It’s the tricky season of gift buying; how much to spend, and possibly overspending, but with a home interiors gift you can blend practicality with something lovely, writes Carol O’Callaghan.
Who hasn’t heard of the monumental faux pas made by the Three Wise Men, who pitched up at the stable with gold, frankincense and myrrh for a newborn baby, with not a bag of nappies nor a three-pack of vests between them?
Wise, you say? Let’s hope they at least had a gift receipt for that selection with the option for cashback, ideally.
Think practical and useful and it’s much less likely what you thought was the perfect gift will wend itself in the direction of the charity shop in January.
This, of course, makes gifts for the home the business, combining something useful with a lovely aesthetic, and it’s not just an idea for the interiors obsessed.
To get started, a little tip a retailer gave me a few years ago when I bemoaned the thought of having to face the throngs in pursuit of gifts was, if you’re shopping in a department store with several floors to start at the top.
It tends to be the least busy so you can mosey around without navigating clutches of fellow shoppers.
Also, shop early in the morning.
After that, we all know the shopping maxim, buy what you love yourself (I’ll take a gift voucher instead, thank you), but how can we be certain that what we’re buying suits the taste of the recipient?
To avoid humming and hawing over whether to choose a pink throw or a blue (pink for me, please!), interior designer Sinead Cassidy — a woman of infinite taste, having renovated her own home and plenty of others with style and practicality — has some solid advice on how to tackle this tricky subject.
“The major consideration is understanding the personality of the recipient and what their décor style could be categorised into - contemporary, traditional, Scandi, minimalist or eclectic.
"With such an abundance of beautiful interior accessories presented in stores, try next to narrow it down to what room you want to have fun sourcing an interior themed gift for.
"Are you going to go festive and select an item that comes out once a year but is treasured and very much synonymous with the giver?
“Think lovely Christmas table linen, red glassware or a miniature tree accessory with lights.
"Maybe go all out Christmas cliché with a large double light Christmas star, or a velvet robin appliqué cushion so you will be the perennial reminder of all that is good taste.
“If you want to play it safe and you’re not 100% sure of the décor style at play, a very stylish aluminium plant pot can be filled with a faux snow topped miniature pine tree and it adds an immediate presence of Christmas.
"Best of all, the aluminium plant pot can be used all year around with assorted foliage and flowers.”
Sinead adds that if you want to give something other than seasonal, there are endless possibilities but with a caveat.
“You need to tailor to your recipient and how well you know their home and what could work.
"Small scale sets of mirrors are always a great option and they can work in most contemporary and eclectic spaces.
“They’re also less personal than art. An unfussy floor lamp is another reasonably risk-free gift and great in a minimalist setting.”
Added to this is her suggestion for supporting craft makers.
“Some really nice table lamps available to order could be versatile in living areas or bedrooms.
"Cork Craft and Design have a divine vintage cube table lamp at the moment with a stunning oak cube base.
“But if you’re really ahead of the game for 2020, you could commission a free-standing piece of furniture like nice fireside boxes that are made to measure and painted or upholstered in a choice of colour and fabric.
"Commission a bed runner using a unique fabric or a table cloth.
"Maybe your gift will be the catalyst for a whole new look in the new year ahead.”
Luxury gift-wrapping service Wrapsody says, “Personalise your wrapping. Think about the passions of the person you are giving to.
"Wrap using maps for a travel junkie, recipes for a foodie, or pages from a glossy magazine for a fashionista.
"It’s also much more eco-friendly and cheaper than buying wrapping paper."