Naughty or nice?

He’s making his list, he’s checking it twice, he’s gonna find out whose naughty or nice. Santa Claus is coming to town.

This year, we reckon that almost everyone will be on the nice list, mainly because the opportunities for being naughty have been somewhat curtailed of late. So, here’s our pick of the best gifts to suit everyone from stuffy Great Aunt Gertrude to permanently sticky toddlers. Many of them are available from local businesses or specialists across the UK…

grown ups

Sometimes being a grown up means that gifts become more about what you need, rather than what you want. Very few people actually want to receive a new iron or a vacuum cleaner for Christmas and some may explain this in no uncertain terms. Cash or vouchers may mean you can score someone’s name off your list, but a little more thought can result in a more meaningful gift… 

If you have gold or gemstone jewellery that you’ve inherited or no longer wear, then Peterculter’s Lava Jewellery can use the materials and create a new piece that you, or a loved one will treasure. Eternity rings can be given a new life as several pairs of ear studs or something old-fashioned can be transformed into something to suit the recipient’s own taste.  

Jeweller Sandy Menzies also works to commission, using the latest CAD technology to create stunning pieces. If you’ve left it too late to create something bespoke, then Finnies on George Street has the best selection of fine jewellery and watches in the North-east, as well as gifts such as silver photo frames, pens and glassware. 

When it comes to significant others and close relatives, spending time together is always a winner. How about a block booking at Aberdeen’s Original Hot Yoga studio in Berryden? It’s hot, sweaty, good for your health and fun to do together. If getting hot and sweaty’s not your thing, you could book a creative workshop for two, try a cookery class, or treat your friend or loved one to a short break, a night out at a local restaurant, a trip to the theatre or even a flying visit to somewhere with better weather.

If you’re planning a special night out or have a wedding to attend, then gift a session with make-up artist Gosia Weiss. She has an almost magical ability to bestow a glow and take years off you, while still making you feel like yourself. 

Actually, a bit of pampering is always a welcome gift. Who doesn’t appreciate being a tiny bit spoiled? A new hair style or a trip to the beauty salon can help us get our mojo back. Look for half-day or day spa packages or create your own at a local salon. Depending on your location, Frasers of Spa Street and Bloom are both central and have a great range of treatments. In the west of the city, The Doll’s House over in Cults, or Kippie Lodge are the go-to spots while Cali Beauty in Westhill offers the best Guinot facials around, as well as special mini-manicures and pedicures for under twelves which are ideal for mother-daughter bonding. If you’re after a more permanent beauty boost, consider vouchers from NY Skin, Andrew Scott Dental or Alpha Clinic. 

Accessories also make for thoughtful gifts. A pair of gloves, a gorgeous scarf, a woolly bobble hat, shoes or a new handbag can all be pleasing. Our picks of where to go include The Platform in Macduff which is one of our favourite shopping road trips because they always have something great in store, whether it’s a new outfit or a piece by a local artist or maker. Plus they have great cake. 

In Cults, Sonya Angus’s boutique stocks a unique range of accessories, fashion, homeware and gifts. The difficulty will be handing over whatever you’ve bought to someone else. Now we think of it, that’s probably why they offer complimentary gift wrapping all year round. 

Number 18 on Chapel Street is always likely to have something special that you won’t find elsewhere. We love their humorous prints and knitted accessories. Its location is ideal – you can pop into Tiger Lily for a new outfit, Copper & Grey to pick up some more gifts, then nip across to Almondine for a treat or two. 

Get a gazillion brownie points with a personalised star map of where you met, or another significant date from posterhaste.com They do a fabulous selection of personalised prints including illustrations, travel, family cartoon portraits and quotes and deliver quickly. 

Buying lingerie for Christmas can be fraught with danger. It’s best to leave anything in bright red polyester with scratchy lace well alone. Make an appointment at Bellewren Lingerie in Oldmeldrum instead and treat your loved one to an expert fitting and their choice of everyday or special occasion underwear. 

If the budget won’t stretch to a weekend in New York or sunning yourself in the Seychelles, then look for simple luxuries that make life more pleasurable without requiring a bank loan. Sooki Coo has a delightful range of luxury hand poured candles with beguiling scents. Pryde on Great Western Road also have some superb candles, as well as a great range of homewares, original art and prints that make memorable and truly special gifts. 

Alcohol is always an option and there are lots of local spirits to choose from. With Speyside on the doorstep, malt is an obvious choice, but we also have well over 20 gin brands in Aberdeenshire. One of the newest is Foghouse Gin which has been created by Mike Stuart of the Inverurie Whisky Shop. The small batch gin, which has notes of rosemary and olive, coriander and spice, is made in association with Aboyne’s Lost Loch Spirits Company in micro copper stills. It’s available from the shop and online.

Finally, if you must give your nearest and dearest some socks, then try jimmylion.com They have an immense selection for all ages and some really funky designs – from cute animals and Jurassic Park to Marvel’s Avengers and Back to the Future. You can even create your own custom packs of four, six or ten pairs.

good boys & girls

In parts of Germany and Austria, a mythical figure called Krampus arrives on the night of December 5th. Krampus swats bad children with a switch, shoves them in a large sack and takes them to his lair. Here, naughty children have nothing more to fear than the threat of finding the stockings at the end of their bed empty except for a lump of coal.  

Let’s assume that all the children you know are little angels, shall we? In that case, here’s our selection of gifts for good boys and girls…

The main options for toy shops are Smyth’s down at the Beach Retail Park, Hamley’s in Union Square and Toytown in the Trinity Centre. Toytown are particularly good for Lego sets. Will’s Toy Shop on North Deeside Road in Cults specialises in tabletop and card trading games, collectable bears and family games. Out in Inverurie, Strachan’s have a good selection of toys and games too and there are plenty of options like Alpine Bikes or Stonehaven’s Bike Remedy if you’re searching for a two-wheeled present. 

Gift shops like Copper and Grey also have good selections of more unusual toys, especially if you’re looking for stocking fillers or smaller gifts for friends’ children. They have some great construction kits in tins, a good selection of board games and lots of crafts kits. 

Indi + Will in Balmedie is a joy if you’re looking for great quality wooden toys, imaginative play or cute soft toys. There are some wonderful wooden kitchen playsets, delightful mice from Maileg, squishy Miffy rabbits and lots of different animals from Jellycat. You’ll also find games like Poo Bingo, which are guaranteed to amuse pre-schoolers as well as being highly educational. We had no idea that wombats poo in cubes. It’s also great for kids’ books, with the Little People, Big Dreams series profiling inspirational characters from all walks of life. 

Construction toys are always popular and we like Geomag’s versatile Magicube Shapes. This comes as a 13-piece set made from recycled plastic that can be used to create an infinite section of vehicles and creatures using the differently shaped blocks and wheels. £29.99 from thetoyshop.com 

Staying with ecologically friendly gifts, Britains Farm in a Box includes a John Deere tractor, animals including horses and cattle, fences and hay bales and the box converts into farm buildings that can be coloured in and reused multiple times. It even turns back into a storage box for when play time ends. Great for those aged 3-7, you’ll find it at toyshops for around £25. 

Coding is set to be the essential work skill in the decades to come, so this Artie Max coding robot could be a good investment! The drawing robot is fun to use and helps kids learn five coding languages through fun, creative activities. Kids can get coding within minutes by connecting their WI-FI-enabled device securely and directly to Artie Max – there’s no internet needed. Suitable for ages 8+, you’ll find it on Amazon for around £110. 

Kids seem to have a desire for their own tech from an early age. Get your toddler on track to be the next David Bailey with My First Tech’s Insta 2 camera. Pictures are printed on thermal paper and emerge in 10 seconds flat. It supports microSD cards and even has an extra selfie lens. Find it at myfirst.tech for £95. 

My Fairy Garden has a great range of playsets including a village playset at £37.99 and a garden at £14.99. Kids over four will enjoy planting their gardens with soil and planting their seeds so their fairies have somewhere suitably enchanting to stay. You can find the range at Argos, Smyths and Hobbycraft

Teenagers can be rather difficult to buy for, particularly the ones where their expectations far exceed the budget available. Gift vouchers are often the default option, but they’re not much fun to unwrap. If you opt for video games, consoles, sports kit, hobby materials or clothing, then save yourself a trip to the returns desk by finding out precisely what they want. 

If your teen is a budding influencer or content producer, then JOBY’s GorillaPod Mobile Vlogging Kit may actually be appreciated! The kit includes everything they need to create the content they want using their mobile. There’s a mobile tripod, mini LED to create flawless lighting, and the Wavo Mobile microphone for crisp, clear audio. They can choose what elements they want to use, and it is compatible with mobile phones or a mirrorless camera. RRP £179.95 from joby.com

for fanatical foodies

You can’t go far wrong with food as a gift. Broadly speaking, gifts for foodies fall into three categories – cooking equipment and gourmet ingredients, little goodies and treats and foodie experiences outside the home.  

Keen cooks often love new kit, whether it’s some super sharp Japanese knives, a smoker or their own sushi making kit. Locally, Lakeland on Union Street is often your best bet for this type of gift. Soup makers are often appreciated by elderly parents and there’s a great selection of bean to cup coffee machines too. 

Fans of the Great British Bake Off might appreciate a monthly baking subscription, where the recipient gets a new recipe kit each month, or some baking tins and gadgets from the show’s official site bakeoffbox.co.uk  we liked their duck egg blue baking sets. 

Keen cooks might also like Zwilling’s amazing Fresh & Save Vacuum Starter Set. This comes in at just under £90 but will save money in the long run. Once you’ve applied the vacuum pump to the special glass jars or reusable bags, food stays fresh for up to five times longer. It’s great for leftovers or
meal prep, marinating or even cooking sous vide. 

Moving on to gourmet gifts, themed hampers can work well. Fill a basket with a bottle or two from SugarBird Wines excellent selection and pair with three or four generous wedges of artisan cheese from Rosemount’s Gourmet Cheese Co. and a selection of their sourdough bread or crackers and you have a perfect gift. 

Other options include taking a trip to the Oriental Supermarket on Causewayend, the Asian Supermarket on John Street, one of the local farm shops, a food hall like Mains of Drum or Kellockbank or a delicatessen or two and putting together a collection. Maybe a robust South African red from SugarBird Wines with some fresh pasta and Italian delicacies from Pasta Plus? Sticking with the Italian theme, how about an Italian truffle, truffle oil or give a taste of sunshine with a bottle of Limoncetta Liqueur from the zest of Sorrento lemons? It’s a natural product, made in a traditional way and with a bit of a kick. It can be purchased from Amazon for around £16. Add in an Italian cookery book and you’ve gifted someone a very pleasurable evening or two.   

Everyone enjoys a little bit of naughty deliciousness, though it’s safest not to look at the calorie count. Pure Decadence by Loch Aurora offer an outstanding selection of hand-made fudge. Their Belgian Chocolate Fudge is rather moreish. A large bag of assorted tablet and fudge is good choice if you have to post a present. You’ll get at least 42 pieces for £25 and the packaging is biodegradable.   

Vegans often feel a little left out, but if you head for Rosemary Planet on Holburn Street, you’ll find a great selection of vegan sweets. Buy a decorative glass jar, add a tag and some pretty ribbon and you’ve got a gift that will make them happy for weeks to come. This idea also works well for elderly relatives using old fashioned boiled sweets or you can fill a jar with mini chocolate bars or fizzy sweets for kids. You’ll find the best selections at some of the city and shire’s confectionary specialists like Stonehaven’s Gulianotti’s, Ellon’s Hey Sweetie or Humbug in Rosemount.  

Moving on to the carnivores, Ingrams of Aberdeenshire do Christmas hampers that include treats like smoked salmon, smoked venison and their own sausages, bacon, gammon and gammon glaze, as well as bacon, wine, locally made tablet, chocs and Christmas cake. It’s like a taste of Aberdeenshire. They come in attractive gift boxes and you can adapt the contents to suit the recipient. 

Chattan Quality Meats not only supply some fabulously succulent turkey, game and locally sourced quality beef, poultry and pork, but they offer butcher packs that could help stock a freezer over the winter months. They even deliver within the city. Prices start at £25 and go up to £100, but if you want a more gourmet approach, pop into the shop and see the full range, then make a custom hamper. 

The last type of gift for foodies is a food experience. This might be a special lunch or dinner at your favourite restaurant, a cookery class or a private dining experience. Belmont Street’s The Tippling House, for example, offers a five course tasting menu for under £30 a person, which is a bit of a bargain. They also have an extensive collection of whiskies and a not inconsiderable cocktail menu. Their gift vouchers mean the recipient can choose what suits themselves. 

Whatever you choose, it’s bound to go down well!

pampered pets

According to one survey, pet lovers in the UK spent over £260 million on Christmas gifts for their pets last year. This leads us to believe that there must have been a lot of gerbils wearing tiny diamond tiaras and cats feasting on their personal cans of caviar. 

When it comes to buying gifts for your furry family members, it’s best to think of dogs as being similar to four year olds who will be ecstatic with just about anything they can eat or play with. A new ball, chew toy or Frisbee will mean a waggy tail. 

Cats are more like moody teenagers. You can spend a fortune on toys that will be ignored and luxury cat beds that they will haughtily stroll past before snuggling down in the box it came in. Cute festive collars and little outfits are a possibility if you don’t mind an arm full of scratches and a tetanus booster jab. Buy them some canned tuna and sneak them some bits of turkey during Christmas dinner instead.  

Here’s a few ideas we liked…

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