The rain lightly drizzled on A’s windowpane, the sound of cars revving up their engines, as they speed through slippery streets. She sighed, the sound of police cars, wasn’t the most relaxing sound, nor was the sound of traffic at 3 o’clock in the morning. But she should have known what she was getting herself into, renting a flat out on the high street. If there was any solace it was the thought of a mindful self-care Christmas, where she could unwind, and relax with her family, and friends, an escape from the big city of London. She loved London, don’t get it twisted, but every now again, she’d crave an adventure, away from work, and the shackles that tied her to the big smoke. Unlike last year, where she spent the festive season in lockdown, she would be with loved ones, a small gathering that was COVID-safe, blisfully at peace. Before she knew it, the breath of Christmas was upon her, merely a shadow away, and she smiled, peace would be here soon. But what would she get her female loved ones? And so came the idea for a Christmas Gift Guide for her, wrapped up in a glossy shiny red bow.
There would be Vegan Christmas ready fragrances from Dolma, gloriously poignant, a cruelty-free sniff, laced with promise. She could imagine her cousin N, a fragrance enthusiasts face, as she was given Dolma’s gift set, lost in a wonderland of all things scented. Scent, was a huge part of A’s Christmas gift guide for her, given that she herself loved how scents could transport you into a new world, escapism from reality at its finest. It was calming, it helped you feel good, and most of all made you smell 100% delicious. With all the New Year’s Eve festivities, she knew that fragrances, would be a huge part of a lady’s mindful self-care routine. Whether it was lighting stunning candles from Scentered, engorging themselves in Natropathica’s incredible skincare range, or even the natural scent of Neek’s vegan lipsticks, the women’s senses would be engaged.
A being a physical person, loved using all her senses, and was often delighted when people gave gifts that invited satisfying ASMR. The rustle and crinkling of the presents, as they were ripped open, the shake of a box, as you tried to figure out your present. And finally, when you unwrapped your beloved gift, the surprise of finding out what was inside. The munch crunch of a beautifully illustrated Playin Choc chocolate puzzle box, the rattle of a Tigernut baking box. That in particular made you whistful, picturing what it would have been like to have baked with your parents, baking cookies, and gingerbread men. But alas, that childhood fantasy never came to fruition, and the dynamic of a ‘perfect family life’ never existed. After all, we all know what happened to A, growing up. But instead of being a Cinderella story, the trauma was used to strengthen her into a warrior. She baked gingerbread men with her partner, and envisioned making them with her kids, when she was blessed with them, impish smiles on their faces.
The smell of gingerbread would waft enticingly, A’s mouth watering as she poured a glass of red Pepperbox wine, heavily spiced to compliment the ginger. An unlikely combo, the adult and childlike naiveity, but a delectable snack and tipple that paired beautifully. It wasn’t just A that adored red wine too, her Aunt too had an affinity, often enjoying a glass or two together, as they relaxed on the couch. Alternating between port and red wine, they would enjoy the rare times that A would be able to come back home and visit, fresh plump olives infused with lemon. Soon A would be reunited with her beloved Aunt, and cousin, and knew that the latter would be expecting snacks that they could gorge on during Christmas day. Popcorn Shed was the must have option, Christmas pudding so vividly flavoured, sweet and fruity, spicy and boozy. And who could forget the cookies and cream, chocolate caramel popcorn with cookie crumb pieces, deliously moerish.
From fashion, to food and drink, beauty, and even games, there were incredible Christmas gifts for women that were oh so lovely. A loved the baby blue cotton embellished cardigan from Paul James Knitwear, worn stylishly with Valentina Karella’s vegan knitted beanie, especially as the winter chill was setting in, Storm Barra, whipping up a frenzy. Effortlessly cozy, both pieces would be suitable for any elegant lady, who wanted to wrap up in the cold. Paired with a matching faux fur blue scarf, tapered blue trousers, baby blue boots, and a vegan blue beret, she would be a vision in monochromatic blues this Christmas day. As far as A was concerned, all her loved ones needed equisite gifts from Paul James, and Valentina Karellas. In fact, she vowed to reccomend them to anyone she met, a range of styles to suit all tastes.
Accessories, jumpers, knitwear, and fashion finds galore, A loved winter fashion, and how looks could be layered, while keeping warm. And yet, there were the times where the festive season would call for beautiful ‘evening wear’, fabulous dresses, jumpsuits, and trousers dancing in a row. A, had recently found BuyCharity, a fantastic online store supporting charities like Age UK, home to women’s and men’s fashion. She was surprised by the stunning range of clothing, sunshine yellow flamenco ruffle dresses, dancing with stonewashed denim midi skirts. A nautical striped midi dress, that made A yearn for warmer climes, a beautiful art tote bag, effortlessly chic. Given that A gave to multiple charities each month, she loved supporting a brand that donated to Age UK’s across the country, given how diseases like Dementia, Alzheimers, and mental health issues had affected her elderly family, past, and present. A beloved family friend, died many years ago from Dementia, and A felt proud to support a brand like theirs, in her name. After all, it was the season of giving, so what could be a better gift than charity, in this Christmas gift guide for her?
As the weeks drew nearer to Christmas day, and the weeks turned into days, she could smell the excitement in the air. Festive goers frantically wrapping Secret Santa presents, Christmas parties joyfully boozing. The scent of perfume being sprayed in Boots, as people clutched bags of gifts, boxes overflowing. Adults whooping, decked out in magical sequin skirts, a plush faux fur jacket on top, waiting at train stations for their Christmas adventure to begin. Mulled wine grabbed greedily at Winter Wonderland, the screech of laughter on rides, sparkling in the moonlight. For though the days were shorter, and the nights were longer, despite the frosted chill, people were glad for the festive season to begin, eagerly shopping, partying, and relaxing, relaxed contentment on their faces. And that’s exactly the vibe that A was after too, a Christmas gift guide for her, that would be just at home in a Yogi’s home, as it would be in a party girl’s pad, the Christmas tipples lined up in a delectable row.
But what would you choose?
Skincare, Fragrances And Beauty
A was a girly girl, who had Tomboy sensibilities. A woman who would be beautifully dressed and elegantly presented, with a potty mouth of a sailor. Loud, bubbly, and opinionated, A was never afraid to speak her mind, and had a crude, in your face sense of humour, that was definitely not delicate. A, was never one to shy away from being authentically herself, and made a vow to be true to who she was. But what did skincare, and beauty have to do with A’s personality? Well, it conveyed how she felt, and who she was in the moment. She liked people’s reactions, almost shocked at the juxtaposition between the way she spoke, and the way that she looked. Even D, A’s partner of almost three years, had thought she would be ‘precious’ and ‘snobby’ just from her photos, and soon discovered that she was the complete opposite. She was down to Earth yet unafraid to be opionated. Fashion-obsessed, but also with her head in a book, from her personal library. A beer in one hand, a glass of wine in the other. After all, in A’s mind, skincare, fragrance and beauty, was not only ageless, but also genderless. From Neek Natural Lipsticks, to ByQuanna CBD Lube, A had a treat for those who liked beauty-must haves, that were a little different. Just like her.
Dolma Perfumes Discovery Box Set
When A had first become cruelty-free, it had been hard for her to find a good quality perfume, that was as kind to animals as she was. She had nailed good quality sprays, and deodrants, but alas, finding a vegan perfume seemed like finding a needle in a haystack. As time went on, new brands popped up, who breathed ethical beauty, offering vegan makeup, skincare, and bath time luxury goods. She searched high and low, for the ultimate cruelty-free fragrance too, and found some delicious fragrances, that made their way into A’s home. From Eden Perfume, made with vegan essential oils, to The Body Shop, there were cruelty-free retailers, you just had to know how to find them. So imagine A’s delight when she discovered Dolma Perfumes, a vegan and cruelty-free brand, who offered ethical fragrances and skincare. Without a shadow of a doubt they belonged in A’s ultimate Christmas gift guide for her.
It was the Discovery Box Set that would be the chosen one, with 12 delectable fragrances waiting to be explored. From Amethyst Mist, to Calista and Compassion, there were a range of fragrances to tickle her fancy. But what would she think of all these minis? Amethyst Mist was harmonious and light, with wood notes of cedarwood, sandalwood, patchouli and vetiver. Complemented with white floral accents of ylang-ylang. and heritrope, this was contrasted with tangy ginger, mandarin, cardamon and clove. Warming yet light, it reminded A of the scents she would find at a spa, oh so uplifting. On the opposite end of the spectrum was the flirty Anahita, which funnily enough was one of A’s nicknames. Fruity, soft and poetic, Anahita had fruity notes of peach, and lemon, which led to a white floral heart of carnation, and ylang-ylang. Spicy notes mingled with a comforting harmony of sandalwood and cypress.
As for Cushi B? It reminded her of her favourite burgundy jumper, soft, warm and cuddly, wrapped in an enticing scent.Cardamom and cinnamon accentuated lively tones of lime and orange, which rested on a floral heart of geranium, ylang-ylang, and patchouli. A floral creation with a twist of spice, it was the perfect Christmas scent, that smelt amazing. A’s favourite though had to be Sun Joy, that made her feel confident, and powerful. Embodying girl power, it was a modern sensual fragrance, with a woody base that opened up to fresh notes of citrus, palm, rose and freesia. Playfully vigourous, it was the ultimate scent for Christmas, particularly winter dates with your other half, drinks with the girls, or even in the lead up for NYE, when you wanted to be a bad ass QUEEN. As far as A was concerned, the fragrances offered something unique for its wearers. From full-bodied, to light, floral, spicy, sweet, and tangy scents, the fragrances were in one word…heavenly.
LOVE Travel Aromotherapy Candle
Speaking of scents, what could be a more magical Christmas gift for her, than an Aromotherapy Candle, from Scentered blissfully fragrant? A warm and comforting LOVE blend, it was ideal for Queens who were into mindful self-care on the go. Taking care of our wellbeing after all, is incredibly important, particularly at Christmas, when the days are long and hectic. With Scentered’s Travel candle, it allowed its user to rebalance and reconnect emotionally, whether that was connecting with others, or ourselves. For A, it made a great Christmas gift because it reminded us to look after ourselves, even during the festive season. Though we might be working less, it would be all too easy, to fill that gap with endless chores, when Christmas called for peace and relaxation. A hadn’t had a day off in a while, and agreed that taking some time out at Christmas was much needed.
A woody oriental scent, the Aromotherapy Candle had top notes of Orange, and Clove, with heart-warming Rose and Ylang, Ylang to increase emotional connectivity. Paired with rich woody base notes of grounding, and calming Patchouli, Vanilla, Cedarwood, and Cabrueva, A’s loved ones agreed that this would be the ideal gift for the ‘her’ in their lives. Why? Because it was wonderfully fragrant, well-priced, and smelt, and looked amazing. Moreover, they heralded its ability to allow them to meditate peacefully, transported into a clear, and calm mindset. They felt grounded, centered, and most of all, effortlessly tranquil. Made from a custom blend of natural waxes, it was also sustainably sourced and non-GM. But what did that mean? Well, it used pure essential oils for a clean burn and natural fragrance, and was also cruelty-free. It was the perfect candle for spreading joy, and happiness in a loved one’s home, helping them find purpose, meaning, and clarity in their lives.
With a burn time of 18 hours, it had a warm and sensual scent, that made it great for date nights too. Helping set the mood, it was a relaxant, that would prepare you and your other half for a night in with cuddles, and kisses. You could almost picture it now, the log fire crackling expectantly, a cozy Christmas film like Love Actually in the background. Toasting each other to good health and happiness, a glass of heady spiced red wine, fragrant with promise. You could taste it on each other’s lips, while you fed each other Raspberry Macaroons, a thicky creamy ganache waiting to be tasted.
Neek Natural Lipsticks
A was passionate about ethical and beauty, and strictly used cruelty-free products, no matter how hard or easy it was to find. After all, she didn’t want to use products that would make animals suffer, and from makeup, to fragrances, right through to skincare, A would always do her due diligence. And she wasn’t the only one, she would often have readers who shared their cruelty-free journey’s with her, inspired by her own progress, and commitment to protecting animals. So naturally, she had to introduce them to Neek, a natural, vegan lipstick brand made beautifully in Australia. Coloured naturally using micas and pigments (not synthetic dyes), their kipsticks were incredibly nourishing and moisturising. For those who had dry, chapped lips like A, Neek’s lip balm base was made from Shea Butter, Jojoba and Avocado Oils for nourishment. With sweet orange peel oil for soothing and healing sore lips, A always felt like her lips felt better after using Neek.
With 12 beautiful shades in a satin, mattme creamy matte, and sheer finish, A had three favourite lipsticks from Neek that she was dying to share. Pash, a best-selling dusty pink, was the one she thought her audience would like the most, although her actual favourite was Friday on my Mind. Still Pash was a beaut, a satin lipstick, that was versatile and wearable. With a hint of mauve, the long-lasting formula was effortlessly gorgeous, and would make a beautiful addition to anyone’s Christmas gift guide for her. Whether you were makeup obsessed, or looking for a gift for others, Neek definitely had you covered. Friday on my Mind on the other hand was a semi-matte berry brown lipstick. A day-to-night lipstick, it had more depth, and colour than the other lipsticks, ideal for those like A who adored bright and bold pouts.
For those who liked a natural, kissable hue, Fallin, was another best-seller. A pretty plum rose in a semi-matte finish, Fallin was made from 100% natural, and vegan ingredients. Whether you wanted to wear it on Christmas day, on New Years Eve, or on Christmas Zoom call with your loved ones, it was amazingly versatile. It’s natural finish meant it was a lippy, that looked as though you weren’t wearing makeup, but still elevated your natural beauty, as you glowed in the cold throes of winter. Somehow it made your lips seem glowy, dewy, and effortlessly plump. In short it was a lipstick that dreams were made of.
Oomf All Natural CBD Lube
When it came to beauty, women’s sexual health was often bypassed. Why? Because people felt uncomfortable discussing sex with their female friends, loved ones and even partners. But here’s the T, there is no shame in having a healthy, and open discourse around sex, and sexual health. When A was growing up, to talk about sex, was often seen as a ‘hush hush’ taboo topic, and the fact that she was so open about sex, sexual fantasies, and masturbation, was often met with surprise, fear and even at times disgust. She couldn’t believe that people were so grossed out about something so natural, and as wonderful as female pleasure.
Which is why she made it her mission to highlight women’s sexual health products in her Christmas gift guide for her. After all, women should be able to comfortably talk about sex. Which is where Oomf by Quanna comes in. With natural and sustainable sexual health products infused with CBD, their all natural CBD Lube, came reccomended by A. Not only was she a fan of CBD, but she also found that many lubes irriated her, because of her sensitive prone skin. And yet Oomf was incredibly gentle, a water-based lubricant infused with premium-grade organically grown CBD. With a blend of hydrating plant-based ingredients, preobiotics and CBD, it helped keep a natural pH balance, and was adept at preventing unpleasant side effects. Unlike other lubes it was also free from nasties such as paraben, glycerin, and alcohol.
Whether she used it for her own pleasure, or during sex with her partner, the CBD was adept at increasing her pleasure while alleviating discomfort. This was particularly useful during deeper positions, and helped increase sensitivity during sensitive moments. With a consciously vegan, and sustainable formula endorsed by gynaecologists in the UK, she could feel the tensions melting away, as the lube had superior glide and comfort. Not only did it not irritate her, but she loved the warm tingling sensation that Oomf gave her, promoting blood flow. Plus the water based formula meant higher bioavailability, and had a faster absorption of CBD for more immediate results. Unlike other lubes which would often leave a mess on the sheets, Oomf was discreet, with no post-coital clean-up needed.
Fashion And Accessories
A was fashion obsessed, there was no ifs, or buts about it. Ever since she was able to choose her own clothes, and was earning her own money, she would put together colour, and inventive combinations that would have strangers stopping her in the streets, and asking her where her clothes were from. She was a budget queen through, and through, and loved high-street brands growing up, but learnt to invest in key pieces in winter like coats, jumpers, cardigans, and jewellery, that would elevate her winter fashion looks. From beautiful knitted vegan beanies from Valentina Karellas, to knitted cardigans from Paul James Knitwear, A had the winter classics covered. Accessories, cozies, and the party dresses were covered, with the four stunning brands that she had highlighted in her Christmas gift guide for her.
A was commited to supporting a minimum of two charities a month, and no matter how financial circumstances, she would always do her bit to help. Whether it was providing food and drink to the homeless, fundraising for animal charities, or supporting cancer charities, she was passionate about helping others. She might not have grown up with a lot, but she always knew that there were others that were less fortunate than her. Which is why she was excited to partner with BuyCharity, and raise awareness, who were donating money to Age UK. A supported Age UK, Lakeland, the nearest to her, and was proud to show her readers why they should also buy from BuyCharity. A unique online Charity shopping platform, supporting Age UK, meant that you were helping older people make the best choices for later life. Not only did they help tackle loneliness, but they also helped support people to stay independent for longer.
Seeing loved ones going through cancer, dementia and Alzheimers at a later age, without support, was often hard to see, and A wished that they had a charity like Age UK to make the most of their life, in their later years. With female fashion, accessories, and even video games, BuyCharity was the ideal brand to add to a Christmas gift guide for her. But what would A choose? There would be a yellow flamenco ruffle dress from the Michelle Keegan collection, paired with a red patent belt, red flower crown, and red heeled sandals, for an alternative Christmas party dress. A classic red scuba wrap midi dress, with dramatic plumed sleeves would be beautiful for Christmas day, while an orange faux leather bag from Zara, would be the perfect tote bag. Paired with her new diamond earrings, she would look like an elegant Christmas Queen.
And yet, she looked to warmer climes too, a beautiful nautical striped cotton sundress from Mango, that would look gorgeous on a beach holiday to Greece next year, complemented by a Monet impressionist painting Tote, that had a rustic, yet creative vibe. A could hardly believe that BuyCharity had such gorgeous finds, and brought Christmas gifts from them, for her loved ones too. There would be handbags for friends who were obsessed with accessories, and dainty vintage teapot sets, for 50’s icons. Jigsaw puzzles for the logic queens, and noise cancelling headphones for the technology maven. Whether the woman in your life loved fashion, wanted home interior goodies, or was after entertainment, BuyCharity had a gift to suit any taste.
The Diamond Store
When it came to diamonds, they were undoubtably a girl’s best friend. Why? Because they were opulent, breathtaking to look at, and made the wearer feel as magical and as sparkly, as the diamonds that they were wearing. And yet, diamonds often came at a cost, often associated with human rights abuses, blood diamonds, habitat destruction and water pollution. Diamond mining was a messy business, meaning that A did not wear them often, unless they were ethical, cruelty-free, and sustainably sourced. Which is where The Diamond Store came in, commited to creating sustainable lab-grown diamonds and precious metals. With conflict-free mined gems, The Diamond Store, was a hidden treasure for diamonds, that didn’t put others lives at risk.
But what did it mean to create lab grown diamonds? Well, unlike normal diamonds, they were not extracted from the ground, but environmentally sustainable, and socially ethical. All their diamonds were ethically sourced through adherence to the Kimberly Process, and the National Association of Jewellers Codes of Ethics. This meant that shoppers like A, could feel secure knowing that the diamonds they were wearing, or buying for their loved ones, did not harm either humans, the environment or animals. Speaking of the environment, A’s growing interest in sustainability, meant that she was passionate about supporting brands who were minimizing their impact on the environment. The Diamond Store was working towards becoming carbon-neutral, both in their own offices through a carbon footprint offset fund, as well as through their choice of suppliers.
But what would A choose? The ethical Diamind Cluster Earrings in 9K White Gold, would be her choice, with 0.50CT of H/SI quality Diamonds. Small, minimalist, and affordable, it was amazing value for money given that they were lab-grown, sustainable, and ethically sourced. The perfect gift for a loved one, or even yourself, it was on sale for Christmas, packaged beautifully in an orange box, made from 100% FSC certified wood and paper. This meant that the production of the packaging hadn’t harmed the world’s forests, and supported a non-profit organisation, that was dedicated to promoting responsible forestry. For those who were looking at getting Christmas gifts for her, the diamonds seemed like the most perfect and obvious choice. Though some may have questioned the value of a lab-grown diamond, vs a real diamond, A firmly believed that ethically sourced diamonds, whether they were worth less or more, were always the right choice.
Paul James Knitwear
A often struggled finding non-animal derived knitwear, and knew that her fellow cruelty-free ethical shoppers, felt the same. From wool, to cashmere, knitwear was often made and derived from animal fibres. Whether it was sheep, alpacas, silkworms, or goats, they were all used to create jumpers, coats, jumpers, cardigans, and coords, for the sake of knitwear. Which is where Paul James Knitwear came in; though they sold non-vegan jumpers, cardigans, and hats, they also had cotton versions, which were ideal for those like A who were cruelty-free. A luxury Leicestershire-based knitwear manufacturer, their clothing was sustainable, reducing their reliance on man-made fibres.
What’s more Paul James Knitwear was ethically made, as they would knit, sew, wash, steam and press over 95 percent of their products in their own factories. This meant that they could oversee the clothing, and ensure that the clothing had integrity, the workers were treated fairly, and the prices were right. There was no middlemen, and the two factories, were carefully curated. There was one based in Leicestershire, Britain’s textile city, and the other in the family’s hometown of Navsari in India. But what gorgeous cruelty-free knitwear goodies would A choose? From chunky knit cotton jumpers, to turtlenecks, t-shirts, cardigans and even face-masks, there was a variety of choice for A’s Christmas gift guide for her. But it was the Women’s pure cotton oversized V Neck Ribbed Cardigan that stole A’s heart, available in blue, pink, white and black. A was umming and ahhing between the pink and blue, but in the end the baby blue won out. It would pair beautifully with a vintage outfit that she had in mind, made up of monochromatic blues.
With a half cardigan switch sweater, it was made from 100% cotton, and had a relaxed oversized fit. Given that A liked her cardigans chunky, she loved how cozy the Tilda cardigan was, finished with beautiful white buttons. Ideal for layering with another knit, A paired it with a blue knitted chunky roll neck jumper, tucked into duck egg blue tailored trousers, and heeled boots in the same hue. The v-neck helped open up the chest, while the sleeves added volume and shape, the perfect cardigan to wear on Christmas day, instead of the hideous Christmas jumpers that your family would try and ply you with. A sustainable and biodegradable clothing choice, it was comfortable, breathable, and transmitted moisture away from the skin. What’s more it didn’t irritate A’s skin, as the cotton was skin-friendly, and itch-free.
Valentina Karellas Beanie And Collar
Now more than ever A was passionate about supporting small businesses. Why because the pandemic had been an absolute s**tstorm, and she was well aware that businesses were suffering as a result. She knew friends who could no longer sustain their businesses, were struggling with finances, or had even tried to start a business in lockdown, and found it difficult to keep their head above water. So A when she could, would support small independant businesses, such as Valentina Karellas who was all about ethical fashion. London’s antidote to fast fashion, Valentina created one of a kind knitwear, and even had a vegan range.
From vegan beanies, vegan jumpers, and even vegan collars, Valentina’s entire range wasn’t vegan, but she had beautiful one of a kind cruelty-free pieces. Each piece of knitwear was handmade, and made from surplus materials from large factories that would otherwise have gone to waste. Given that A was trying to minimize her impact on her environment, she was trying to be better, about supporting brands that were sustainably and ethically made. With the amount of waste that the fashion industry created, ethical fashion shoppers would appreciate Valentina Karellas being included in the Christmas gift guide for her. Made in London, Valentina was also commited to reducing her carbon footprint, and made all her pieces in London. Scrap materials were also given a new lease of life, turned into accessories that celebrated the yarn in a new light.
But what would A choose? There would be The Chiltern Beanie in Navy, made from 100% cotton and the Rivington Collar, for a great fun twist on style. The Chiltern beanie was ideal during the colder months when A was working outside, with a snug tight fit rib, that could be rolled up or down. With a bright, and bold contrast turquoise hem, it was hand-made using a vintage washing machine, washed, and steamed, ready to be worn. A loved the attention to detail, and how the colour paired so beautifully with many of her winter-wear classic outfits. Super soft, light, and stylish it was unlike other beanies that she had tried. Given that she had a small head, beanies often looked ‘silly’ on her, but its ability to be customized made her look super cute. The Rivington collar was darling too, with red, blues and yellows, that were as vibrant as she was. Made from 80% cotton, there was zero waste here too, the rigidity of the transparent yarn, combining with the soft cotton colours for supreme comfort. A loved how both accessories could be paired with casual, and formal outfits, and still look fresh and exciting.
Food And Drink
If there was one thing A loved the most about Christmas, it was the delectable food, and drink that it had to offer. There would be gourmet popcorn from Popcorn Shed, an advent calendar devishly sweet, Christmas pudding, a warm, and welcoming classic. Surprise chocolate puzzle boxes from PLAYin Choc were whimsical, and sweet, a taste of the festive season in our mouths. And who could forget the alcohol, both non alcoholic, and alcholic, wines, low-calorie alcohol, and even ‘virgin Rum’, a must have selection from the drink Gods, that were desperate for their time to shine.
A was always a fan of the unique and whimsical, and PLAYin Choc had that in spades. A gift that had childlike wonder, A believed that adults would enjoy it too, organic chocolate boxes, with a surprise gift. The PLAYin Choc box from the Christmas collection were beautifully made, organic single origin Peruvian chocolate, that was sustainably and ethically sourced. Child, slave and animal labour free, they were passionate about creating fun gifts that were kind to the planet, animals and humans. After all, it was important to treat everything, and everyone with respect, whether they were sentient beings or not. Dairy, nut, gluten and plastic free, the chocolate also had 1/3 less sugar than other leading chocolate brand.
More than just an ordinairy chocolate box, it would come with collectable ethical toys, that would double up as super-cute decorations too. Whether it was a snowman, an impish elf, or a welcoming gingerbread figure, the toys might seem kiddy, but A was always a firm believer in that you were only as old you felt. What was wrong with a grown adult woman enjoying a toy, or two? Nothing at all, it was important to find joy in the small things, and Christmas was the season to get into the festive spirit. Using only the healthiest, high quality ingredients from only the most ethical sources, PLAYin Choc was centered around three important principles: Joy, Health, and Our Planet. After all, Christmas should be about respecting our planet, while remaining healthy, and happy!
Certified Vegan, Soil Association Organic, and a ‘winner’ in the Great Taste Awards in 2019, PLAYin Choc, had other toy, and puzzle box collections too. From Endangered Animals, to Dinosaurs, Woodland Animals and Rabbits, you could eat the chocolate, while your children would collect over 66 animals, and characters across 5 exciting collections. For those who just wanted delicious ethical chocolate, there were ethical vegan chocolate boxes, containing dark chocolate, or vegan milk chocolate, which you could have as an individual bar, a box, a bundle, or even sign up to a monthly subscription to get your vegan chocolate fix. Whatever your box choice, PLAYin Choc was a great addition to the Christmas gift guide for her.
Inside Out Drinks
Though A didn’t drink alot, she knew that it was a time of year, where people would drink more than they would normally. While it was fun to have a drink or two, when it became a drink too many, the throbbing headache, stomach cramps, and nausea, made you regret your over-indulgence. A was often the ‘mum’ character with her friends, the one who was usually sober, while those around her were drunk. Because of her anxiety, she liked to be in control, and was comfortable stopping at 2-3 drinks, while her loved ones would get ‘mortal’. She didn’t mind not one bit, but knew they would often regreat it the next day, feeling rough, unmotivated, and firmly consigned to their beds, and homes.
Which is when she came across Inside Out, the must-have drink, before you drink. Confused? Well, our bodies need to be looked after, and excessive drinking often has a huge impact on our liver, mental, and physical health. Though it had been a long time since A had been drunk, she knew from past experiences, exactly how rough her body felt after heavy drinking. From blackouts, to vomiting, nausea, and even an increase in Depression and Anxiety, A didn’t drink a lot because of how it made her feel after. As she grew older, she realized that our bodies need to be looked after, and that a healthy liver equalled a healthy life. Inside Out’s plant and berry based drinks, were packed with antioxidants, that would dramatically reduce your hangover, after a night out. Gifting them to some close friends, she was curious to see what their reaction would be.
They were beyond gratified. Though it wasn’t a miracle cure, they reported that they were able to get up the next day, and actually be productive. Though they could feel that they had drank, they didn’t have the clammy palms, nausea, and pounding headache that they normally had after a night out. They also loved the flavour, the hibiscus flower infusion, cranberry juice concentrate, and milk thistle, delicious tasting, and aesthetically pleasing to look at too. They felt like the antioxidants helped line their stomachs, boost their immune systems, and help them ‘feel fresh’. Reducing the negative toxins in their body, it achieved optimal health, even after drinking, and protected their insides. In short, while Inside Out was not here to encourage alcohol consumotion, and unhealthy habits, it did believe that we had the right to enjoy ourselves, the healthy way.
For the last three years, Popcorn Shed had been a massive part of A’s Christmas snack routine. Why? Because the gourmet popcorn brand had delicious, unique and incredible flavours, that made the festive season very enjoyable. From popcorn advent calendars, to themed boxes, ‘Popcorn Shed boxes’ and bundles, Christmas was always a joyous affair. They even had vegan popcorn as well, such as toffee, sweet and salty, butterscotch, salt and vinegar and even Maple Bacon. But what would A choose this year? It would be the Gourmet Popcorn Advent Calendar that would steal her heart, 6 gluten-free and vegetarian popcorn flavours under each day in December.
There would be Salted Caramel, with sea salt drizzled on Belgian milk chocolate, the winner of the Great Taste Award in 2017. One of Ana’s favourites was Berry-licious, raspberry and dark chocolate popcorn, the winner of the Great Taste Award (2018). She loved the contrast between the sour raspberry, and the bitterness of dark chocolate, with the sweet popcorn, a meledy of gorgeous flavours. Peanut butter and Pop N Choc were also great flavours, pairing beautifully together. And who could forget the Salted Butterscotch Caramel Popcorn, the winner of the Great Taste Award (2019)? Pecan Pie, was a new flavour for A though, caramel popcorn roasted pecan pieces, that reminded A of a traditional American pudding, that was oh so festive.
Speaking of Christmas pudding, Popcorn Shed, had a ‘Christmas Pudding Shed’ that tasted eerily like the real thing. All-natural, gluten-free and vegetarian, this festively spiced caramel popcorn was like a mix between a beautiful mince pie, and a moerish Christmas pudding, minus the fire. Unlike normal Christmas pudding however, it wasn’t sickly, and A most definitely did not tire of munching on this delicious snack. In fact, as far as Christmas snacks went, this was her new favourite. Paired with a warming cup of hot chocolate and vegan marshamallows, she loved how Christmassy it made her feel. While others liked to show their Christmas spirit by listening to terrible Christmas songs, she would much rather eat, as much delicious treats from Popcorn Shed, as she could justify. After all, Christmas only came but once a year!
Though A didn’t drink a lot, she loved having a glass or two of red wine, once or twice a week, as it helped her relax, and de-stress. Whether she was curled up on the sofa, cuddling with her partner, having a detoxing bubble bath, creating a spa-day at home, or enjoying a delicious vegetarian meal, she loved Merlot, and Malbec especially. A loved Argentinian, Chilean, and Portuguese red wines especially, but was always open to exploring new types of red wines, and brands, to add to her red-wine must have list. Which is where she came across PepperBox Wines, available in Tescos. Priced at £10 it was an affordable red wine that was on her doorstep, a naturally intense Shiraz.
With flavours of blackcurrant, and cherry, the red wine had a spicy aroma, with a silky-smooth finish. For A, she had a preference for red wines that had complex flavours, heavily laced with spice, so Pepperbox was right up her street. Handcrafted by the Casella Family in Southern Australia, this 2018 wine had soft, round tannins. Ideal paired with festive meals such as slow-cooked vegan steak, vegan roast dinners, and melt in your mouth chocolate puddings, it was the perfect wine for the Christmas festive season. A loved it, and knew that its versatility as a wine, made it a must have in the Christmas gift guide for her. Not only was it affordable, but it tasted equisite as well. It wasn’t just Christmas meals that Pepperbox Wine paired beautifully with either. A used it as a sauce for her signature Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolgnese, Vegan Linguine and Meatballs, and even in a Vegan Beef Bourgnion.
Even her partner was a convert, which was a miracle given that he hated red wine. While he wouldn’t drink it, he did enjoy having it in their pasta dishes, adding that it enhanced the flavour of the vegan meats, and was soaked up beautifully by the spaghetti. They would reduce the sauce down, so it wasn’t acidic, and would lace it with ample garlic, oregano, thyme, and mixed herbs, to give it a wonderful rich, yet balanced flavour. For D, who wasn’t a vegetarian, he would pair it with dishes such as rib-eye steak, lamb shanks, and even as a red-wine gravy, for a turkey roast, deliciously warming, paired with all the tasty trimmings.
Caleno Non-Alcoholic Drinks
Of all the spirits, rum was her favourite, because it was in all her favourite cocktails. From mojitos, to Pina Colada’s, Watermelon Daquiri’s and Nikita ( pineapple ice cream, pineapple, and pineapple juice infused with rum), Rum was a versatile spirit, and she loved using it as a mixer, at Christmas, paired with ginger beer, or caffeine-free cola. She loved both white rum, such as Malibu’s Pineapple cans, that tasted like summer, even in the heart of winter, and adored spiced rum too. Captain Morgan’s Spiced Gold Rum, was her favourite, with a sweet yet subtly spiced taste. However, rum could often be heavy on her stomach, and now that was drinking less, she sometimes chose non-alcoholic alternatives instead. Which is where Caleno came in…
With two alternatives ranging from Dark and Spicy Tropical Non-Alcoholic Rum, and Caleno Light and Zesty, Tropical Non- Alcoholic Gin, A was spoilt for choice. The non-alcoholic gin had a light blend of tropical, citrus, and spice botanicals, with golden Inca berry. Mixed with tonic water, it tasted quite similar to Gin, although in A’s opinion, it was actually better because it didn’t have the bitterness that some gins had. Instead it was sweet, and very easy to drink. Whether it was served in an elegant Collins, paired with fresh lemon juice, and sugar juice, or in a La Amarda (with lime juice, and Monin Orgeat syrup), Caleno had amazing cocktail recipes to take your festive non-alcoholic drinking game to the next level.
Speaking of amazing the Rum, was beautiful, a rich blend of pineapple, coconut, and black cardamom, among other ingredients. With a ginger beer, the drink was simple, and let the rum speak for itself, its rich flavours coming through beautifully. When it came to trying something new though, Caleno had incredible inspiration on their website. The Fire Dancer was unique, with passionfruit puree, agave syrup, and a dash of tabasco. A always found it interesting when drinks had a composition between ‘heat’, and ‘sweetness’, and loved the mix. Pina Fiesta was another favourite, with lime juice, coconut puree or cream, and pineapple juice, garnished with a cocktail umbrella for extra joy. One thing is for certain, she would be enjoying Caleno’s non-alcoholic beverages at Christmas, and would be coming up with new, and exciting cocktail recipes of her own during the festive season.
Speaking of complex non-alcoholic spirits, Everleaf’s low calorie non-alcoholic aperitifs, where lauded as the ‘world’s most complex’. With three beautiful sustainably sourced flavours, ‘Mountain, Marine and Forest, were surprisingly elegant. Using the finest botanicals, from the natural world, each aperitif offered something a little different. Mountain, A’s personal favourite from Everleaf, was vibrant and aromatic, layered with Cherry Blossom, Rosehip, and strawberry. Reminiscient of pink gin, it was an elegantly expressive drink, with aromatic floral notes, bitterness, and a silky texture. The Cherry Blossom was at the heart of the drink, with a light palette, and an elegant length, to make ‘Mountain’ truly unique. The rosehip, and strawberry were equisite too, tart, and bittersweet, with a hint of comfort too.
Forest was made for spritz drinkers, with Saffron, Madagascan Vanilla and Orange Blossom. The original Everleaf drink, A felt like it was refreshing, yet grown-up, similar to Campari, but a non-alcoholic version. The aroma was enticing, a heady vetiver, and orange blossom, with notes of earthy orris root, and warm vanilla. The taste was bold and vibrant with layers of citrus, bark, spices, bittersweet roots and savoury saffron. But what was the finish? Long and complex, it had a myriad of flavours lengthened with moerish bitter gentian root.
As for Marine, it was crisp, with Juniper, Bergamot, and Dulse, crafted for gin drinkers. The closest to a G & T, it smelt like fresh bergamot citrus, with familar juniper notes. Followed by sea spray, and a hint of thyme, and olive grove, it really did remind A of being by the sea. With a crisp and refreshing upfront taste, it had hints of tropical pineapple from sea buckthorn, giving way to umani sweetness from dulse. To finish, the citrus gave way to lingering savoury saline seaweed and olive leaf.
LUXLO For Gin Lovers
Speaking of Gin, LUXLO was a deliciously natural, low-alcohol, lower calorie gin alternative. Vegan-friendly and gluten-free, it was juniper led with 9 carefully selected botanicals. Smooth, light and refreshing LUXLO enabled you to drink less, and drink better this Christmas, with a reduced ABV of 20%. 28 calories per 25ml measures, it was available in four gorgeous flavours. Blood orange for citrus lovers, was A’s personal favourite with the tart yet sweet Pomegranate and Raspberry as a close second. With Ginny ( the OG flavour with juniper), and Passionfruit (for the taste of the tropical too, LUXLO had a well-rounded low alcohol collection.
A gravitated torwards the gift pack of all four miniature varieties, believing that it would be the perfect present for the Christmas gift guide for her. Why? Because the gins were light and refreshing, beautifully packaged, and the bottles were equisitely presented. It looked, and tasted good, and would be an ideal stocking filler, or small present for the lady in your life, who wanted to drink less. Whether you want to be healthier, drink less, or just enjoy a good gin, it was even 100% sugar-free. Super premium, it was hard to tell that it was low-alcohol, as it had as much taste, as a full-alcohol gin. Paired with a tonic, on its own, or with a caffeine-free fizzy drink like lemonade, the range of flavours made it a versatile gift for Christmas. For those who preferred larger bottles, A would definitely reccomend the Blood Orange.
On the nose it was sweet, fresh, vibrant, and citric, while the body was rounded, smooth, and refreshing. The palate was a beautiful sweet orange, infused with tangy red grapefruit, and had hints of cherry, that made it oh, so delectable. As for the finish, like a traditional gin, it was botanical, and spiced juniper, and cardamom. While it was the perfect drink for a cocktail on a summer’s evening in the garden, it was just as impressive in winter too. The Pomnegranate and Raspberry was just as exceptional, with fresh, ripe raspberry notes, with a hint of cotton candy on the nose. The body was smooth, rich, and rounded, while the palate was tart, with sweet, jammy undertones. The finish ended in rich berries, with lingering pomegranate, and raspberry flavours. It was nothing short of exceptional.
Entertainment And Hobbies For Her
When it came to Christmas entertainment, A wanted to include everything from games, to movies, baking, and even pottery. From gifts for women to play with friends, loved ones, and partners, hobby-based gifts, and even a cool technology device or two, no Christmas gift guide was complete without some good ol’ fashioned fun. There would be Top Trump Disney cards, that were magical and whimsical, dancing under the light of Nebula’s Anker Capsule Projector. A couple’s pottery kit from London Wild Flower, was oh so kitsch, as was Tigernut’s gingerbread baking kit, two gifts that would be taking centre stage, in the entertainment, and hobbies for her section. But what was your version of entertainment?
Top Trump Cards ( Disney And Marvel)
Being that A, and D loved playing games together, A believed that board games, card games, and video games, were one of the greatest gifts you could give this Christmas. Games had a wonderful innate ability to allow you to escape into a fantasy world, de-stressing, as you entered a magical realm, where happiness was a given. Which is why they loved Top Trump Cards, available via Winning Moves, which had everything from Rick and Morty, to James Bond, Marvel, and even Disney.
For A, she was curious about the Disney Classics Top Trumps Card Game. She was a fan of Disney, and loved Disney Classic films like The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and Finding Nemo, which made her feel all warm and fuzzy inside. She was an avid subscriber to Disney +, and watched classic films, new releases, and TV shows, with great aplomb. So why would the women in your life enjoy the Disney Classics Top Trumps Card Game? A quiz with a twist, there are 500 questions, with everything from Snow White and the Seven Dwards, to Toy Story and Up. Dealing 5 cards each, you must ask the first question, and see if your opponent gets it right or not. The first to win three pairs wins, but there is always a Top Trump’s twist! Entertaining, educational, and captivating, your favourite Disney characters could be brought to life.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe Top Trumps Card Game, was just as magical. A huge fan of Marvel, A had watched everything from The Eternals, to classics like Iron Man, and her partner, was an even bigger fan. After all, the Marvel universe was incredibly complex, thrilling, and intricate, and was often the highest-grossing movies at the Box Office. The Avengers franchise was one of the most popular movies, and A liked to think she knew alot about the Marvel universe. From Doctor Strange, to Shuri and Black Panther, there were even villians like Loki, and Thanos to choose from. With categories including strength, technology, battle, and even wisecracks, it was exciting to see who would come out on top. You could find out how ruthless Ultron was, or even how strong iron man was. The best thing about the Top Trumps cards? There was no limits on gameplay. It was classically competitive, yet its trivia was fascinating, and was likely to please film fanactics, and players alike.
Nebula Anker Capsule Mini Projector
For the longest time a projector had been on A’s wish list. She loved watching movies, and would often create her own at home cinema, turning it into an immersive experience. From delicious snacks including popcorn, vegan hot dogs, and vegan burger sliders, to slushies, cozy blankets, and cuddles on the sofa, her and her partner, would have some epic at home movie nights. But there was always one thing missing. The projector that she had dreamed of, to truly create the movie experience, that she had always wanted. Which is where the Nebula Anker Capsule mini projector came in.
A projector that could be used on the go, they could have a movie night at the beach, in their back garden, at home, or even at a campsite, for a luxury glamping va-cay. Sleek compact, and portable, it was far better than any other projector she could imagine. With an 100 ANSI lumen bulb, it was capable of projecting a picture of giagantic proportions, 100 inches to be exact. A world of entertainment, no matter where A was in the world, it was remarkably powerful.She could enjoy her favourite TV shows, and movies from the mini projector, and seamlessly display content from Netflix, Youtube, and other media platforms for endless entertainment. With a 360° Speaker, the mini projector could pump out sound all round, with its powerful sense of omnidirection.
The capsule was an entertainment powerhouse, and was even equipped with Android 7:1, making it no ordinairy projector. With Capsule’s 4-hour video playtime, she could watch almost any video or film, in its entirety. Recently, they had watched Venom together, based on a Marvel Anti-hero. Starring Tom Hardy, Naomie Harris, and Michelle Williams, the star studded cast was brought to life, as epic fight scenes, car crashes, and alien symbiotes melded together in a dark, mystical narrative. With the power of the soda-can esque projector, it felt like they were watching a movie at the cinema, in the comfort of their own home. The sound radiated around the room, and made them feel like they were in the film, watching Eddie Brock becoming the host of an alien symbiote, Venom, imbueing him with super-human abilities.
London Wildflower Couples Make Your Own Pottery Kit
It had been a long time since A, had tried pottery, remembering the DT Classes she had, where they would make arts, and crafts. From making their own plates, to making pottery versions of themselves, Design Tech was a chance to get creative. A was, let’s be honest no artist. She couldn’t draw, she couldn’t paint, and she most definitely couldn’t make anything, but what she lacked, she made up for in her ability to write, match colours, and put fashion looks together. Maybe she wasn’t an artist in the true sense of the word, but that didn’t matter. She was passionate about trying new things, and encouraging her partner to join in. Which is where London Wildflower came in, created by Nikki in 2017. Having found that working with clay was super-meditative, she wanted to encourage people to try pottery, no matter their skills.
London Wildflower at-home clay kits provide all the tools you need to get creative with clay. Whether the kit is for you, or a gift friends or loved ones, A believed that the pottery kits, were well worth the investment. The Couples Make Your Own Pottery Kit in particular, was well worth the spenny, containing everything you needed to create a magical pottery experience. Whether you wanted to create your own necklaces, jewllery, plates, or planters, the air dry clay was soft, and satisfying to work with, Non-toxic, the kit had everything from ribbon tools, to paint brushes, to sculpt your mesmerizing creation. For A and D, this was a chance to try something new, creative, and exciting.
An incredibly versatile medium, the clay would dry naturally within 24-72 hours depending on the size of your project, creating a festive Christmas gift that was well worth the wait. To try it out, A and D made their own clay snowman, to decorate the living room, complete with a small reindeer, that would keep him company. And what a treat it was; though they burst out laughing at A’s inadequate pottery skills, they couldn’t help but have a blast anyway. It didn’t matter that they weren’t pottery artists, it gave them the chance to do something calming, and meditative together, that was so different to what they would normally do on a date night. Their festive date was complete with Christmas cheer, Christmas movies in the background, as they worked. The result wasn’t spectacular, but it was certainly a lot of fun. Next time, they would have a go at making their own plates, emblazoned, with each others initials. It would be a souviner of their undying love and affection.
Tigernut Gingerbread Men Kit
Baking held special memories for A, remembering making cookies as a kid, the fresh smell of gingerbread and chocolate melding together at Christmas. There was something that was ever so festive about cookies baking in the oven, readying the ample cups of hot chocolate, that would be enjoyed alongside, the rich cocoa melting on your tongue. So imagine how excited she was when she found the Tigernut Gingerbread Men Kit, from strp’d. Limited edition, it came with tigernut flour, a whimiscal cookie cutter, piping bag, golden syrup and even a recipe card for gluten-free, grain-free, and nut-free gingerbread men.
But what was a Tigernut? Despite the name it was not a nut, but an ancient root vegetable that hailed from West Africa. Witth a creamy, and sweet taste it was a welcome addition to flour. 20% lower in calories, and 40% higher in fibre than almond flour, it was a wonderful alternative to use for gingerbread men. Its naturally sweet flavour, meant you could reduce the amount of sugar, you would normally use, and being high in resistant starch, it acted as a prebiotic to enhance digestion. It also was adept at balancing your blood sugar levels, meaning that it would reduce cravings, even when you were eating something as scrumptious as gingerbread men. But why would this be a welcome addition to a Christmas gift guide for her? Well, gingerbread men are as festive as you can, and is a great gift for the female baker in your life, who loves baking up sweet treats.
For someone like A who had digestive, and gut issues, the fact that it also contained digestive enzymes meant that it helped to break food down for better nutrient absorption. Stimulating the growth of good bacteria, it also had a high level of antioxidants to neutralise free radicals in our body. Rich in vitamin C, and high in Arginine an amino acid, the feel-good, taste-good gingerbread men made from tigernut flour, were well worth the taste. Oh, and tigernuts have been known to increase libido, and for generations, have been used as an aphrodisisiacs, in many African countries. Baking with a difference, you could indulge, while getting naughty, becoming creative, and even teaching yourself a new skill or two!
What Would Be In Your Christmas Gift Guide For Her?
Please note this is a collaborative post, but all thoughts are my own, and are not affected by PR samples. I would love to know what you would include in your Christmas gift guide for her. Are there any ideas that I have missed out on?