The Holiday Gifts You Can’t Buy Anywhere Else
The presents to get your loved ones, all exclusive to MR PORTER
Let me take you back to a Christmas past. Gathered around the tree, we watched in, seemingly slow-motion, as my grandfather unwrapped not one, not two, but three identical copies of Mr Bruce Springsteen’s then newly-published autobiography. He was, I suspect, under the influence of breakfast’s buck’s fizz, and so was rather good-natured about the ordeal and his subsequent dearth of presents. There were, however, several similar mishaps as the unwrapping progressed: cousins tossed aside Xbox games they already had; the artisan chocolates in my aunt’s stocking were the same ones she’d bought at Waitrose to have after dinner; two whole years later and none of us can even discuss The Great Apple TV Debacle of 2016. The rest of the day was, naturally, spent frantically combing the house for receipts.
This sort of thing happens at the holidays. Families travel from near and far, having spent little to no significant time together during the last 12 months, and duplicates and disappointments duly ensue. However, with some sage shopping (and perhaps, in my family’s case, consultation with relatives), it can all, merrily, be avoided. To aid you in this, we’ve handpicked some exclusive gifts that you can bet, with a reasonable degree of certainty, no one else will have placed under the tree. Why? Because you can only get them at MR PORTER. Read on for five of our favourites.
The advent calendar
In our younger and more impressionable years, having a chocolate with breakfast courtesy of a cartoon advent calendar felt inordinately luxurious. Today? Not so much. As a fully-grown adult (thank you very much), you can start the morning with an entire bar of chocolate should you wish. And while you may have experimented with a similar diet during exam season at university, we expect the novelty has very much worn off by now. Indulging in a grooming treat for a dozen days on the trot, however, is a far more inviting proposition. It’s also a rather practical antidote to the havoc December can reap on your skin, hair and nails. A combination of late nights, endless dos and over-imbibing leaves us all a little worse for wear. To remedy that, we’ve hidden some of our tried-and-tested lotions and potions from a host of our favourite brands – expect Le Labo, Buly 1803 and 111Skin – in each drawer ready to be eagerly opened in the run-up to the big day. We call it the 12 Days of Grooming for, well, obvious reasons.
Watches are timeless, and for that reason they’ve become the gifting gold standard. If you want the recipient to be wearing it for years to come, go for something classic; something that represents the antithesis of those peddled by Apple and their ilk. Timex’s Marlin is a surprisingly affordable option that’ll still score you plenty of points. It’s a reissue of an original 1960s reference and bears all the hallmarks of the era – a gold-tone case, domed crystal and hand-wound mechanism.
There’s good reason scarves, like socks, have become something of a go-to holiday gift. Scarves suit everyone. Scarves don’t require any sizing guesswork. And, best of all, scarves are warm. Which is precisely what all of us (or at least those of us who reside in the Northern Hemisphere) want to be at this most wonderful time of year. Begg & Co, one of MR PORTER’s more recent discoveries, has been making these wondrous rectangular strips of fabric since 1866. The brand’s Arran model has been a flagship since the 1970s and undergoes a dizzyingly complex finishing process to coax the cashmere to next-level softness. First, the yarns are brushed using hand-harvested Italian teasels washed in mineral water and then they’re pressed between copper-infused sheets of brown paper – a time-honoured technique used to enhance the fibres’ natural lustre. It’s a lot of effort, certainly, but you’ll appreciate the labour involved when you get your hands on the thing.
Smythson notebooks are always a hit. At meetings, practically everyone in the MR PORTER offices comes equipped with one (more often than not, they were happily received as presents last year) and we practically dole them out at birthday and leaving dos. They’re a failsafe; a go-to gift we advise stockpiling in the event you realise you’ve inadvertently missed someone off your list as the clock chimes 11.00pm on Christmas Eve. As is the case with so many things at this time of year, you can’t go wrong with a classic: the brand’s Panama journals have been used by all sorts of notable scribblers and scribes since 1908, and this set of two comes with a briefcase- and pocket-sized jotters. We wouldn’t judge if you decided to keep one of them for yourself…
The magnifying glass set
The “man who has everything” maxim is hyperbolic, sure, but it’s how we justify and modify our guilt when we can’t find the perfect present. When you’ve been scouring the internet’s four corners in an attempt to seek out something that puts everyone else’s gifts to shame, it’s easier to shift the blame to the tricky-to-buy-for customer. It’s not your fault; it’s his. Except, it’s not. Especially since you can just type “Lorenzi Milano” (or click this link) into the MR PORTER search bar and a whole host of novelties will be revealed. The Italian brand specialises in carefully-crafted contrivances, handmade by artisans using materials such as stag horn, mother-of-pearl and rare woods. Our selection includes a truffle shaver, a caviar knife and the ever-popular toothpaste squeezer. Does the recipient in question need a silver and carbon-fibre magnifying glass and ruler set, handsomely presented in a leather box? Not strictly speaking. But that doesn’t mean they won’t really really appreciate one.