There is no feeling like giving someone the perfect Christmas present. Though, have you ever wondered what your nearest and dearest would really like this season? In a time when we all greedily guard our time and attention, yours can be a bigger prize than the best-wrapped giftbox.
This Christmas we want our customers to Be Present. That means being generous with your time, your thoughts, and your affection as well as your money. Download our handy Be Present Checklist and give your friends, your family and your community the gift of yourself this year. Even better, get in touch and tell us how you made yourself the present.
Check back here every day for advice and inspiration!
Look at that photo above. Gorgeous winter landscape, two people out on a walk; it looks like the perfect December day.
Trouble is, I'm pretty sure the guy is on his phone. (we all recognise that crooked elbow pose, hand turned to show the screen).
Screen addiction is a real thing. A recent survey suggested that over a third of adults feels they use their phone too much. The figure rose to over 50% amongst 16-24 year olds. Aside from all the threats of anxiety and insomnia that come with digital addiction, it also means that you are probably missing out a lot on the world around you – and that can really put a dampener on Christmas day.
So, treat yourself and those around you to a digital detox this Christmas. Play a game, go for a walk, cook something. If you must look at a screen, make it the communal one in the front room and watch it together.
Spending time with loved ones over the festive period is a huge part of celebrations for many people. This Christmas reach out to friends, family, or just those that need some company. Why not use your time with Age UK to volunteer as a telephone befriender and change an older person's life for the better?
A Friend's Greeting, a poem by Edgar Guest sums up the importance of befriending below.
I'd like to be the sort of friend that you have been to me;
I'd like to be the help that you've been always glad to be;
I'd like to mean as much to you each minute of the day
As you have meant, old friend of mine, to me along the way.
I'd like to do the big things and the splendid things for you,
To brush the gray out of your skies and leave them only blue;
I'd like to say the kindly things that I so oft have heard,
And feel that I could rouse your soul the way that mine you've stirred.
I'd like to give back the joy that you have given me
Yet that were wishing you a need I hope will never be;
I'd like to make you feel as rich as I, who travel on
Undaunted in the darkest hours with you to lean upon.
I'm wishing at this Christmas time that I could but repay
A portion of the gladness that you've strewn along the way;
And could I have one wish this year, this only would it be:
I'd like to be the sort of friend that you have been to me.
Have you ever taken your presents upstairs on Boxing Day, only to find there is nowhere to stash your new haul? Get well ahead of the spring cleaning; if there is something you aren't likely to wear again, donate it to charity or a good cause.
In 2020 we'll be continuing our partnership with The British Heart Foundation, inviting our customers to donate their old gear to one of our in-store collections. In return you'll get a 15% discount to spend in store. Speak to one of our lovely staff when you are next in store to find out when the collection is starting up.
If you have a charity closer to your own heart, then that's great too. But just remember, wherever you donate, there will be someone, somewhere who will appreciate your old clothes as much as you do your newest outfit.
Christmas Spiced Shortbread
200g unsalted butter
85g caster sugar (preferably golden)
200g plain flour
85g ground rice or rice flour
2 tsp vanilla essence
½ tsp cinnamon (plus extra pinch for dusting)
Icing sugar for dusting
In a large bowl, mix the softened butter, vanilla essence, cinnamon and sugar with a wooden spoon. Stir in the rice flour the plain flour until it forms a smooth dough ball.
Lay baking paper on a baking sheet. Flatten the ball of dough onto the paper. Dust with flour and roll out further with a wooden rolling pin. It should now form a large circle.
Lay a round plate or cake-tin on top of the dough. Cut around the outline to trim the dough into a perfect circle. At this point you can bake the shortbread in a large round, or shape into smaller biscuits.
Cover with film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180C / 160C fan / gas mark 4. Cook in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Note – if you are cooking in a single round the shortbread may take a few minutes longer.
Dust with icing sugar and extra cinnamon.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of getting your work done before you wrap up for Christmas, but don’t burn yourself out pre-festivities! Take time away from your desk on your lunch break to unwind, and catch up with colleagues.
Not only will you spend quality time with friends, there are a surplus of benefits to powering down for an hour. By going somewhere new on your lunch break, your brain will release dopamine, or the “happy-hormone”, due to the different environment, therefore boosting your mood. Research has also shown that if you take a short walk during your lunch, you can find an increase in not only your concentration, but motivation too!
Christmas is a time of excess and we love it that way. One more chocolate, another drink, that extra present under the tree. It's easy to forget the impact your shopping and consumption can have on the environment, though.
There are endless ways to reduce your carbon footprint. If you want to splash the cash on your loved ones, consider buying fewer presents but make them count! Choose high quality clothing and gear that will last for years to come. We sell a lot of that ourselves.
Shop with sustainable or socially responsible businesses. It only takes a little bit of research to ensure that your hard-earned cash is going to a deserving place.
Also, shopping locally is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. A locally made, bespoke gift is often much more delightful than a mass-produced gadget with more air-miles than the RAF. Plus, it helps support your local community, so the giving goes both ways.