Christmas shopping: Is it an annual chore or a joy?

Five personalities offer their views of what it is to give, and where they seek the perfect gift

 

Charlie Connelly (author)

Does shopping for Christmas presents fill you with joy or dread?

I’m one of those people who tuts and rolls their eyes when the Christmas stuff appears in the shops in October, then keeps up the tutting and eye-rolling all the way through November and most of December, before realising in a panic not only that it’s perfectly reasonable for Christmas stuff to be in the shops a week before the big day but I also need to start buying some of it.

Are you good at buying presents?

I’m terrible at buying presents. This is the reason I’ve spent years trying to restrict my buying to people for whom it’s absolutely necessary. I’d pared this down to a perfect minimum when my sister, I’m convinced out of sheer spite, produced two nephews in quick succession, meaning I now have to think about KIDS’ presents for the next decade or so on top of everything else.

Getting or giving?

I always say giving, until the day itself when I see everyone else giving theirs which are always miles better than mine. The ensuing waves of self-loathing and ennui can carry me right through until January some years. I’m also the world’s worst wrapper, which compounds the misery. Everyone else passes out perfectly wrapped presents with flawlessly tied ribbons while mine look like the paper’s come out of next door’s recycling and the present’s been fought into it by a couple of voles having a wrestle in a Sellotape factory.

Super organised or last minute panic?

Put it this way, Amazon’s final delivery date is the first to be ringed in my diary every year.

Online or in-store?

Online, definitely, in a late flurry of increasingly frantic mouse clicks. The last time I bought a major present in store it was a sewing machine my girlfriend wanted from Argos in Dublin a few years ago. The exact period of time it took for me to carry it across the city coincided with a major blizzard that had me crashing through the front door like the last survivor of an Arctic shipwreck staggering into a remote trading post, distributing snow everywhere and discovering the bright blue ink from the soggy box had smeared itself all over the front of my new tan duffle coat.

Can you recommend a website?

Whichever has the latest final delivery date. Or [face lights up] the ‘books’ page of my website.

Worst Christmas present bought for someone else?

If you go by the recipient’s reaction it was a shoe organiser you hang from the back of a door I bought for an ex one Christmas. I still think it was a good and practical present but any shoes that ended up in it that Christmas went via my head at high velocity.

Do we lose the run of ourselves at Christmas?

Yes. Dear me, yes. Ironic jumpers, ‘twelve pubs’: we should have called it a day at paper crowns and satsumas in the toes of stockings.

George Hook (broadcaster)

Does shopping for Christmas presents fill you with joy or dread?

Do people really shop at Christmas?

Are you good at buying presents?

What is a PA for?

Getting or giving?

Mr Scrooge and I share a common view of Christmas.

Super organised or last minute panic?

See all of the above

Online or in-store?

I would prefer to be burned at the stake than enter a store during the holidays.

Can you recommend a website?

Amazon.

Worst Christmas present bought for someone else?

A fur coat for my wife who had views about killing animals for ornamentation.

Do we lose the run of ourselves at Christmas?

Most people do, but not me.

Lisa McHugh (singer)

Does shopping for Christmas presents fill you with joy or dread?

I think the initial thought of going is actually worse than it is. I love buying people presents so I actually enjoy it.

Are you good at buying presents?

I always like to try and think about what I’m getting the person instead of just picking up anything for the sake of it! So, some might say I’ve had good ideas in the past and some may say different . . . ha ha!

Getting or giving?

I much prefer giving presents! I always get super embarrassed when someone gives me a present, don’t ask me why!

Super organised or last minute panic?

It depends really. If I see something that someone will really like quite early on then I’ll buy it but I wouldn’t really go out of my way to start my shopping at the end of September or anything like that. I always find once I start buying then it gives me the kick start to continue until it’s all done and dusted. I prefer to stay away from Christmas week madness in the shops so I rather have it all sorted before then and I can relax.

Online or in-store?

I find it so much easier online because there are never any queues to stand in! But sometimes you have to actually see the thing you are buying so in those instances I’ll buy in-store.

Can you recommend a website?

It really does depend on what you are buying. If it’s clothes then the Next website is brilliant as it also has the label section which is all next day delivery and there are gorgeous things on there. Or missguided, ASOS etc they’re great to find a bargain! If it’s for something else then I troll through Google to find the best option.

Worst Christmas present bought for someone else?

I didn’t technically buy it, but I gave my brother in law a lump of turf one year, it was just for a laugh!

Do we lose the run of ourselves at Christmas?

Yes, I think so many people spend a ridiculous amount of money on things that aren’t really necessary. People panic-shop and just panic in general in the lead- up to Christmas, whereas I just chill out, think about what I’m buying for each person and then search online at home first before stressing myself out wandering the shops and end up finding nothing!

Colette Fitzpatrick (broadcaster)

Does present shopping fill you with joy or dread?

I really only like shopping for clothes for myself or the kids. I’m not one for wandering around and getting inspiration for the ‘perfect gift’. I would generally ask family what they want and get that. Otherwise, I think a decent bottle of wine is a no brainer for the type of ‘thank you for such and such’ presents.

Are you good at buying presents?

Not really. I pester the recipient to find out what they want. And mark it off my list. Job done.

Getting or giving?

Giving. I’ve no interest really in getting presents myself. I’m not one for lotions and potions or knick-knacks. I love Christmas but it’s the social side of it that I love. Meeting people, going to parties. The time off. Presents are right at the bottom of my wish list for Christmas.

Super organised or last minute panic?

Pretty organised. They go on to the organic, ever changing, ever evolving shopping list on my phone until they’re bought. Then delete!

Online or in-store?

Online. Hassle free.

Can you recommend a website?

For something unique or personalised, notonthehighstreet.com is great. Warning. Do not log on unless your card is loaded up!

Worst Christmas present bought for someone else?

Probably some tat for my parents as a child with their money.

Do we lose the run of ourselves at Christmas?

Yes. I think the Irish are almost as bad as Americans. I wish we could put the brakes on when it comes to the spend.

Gary O’Hanlon (chef)

Does shopping for Christmas presents fill you with joy or dread?

Joy all the way for me. I simply love Christmas and strolling through the shops in the lead-up to Christmas is one of the best feelings. Nothing beats Grafton Street at Christmas.

Are you good at buying presents?

Very good. I’ve a good eye and rarely get it wrong. I also tend to fish for hints as to what my loved ones would want.

Getting or giving?

Oh, I’m a giver. I love buying people gifts. I’m not great at receiving at all. It’s always nice but I always feel like I don’t deserve big or expensive presents. I’ve always been the same. I’m not trying to be a martyr, that’s just the way I am. Buying my closest friends and family presents, though, is a great feeling. Knowing I’m gonna hook them up with a cracking present gives me a buzz. I’ve always been generous.

Super organised or last minute panic?

A bit of both. I always plan my wife’s present in advance. Probably because it costs the most and then I hook up my goddaughter Jules as well as my nieces and nephews Damon, Ben, Emily and Jacob. After that it’s a Christmas Eve panic attack. When all else fails I throw money at the problem.

Online or in-store?

In-store for me. I love Arnotts. It has something for everyone. I do like to see what I’m buying. I’m a bit old school that way. Plus, when you’re in store you can soak up the festive atmosphere.

Can you recommend a website?

Littlewoodsireland.ie is great. It’s very simple to use and for on the go use on the phone it’s excellent. Has something for everyone.

Worst Christmas present bought for someone else?

I made a personalised hamper for an ex-girlfriend once. It was about 20-30 different items in a hamper of what I thought were her favourite things. The presents included tickets to a concert plus an overnight stay in a Dublin hotel. The hotel just didn’t happen to be her “favourite” one so she broke up with me. It was a very thoughtful gift, I thought, but turned out to be a bad one as she left me. She probably did me a favour.

Do we lose the run of ourselves at Christmas?

No way. I would say to buy within your means but by all means go all out to enjoy what is, in my opinion, the greatest time of the year.

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