LIFE | No gift guides


I hate gift guides.

The closest I’ve come this year is writing about the Body Shop’s Christmas releases, which I guess is a gift-guide of sorts as it suggests giving them as Christmas presents, but that’s all you’re getting.

This time of year they’re the only things any blogger is publishing. (This isn’t directed at anyone specific, by the way, and if you don’t find humour in exaggeration, you can leave). Gift guides for you, for your mother, for your boyfriend, luxury gift guides, affordable gift guides, who fucking cares.

The contents of these gift guides tend to fall into a couple of categories.

Things for the very specific demographic making up that blog’s readership

This is pretty common. It’s your beauty gifts. The Natasha Denona Star Palette, a Byredo perfume, whatever. They look nice all together in a flat lay and they’re expensive and maybe you could ask your parents or your partner for them but realistically you’re going to buy them yourself so you can get the loyalty points on your account and they’d probably pick the wrong one anyway. You get excited about Christmas being about giving but also about receiving and about spending money with less critical thought than any other time of year. They are gifts for you (I’ll come back to this).

Christmas gift sets

These are the worst. The absolute worst. Most bloggers’ gift guides are almost exclusively items or sets that brands are putting out specifically for the “Holiday” season. This is your Hourglass ambient whatever palette that’s in a beautiful marble compact but actually that shit’s plastic and the pans are fucking tiny and you’ve still got the original Ambient Lighting Palette from however many years ago with one powder panned and the others barely touched. Or the Too Faced holiday collection that is simultaneously marketed towards children (because who else would want that tacky babyish packaging) but it costs an arm and a leg and comes with a mascara called Better Than Sex so you probably shouldn’t give it to your twelve-year-old cousin after all. Not to mention half the time the quality of these sets is piss poor.

Sometimes the sets are better value for money than buying one of the component items on its own. But how many people actually wear liquid eyeliner, apart from you and your one other friend who’s really into beauty? How many people would actually use twenty different lip colours, even if they are balmy-ish? You know that your mother only wears one shade of lipstick and all your aunt’s makeup fits into a toilet bag. Who are these gifts even for, except for yourself? And remember that Tarte palette you were dying for last year and is now either in the bottom of a drawer or gone after you sold it on a Facebook group?

Gift guides for men

Toiletries in either grey or “tough” packaging, from brands you’ve never heard of. And maybe a wallet. And some novelty plastic toy that’s inevitably USB powered or “techy”. The men in your life deserve better. Everyone in your life deserves better.

PR samples

Don’t forget that all of the above are PR samples and the blogger is including them because the PR company did a nice special send out for Christmas with balloons or cookies or something and they want to stay on their list for next year. The blogger has forgotten what a realistic Christmas budget is like because they get sent these two hundred dollar eyeshadow palettes and fancy candles and complete product ranges for free all the time, and gift-giving is easy for them, because they just wrap up what they haven’t opened.

Basically what I’m saying is all you’ll find in these gift guides is encouragement to ask for these things for yourself for Christmas—not thoughtful suggestions for gift-giving for people close to you. You know these people best. Think about what’s special to them, or useful to them.

Blogging in December stresses me out, and Christmas stresses me out too. This was a nice way to vent some of that. I hope everyone’s having a good December and is having a better time of it!

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  • Arrabella Bolter

    Awesome anti-consumerism content! Congrats on crossing off even more PR companies, I admire your tenacity! I watched a really cool vid along these lines too: https://youtu.be/BYPBsX5wPUw
    The only thing gift sets are good for is breaking up and giving individually, which I did with a Chi Chi lip trio last year 😉

  • Alys Persson

    Completely agree. I actually really dislike Christmas, my friends are all “oh you’re such a Grinch!!” I always hated getting stuff when I was little and having to pretend to like it. “Oh gee thanks…. for the socks.” Ugh. I only buy for my really close friends, and just something small. Like maybe a bottle of ILNP polish that I know they’re too cheap to buy for themselves but I know they’ll love it. Or I made my own gift set from The Body Shop because it was so ridiculously on sale and I know my other friend can’t afford to splurge on stuff like that. And I don’t wrap either. I just hand it over, “here.”

  • This was *good*. As Arrabella said, the sets are good for breaking up: I made… something like a care package for each of my friend – a cute makeup/whatever bag, filled with individually wrapped weird/new bonbons and lollipops, fancy soap and a fancy lipgloss, from a big set, in a colour that’s not me, but it’s *so* them.

  • OMG. Where have you been my whole life? This post is GLORIOUS. I hate gift guides too and felt pressured to throw them up on the blog due to the deluge of holiday products I receive from PR companies. Like, seriously! Have you ever, EVER bought anything from a gift guide? LOL! Keep on keeping’ on, girl.

    • Aha thank you, I’m glad you liked it!