I finally made a start on my Christmas shopping gift list this week (I know this is ahead of time for all the last-minute types, but I’m normally organised pretty well in advance…).

Christmas shopping got me thinking. As a stylist I love to buy my loved ones clothes, sometimes bags and jewellery, but even I know no matter how well I know them and how great I think my mum would look in a tribal print kaftan, sometimes they’d just prefer to choose a gift that is the kind of thing they would like themselves.

I have given and received a lot of gifts of clothing, handbags, jewellery, pjs, hats, scarves, you name it, over the years, some of which have been great, both given and received, and some of which, lets say, could have benefited from a little more thought.

So I thought I’d share some lessons learnt in this process, as well as some ideas on how to get it right.

The good:

* Scarves

For one, you can never have too many scarves (and I mean the good kind, anything from a versatile Witchery number to something divine from Hermes)

* PJs

Pretty difficult to get wrong, if you know your friend/relative well enough, pyjamas are a nice gift in the realm of apparel. It only gets inappropriate when you’re buying lingerie for anyone other than your lady love. This has happened. I prefer not to talk about it…

The bad:

* Gift vouchers

Opinion is divided on this. I’m not a big fan of the gift voucher unless it’s for your staff (who don’t expect much personal or individual thought to have gone in to your gift) or it’s something that’s been specifically requested. Something chosen personally for someone always carries more meaning in my mind.

* Clothes

Buying clothes for anyone other than your very nearest and dearest (and even then) is fraught. So many things can go wrong – get the wrong size and that can be just plain offensive no matter which end of the spectrum you head, choose something you think is just their style and it’s not, well, you don’t know me at all. It’s better to steer clear here unless you know exactly what you’re doing.

The ugly:

* Crafts

You know when you find yourself at one of those Christmas markets with the tacky crafts (this is a generalisation, there are some lovely things, but some shockers too) and you just want to support the small business people so you buy something then struggle to find someone to think of to give it to. Well, my advice is think carefully about this one. A stripy crochet credit card holder seems so practical at the time but there’s a limit to the extent ‘home made’, ‘unique’, and ‘special’ will score you points. Home made fudge though, never pass that up.

Now of course it goes without saying gifts should be received in good spirit just as they were chosen, so take it easy on anyone who may endow you with your own version of sartorial nightmares this festive season, they’re just doing it out of love.