December 13, 2013 7:05 pm

From beach to high street

‘The big skies and tropical breezes were so attractive that I almost called off Christmas’

There’s something more than a little disorienting that comes with a quick dash to Australia at this time of year. Just when you feel mentally and physically calibrated for the final dash to the Christmas finish line, you find yourself in warm, sunny Brisbane, which is showing few signs that Santa might put in a stop on the continent. All thoughts of cosy alpine living somehow feel a bit claustrophobic as you enjoy an indoor-outdoor dinner.

The big skies and tropical breezes were so attractive that I almost called off Christmas in the mountains and asked my dinner host if she might have a line on a nice house up the coast at Peregian Beach. Over dessert I came to my senses and decided that three weeks off in the Engadine was going to be just fine.

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Tyler Brûlé

The following morning I boarded an empty Qantas flight to Singapore and the Australian dailies piled in the cabin were filled with tales of doom about the airline’s bleak future. As I surveyed the vacant upper deck and thought about what I might do to turn the airline round, my mind drifted to the unfinished business of my Fast Lane Christmas shopping guide. In case you didn’t find anything for your nearest and dearest on last week’s list, I hope a few of the below might work under the tree.

1. With a bit of planning and a good construction team you could surprise friends and family by commissioning Brisbane-based architects Richards & Spence to build you a little beachside compound somewhere in Queensland. This year you could roll up a set of plans to place under the tree with a promise that this time next year you’ll all be wandering around in kaftans and low-slung trunks drinking fancy, fruity cocktails.

2. If you have friends and family that haven’t migrated over to the world of Spotify and SoundCloud and still enjoy shuffling through stacks of CDs to find just the right track, you might want to pluck up the courage to venture into an electronics shop and pick up one of Yamaha’s MCR series stereos. Mocha would be my colour of choice.

3. I don’t know too many people who don’t enjoy receiving a good selection of wine for Christmas. If you don’t have time to do the selecting yourself, then you can put a call into the very talented Honami-san at Hedonism wine shop in London’s Mayfair. She can set you up with some nice whites from Alto Adige as well as fine sakes from northern Honshu.

4. Everyone needs a good sweatshirt for staying toasty on a Sunday morning around the house, or for keeping the chill off at 36,000ft. For good fleece you have just two choices – Reigning Champ from Vancouver or Loopwheeler from Tokyo.

5. For the logistically challenged who happen to reside in Europe, a part-ownership set-up with aviation company Jetfly is a good way of getting around the hassle of Europe’s major hubs and getting closer to all the work and weekend destinations that occasionally seem too troublesome to reach. With a fleet of Pilatus PC-12 aircraft that can land on grassy airstrips, you might even want to treat yourself to a couple of flights to see how much more efficient you might be with a Swiss-made runabout at your disposal.

6. Do you have a dear relative with a library in the making but no shelf space to park their volumes? How about a starter stretch of steel shelves from USM (yellow is always sunny, camel is more subdued and chic) that they can always add to? Made in a slick Swiss facility, they are timeless and never sag.

7. If you need to sort out a host of corporate clients with something that’s both good value but also useful, then taking a lead from the Swedish royal family is a good place to start. Skultuna (purveyors to the Court of Sweden) does a range of different gift items but their brass tea-light holders are the best of their collection and will always find a place on a ledge or table.

8. And, finally, you can’t beat a Book Token or a bookshop’s own gift certificate. Pick your favourite independent bookseller and give generously.

Tyler Brûlé is editor-in-chief of Monocle magazine

tyler.brule@ft.com

More columns at ft.com/brule

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