Benjamin Franklin was clearly not the present purchaser in his family. Presumably, in the late 18th century, that was women’s work. Otherwise, the founding father might well have amended his famous aphorism to read not, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes – and that every November grown men and women will spend hours wandering adrift in megastores and surfing the internet in search of the perfect gift for loved ones” – or something like that (Mr Franklin might have put it more felicitously).
Of course, finding a perfect gift takes consideration, understanding, empathy, energy. And in the interests of trying to alleviate some of the burden, beginning this week and for five weeks following, we offer our succinct suggestions for 10 really good presents – five for men, five for women – in six different categories, beginning with “plan ahead”.
‘Gifts should be useful and beautiful’
My planning could start as early as October, or two weeks before Christmas – it depends on what I find, writes Angela Missoni. I prefer it when I see things spontaneously rather than going out to look. For instance, with my brother lately I have started to give him food – special things that I know you can’t get easily. I like presents that disappear.
Then there are my friends, my parents, my boyfriend ... I collect jewellery throughout the year for my mother but sometimes I forget that I have it because I hide it so well, and end up buying something else. With jewellery, it has to suit someone’s personality; unlike food it shouldn’t disappear – it has to stay with them for a long time. It’s nice to have something engraved with a very personal message. What you write on the note with the present is also important, as is the care you put in the wrapping. I keep all the notes that people have written to me.
Now my children, Margherita and Teresa, are grown-up, I often give them jewellery, and also books, special make-up and stationery. I have bought Margherita underwear. I don’t think it’s hard to buy – I know her size and you always need more. Christmas gifts should be useful and beautiful. When they were children, Teresa and Margherita would make presents for me, and they still do. Last year my boyfriend gave me a photograph by George Brassaï. It’s a photo that’s been treated, then engraved by him. That’s a special piece.
Since my children were little, they have their presents set out in the living room and, whether the gifts are precious or not, the important thing is that there have to be many packages to open. Now they bring presents that they’ve picked up around the world and I display them for the morning too,making sure each present looks different and colourful and festive.
Angela Missoni is the creative director of Missoni