It’s Christmas Eve! I’m writing this in my pyjamas, from the spare room at my parent’s house, at great speed because after lunch we have to go to my auntie’s house for our annual…Trip To My Auntie’s House On Christmas Eve. Don’t ever let it be said that the life of a highfalutin editor isn’t glamorous.
Anyway. This Christmas, I decided to take everyone’s least favourite office tradition, Secret Santa, and bring it to xoJane UK.
I matched some of our writers up with each other and asked them to pick each other a virtual gift. I didn't specify a budget, or even whether the gift in question has to be an actual thing, or something abstract.
Disappointingly, no-one offered to buy anyone else world peace. Instead the suggestions were thoughtful, sweet and show just how well the writers have got to know each other over the last six months. Sob.
I’m also a little terrified by quite how easily Allan Mott managed to tap into my wildest hopes and dreams.
Tory shopped for Alisande:Ah Alisande – crusader of women's rights, Strictly fanatic and all-round fox. Surely no one gift could suffice... so I'll fill a virtual stocking of joy for everyone's favourite Irish lady.
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich – Well-behaved Women Seldom Make History :Books rule, because they are the easiest thing on the planet to wrap. As I regularly roll in to work at ten, rarely iron and forever talked in class, the mere title of this book is cheering. I don't want to tar dear Sandy with my naughty brush, but I'm sure she too would welcome the message that we must make a stir to make a difference.
The gift of dance: I would wee my pants if this turned up inside my stocking. 45 minutes with wiggle-hipped Strictly pro Ian Waite, to learn the dance of your choice (tango, obv.) Ian is an absolute charmer, and you get to take two mates to 'watch'. As virtually buying this would propel me to best-friend status, that means I'd get to touch Ian too. Bliss.
Dior Diorific lipstick in Marilyn: I mean, just look at that packaging. Who wouldn't want this? (Ok, this might have just turned into my own little wishlist). Merry Christmas Alisande, you beauty!
Siam shopped for Phoebe:So I drew Phoebe, xoJane UK’s fab-ooo-los fashion and beauty editor, in the xoJane Secret Santa. One word. PRESSURE! Not only is she, like, my boss, but what do you get the girl who has everything?
I was at a loss, I was all at sea, drowning in present ideas with no real substance or meaning. Should I get her some bath salts, or maybe a nice pair of socks…no one would turn their nose up at a box of Cadbury’s Milk Tray, would they?
I know what you’re thinking; whilst all of them are good, sturdy, classic Secret Santa gifts none of them really scream out PHOEBE FRANGOUL. But what does scream PHOEBE FRANGOUL?
Well, there was only one way to find out – stalk through her catalogue of xoJane features of course! So I made a brew and set out on a serious stalking spree…and this is what I learnt: As well as her love of fashion and beauty, Phoebe Frangoul also loves booze and men.
Yes, you read that right, when she’s not buying clothes or beautifying herself xoJane UK’s fashion and beauty editor is Obnoxiously Objectifying Men all over the internet and partaking in VERY boozy Fridays!
With this evidence I decided there was only one thing for it; I’d have to organise Phoebe a Hen Party for Christmas, complete with copious gin cocktails and a stripper with the quiet intelligence of Anthony Head, the torso of Chad Los Clos, and hair like Glenn Danzig. Simples.
Alisande shopped for Allan Mott:Allan and I have discussed our love of B-movies and Video Nasties a few times over the last few months. As far as I’m aware he doesn’t yet own this particular collection of memorabilia about the 72 films that were banned by Britain’s Director of Public Prosecutions in the '80s, and he should. There’s no-one I can imagine enjoying it more.
Becca Day-Preston shopped for Siam:While I'd like to buy Siam a whole basket of Hummingbird goodies and hang out getting our nails did, I'm a Skint Secret Santa. So, given her recent musing on the wonderful '90s body spray phenomenon, I'd grab her a Charlie Red body spray (YES! They still make it! Who knew?!) and one glorious Humminbird red velvet cupcake.
Red is definitely the colour, especially when we're talking about body sprays and tasty treats (just not together, obvs, eurgh!).
Rebecca shops for Periwinkle Jones:As tempted as I am to buy the lovely Periwinkle a whole bunch of new cats, the news that she's had to re-do all her Christmas shopping because her current feline companion just shat on everyone's gifts has made me rethink that. Maybe one kitten is enough.
Instead, I'd get her these rather flash cat collars, to ensure that her super-cute furry predator is the best looking cat on the block:
Happy Christmas Periwinkle! And...cat!
Squeamish Kate shopped for Tory:I am not sure what the budget is for this one. There is nothing stopping me from e-mailing Rebecca and asking. But where's the fun in that? This way I have no restraint! Fancy Christmas hamper for Tory! I mean, we're not really buying these Secret Santa presents – are we? - I may wish to retract my Secret Santa.
Hmm the last Secret Santa I was involved in had a budget of £1. The last Dirty Santa (disappointingly it's dirty because you can demand people swap gifts with you) I was involved in had a budget of $15. So let's call it a fiver, I'm pretty sure the budget's usually a fiver.
I know Tory is a big fan of pyjamas (who isn't?) so I would get her some toasty socks to wear with pyjamas and warm her feet, I love these Wizard of Oz ruby slippers from Sock Dreams. Have I been too real Tory? Sorry.
Here's a fun fact to go with the socks – in the original Wizard of Oz books the ruby slippers are silver. MGM made them ruby in the film to show off the technicolor film.
Allan Mott shopped for Rebecca:I don’t know how Rebecca will feel knowing that the first two words that came to my mind when she told me I was her (Not-So) Secret Santa were “eggs” and “Doctor Who” (followed immediately by genius, style and beauty—he wrote suck-uppingly), but I am confident I’d make her smile with The Eggsterminator Egg Cup, which charmingly (and non-licensedly) combines her two passions.
But that’s just what I would get her if this whole enterprise actually required me to spend real money. Since it isn’t and I could literally say I’d give her a million-kajillion pounds if I wanted, I’d instead get more ambitious with my initial impulse and give her Matt Smith holding the keys to her own scotch egg factory.
Merry Christmas, Rebecca! Don’t eat it all at once!
Phoebe shopped for Squeamish Kate:You might not think that the wobbly sets and slightly hammy acting of an early '90s BBC drama would be the place to find a gripping depiction of the struggles of women in the early 20th century, but that's exactly what you get with The House of Eliott.
I've chosen it for Kate because I think it ticks many of her boxes - there's the feminism, obviously, which we encounter through the story of Bea and Evie Eliott, young gentlewomen who have to survive on their wits - and sewing skills - after their father dies leaving them penniless and in the charge of their sleazy cousin Arthur.
Their refusal to succumb to the temptation of 'marrying well' at the price of their independence and dignity reveals a lot about the limitations of the lives of women at the time.
The show has plenty of glamour - those gorgeous clothes, Evie's eyebrows! - which I think will appeal to Kate's sensibilities, but there's grit too in the subplots that revolve around the seamstresses who work at the House of Elliott - infant deaths, the impact of the general strike and domestic violence are all covered.
It's the perfect series to settle down with on a wintry weekend with the biggest box of posh chocs you can find and a strong cocktail. Merry Christmas Kate!
Becca Day-Preston really rocks that sexy bad girl look so I'd probably try and jump the waiting list and get her some of these:
She also looks like a girl who could rock a hat so I'd scour eBay and vintage shops for something to top off her look. Probably something hideously glittery or with a dash of leopard print.
What are all of you lovelies doing this fine Christmas Eve? Also, how do you rate our Secret Santa suggestions? Think you can do better, hit me up below or on Twitter @rebecca_hol.