Insanely expensive Gift Guides aimed at millionaires? Are they of practical use to anyone?

By Anna | December 17 2012 | 21 Comments

So, we all need ideas for Christmas gifts. There comes a time when your brain totally freezes up and you find yourself thinking that maybe a packet of Marks and Spencer’s pants would actually make a decent gift for your nearest and dearest. This is when suggestions do come in handy (even if that suggestion is merely “Anything but pants”). Indeed, this fine site has featured several excellent and practical gift suggestions.

But as December goes on, the more gift guides appear in newspapers and magazines, and the more it seems that they are aimed solely at millionaires. The “cheap” gifts are all at least 20 quid, and there seems to be an assumption that you will think nothing of spending a few hundred on a present at the one time of year when you have to buy loads of gifts.

Seriously, do you spend more than 20 quid on anyone who isn’t a partner, parent or maybe a close relation? I’m pretty sure most of us don’t, and yet newspaper gift guides suggest spending £70 on a bag for your best friend, or £50 on a pair of Cath Kidston pyjamas for your sister.

If we followed these guides, we’d end up spending a week’s wages on the office Secret Santa and remortgaging the house to pay for our mum’s festive surprise.

The glossies get even more insane – the gift guide in the latest edition of US Elle (generally a fantastic and intelligent magazine, by the way) featured a pair of children’s shoes by Roger Vivier that cost over $300. It said that a proportion of the cost goes to a children’s charity but seriously, if you can afford to spend 300 bucks on a pair of shoes that your kid will grow out of in a few months, you can afford to just give that $300 straight to the charity itself.

There are exceptions – the Guardian’s guide a few weeks ago actually featured quite a lot of imaginative and charming gifts under £15 – but in general when I see a gift guide in a publication, I roll my eyes and turn to the next piece. So what about you? Do you find these gift guides practical and useful? Are they fantasy shopping? Or do you, like me, just leave them alone and go for a browse around the shops instead?



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21 Replies to "Insanely expensive Gift Guides aimed at millionaires? Are they of practical use to anyone?"

  • Atkin says:

    I don’t buy presents for “anyone who isn’t a partner, parent or maybe a close relation”. We have a secret Santa in the in laws family, presents for god children, nothing for my sibling and gifts for my own parents. That’s it. As for the gift guides, I love them! For me, it’s fantasy shopping.

  • Louise says:

    Ive never ever bought something I saw in a gift guide! I suppose they are a good place to get inspiration, but I usually just hit the shops and pick from what I see there. I have a sixth sense for what people will like.

    And haha my office xmas presents are usually recycled presents from last year.

  • Rosamaria says:

    …. & I think that’s the key, Atkins. Aspirational rather than inspirational. Without being totally sycophantic, the guides in beaut are probably the most useful for me ???? certainly nearest my budget – I can’t even afford to self-gift this year

  • gobo says:

    Well in fairness, most of those gift guides (especially in the glossies) are not real suggestions- they are paid for product placements.

  • Shygirl says:

    Never but any of the suggestions in those sort of gift guides, I wouldn’t expect something from them either.

  • OtherMary says:

    I like Oprah’s gift guides because they’re crazy but made to read like she had chosen and written them herself, and I like guides showcasing the most ridiculously expensive crap, like this one from last year:

  • littlesis says:

    I like to have a look, just for entertainment value! I would love to know how many people have bought the Tom Ford nail polish collection for €496….

  • BerG says:

    I like to look at them also, for ideas, but they are not usually geared at the correct price point for me.

  • OtherMary says:

    Yeah, I laughed when I saw the BT “12 gift ideas for your true love” email. The Tom Ford nail polish collection is boring as hell and the other stuff is questionable as well.

  • witchgirl26 says:

    I like to look at the pretty but not really buy them. We have limits set in our families. Max for the kids is 10e each so not many of those guides cover that. I get if you don’t have a lot to buy for you might spend more but I’ve 6 nieces & nephews so need to be smart. And you can get loads for a tenner if you look.

    That said I think I did inadvertently follow a gift guide by buying himself a Nespresso machine this year but it’s what he really wanted so sure why not. :)

  • Atkin says:

    @witchgirl26 Do you buy for all 6 of them? That’s mad! I have 19 nieces and nephews, and we just buy for godchildren in our family. Mainly because I’d only see some of them once a year at least.

  • witchgirl26 says:

    @Atkin – yep I do. They’re all quite little so don’t think they’d understand if I didn’t. It’s only 60e in total though which isn’t too bad.
    Woah 19 is a lot – can see why you don’t buy for all! If my family reaches over the double digits, I’ll be rethinking!

  • Anita says:

    I only buy presents for my family. I even skipped getting one for my best friend (she has not bought me a present for what, 5 years? However this year, sod’s luck, she HAS got me one…)

    I ask my family for their wishlists, and find it weird when people fret over what to get their parents/siblings – just ask them what they want! My family aren’t insane, they know what our budgets are like, so no one requests anything like Tiffany earrings or the like. I hate “get me a t-shirt” – yes dear, WHICH t-shirt?! This year, they have requested things like a book by Chris Ryan, a glasses chain (like what people imagine librarians to wear), a Ryan Gosling colouring book, etc. I hate guessing what people might want! It’s just so much easier to ask them directly!

    Friends are trickier as I don’t like to ask what they want specifically. I have one friend I need to get something for, but I’ve no idea what… I shall check the sales after Xmas as I won’t be seeing her before then (she lives ages and ages away).

  • Anita says:

    I said “I only buy presents for my family” – to be clear, I have recently made the decision not to get my friends anything, and I’m only getting something for one friend because she has got me something and is expecting me to do the same in return (I sound tight-fisted – it’s actually because I am moving overseas next month and need all the money I can save! So on the whole, gifts for friends are OFF this year).

  • PinkPanther says:

    I love the glossy gift guides! A girl can dream! And I don’t think spending 50 quid plus on a friend or sister is that excessive. We always to secret Santa within the family so everyone gets one decent gift instead of lots of smaller presents.

  • EvieM says:

    They’re a pile of rubbish for the most part, I’ll read them just so I sit there with a mug of tea reading and thinking…are ye mad?? I can honestly say the one gift guide I’ve ever bought from is yere’s. I bought my best friend the Fr. Ted Mug ye showed the other week and it was a grand total of €12 AND she’s coming home from Australia for Christmas and I haven’t seen her for 2 years. Other then that we probably wouldn’t bother with presents for each other.

  • Neasa says:

    I have often wondered this. Saw Jo Malone fragrance set (3 colognes and 2 large scented candles) featured in a gift guide recently, I think it was £450!?! I’d be worried about somebody who spent that much on a few candles, and I’m pretty sure Jo Malone perfumes are not worth that kind of money.

  • Therese says:

    Some of the gift guides can be shocking! I like that ones that at least give you ‘gifts under $20′ ‘gifts under $50′ etc so you can skip to the bit you can afford!

    Have to say, the guides have been fab, have two Father Ted mugs on the way to Oz for the husband, bought the 50 Irish Shades book for my sisters, the fab colourful map of Ireland print for me (!), Ursula Celano notebook and pencil case for my little niece so it’s been a real help. Have to say I’m delighted to be buying Irish too = )

  • Jennifer says:

    I have to laugh at some of the so called ‘practical’ gift guides where the cheapest item is €60, but secretly, I’d also love to have the funds to treat everyone I love to a stupidly over priced, but gorgeous gift. So I feel contradicting emotions on the topic!

  • hopeandpray says:

    Some gift guides are ridiculous. One blogger did an ‘budget’ christmas party dress guide and one of the dresses was over 300 euro!

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