Pretty much nothing better than an email asking you to choose your favourite Christmas gifts - oh thank you M&S. And I have to say - the one store that sums up Christmas for me is Marks and Spencer. For a start, as I mention every year, I do not cook during the festive season. I am the ultimate marketeer's dream when it comes to buying ready prepared Christmas food. The meal on the big day itself is a given. Hello stuffed turkey crown, bread sauce, "garnish selection" (stuffing, pigs in blankets and other such pre made things of loveliness), and cranberry sauce.
But the food porn element for me is the selection of buffet food. Call it a canape or finger food - call it what you want but make sure I have all of it. My excuse is that M&S make almost all of them gluten free which, when you have a coeliac in the house, makes super easy preparation.
So I can be found sweeping the shelves in M&S (mulled wine highly recommended as well - best on the high street I can confirm, as year in year out I have tried them all but keep coming back to the M&S one) for food but also for gifts.
However normally for the rest of the family. So when I was asked what I would pick, well who can resist that as an offer?
And so after much perusing, what did I settle on? After my post from the other day, confessing to my love of one thing in particular, it had to be a coat.
I have had my eye on this since the launch and once I'd tried it on - it was a given. As well as being fabulous for this time of year, it will carry me through to the Spring over a tee, jeans and sneakers. Ideal for work, play or an evening out, I am completely thrilled with it.
The Ellerby Coat from the Alexa Range £125 Size up. I've got the 12 and, like the other Alexa coats from her range this time round, I found it narrow on the shoulders.
It was however a toss up between the Alexa one and a whole host of others.
Autograph Herringbone Duster Coat from Autograph £149
This is a 12 so unless you want it super oversized (and I am tall), I would recommend taking your usual size.
If I didn't already have two M&S leopard print coats (one from last year and one from this year). Please please someone buy this longer length version...
Long Leopard Print Coat from M&S £139
And moving onto handbags. So whilst I've chosen a coat for (part of) my present (scroll down), I feel a handbag would make a great addition to the gift stash.
Seeing as I've gone for a grey coat and grey handbags are really hard to come across, I was rather more than a tad excited to find this. Leather perfection.
Leather Across Body Quilt Bag £65 in grey
Or in the black.. again £65 which has gold hardwear, the grey has silver.
Or another great black option. On the larger side (I think you could justify both easily and use them together).
Ring Lorelle Leather Tote Bag £99
Other great options are a tan and leopard version. This is the perfect all year round option and, seeing as leopard is a neutral, this will go with pretty much anything.
Leather Across Body Bag £89
A classic shape in leather and suede. Adore this.
Leather Avery Saddle Shoulder Bag £99
First up - I would choose the Emma Hardie Bright Time Essentials. Yes yet again, I am banging on about Emma Hardie but if you haven't tried their Moringa Balm or their oil, then all I can is - I absolutely love and buy on repeat.
This is an amazing introduction to the range and makes an excellent gift for someone else or yourself. It is the most superb value. The serum on its own costs £49 (which I haven't tried and am so looking forward to opening it) and the cream is £45. Doesn't take a genius to do those maths does it? Get buying NOW before they sell out! You could even split the kit for gifts (or keep for yourself...)
Bright Time Essentials Kit £50 by Emma Hardie
Then we have the French section. I am always waxing lyrical about how fabulous French toiletries are and M&S have three of my favourites - two old that I've been using regularly for a couple of years now and one new.
Starting with a gift set which I can guarantee anyone would love.
Prodigieux Set from Nuxe £25 I promise you, with a spritz of this you become instantly French.
However for Winter, my scent of choice is by another lesser known French company, which again I have mentioned before, but for Christmas, these really do make the best gifts. Some fragrance companies are now just ridiculously expensive (looking at you Tom Ford) and they really don't have any better longevity than the much more reasonable versions.
My favourite Winter scent is a unisex fragrance by Roger et Gallet called Jean-Marie Farina. I picked up (two!) of the fragrances instore but have ordered the matching shower gel online.
Jean-Marie Farina Shower Gel £9.50
And lastly - a skincare company which I have only recently discovered. Staying in a hotel a couple of weeks ago, the products in the bathroom and in the goody bag were L'Occitane. Now I'll be honest, I didn't know they did "proper" skincare. I thought it was all handcream and shower gels.
Oops. How wrong was I? I get sent lots of products to try and rarely do I actually love them. But the facial Precious Cream is amazing. Seriously seriously good. It feels like a luxurious, heavy cream but isn't greasy and leaves no residue at all (and I promise you, I don't have skin like leather).
It's usually £48 for 50ml but I've ordered this gift set as a Happy Christmas to me. You basically get everything else for £6! I can also confirm that the cleansing foam mousse is also gorgeous. And, as an Emma Hardie enthusiast, I take some impressing.
Precious Immortelle Collection £54 by L'Occitane
And I just have to finish with the best stocking filler ever. It appears that I am the last person to know about these. AMAZING. I have bought en masse and have one in the car, one in each handbag. My two favourite shades are Fig and Plum - Fig is definitely the more day appropriate shade - a slightly darker than lip colour. And Plum is a richer wine shade. Neither are full on in your face though. Reapply and reapply and reapply. If you find lipstick dries your lips - and I have NO idea how people wear it as my lips start flaking within about 20 mins and I end up with just a lipliner style 90s disaster going on - then this is the product for you. For next to nothing.
Burts Bees Lip Shimmer £6 or 3 for 2. Would be ridiculously rude not to for that price. Fess up if you're already a user. Everyone I've told has said, oh yes I've used them for ages. Thanks for the heads up chaps....
And I haven't even started on the stocking fillers for children. Best there are out there in my opinion and on three for two, makes perfect sense. Quiz games, after dinner games, toiletries and stationary. Go forth and do all your Christmas shopping in one basket!
So here I am in my coat again. Absolutely loving it.
1970 Jumper - Bella Freud
Trousers - M&S
Trainers - Woden
Coat - M&S
Tomorrow, I am back on a dress mission.. you have been warned.