I’ve always been a stocking-filler kind of girl, rather than someone who nags to get at the bigger, flashier presents under the Christmas tree (after lunch and no sooner: I brook no ripostes). Small, useful, relatively inexpensive things – and I do realise that word means different things to different people – are somehow more satisfying, and ideal for filling stockings, the dreaded Secret Santa, ring-fencing for unexpected guests, or expected ones you love slightly less than everyone else.
My cheapest find this year is Poundland’s Time to Shine glitter polish (£1), which looks great on otherwise bare nails. Its clear base makes it endlessly forgiving on the respectable but hardly deluxe formula, and the rainbow shade is a dead ringer for another favourite at 11 times the price. If your budget’s a fiver, buy two and see off the change with a pack of apple nail files (£3, Topshop).
Less fun, but truly gratifying for those with an interest in skincare, are Soap Glory’s Exfoliating Scrub Gloves (£4): simply pull them on in the shower, lather with your favourite wash, and scrub away dry, flaky shins and goosepimply arms and bum. Equally ingenious and cheeringly kitsch is Denman’s new Coconut Scented Hairbrush (£7.99). If, like me, you have only to wander past a cooker for your hair to adopt the smell of Little Chef, you’ll appreciate its instantly deodorising and detangling capabilities (it’s nothing like air freshener, I promise). And I can vouch the brush stays scented for months, even when languishing in the bottom of your handbag with half a roll of Polos and some dog-poo bags.
Speaking of which, “smellies”, as my nan would call them, can still make great stocking-fillers, if chosen well. Humble Frankincense Bath Honey (£12), from conservation and sustainable living advocate Kate Humble, could not smell more Christmassy if it were three parts brandy butter. The formula cossets the skin and the simple packaging is charming – though not as beautiful as the Kaffe Fassett range (from £10) by British toiletries company Heathcote Ivory.
I find teens especially appreciative of good branding, so for them I’ll be buying Rebel’s Refinery passionfruit lipbalm (£8), complete with skull casing, or Stila’s Spicy Kisses trio of lip glazes in satisfying clicker pens. At £13, they’re pushing the definition of stocking-filler, but, divided by three, they’re bargainous.