Christmas Gift Guide (of Sorts) 2021

Gosh, it comes round quick, the time for the annual blog post gift guide. It came round so fast this year it took me by surprise, hence why it’s late, so sorry about that. As ever, if you’re buying any of the things on it, or if you have any other suggestions for fab gifts, especially from indie retailers, please share them in the comments or on Twitter. Merry Christmas!

1. Writers & Lovers, £7.49

A definite candidate for my book of the year, this flew under the radar a bit, but is a proper gem.

2. Hit List, £7

I will never tire of buying organisers and to do list pads with the intention of harnessing my inner chaos. What I particularly like about this one is it allows you to tick the tasks that are urgent (assuming that’s not all of them…)

QKK

3. The Essential Candle Collection, £50

Space NK’s Christmas Candle, Shimmering Spice, was in the gift guide a few years back. Here it is again with a few other equally lovely scents. Like a (pricey) selection box for grown ups (although you can easily get 15% off).

4. Graphic Puzzle, £32

1000 brightly coloured pieces – perfect for those dark winter days between Christmas and New Year.

5. Yani Yeti, £35

Things that always appear in the gift guide – bath stuff and notebooks – no longer count as part of the main 30 items. Perhaps next year, stuffed toys will need to join that category…

6. Origami Star Garland, £15+

‘You love a garland, don’t you?’ a friend said recently at a craft fair, and it’s true, I really do. This one is particularly beautiful – I bought one for myself last year and have bought another for a friend this Christmas.

7. Shark Swimsuit, £50

Made entirely from recycled plastic, but more importantly: super fun.

8. Barbara Throws a Wobbler, £6.99

Because it’s been the kind of year where we’ve all wanted to throw a wobbler…

9. Fight for Every Inch Body Lotion, £20

I’m very confused about why anyone would call a body lotion this. My suggestion is to buy it for someone you’re fucking, then, when they’ve used all the lotion, refill it with lube…

10. Marius boxers, £40

Frankly, I think yellow is an underrated colour option.

11. Garnier Self-Care Collection, £10

Garnier masks are incredibly cheap considering how well they work and this set is even better value. Pair it with chocolate and/or some of the beautifully-packaged Ophir pre-mixed G&Ts and you have a great gift for a friend.

12. Egg On Toast Activity Toy, £21

If you have a baby to buy for this Christmas, you are beyond lucky, because babies are the best people to buy for. And who doesn’t want a happy little egg on toast to welcome them to the world?

13. Tin of Crisps, £20

If you have a friend who’s more about the savoury snacks than the sweet ones, what better gift than a big tin of gourmet crisps?

14. Pasta keyring, £15

A wonderful Twitter friend pointed me in the direction of these lovely leather keyrings last year. I bought the ravioli as a gift, and the recipient was delighted. I highly recommend you do the same.

15. Lobster scarf, £48

Because lobsters will never go out of fashion*.

*hopefully

16. Hot Buns are Ready Tea Towel, £10.89

Look at his little butt cheeks.

17. Abandoned, £12.99

There’s always at least one thing on this list that I would want in my own stocking. This year, this book of abandoned places is the one.

18. Aubade Blue Saphir Bra, £89

I know the model gives no indication of this, but some Aubade styles, including this one, now go up to a G cup. Which has delighted this blogger who last bought an Aubade bra on sale at the end of 2003 when she was still a D cup.

19. Herbal Tea Mug, £10

Anthro is always a solid bet for good value but pretty mugs, and this one is no exception.

20. Aquamarine Ring, £125

On the one hand (ha!), £125 is a lot for costume jewellery. On the other, if you wear a piece of jewellery every day, which I think you easily could with this, it works out very cheap per wear. Honest.

21. COCO x Talisker Sea Salted Caramel Gift Set, £20

This year, don’t get him whiskey stones. Get him this beautiful whiskey and chocolate gift set instead.

22. Giant Wooden Xmas Bauble, £24

Immensely cheering Christmas decorations are always a good gift for anyone who loves this time of year.

23. Floral Personalised Liberty Hot Water Bottle, £19.75

If you have a group of girlfriends, you could buy them each one of these in a slightly different print. In fact, I may be planning to do that for some of my friends next year (shhhh).

24. Yoto Player, £79.99

This kids’ audio player with story cards also allows you to record cards of you reading their favourite stories, which I think is pretty cool.

25. Bacon Butty Box for 2, £14

I’ve made no secret of how good I think the Dishoom bacon naan kits are, but frustratingly, you have to choose a specific day for delivery, which makes them less good as gifts. A friend of mine recommended this as a solid alternative.

26. Too Horny Risograph Print, $30

If I had any space left on my walls, I would be getting me one of these for sure.

27. Jennifer Cardigan, £62

Dinosaur buttons!

28. Mulled wine, £16.99

I’m a big fan of Shop Cuvée, which opened during lockdown and sells bottled cocktails, interesting wines and mulled wine with a cool label that would make a great gift for your colleague/neighbours/sister’s new boyfriend.

29. Unsolicited Dick Pick-Me-Up Print, £10

For the friend who’s had a shitty year. How can his little face not make you smile?

30. Bookily Gift Card, £8.99+

Bookily is something I wish had existed long before now. A kind of gift subscription from National Book Tokens, the recipient will receive a book token for the average cost of one or more paperback novels every month until you say stop. My dream gift, tbh.

31. Fur Bath Drops, £26.18

Remember bath pearls from when you were, like, eleven? Allow someone to relive the joys.

32. Pantone Notebook Set, £17.95

If you have a friend who wouldn’t appreciate this, well, you need new friends.

33. RNLI donation, any amount

The RNLI do great work in many ways, but the main reason they deserve your donation this Christmas is because they’re committed to saving migrants trying to cross the Channel, all in the face of bullshit from hate groups like Britain First.

Christmas guest guide (of sorts) #02: @notsosexintheci

This is the second, and final, Christmas guest guide (of sorts) – (see the first one here) – and it’s the choices of none other than the wonderful @notsosexintheci. As previously, the guide contains 5 items which total no more than £100. And I’d be happy to fine a lot of these in my stocking in a few weeks’ time.

  1. Wooden Dip Pen Set with 8 Inks, £23.99

I really want to be one of those people who can master the art of calligraphy, so I reckon this dip pen set would probably help out with that. I’d probably just make a really big mess, but at least it’d look really cute on my desk.

2. Starlight Projector, £47.95

I just feel like this might really help with my insomnia. I had a colour-changing light strip that sat on top of the TV and plugged into a USB port once, and I loved the way the different colours danced around the room at night. Also, it’s just really cool.

3. Grow Tin – Killer Carnivorous, £7.99

Honestly, I’ve always wanted a Venus fly trap. I find killer plants weirdly fascinating. (I can’t have any plants because my cat eats them, so plant-ownership is a luxury for me.)

4. Happiness Aromatherapy Candle, £11.50

Firstly, I like to buy cute stuff from small businesses on Etsy to make myself feel better. Secondly, who doesn’t want to walk into a room that smells like happiness? I’m not really sure I believe that aromatherapy actually works, but I do love a good smelly candle!

5. Letter K Notebook, £7

There’s something almost orgasmic about opening a brand new notebook and seeing those blank, lined pages ready and waiting to be defiled.

Christmas guest guide (of sorts) #01: @BeStillMyBeaten

This Christmas, aside from, y’know, the standard SBOS gift guide, I thought I’d try something a little different, because hey, you can never have too many gift guides, right? And so the Christmas guest guides (of sorts) were born. Two fabulous tweeters agreed to be guinea pigs for the new format and they’ve both picked a fabulous selection of gifts.

The remit was (relatively) simple – five gifts totalling no more than £100. Today’s tweeter, the lovely @BeStillMyBeaten, has done a stellar job with the budget, managing to pretty much hit £100 bang on. Here are her choices:

  1. Eat the Rich necklace, £21

This necklace comes in yellow and rose gold colour, as well as the silver shown above. There are also lots of other ‘Fuck the Tories’ type designs, if, unlike me, you understand that metaphorically, rather than taking it dangerously literally.

2. Latex fractal frost crystal pasties, £8

One of the best things about having guests on the gift guide is that they suggest things that are genuinely sexy and, y’know, befitting of a supposed sex blog.

3. Madame’s Christmas set prints, £28.33

Arty. Sexy. Christmassy. What more could you want?

4. Glass anal plug, £35

Slightly bad news on this one. The plug that @BeStillMyBeaten chose (shown in the image) now seems to be sold out (my fault, for taking days to write this up!), and judging by the Etsy review, the person who bought it is delighted with it. The good news is, the store in question has lots of other beautiful toys.

5. Cuterus, £7

Look at that little face! Also, every purchase of one of these supports The Vagina Museum which, like a lot of museums, is having a pretty hard time because of Covid.

Christmas Gift Guide (of Sorts) 2020

Another year (no, really, it actually has been a whole year), another gift guide. This gift guide has always aimed to include a decent number of indies, but I have tried to make sure that’s where the majority of suggestions come from this year. There’s normally a charitable suggestion, too, and I haven’t done that this year – please pick your local cause that needs the help the most, because this year they really will need it. Oh, and Merry Christmas.

  1. Read to me babygro, £11.95

Almost a reason to have a baby, the cuteness of this. Available in three different colours, and three different age ranges. Best paired with a book.

2. I’ll always be a European print, £35

At least Rebecca Strickson’s art is cheerful, even if Brexit really, really isn’t. 20% of all profits go to The Trussel Trust because, as Rebecca says, ‘Guess what? They’re probably gonna need it.’

3. Yeti decoration, £10

My heart.

4. How to eat cock, £9.99

I don’t need this book, because I’m already good at … cooking chicken.

5. Kinky embroidery, £20-£40

Not only is Rosie, who makes these, a wonderful person to follow on Twitter, her work is gorgeous. Prices range from £20-£40 depending on size and complexity and Rosie is happy to discuss custom pieces.

6. Callie drop hoop earrings, £30

At the time of writing, these pretty silver-plated hoop earrings are only £21.

7. Vegan sausage roll pin, £6.95

There’s always a lot of food of one form or another in these gift guides, isn’t there?

8. This is fine dog, $25

He comes without his fire, but hopefully in 2021 he won’t need it. Either way, I love him.

9. Fuck, I love cheese tea towel, £12

I told you there was a lot to do with food…

10. Vulcan mug, £28

Are handmade ceramics expensive? Yes. Are they tactile as fuck and therefore worth what you pay for them? Yes. Plus, you’re going to be drinking your morning latte at home for a while yet…

11. Enamel mustard yellow jug, £38

Something cheery for their flowers.

12. Good boys not fuck boys print, £15

Word.

13. Hippos go berserk, £5.99

These hippos break literally every Covid rule going while going berserk. Good job they’re cute.

14. Petit bateau knickers, £34.30

Anyone know what it says on the bottom pair?

15. A Winter’s tale, £38

It’s not that clear from the picture, but there are little fairy lights in the houses. I think this would look super cute on a windowsill. A good one for your grandma, perhaps.

16. The Fixed Stars, £14.37

Molly Wizenberg used to write one of the best food blogs on the internet, and has written two previous memoirs. This one explores the breakdown of her marriage and the realisation that she wants to date women, all rendered in stunning prose.

17. Ultimate Fenty Beauty Hamper, £175

Ok, it’s madly pricey. But can you imagine opening this on Christmas Day?

18. Taco truck and donut van, $15.95

For reasons I can’t quite explain, I have become completely obsessed with these during lockdown. I want them all. Brits can get a smaller range of them from here.

19. Paint by sticker, £9.41

Because everyone needs some mindless creative fun.

20. Sod sprouts ‘meat’ card, £10

What do you get your friend who’d rather be having an affair with their local butcher? Er, this?

21. Paper coral princess plant, £60

A good option for your friend who loves things that are green, but also kills things that are green.

22. Christmas chocolate collection, £23

Oh god, more food. Aren’t they pretty though?

23. Attention Chenin Mechant, £21

I love a wine with a good label and this one, which is designed to mimic French ‘Careful nasty dog’ signs, ticks all the boxes for me.

24. Clementine and clove soy candle, £9

It feels a long time ago now, but I bought some of these as stocking fillers at a Christmas market last year. They smell super Christmassy, and they have beautiful packaging.

25. Digital nude commission gift voucher, £35

Personally, I’d love to buy this for a friend who didn’t realise just how gorgeous she actually is.

26. All I Want For Christmas Is You Tree Decoration, £16

Because everyone loves a bit of Mariah, don’t they?

27. Hollywood frame, £32

An extremely delicate and pretty frame – and, around Black Friday, you can get 25% off the price above.

28. Super Happy Christmas Window Decoration Set, £18

Yes, these are garish af. No, they’re not in particularly good taste. But nothing this year has made me as happy as that sprout’s face. Quite fond of the trifle, too. Last orders for these are December 4th.

29. Tom Ford Private Blend Lost Cherry Eau de Parfum, £189.24

Sure, the name of this is ridiculous. And it smells like bakewell tart. But in a good way, trust me on this. Shame I can never justify anything other than a quick squirt when I’m walking through John Lewis.

30. Simple rustic computer desk, £135

Honestly, if the person you love is going to be working from home until Spring, is there any kinder gift you could buy them than a handmade desk?

31. Our tiny bees bath melt, £5.95

This one looks like food, but isn’t food. Promise.

32. A notebook for bad ideas, £15

Because maybe it’s easier to write the damn idea if you pretend it’s shit. Maybe?

Guest post by @WolfishBadger

The lovely @WolfishBadger took up the challenge to write a 300 word story based on one of the images in this tweet and he very much came up with the goods. As he doesn’t (yet!) have a blog of his own, you can read the story here:

He bought it as a joke. Something he thought she’d roll her eyes at. But ever since he bought that…thing into the house it’s like she’s obsessed. Sex used to be, well…fine. Ok. A release but nothing more than that. Now she’s dragging him from the bedroom to fuck like teenagers in their living room, always facing the massive, ugly ornament, ‘Tears of a Clown’.

The first time, he thought it was funny. She’d marched him to the sofa, facing the bay windows and yanking at his jeans, commanded him to fuck her there and then. He’d assumed she was feeling daring, half wanting the neighbours to see. She faced away and straddled his thighs and as she eased her (unusually soaking) cunt down on him he noticed that her eyes were fixed on the statue. Her jaw was clenched as if she was focusing on the monstrosity, like it was controlling her hips slamming down onto him and making him yelp. When he came in her she snapped out of her trance and strode away to the shower.

Every time they fucked it was the same. Sometimes he’d fuck her while her head dangled over the end of the table, sometimes from behind on the rug, but always with the same intense stare at the statue and the low, guttural moans as she clenched his cock inside her. He’d never made her come til now.

He passed it off as a phase, impressed at his own improving performance. Bragging to his friends how his girlfriend was now insatiable, never knowing in her head she was picturing the clown as him. Weeping and not daring to look as she was fucked by someone better. Someone bigger. Someone rougher.

Someone who wouldn’t have brought that fucking ridiculous thing in the house.

Zoo

‘This fucking house is like a fucking zoo,’ she tells him, on what feels like the 900th day of the summer holidays, as she hoovers up cornflakes from under the sofa.

‘Less than a week to go,’ he tells her, ‘we’ve got this.’

She feels bad that the start of the school term can’t come round soon enough. She loves her kids, really.

‘If this house was actually a zoo,’ he says. ‘What animal would you be?’

She barely hesitates. ‘A panda.’

He laughs. ‘Really? I’d have you down as something fiercer. How come a panda?’

She looks him straight in the eye. ‘Cuddly,’ she says. ‘Cute.’ She pauses. ‘And barely ever fucks. Like us.’

‘We fuck!’

‘Not during the school holidays.’

‘That … that is true.’

‘Did you know,’ she asks, ‘that they think that one of the reasons pandas in captivity have so little sex is because they can’t get any privacy, because they’re being watched the whole time? And that’s kind of true for us, too – if it’s not one of our kids hanging around, it’s one of a million visitors … my mum, your dad, all the friends the kids have over for sleepovers. I can’t even pee in peace, let alone fuck.’

‘Well, I’m sorry you feel like a panda,’ he says. ‘I really am. But even pandas get it on a few times a year, I think, so maybe our day is coming.’

‘God,’ she says, ‘I hope so.’ She sighs. ‘Anyway, if I’m a panda, what would you be?’

He thinks for a moment, then laughs. ‘A lion,’ he says.

‘King of the animal kingdom, huh?’

‘Well,’ he says, ‘that’s part of it, sure, but I was thinking about the fact that the men last roughly 15 to 20 seconds. Which, given how long our dry spell has been, is roughly how long I expect it to be for me, too.’

 

Yardstick

It may not be a great thing to use as a yardstick for how much he cares about her, but what else does she have to go on? She wants desperately to know where things stand between them, where they are headed, but she is too scared to ask. What if asking sends him running in the opposite direction?

And so she keeps track of the kisses on his messages until it almost drives her fucking insane. She longs for consistency and he is far, far from consistent – some days there is one kiss, others three, some days there are none at all. It’s meaningless, she knows, but she can’t help but read too much into it – how can three kisses not mean more than one? They must, right? Or has she got it the wrong way round – does a single kiss in fact mean more than a whole of string of them? Is that more sincere?

Eventually, she decides it must mean more when he sends just one. After all, they are seeing each other regularly, he sends her ‘Goodnight x’ messages before she falls asleep and, well, she just has a good feeling about things. After all, it’s been a while since anyone sent her any kisses at all.

The good feeling lasts until they are out together in a bar one night. It lasts until he goes to the bathroom and leaves her alone with his phone.

She has never been great at resisting temptation and she is even worse at not playing with fire. And so yes, she does look at his messages, and yes, immediately she wishes she hadn’t. Because it it turns out he doesn’t always communicate his affection with kisses. Sometimes he communicates it with pictures of his dick. And he has never, ever sent her one of those.

 

Xenophile

He tells her that he thinks she must be a xenophile and she laughs and says, kindly, ‘You can date a Frenchman and not be a xenophile.’ He is not wrong about her love for France though. What is it they call it? The delicatessen with beaches? How could anyone not love it?

That is not what I meant, he says. I wasn’t talking about your feelings for me. Doesn’t she know, he says, that xenophilia can also mean a love for foreign objects, and she laughs again, loudly this time. Foreign objects, makes her think of losing things up her bum, for some reason, of having to go to A&E on a Friday night to have them surgically removed.

As it happens, she is not so far off the mark with that thought. ‘I am right, though,’ he says. ‘Aren’t I? You’re fascinated by objects, things that are foreign to you.’

She knows what he means now, sort of. It is true that she can get kind of obsessed with things. She will see something in a shop, something she doesn’t even need, and she won’t be able to stop thinking about it until she buys it. Her house, because of this, is filled with all kinds of nonsense.

‘I … I guess,’ she says. ‘Yeah, I guess that’s fair.’

‘I wanted to get you something,’ he says now, ‘something that I think will be foreign to you. Shall I show you?’

She has a bad feeling about this. ‘Sure,’ she says. ‘Show me.’

He pulls a carrier bag out from inside his satchel. She recognises the branding. Uh oh.

He hands it to her and she pulls out the object inside. She forces herself to smile, a big, bright, forced smile.

Of course it is something to put in her arse.

 

 

Waist

It has been six weeks since he last touched her. She dreams about fucking him, sure, but here are the other things she thinks about, too:

  • the way that when they’re eating at a restaurant and he goes to the Gents, he squeezes her shoulder tenderly before he sits back down
  • all the times he’s ever kissed her forehead
  • the way he smells, oh god, the way he smells
  • his empty wine glass on the bedside table
  • that curl that he can’t ever quite tame
  • dressing for him, all the way from the black lace knickers to the dusky pink lipstick
  • the way his chest gets all flushed after he comes
  • the anticipation at the station, as she waits for his train to pull in
  • the way he smacks her arse when she walks through a door in front of him
  • his hands pinning hers high above her head
  • the way that, when he wants to be inside her, he touches her waist, casually, as if he’s trying to get her attention
  • walking into a bar, alone, but knowing that he is already there, waiting

It has been six weeks since he last touched her, and fuck knows how many more it will be before he does again.

Vase

When the Robinsons come for dinner, which they do often. they always bring flowers. She wonders who buys the flowers. It could be him, sure, but she can’t imagine it – he doesn’t seem the type to hang around in Tesco, agonising over whether to choose the roses or the new season tulips.

She can’t imagine him agonising at all. He never does when he’s with her. With her he is surefooted, or sure-fingered, more like, whether he’s pinching her nipples or sliding them one, then two, then three inside her.

And so no, it doesn’t see likely that he chooses the flowers. But he manages to get his hands on them every time, because every time there’s a little post-it note from him folded down somewhere among them. Sometimes the note says something pretty sweet, I missed you this week, perhaps, or Can’t stop thinking about you. Other times – most times, truth be told – what is says is not sweet at all. I’d love to fuck your arse was one from a couple of weeks back, and there’s been one about coming all over her face, too.

That’s why she’s glad that Tom has never arranged a bunch of flowers in his life. It means that she can always take the bouquet, a big smile on her face and then have a moment to herself in the boot room as she puts the flowers in water and reads about whatever Matt wants to do to her this week.

Tonight the flowers are peonies. She loves peonies. But as she goes to take them from Susie – trying, the whole time, to read the expression on Matt’s face, to guess how filthy he’s feeling – the baby monitor roars into life.

Tom takes the flowers. ‘You go,’ he says, ‘it’s no problem. I know where to find a vase.’