How to choose the perfect present

Selection of gifts by John Lewis & Partners
Maggie Westhead,-Digital Editor

Does someone special have a birthday coming up? If you want to get them a gift they’ll cherish, read on...

Buying a special gift, particularly if it’s an important birthday like a 21st, 40th or 70th, isn’t always easy. We live in an age where everyone seems to have everything, and the challenge to find something original is greater than ever. We asked stylists and fashion editors how to bag the ideal gift. Get it right and there’s no lovelier feeling.

A selection of John Lewis & Partners gifts

Gifts for her

Think beyond the clichés. Flowers and chocolates have their place, but there are times when a little more thought is required. ‘Have a budget and stick to it,’ says Jo Jones, fashion editor at The Observer. ‘Avoid grabbing an expensive present you haven’t thought about. Make a mental note of all the things your recipient would love but perhaps wouldn’t necessarily buy for themselves – the John Lewis & Partners personalised monogrammed pyjamas (out soon) or a well-picked cashmere piece are good options. Pampering bath products in an eye-catching bottle, like Laura Mercier’s Almond Coconut Milk Honey Bath, are also good all-rounders. Top of my gifting list is jewellery, for example a charm that’s personal and will last forever. Fashion-conscious friends will love something from the new Kin range.’

Gifts for him

A good starting point is to think about your recipient’s interests and write a list of 10 things they love – it could be golf, yoga, music, travel or food. As well as helping shape what you’ll buy them, it’s a fun exercise in recognising who they are and what they’re into. ‘The best gift for a man is one that speaks to his tastes, dreams, ambitions and desires,’ explains Alfred Tong, trend forecaster and author of The Thinking Man’s Guide To Life (Hardie Grant). ‘What type of person is he? Contrary to popular belief, lots of men are perfectly happy with socks. I love the luxurious feel of these cashmere and silk socks by John Lewis & Partners.’ A classic aftershave and leather wallet also often go down well.

Gifts for children

A common mistake is to buy children the latest toy that every other child wants. As any parent with a few birthdays under their belt will testify, this is not always the key to long-term happiness. It’s much better to choose one well-thought-out gift that encourages activity and interaction. Perhaps it’s a classic book you know they don’t have, a sewing kit if they are interested in crafts, or their first proper football. ‘In an age where everyone is so busy and lost in digital, the gifts that kids will treasure are the ones that create memories,’ says kidswear stylist Yvadney Davis. ‘Spending quality time together through interactive and creative gifts will feel less throwaway and more special.’

Gifts for baby

The key thing to remember when buying gifts for babies is that you are, in fact, buying a gift for the parents. Think about something they will find useful and aesthetically pleasing. A good bet is to think practical and personal. ‘Consider the friend’s situation,’ says kids’ stylist and blogger, Charlotte Kewley. ‘Do they need practical gifts or will they have all the essentials covered? Is it a second – or third – child? If so they probably have a lot of baby products and would maybe prefer a luxury gift for themselves. Or is a thoughtful keepsake more appropriate? If you’ve had a baby yourself, think about what you would have loved to receive personally.’

All products in the images are from our specially curated Find, Keep, Give collection.

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