a truly unique gift for anyone who likes to grow unusual plants. And here’s another brilliant gift for an indoor gardener – a Cactus Wax Burner (£10)! How adorable! Pair it with some all-natural, botanically scented Wax Melts, and you have a thoughtful gift for a plant lover, that doesn’t require you to actually know anything about plants!

The ultimate relaxing gift

Bloomtown are one of my favourite skincare brands, with absolutely wonderful, unique scents and incredible product formulations. Their products are vegan, natural and palm-oil free, and I can’t think of a more perfect gift for anyone who enjoys a good self-care sesh. These gift sets have different scent options, all of which smell wonderful – natural, subtle but really impactful. My personal recommendation would be The Meadow but you honestly can’t go wrong. These pictures are obviously quite ‘feminine’ looking, but if you’re buying for someone who wouldn’t like that, go for The Grove which is citrusy, or The Woods which is fresh and woodsy. Get the set on the left here, for £33.50, or go all out and really treat them, with the pamper box on the right here, for £70.

A crafty gift without the faff

Starting a new hobby is undoubtedly exciting – researching, buying all the bits, waiting for it all to arrive. But sometimes that part can be overwhelming and off-putting. So do your loved one a favour and cut out the prep with a craft kit! Etsy is full of options, from a lovely beginner’s embroidery kit (£19.95) to a brilliant DIY lipbalm kit (£25), or an absolutely adorable pottery kit (£30). I also love this polymer clay earring kit (£19.50+) and this macrame plant hanger kit (£15).

What about the kids?

One thing you may have noticed while browsing this post is that I haven’t really included anything for kids – and there’s a reason for that… I have no idea what they like! I don’t have kids, don’t know anyone who does (I know a few babies, but no one older than a year) so I decided to defer to the experts at Etsy for that side of gift buying – if you’re looking for gifts that will delight the children in your life – click here!

Wishing you a safe, calm and joyful time this festive season.

AD// A Gift Guide for New Gardeners

If 2020 has proven anything, it’s that a connection to the natural world is essential for our wellbeing. From the the satisfaction of weeding, the hard work of ground prep and the tenderness and attentiveness required when raising seedlings, gardening is such a perfectly human activity, allowing us to make a connection to the earth that benefits us in ways I don’t even have words for. If someone in your life has discovered a love for plants and growing things during the pandemic, this guide will help you find gifts that’ll delight, encourage and inspire them, even if you aren’t much of a green thumb yourself!

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The gift of essential reading

Every gardener should have a copy of the RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers and the Encyclopedia of Gardening. These reference books are incredibly helpful resources, providing more or less all of the information you need for a successful garden. However, they can be quite overwhelming for beginners, and personally I think they’re more helpful for established gardeners rather than people who are just starting out, so keep reading for the best suggestions for beginners!

Gardening crash course books

The Principles of Horticulture is a textbook for Horticulture students, and basically teaches everything a beginner could ever need to know about plants and gardening. It’s very easy to read, and sure, it’s not a pretty gift, but it’s undoubtedly incredibly useful for a new gardener. If your loved one is a bit more of a ‘chomping at the bit’ type person and just wants to dive in head first (are they me?) then the RHS Complete Gardener’s Manual, will do the trick. It isn’t as in-depth, but it’s gonna take them where they need to go. And if its a small space they’re working in (I personally love this book as I’m a balcony gardener) then the RHS Little Book of Small Space Gardening is perfect. If they’re keen on growing veg, yes, it’s yet another RHS recommendation, the RHS Grow Your Own Veg Year Planner!

The pretty coffee table books

To provide a bit of wow factor on Christmas morning, you can’t do better than this series of beautiful books from the RHS – Botany for Gardeners, Practical Latin for Gardeners, Genealogy for Gardeners and Secrets of Great Botanists. Although they all have a similar design, they focus on vastly different areas of our understanding of plants – science, latin, plant families and history, all geared towards the knowledge, priorities and interests of hobby and professional gardeners. These are the perfect gift for the lover of knowledge, the theorist, the person who wants to know everything.

Seeds, seeds, seeds

Raising plants from seed is one of the most satisfying aspects of gardening in my opinion. Planting something that someone has already grown is a joy, but planting your own babies, seeing them grow from a speck of dust into a stunning plant? It’s incredible. And a nicely gift-wrapped parcel of seeds is an absolute delight – it’s so exciting to see all that potential! Of course it can be tricky to choose seeds for someone else, but if you know that they have a favourite flower, specific interest, or a vegetable they’ve always wanted to grow, see if it’s available as a seed, otherwise, think about what colours they like, or buy them a selection of seeds like some of the wonderful Kew Gardens Seeds Series pictured above, from Thompson & Morgan.

If you’re really unsure on what kind of seeds, then go for one of Thompson & Morgan’s kits. They have a huge variety of options including an Exotic Fruit Growing Kit, Blooming Bouquet Growing Kit, Rainbow Veg Growing Kit, Hot Chilli and Sweet Pepper Growing Kit, a Sweet Pea Growing Kit, and more. Check out the whole list here.

A flower press to preserve their achievements

I mentioned this flower press in my Cottagecore Gift Guide too, but I think it’s a really lovely way to celebrate someone’s newfound passion for gardening – pressing flowers that you’ve grown yourself is one of the most wholesome activities imaginable, and it will allow your loved one to keep beautiful mementoes of their gardening journey.

You could also pair it with one of these clear glass hanging frames, so they can proudly display their homegrown pressed flowers! Get one here.

A cold frame to protect their plants

Ok I know this is a bit of a leap in the price-point stakes – but if the gardener in your life is someone you’d like to splash some cash on, this is the perfect thing to get for them. A cold frame is a place to put tender and half-hardy plants to ‘overwinter’. It protects them from frost and is essential for several different plants, who come from places with milder weather. It also allows a gardener to get certain flowers earlier in the year – lots of seeds that would need to be sown outside after the last frost can be started off indoors during the frosty season, and then once germinated, transferred to a cold frame until its safe to put them outside, meaning they will be ready to flower much sooner than if the plants were sown outside after the last frost. A cold frame is a brilliant investment in your gardener, and this one is small enough that it won’t intimidate a newbie, but big enough that they can grow whatever they like. Plus, at £125 it’s actually very reasonably priced for a structure like this. Get it here.

Personalised garden tools for a functional bit of beauty

I can’t think of a sweeter gift to be honest – these personalised garden tools are tasteful, simple, practical, and beautiful. Get them here.

I hope this helps inspire you!

AD// The Cottagecore Gift Guide

Not much good has come out of 2020, but the development of ‘cottagecore’ – a wholesome, whimsical aesthetic focusing on a romanticised ideal of a cottage garden lifestyle – has got to be a highlight. Cottagecore is floral skirts worn with walking boots and hand knitted cardigans, it’s pressing flowers you grew yourself, it’s embroidery on a Sunday afternoon, it’s foraging for mushrooms and baking them in a pie. It’s delightful, calm, simple. Everything that 2020 is not. If, like me, someone in your life has discovered this year that there’s a cottage-dwelling hedgewitch inside them, aching to be let out, then read on for some suggestions of gifts they’ll love this season. To be clear – this gift guide is just a bit of lighthearted fun… don’t take it too seriously, just enjoy the inspiration!

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There’s so mushroom for treats

Mushrooms and flowers will be a recurring theme throughout this gift guide, which makes sense, considering cottagecore is all about celebrating the beautiful world we live in. Here are a few irresistible fungi-themed items, all, naturally, created by small business owners…

I’m honestly squealing with how adorable these all are. Get the earrings here, the mugs here, the ornaments here, the British mushrooms print here, and the grow your own kit here.

Cosy up with a good book

Books are unmatched when it comes to their ability to transport you into another world or another life – essential escapism for these times. One particularly wonderful suggestion I have for you is Hag: Forgotten Folk Tales Retold, which is a collection of modernised retellings of British folklore. I recommend it because the short stories are not only absorbing, gripping and highly entertaining, they are all based on local folk tales that we don’t really hear about. We’re all familiar with many European folk stories, but ones from our own isles don’t usually make the cut, and it’s so interesting to learn about them.

And because, of course, cottagecore is all about embracing the nature in our own world, non-fiction needs a mention too. How about Wilding by Isabella Tree, in which the author shares the journey of her and her husband letting nature take over their farm. Or what about Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. This is a beautiful book in which she shares the importance of reconnecting with the natural world, and the lessons we learn when we do.

The links above will take you to Waterstones, but if you’d like to support independent bookshops instead, head to my Bookshop.org Nature and Folklore list, where you can find links to all of these and more.

Plus, if you’re buying a book, why not dial up the nature-factor with handmade pressed flower bookmarks? They are absolutely adorable, made from upcycled paper and only cost £2.50 for three! Get them here.

A floral embrace

As I mentioned above, the cottagecore aesthetic is all about flowers and fungi. So here are a few beautiful options for floral-inspired gifts, again, all created by independent makers and small businesses.

A beautiful flower press

My partner actually got this for me for my birthday, so you can thank him for this idea! If the person you’re buying for has taken up gardening during the pandemic, this is the perfect way to celebrate their newfound love for plants, because it will allow them to press the flowers they’ve grown themselves, and keep them for years to come! It was also a finalist in the 2019 Etsy Design Awards. Get it here.

Dried flower bouquet

Dried flowers are a lovely eco-friendly, sustainable option for bringing the joy of blooms into your home, especially during the winter months. I am obsessed with this like this absolutely beautiful one from BloomPost (which was another birthday present for me, thanks James!) Get it here for gorgeous florals all year round.

The most beautiful floral earrings

Sabi Studio creates these breathtakingly beautiful earrings, all hand painted on polymer clay. I simply cannot get over the stunning designs. Don’t hate me, but the designs you’re looking at are currently all sold out – that’s the nature of shopping small! BUT, on the 29th of November at 5pm she’ll be restocking with 200 more of these beautiful nature inspired designs, so be sure to set a reminder, because any flower lover will have their day made by a set of these beauties.

Resin flower earrings

Forget-me-nots are the perfect choice for pressed-flower earrings because they are tiny enough to make subtle pieces, but their rich purple colour makes them stand out. I love this set from Nordic Flowers on Etsy, and they do all kinds of other flowers too, take a look here!

Boldly adorable cottagecore wall art

Yes, I am so obsessed with this print that it got its whole section all on its own. Can you blame me? It’s gorgeous! I think it would transform even the most modern city apartment into a kitschy cottage. The price starts at £18 for a 30x42cm paper print, and there are three larger sizes to choose from, with the price going up to £61 for a 60x84cm cotton canvas print. Get it here.

Eco friendly whimsey

A key tenet of cottagecore is low-impact living. A lifestyle aesthetic that revolves around nature and slow living means time to embrace plastic free reusables, but giving them as gifts can often seem a little utilitarian, so I’ve hunted out an item that combines prettiness with eco-conscious practicality. It’s always been amazing to me how quickly handkerchiefs fell off the radar – when I was little, they were just going out of style. All of those beautifully embroidered hankies your granny had were slowly making their way to the back of the cupboard, to be replaced by plastic wrapped travel tissue packs. There’s a lovely seller on Not on the High Street who makes absolutely gorgeous hand-embroidered and printed hankies, every bit as delightful as the old-fashioned kind, but with a lovely modern twist. Check them out! Click here to take a look at the mushroom hankie and here for the set of three floral ones. Or you could just visit the shop, because there are all sorts of gorgeous hankies on there, these are just my personal favourites!

Eclectic handmade wearables

I haven’t included clothes in this list because honestly, I think clothes are tricky to buy as gifts and even tricker to recommend as them! But these gorgeous handmade items are sure to delight, without being reliant on sizing or fit.

Get the socks here, the choker here, and the beret here.

I hope you enjoyed this gift guide! The cottagecore aesthetic isn’t a serious thing or anything, it’s just a bit of whimsical fun, and I hope reading through these gave you a big of inspiration. Much love!

The Harris Tweed Gift Guide

The Isle of Harris is one of my favourite places in the world. Although during my lifetime my family lived on the neighbouring Isle of Lewis, Harris is where my Granny grew up. So I’ve been lucky to have received more than my fair share of Harris Tweed gifts in my lifetime (and have furnished my home with plenty of my own purchases too). I thought I’d share a few ideas for high quality, long lasting and thoughtful gifts made from this historic, sustainable fabric.

Before we begin, I just wanted to point something out – Harris Tweed is the name of the fabric, not the brand that makes the product you’re buying. You’ll know that the product is made with genuine Harris Tweed fabric because of the logo on it, so look out for orb logo, and you’ll know you’re getting the real deal. The great thing about Harris Tweed is that it’s available to anyone, from big brands like Nike to old ladies on the island who only sell at craft fairs, so you can support small businesses and independent makers, with the guarantee that you’re buying a super high quality product. Because of the cost of the fabric, you don’t get people buying it and making rubbish out of it. Harris Tweed products are made with serious love and care. I’ve bought from many, many makers and all of the products have been amazing quality!

Harris Tweed Weekender/luggage/holdall bag – £150

This is one of the first Harris Tweed items I was ever given, and it’s been going strong since I was 17. You can get one in just about every colour under the sun, to suit your loved one’s personal style. Get one here for £150 – there are many places you can buy one of these bags but this is the place I got mine from (you can see it in the first image, it’s the exact same make, just 13 years old!) and has a MASSIVE array of colours to choose from!

Harris Tweed Cushion Cover – £29+

There are some absolutely brilliant makers on Etsy who have really lovely cushion covers, depending on the style and the colour scheme of your recipient’s home. The first I’ve chosen is CoverandShade, who make a range of gorgeous front fold cushions for £29, and the second is TillyTreeMouse who makes ones with zips across the seam, for £29.99+, depending on the size you want. Both come in a variety of colours. But the third… oh my god I can only dream of these. Hand embroidered thistle and Highland coo (cow) authentic Harris Tweed cushions by TallaTweed. How delightful are they?! Shop here.

Harris Tweed Teddy Bear £58

There are lots of teddy bears out there made purely from Harris Tweed, but I do wonder if the hardy fabric would be a bit too scratchy to cuddle with. I think much better is a normal fluffy teddy with a Harris Tweed jacket – it also means that the parents of the kid you’re buying it for can protect the pricy fabric on days spent playing in the mud! And again, this one comes in loads of colours. See the range here.

Harris Tweed Tea Cosy – £28.50

I couldn’t find the exact version of the blue tea cosy that you’ll see in the photo at the very top of this post – but such is life, we’ve had it for years so hardly surprising! Here is a similar version, with an infamous Scottish midgie on it (be sure to check the dimensions for your teapot). But I also wanted to share this very lovely patchwork number from Etsy seller PoppyMallow. It might not be as whimsical, but it’s nice and tasteful, and guaranteed to keep a teapot warm until the end of time. Get it here!

Harris Tweed Dog Collar – £10+

Etsy is definitely the place for Harris Tweed dog accessories, and there’s a shop called Itsallaboutdog, who have leashes, bows and collars in pretty much every colour you could ever want! The gorgeous colour collection I’ve shared in the photo can be found here.

Harris Tweed Tie – £29.95

This tie makes me wish I was the kind of person who had to wear a suit to work. I love it. Nevermind your friends and family, buy this for me!!

Harris Tweed Coin Purse – £14

This is a lovely small gift, great for a friend or colleague. I have one and actually I’ve started using it as my normal purse, as I love how simple it is! It’s also great because this one comes in a million different colours, so no matter what their style, you can find one for them.

Harris Tweed Washbag – £34 – £41

These absolutely gorgeous washbags from Etsy seller faithmonsoon are the perfect example of a Harris Tweed toiletry bag if you ask me. I’ve wanted a tweed washbag like this for ages and haven’t found one in a colour I like, but my eye is firmly on the herringbone pink one! Get one here.

Harris Tweed Slippers – £49

A pair of slippers is always a safe bet for a gift if you ask me. Unfortunately, the pink ones in the first photo, which we bought in Sainsbury’s and are by a brand called Totes, are already sold out on Sainsbury’s website (though you could have a look in store!) so I thought I’d put up a different recommendation, which are these gorgeous £50 ones from House or Bruar. I love the thick lining and proper soles, you just know those are going to be amazing slippers.

I hope you found something you like in this list! There’s an almost unlimited amount of stuff that can be made with Harris Tweed, but these are some that I either really love for myself, or firmly have my eye on for the future…

A Gender Neutral Valentine’s Gift Guide For 2018

It’s that time again! I’ve thought a lot about Valentine’s Day over the years and I’ve realised that just like with weddings and engagements, my problem isn’t with the thing itself, it’s how unbearably performative and consumerist they are. How we love doesn’t have to be controlled by outside forces; and what other people think and expect should never be a part of how you express your love for each other.

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But there simply isn’t very much inspiration out there for people who don’t want to browse through ‘for her’ and ‘for him’ gift guides which rarely feature anything your wonderful, unique partner would actually like. The decision to put something in a gendered gift guide is limited by the necessity that the things are masculine or feminine, and I think that’s a terrible way to choose a gift for your lover. So I thought I would try to help by providing some ideas for you to express your love with a thoughtful, unique and gender free gift! Throughout this guide, I’ve suggested a mix of luxury brands and smaller independent brands, so you can choose what kind of ‘special’ you want your gift to be!

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© Tartan Blanket Company 2018

A cosy blanket for snuggling under. I think these Tartan Blanket Company blankets are just absolutely delightful, and you can even get ones made out of 30% recycled fabric, which is awesome! They come in every colour type imaginable too so whatever your, and/or your lover’s home looks like you can find something that will be perfect!

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© Bloomtown UK

A massage oil or bar. Who doesn’t love a massage from their significant other? A luxurious oil, together with the promise that you’ll both get plenty of use out of it, is the perfect gift. There are so many different choices when it comes to scents and textures, but I think Bloomtown Botanicals has to be up there with the best. Their massage oils come in a variety of scents so you can pick one you know you’ll both love. One of my personal favourite massage oils is Aesop Geranium Leaf Hydrating Body Treatment which smells floral and heady without being sweet. It also leaves the skin phenomenally soft. If you want something with less packaging though, try a massage bar instead. Lush are definitely the masters of the massage bar, so check them out!

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© Life of Spice

Fancy herbs and spices. If your lover loves to cook, this is a great gift for them. Life of Spice make the most amazing herb and spices, both single and mixes and they’re available in sets too. I love the little tins they come in as well, very practical and cool looking.

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© Thought

Some really nice socks. Everyone talks about how socks are a super boring gift but seriously, have you put new socks on recently? It’s the BEST. Especially if they’re fancy, not a multipack from H&M. I don’t know about you but I wear my socks until they resemble a string vest because for some reason, buying myself new socks is an adult chore I’ve just never gotten into. Socks are a great gift, and I love the brand Thought for their sustainable selection which includes bamboo, wool and cotton. There’s a tonne of designs to choose from too!

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© Rustic Retro Furniture

A Bath Caddy. Does your love enjoy long soaks in the bath? A bath caddy is the perfect gift for anyone who likes to read in the bath too as there’s space for a book, candle and drink. They aren’t as expensive as I expected either, and this one from Etsy is really affordable, and has amaaaaazing reviews!

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© Emina Botanic Boutique 2018

Bath Salts. If you read my blog you should know there was no way I would ever not recommend buying someone a nice bath product. And if your love doesn’t have access to a bath, or doesn’t like them, what about a gorgeous body scrub? Soothed muscles and soft skin are a great gift to give someone you love. One of the best body scrubs to give as a gift is Aesop’s Geranium Leaf Scrub which contains pumice and bamboo suspended in a thick, geranium scented gel. It’s absolutely beautiful and very luxurious. If you’re looking for a luxurious bath oil, go for Olverum – it’s one of the oldest bath products in the world and has an absolutely stunning rosemary scent. If you’d like something by a small-maker, Emina Botanic Boutique does a gorgeous range of bath salts, as well as a Grapefruit Body Scrub. Or if your lover likes to exercise, what about this post-workout relaxation kit from Golden Rooster Balms? I also love the look of these Himalayan Bath Salts, it has jasmine and green tea in it! Can you imagine how soothing that must be? I think I might just treat myself to that one…

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An amazing cookbook. Another one for people who love to cook, or someone who wants to cook more from scratch. I cannot recommend Anna Jones highly enough, her recipes are beyond delicious and very nutritious in a ‘taste comes first’ kind of way. She uses ingredients and combinations that may seem unfamiliar at first, but will quickly become staples in your home because of how easy to make, and utterly delicious they are. I have all three of her books, A Modern Way to Cook, A Modern Way to Eat and The Modern Cook’s Year and any of the three is a great choice.

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© James Barker Draws

A cactus, succulent or houseplant. What could be more romantic on Valentine’s Day than adopting  a baby together? Just kidding. But still, everyone needs more plants in their life (unless you’re me and you live in a literal jungle already, in which case, what about a cute little plant themed embroidery gift? Or a leaf print shopping bag?) If they live in a small flat, what about a little selection of succulents from Plant Parcel, or if they have a bit more space, a beautiful Monstera Deliciosa?

I hope these suggestions have helped inspire you! Happy Valentine’s Day when it comes!

A Gender Neutral Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

Whether your loved one is a nonbinary honey like me, or agender, genderqueer, questioning, non-conformist, or you’re simply trying to move away from the raging cisheteronormativity of Valentine’s Day, this gift guide will provide you with inspiration and ideas on how to celebrate your wonderful human (or humans), for who they are, without making it about binary gender.

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You don’t have to fall under the rainbow umbrella to read this – it’s for everyone, and actually it was my completely cishet (but very progressive) parents who inspired this blog post. Growing up, the Valentine’s Gift that always stuck with me was one my dad gave to my mum, that couldn’t be less gendered if it was deliberate. It was in about 2006, and he had spent ages hunting down a (seriously rare) black and white, non-edited version of Night of the Living Dead on DVD. She loved that film when it came out, but over the years it had been edited in some really dodgy ways, and she just wanted to watch the original. You wouldn’t find that on any ‘Gifts for Her’ edit.

I know that Valentine’s Day is a tricky one for a lot of reasons. It’s tacky, it’s overmarketed, it’s impersonal, wasteful and it’s grotesquely cisheteronormative. The London Eye used to put on a special Valentine’s Day event, and a friend of mine took her girlfriend one year. Should be a perfectly romantic date, right? Unfortunately, several of the activities included in this event were ‘him vs her’ games, that all the ticket-buying couples were supposed to play as a group. So my friend and her girlfriend were faced with the outrageous choice of either being excluded from half of the event, or for one of them to take on a ‘man’ role. Unnecessary, offensive, exclusionary and just plain rude.

I don’t think Valentine’s Day is going anywhere, and I always find that embracing things on my own terms makes me much happier than rejecting things outright. This gift guide is my attempt at trying to help us all find ways of celebrating our loved ones, in ways that honour them, and our relationships to them.

Of course, when you take away gender from Valentine’s Day gifting, it opens things out into a whole world of possibilities – you really have to know the person you’re buying for, instead of opting for a teddy bear with a red heart on it. And yeah, it’s 2022 folks, we should know all about their interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes. I saw a really sad TikTok video the other day by a woman who worked at a Pandora jewellery shop, and she said that the only queue they ever had that was bigger than the one of men the day before Valentine’s Day, was the queue of women the day after, returning their unwanted gifts. We should know our partners better than that. We should be their biggest fan. This guide should serve as a jumping off point, an inspirational peruse to get your creativity going. It’s not supposed to be a generic shopping list, because only you can know what your loved one will love.

(Please note – affiliate links in this blog post are marked with an asterisk*)

A personalised luxe candle

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If your partner works from home at a desk, this is a lovely gift to give them to add a luxurious yet personal touch to their workspace. My inspiration behind this was that in the evenings James often does work for his masters degree, so he misses out on all the candles and wax melts we have in the living room because there’s obviously no space on his desk. So an amber jar candle burning on his desk while he studies was perfect, but one that doubles as a reminder of how loved he is was even better. Earl of East offer this service on their amazing scented candle selection and I’d really recommend it. We particularly love the fragrances Atlas Cedar and Jardin de la Lune, but you seriously can’t go wrong.

An amazing cookbook*

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A cookbook is always a welcome addition to a kitchen. I cannot recommend Anna Jones* highly enough, her recipes are beyond delicious and very nutritious, but in a ‘taste comes first’ kind of way. She uses ingredients and combinations that may seem unfamiliar at first, but will quickly become staples in your home because of how easy to make, and utterly delicious they are. We have all four of her books, but A Modern Way to Cook* and A Modern Way to Eat* are my favourites – the meals look so complex and refined, but they’re always really easy. I also very highly recommend recommend Bazaar* by Sabrina Ghayour*, which is a book of the most vibrantly flavourful vegetarian recipes you’ll ever find. Everything we’ve made from there has been outrageously delicious – the butternut squash pastries are our staple lunch for when we go out on adventures, and the pul biber, olive and broccoli spaghetti has been quite simply life changing.

Premium bed linen*

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It’s often hard for people to choose nice bedding for themselves, which is why I think it makes such a thoughtful gift for your partner, especially if they’re the kind to usually forego home luxuries. It’s an understandable thing to try and save money on, as it’s difficult to believe that the quality of premium bedding could really be that different to the usual stuff – but oh my, it really is. I personally find that La Redoute* do the best bedding I’ve ever purchased – it isn’t wildly expensive but it feels lovely and keeps its shape and colour so well, and the heavily patterned styles don’t take on a waxy quality like other brands I’ve used. I think this Palmeira* style I’ve posted above is a really gorgeous choice, but please note when you’re shopping on La Redoute that the pillows are sold separately (they sell several different sizes of pillow so makes sense, but I did totally miss it the first time I shopped on there). 

Some really nice socks*

Everyone always gets down on socks like they’re a bad gift – but I’ve never ever seen anyone unhappy to receive a thoughtfully chosen, well made selection of socks. I bought my partner loads of them this year for Christmas, in colours that he likes to wear (natural colours like mossy green, browns and burgundy) and he told me that he smiles every time he puts them on in the morning. I actually think that’s pretty romantic. Thought Clothing* have an amazing variety of bamboo socks* which I would highly recommend – they have an almost endless selection of outrageously creative, brilliant patterns, as well as fantastic block coloured basics, all sustainably made and super high quality. Of course, you have to make sure to watch out for the sizing – they follow the usual men’s and women’s sizing, but they have a section where you can view all of the patterned socks* together – be sure to avoid buying too large or too small socks if you browse on there!

A Massage Gun*

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If your loved one is stressed, busy and tense, you might already have thought of buying them a voucher to get a massage. I have thought of doing this many times before, because I want to help my hardworking partner care for himself. But the thing is – a massage appointment takes more than just the time you’re getting the massage. Plus, with covid, it’s even more complicated. And then there’s the fact that you can’t just have one massage to experience the full benefits, and when you start booking multiple appointments, it gets expensive really fast. It would be lovely to have regular massages but it’s just not something many of us have the time or budget for. A massage gun* is LITERALLY the perfect alternative. Your partner can use it whenever they’re feeling tense, after exercise or a bad night’s sleep, and there are a variety of attachments to target specific muscle groups. HoMedics sell a great one here*, and they also sell it in white here*.

Fun, ethical dungarees

James and I both LOVE our Lucy & Yak dungarees. They fit so comfortably, and are made of such high quality, organic and sustainably sourced material. I think these would make an absolutely brilliant gift for any loved one. They’re available in so many different styles, like amazingly bold prints, natural earthy tones, funky pastels and classic black and denims, so you can definitely find something perfectly suited to their unique personality. Size-wise, they go from a UK 32 to a 4, and have short, regular and long versions. They also offer a really comprehensive size chart so if your partner usually wears clothes from the men’s section, you can take a pair of their trousers and a top, measure them, and work out from there what size to get for them (when James got his obviously he just measured his actual body, this method is just for if you’re trying to surprise them).

A mushroom growing kit*

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I thought up a load nonsense mushroom puns for this suggestion, but let’s keep it simple instead – if your loved one likes mushrooms, this is the perfect gift. It’s so much fun to watch, and so satisfying to harvest, cook and eat homegrown mushrooms. I can’t actually eat mushrooms but I have to be honest, this Grow Your Own Mushroom Kit* is so cool that even I wouldn’t mind having one just to watch it grow!

Personalised map wall art

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This personalised map poster is a seriously adorable and really clever idea from Desenio. You type in two different locations, which will then appear as this style of map on each side of the heart – then you can toggle the maps within the heart to get to the perfect spot. If you want a more detailed map, just enter a more general area (the above ones were fairly specific). Then you add your chosen text. The two locations in this example are the place we met and the place we got married. How sweet is that?! Here’s the page to shop this amazing gift, and it’s available in two other colourways as well.

A Himalayan salt lamp*

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To be honest, I don’t really buy into any of the supposed health benefits of salt lamps. I do however, believe that they’re the best source of relaxing lighting ever created. We have two in our living room and they bathe the space in this wonderfully natural glow, it’s like candlelight but brighter. If your loved one doesn’t have one already, get them one, I seriously cannot recommend them enough. Ours were gifts from family but I had a browse and found this listing for Himalayan Salt Lamps on Etsy* which has amazing reviews, great prices and wide selection of sizes!

A board game for two

A cosy evening together, playing a board game, perhaps with some snacks on the go and a few candles lit. To me, that sounds like a heavenly way to spend a little bit of time with my partner. This game Patchwork is fun and relaxing, but requires just enough concentration to keep it interesting, and Fungi is an adorable strategy game of mushroom foraging. Simple and sweet, a perfect evening together.

Home fragrance products

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Perfect for snuggling up on the sofa, scented candles and wax melts are an excellent way to create a cosy atmosphere in your home together. Almost everyone has a scent profile that they enjoy. If you aren’t sure what kind of home fragrance your loved one might like, think about if you’ve ever noticed them saying how much they like the smell of a perfume, or a specific flower, or perhaps a specific situation – for example a forest in the rain, or the smell of the seaside. Use these snippets of info (if you have them) to search for associated fragrance notes, and then have a look for some fragrance products that contain those notes. I have a blog post with some of my favourite home fragrance brands in it, so you might be able to find some good scents in there!

A handmade card

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When I was a kid, if I wanted to give my parents anything for mother or father’s day, it had to be a handmade card. They felt that these holidays were emotionally exploitative consumerist rubbish, so I wasn’t allowed to spend any money on them. But if I wanted to, I was allowed to make them a card. This was no skin off my nose, I relished any opportunity to dive into my stack of coloured paper and glitter glue. I think my magnum opus was probably a mother’s day card when I was about 6 or 7. I made a long thin cone out of paper and stuck it upside down to the front of the card, on which I’d written something like ‘Love you mummy’. I went out into the garden, picked some small flowers and tucked them into the cone so it looked like a mini vase. She was pretty impressed with me that year. Anyway, if you’re a creative type, this is such a lovely way to show your loved one how much they mean to you – but if you aren’t, there are some amazing options for handcrafted cards on Etsy*, like this adorable folding fox card*.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this, and perhaps been inspired on how best to indulge your special someone this February 14th!