I’ve decided to bow to the influences of the current zeitgeist and do the occasional post about the dreaded C word. This actually is a rehash of something from a couple of years ago

Christmas is a quintessential time for dorkdom, because of the awkward decisions that have to be made about presents. Here are some guidelines.


A man may rightly suspect his partner of lack of insight or regard if faced with a five pack of Y-Fronts as a Yuletide gift. At the same time, most men over the age of 20 do not want a g-string, and no man at all, ever, wants a posing pouch in the shape of an elephant’s head, including the ears. No.

Men, the woman in your life is not going to be impressed with a dozen pack of cheapo cotton knickers from the supermarket, or even M&S posh undies. Steel yourself and get down to a decent lingerie shop, and Victoria’s Secret and Ann Summers do not count. You’ll need to know your partner’s size, so vague cupping motions with your hands and muttered ‘Errrrmmmm, about this size,’ WILL NOT DO! You’ll need to raid her underwear drawer and look at some labels. Don’t try and kid me you haven’t rummaged in there before, either.

Bear in mind too that you might like red with black lace trim peek-a-boo bras, but your partner is very unlikely to do so. Thongs will not be appreciated by anybody over 25. Nor will crotchless knickers. Nor will knickers with humorous messages, such as a No Entry sign, or ‘Caution! Slippery when wet.’


This really is a no-go area. A man receiving a bargain pack of argyle socks is not going to be cock-a-hoop despite his protestations of delight. They show a complete lack of imagination. Men, do not buy 10 denier black silk stockings unless you are very sure indeed that your partner likes to wear suspenders (garter belt in the US?)


This is a bloody minefield. No woman over 18 or 20 is going to want  ‘The SENSATIONAL new fragrance from (insert name of person famous only for being a brat on reality TV, or twerking on the MTV awards)’. These universally smell of bubblegum and cat wee. Stick with the classics, guys. You cannot go wrong with Chanel No 5.

Women, Lynx is for pimply adolescents, and Brut is only worn by louts. And don’t be tempted to think that buying him something called Barbarian or Valhalla  will turn him into a sex god. Stick with the classics. Woods of Windsor do some rather nice toiletries for men, and I rather like Dunhill or Givenchy. Davidoff products of any flavour whatsoever will make him think you regard him as slightly effete.

Novelty drinks containers

The comic possibilities of a glass marked Dad’s Pint are exhausted before the paper’s off. Men, don’t think for even one second that a mug stencilled with WORLD’S GREATEST MUM will cut any ice at all when you’ve hit the scotch a bit too hard and fallen asleep in the dinner.


Handkerchiefs appear to be regarded as acceptable presents to give to men. They aren’t.

An ironing board is not appropriate for either sex.

Nor is a new food processor.

Men may well want a new electric razor (mainly so they don’t bleed out when their womenfolk have used their disposable razor to do their legs and armpits and not thrown it away) but they do not want one as a Christmas present.

A gimp mask is almost certainly a mistake, unless you have had a clear and specific request for said item.

Golf ball personalisers aren’t very romantic, are they?

Not a new set of steak knives either.

An apron with a false bra and panties on it is as funny as an attack of shingles.

His’n’Hers pillowcases? These are just naff. Sorry, but they are.

As are his’n’hers tee shirts with the arrows marked I’m with this idiot/bitch. No. Don’t do that.

If you’re a bloke and you want a new power drill, don’t get one for your wife for Christmas. In fact this applies both ways. Nothing that comes from a DIY shop is personal enough to give to the love of your life. I did once buy my partner a set of router bits, but it was her router, and they were only as a stocking filler.

Five litres of oil, a bottle of screenwash, and a road atlas are a pretty strong indicator of a lack of forward planning, since you must have got them from the all night garage on the way back from the pub on Christmas Eve night.

PS DO NOT BUY PRESENTS FOR YOUR PETS! This is insufferably twee.