Deirdre Reynolds does the homework to help some clueless men decide what to pop in their loved one’s Christmas stocking.
SANTA isn’t the only man with a plan this Christmas.
Across the country, Irish men will be hoping to score some brownie points with their own Mrs Claus on Dec 25.
But while Santa has his own army of little helpers and ‘naughty or nice’ list to make sure everyone gets the perfect pressie, husbands and boyfriends here aren’t so lucky.
A new survey has revealed that men enjoy Christmas shopping for their partner about as much as a turkey looks forward to the festive season — with almost 40% completely clueless about their wife’s favourite perfume or bra size, according to Superdrug.
So it’s no surprise that in a Match.com survey, 60% of women in a long-term relationship said they had received a Christmas gift from their other half that they didn’t want or like.
Now in the spirit of the season of goodwill, we’ve got an early Christmas present for the men of Ireland that’ll make sure you’re not given the cold shoulder when you exchange yours.
Contrary to popular opinion, women aren’t complicated — when it comes to being showered with pressies, at least. And if she hasn’t already dropped hints about how her handbag is looking a little worse for wear or her favourite perfume is almost gone, there’s still time to rival the man in the red suit this Christmas.
“You can tell as soon as a man comes through the door whether he’s Christmas gift shopping for his wife or girlfriend,” jokes Emma Hartmann, manager of the Kilkenny Store in Galway.
“They usually look a little lost. It can be very difficult for them — so we have a great team of girls to hold their hand through the process. We also see a lot of women shopping for their mum or sister-in-law on behalf of their dad or brother.”
Designer handbags, luxury scented candles and handmade Irish jewellery are among the store’s most popular gifts for girls so far this yuletide, she says.
But whether your budget is €10 or €100, you still find a present fit for a princess.
Designer appeal: “Orla Kiely’s printed handbags — starting from €135 — are very easy for men to recognise this year thanks to Kate Middleton,” says Hartmann.
“If they know their girlfriend already has an Orla Kiely bag, some men have come in looking for a matching wallet.
“For those on a budget, there are also smaller items in the range, such as a mug for €10.95 or notepad for €17.95, so she can still get a designer gift.”
Bright jewel: As ever this Christmas, bling is a girl’s best friend — but that doesn’t mean you have to splash out on a rock the size of Jen’s engagement ring.
“The act of purchasing a stunning piece of jewellery is something that every guy will have to undertake sooner or later when he meets the perfect girl,” says Cork designer Vikki Shorten of VSL Jewelry.
“What your partner already wears will tell you a lot about what she would like to receive this Christmas.
“The contents of her jewellery box should provide plenty of clues as to whether she prefers gold, silver or diamanté.
“Go for pieces that match what she already owns,” she advises. “You can also use her jewellery collection to measure her ring size or preferred necklace length.”
Heaven scent: Perfume is another festive favourite she won’t turn her nose up at this Christmas.
“Before shopping for perfume for your other half, try to establish the most notable smell of her favourite perfume,” advises Shane Barron of PerfumeIreland.com. “That way, you can surprise her with a fragrance that’s new but smells similar.
“The scent which is picked up immediately is known as the ‘top note’,” he explains.
“Popular fragrance categories include floral (distinctly flowery), musky (usually stronger than floral and sweet), fruity (fresh and spicy — apple or berry) and green (natural smell like fresh leaves).
“Daisy by Marc Jacobs (floral), Miami Glow by Jennifer Lopez (musky), Ralph Wild by Ralph Lauren (fruity) and Miss Dior by Christian Dior (green) are some of our most popular gifts for women.”
Under cover: Stockings aren’t just things that hang by the fire this festive season.
“Irish men have gotten a bit braver about buying their loved one lingerie for Christmas,” says Roz Ellis of the Lingerie Room at Brown Thomas, Grafton Street.
“What makes men nervous is the idea that they’ll get it wrong.
“Men will come in and say, ‘She’s about your height’ — unfortunately, that’s not really helpful when it comes to buying lingerie.
“My advice is to have a little peep in the bottom drawer to see what size she wears in a particular brand.
“If she’s wearing a certain size Stella [McCartney] bra, for instance, the staff in here will know how that compares size-wise to different brands.
“Also pay attention to what kind of shape she wears,” adds Roz. “Is she a smooth cup lady or does she prefer underwire? “However, you want to make her feel special too. Luxury lingerie brands such as Aubade, Chantelle and Myla make really exceptional gifts.
“The most important thing is not to be afraid to ask for help.”
Web browser: Faced with an endless array of frilly things however, it’s little wonder that many men hide behind their computer screen at Christmas.
Irish shoppers are set to spend an average of €227 online this December, according to Visa Europe.
But this could be good news for WAGs, according to Erica Elliott of Pigsback.com.
“Printable pressies definitely appeal to men at Christmas. They avoid the hustle and bustle of the shops and can order presents sitting at the kitchen table.
“My husband has already turned to me on the couch and asked if there’s anything he can get me online — he no more wants to go to Grafton Street than the man on the moon.”
“One of the biggest benefits of e-shopping, though, is the savings,” says Elliott.
“One of our principal pressies for women is a weekend away,” she says.
“For example, we have a five-star overnight stay for two people for €119, including a bottle of prosecco, chocolate strawberries and late checkout.
“What woman would say no to that this Christmas?”
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