Make no mistake, buying a winter coat is the most important purchase you’ll make this season. Scrap that, this is England after all; it is the most is the most important purchase you’ll make all year. Because first impressions count. Whilst your Christmas party outfits should be smokin’, your coat is often the first and only thing people will see. So choose wisely: from duffle coats, parkas and pea coats to trenches, options are endless. But, there is one topping our wish list – Jil Sander’s.
Coats were one of the label’s defining pieces in their autumn/winter 2012 collection. Some in milky coloured cashmere skimmed the floor, others with contrasting lining and collarless options; all elegant, minimal, sleek and very covetable.
Investing in this piece says you know all about the bomber jacket trending, you’ve thought about the rise of the puffa and plumped instead for a soon-to-be classic. Not simply something to keep the cold out and the rain off; this is a piece that won’t see the back of your wardrobe for seasons to come.
You can't buy this by Christa D'Souza
Everyone has a dream Christmas List. Mine might include an Azzedine shearling and a pair of Diane Kordas’ exquisite diamond and rose gold loops. Perhaps a Soft Trio bag from Céline, in red, the one from the spring/summer 2013 runway. Maybe a flesh-coloured one too. Possibly with my initials discreetly embossed on the inside.
Scary, isn’t it, the amount of nice things out there, which cry out to be bought. Where one exotic personalised Birkin bag is too many, a hundred is not enough. How exactly do the 0.01 per cent of the population who own three quarters of the world’s wealth know when to stop with all the customised limited-edition hand-stitched luxury product out there? I call it “material bulimia”. It ails us all, to a degree. The way we keep acquiring products in the hope they’ll fill the handbag/earring/shearling-sized holes in our hearts, even though time and time again, they never ever do. As Einstein is oft quoted, “that is the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and each time expecting a different result.”
Well, enough, already!
What about instead the present you cannot buy with one click, and have delivered the same day, tied up with a nice grosgrain ribbon? What about the things that truly fulfil our desires: Time, Youth, Love, Self-Belief. Self-Acceptance, Health, Patience. Mindfulness, Serenity, Concentration? How about a Sense of Gratitude as opposed to Dread, while in the shower each morning. There’s so much I want that cannot be bought! And if we are talking stocking fillers, what about a sense of rhythm or a retroactive ability to have understood Shakespeare as a child? What about the ability to sit through any play, without once thinking about what you want for your tea? Or losing yourself in the moment, the way you did playing as a kid. Wouldn’t it be great if you could wrap any of these “things” in Liberty Print paper and hang them at the end of a loved one’s bed? I’d be happy unwrapping plain old Happiness, for me, for my family, for my friends. But how does the perfect selfless no-present present manifest itself?
Here are our best ideas for giving happiness at Christmas this year. One or two might just appeal!
Mentor a Child
Become a role model, and inspire children from the poorest backgrounds to see a brighter future for themselves. Mentor through academic support and building of self-confidence to give a child a better chance at a life many take for granted. So buddy up – as a university undergraduate, or a high-flying scientist, publisher, lawyer or whatever-you-are – and show a child what it is to have aspirations and to achieve them.
For the time-poor, why not register yourself as a life-saving blood donor? In a world where 96 per cent of us rely on the other 4 per cent to give blood, we shouldn’t leave it to someone else. So long as you’re healthy and over 17 years old, simply register, qualify, and head to a local centre at a time that suits you. blood.co.uk
Or give a kidney!
Give a kidney to a stranger and change someone’s life forever. Take a bold first step into making this truly altruistic decision, by simply understanding more about it here: worldkidneyday.org, livingkidneydonation.co.uk
Live below the breadline
Like a personal challenge? Transport yourself into the shoes of one of the 1.4 billion people who live on a mere £1. Register for 2013 and sign up for the five day challenge to promote awareness and fundraise to fight extreme poverty. livebelowtheline.com
The Child Bereavement Trust
Support the parents and families who have experienced a loss most of us can barely face to imagine. The Child Bereavement Trust know that lives are shattered when a child dies, and believe that every single person affected deserves access to the support needed to rebuild their lives. Help their hard work reach more families through fundraising or donating. childbereavement.org.uk
When it comes to dearest friends, handmade, personalised gifts always touch the deepest. Take something you no longer use or need, and get creative! Whether making wind chimes out of old bells and feathers, or painting an occasional chair in fresh colours, use your imagination and/or the children!
Fuel for thought
“Food is for people, not cars.” If you agree with this statement in light of how many people go hungry each day, sign up to Action Aid’s call to end Biofuels that cause hunger. A critical issue that’s working its way into politicians’ agenda, sign up and join a modern cause to make a difference to our future. actionaid.org.uk
Donating to find a cure for any cancer is always a good deed done. Lyla Nsouli’s sudden diagnoses and sadly short life has surged the need for more research into brain cancer and its cure. The foundation set up in her name funds all kinds of brain cancer research projects with every penny that is donated.
Is the Dalai Lama available and how much does he charge? Well, yes, he is around next year, and no, you don’t need to bring a cheque. His holiness is scheduled for public appearances and talks in India, Switzerland and Australia. dalailama.com
Reprieve exists to fight the corner others neglect or prefer to forget: the human rights of the prisoner. Donations go straight to the frontline to aid prisoners who are in need of legal representation. Learn more and get involved here reprieve.org.uk
A Furry friend
A dog or cat quite completes the perfect family Christmas, and can become a happy companion for life. Why not re-home an animal through the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, or volunteer with one of three sites to help care for animals in need. battersea.org.uk
The Krug Institute of Happiness
All that goodwill makes a girl hungry! So why not spend your Christmas bonus on a trip to Krug’s exclusive dining experience? A chauffeured car will collect and drop you at 79 Swaines Lane, a beautiful contemporary house. There you will be treated to a delicious menu meticulously created by Michelin-starred Nuno Mendes, with each course, of course, paired with plenty of Krug. kruginstituteofhappiness.com
In bed with Tchaikovsky
Remember when we were all wearing our pyjamas as evening wear last year? Well this winter, our PJs are heading back to bed. Online retailer Avenue 32 has joined forces with Poplin to create a pair of pyjamas inspired by Tchaikovsky’s the Nutcracker. Poplin was launched by journalist Lucy Archibald in 2010 when, working from her home in India, she couldn’t find any suitable loungewear. So she created handprinted, charismatically old-fashioned collections that are reminiscent of the kind of pyjamas gentlemen would have traded their nightshirt for. For Poplin’s Christmas pair, we are taken to the ballet with the Nutcracker print across a button-down set that would make J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan characters proud. These are the only things we want to be slinking around in on Christmas morning.