How To Choose Gifts For Difficult People
Illustration by Mr Simone Massoni
Our guide to foolproof presents for the more awkward friends and members of family you have to buy for this Christmas.
The unfortunate thing about difficult people is that the world is positively full of them. Especially when it comes to gifting. In fact, by the time December hits, even the friends and relatives who normally bring nothing but joy to your heart can become utterly frustrating in their ability to flummox the generous lobe of your brain. Close relatives, like your parents or partner, that you know almost too well; far flung relations who you barely know at all. What on earth do you get them all? Typically, in such scenarios, people tend to end up buying gifts that are a) inappropriately extravagant b) inordinately boring or c) something that they just want for themselves. In case you’re wondering, none of the above is a good option. Instead, consider the below guide, which runs through a few key strategies you can employ to find a gift that is well and truly on-target, however elusive that target may be.
GET THEM SOMETHING THEY ALREADY HAVE
No, not literally. After all, who really wants two identical scarves, or shirts, or T-shirts? But if you examine the existing possessions of your intended giftee, you may find that there’s some wiggle room they can exploit. Do they often wear checked shirts? Buy them another one, in a different colour. Do they have a favourite fragrance? Introduce them to a new one that contains similar ingredients. It may feel a little unoriginal, but gifting in this way is actually rather thoughtful, as it shows that you’ve paid close attention to the giftee’s likes and habits.
GET THEM SOMETHING EDIBLE
Difficult people tend to dislike an awful lot of things that would otherwise make buying them presents easy. But if you’re buying for someone who’s already dismissed things like scented candles, fragrances, accessories, clothing and gadgets (ie, everything), then you should remind yourself of a simple fact: everyone has to eat. It would be a difficult person indeed, therefore, that balked at the sight of one of Fortnum & Mason’s splendid hampers on Christmas morning, filled as they are with delicious things to sip at and nibble upon and generally scoff. Whether you opt for the “Gentleman’s Adventure” model, containing a selection of luxurious treats, or the “Gentleman’s Staples” variety, which focuses on high-end versions of the basics every man should have in his kitchen, a hamper will drastically lessen the possibility of complaints from the difficult person in your life. In fact, we can assure you that it’s nigh-on impossible to moan when your mouth is stuffed full of “Sultry Smoky Nuts”.
TRUST IN CASHMERE
“Oh, not another cashmere sweater,” is a phrase you never hear uttered on Christmas morning, ever, even by the fantastically difficult. That’s because cashmere is warm, incredibly soft and long-lasting. What’s more, because of its relative expense, it’s also something that people might enjoy, but not necessarily get round to buying for themselves. On MR PORTER this holiday, there are a range of brilliant cashmere options, from the comparatively accessible (a pair of wool and cashmere gloves from Margaret Howell will cost you less than a trip to the pub) to the truly spectacular (specifically, the sweater in speckled mélange cashmere currently on offer from Ermenegildo Zegna). But we would also be remiss not to draw your attention to the exclusive capsule we created this season with Savile Row stalwart Hardy Amies, which offers an overwhelming array of cashmere options, from a classic crew-neck sweater that will suit anyone to perhaps the most attractively priced 100 per cent cashmere coat that you’re likely to find anywhere.