It Really Is The Thought That Counts

Author: Charlotte O'Shea

After almost 15 years together, My husband James and I might be forgiven for finding it difficult to think of imaginative or special gifts to exchange on the 25th December.

Next year is already set out to be crazy, and dare I say costly. With a new baby arriving at the beginning of March and the continuation of our home improvements, our bank balance is beginning to look decidedly uninspiring. We’ve already agreed that we are not going to spend a lot on each other this Christmas, and instead invest our spare pennies on memorable experiences and small thoughtful token gestures.

As you read this I will be on my way to Ireland, James’s company investors have invited us to their home for a festive dinner which just so happens to be in….Dublin. We’ve decided to make a few days out of it and come back Friday evening. It feels very glamorous to be essentially catching a flight simply to eat lovely food and pull crackers. We’ll ignore the fact I am over 6 months pregnant and have NOTHING to wear but even still, this kind of memory making is my jam, far more than any tangible item could ever be.

We are extending our annual leave by taking off next Monday and Tuesday, we’re taking Mabel away for a night to the Cotswolds to one of our favourite hotels and plan on admiring all of the pretty decorations, eat chocolate until we can’t possibly consume anymore and finish off by enjoying turkey complete with maximum trimmings as a family of three. With all of the hosting, travelling and general frivolity with friends planned over the next few weeks it will be nice to take some time out, if only for 48 hours.

With these pre-Christmas adventures in mind, it leaves little scope for Santa to whip up something cheerful on the cheap. However, one of the most thoughtful set of presents James ever bought for me was when we gave each other a budget of about thirty quid some years ago. I received an excellent book (he had asked in Waterstones what would be a good choice based on some authors he knew I already liked) a beautiful necklace from COS and a limited edition nail polish from Chanel. James is not an expert in cosmetics (!) – he had gone to the counter, asked what was “new” and had the recommendation gift wrapped in luxe gold ribbon and monochrome joy.

I am sure there have been other very covetable offerings, but these are clearly the ones I remember.

So far I’ve bought Mabel and James a few “joint” gifts that I think they will enjoy together. Mabel is obsessed with our globe and where places are in the world so I thought she and Daddy might appreciate the Maps Of The World calendar by Rifle paper Co.

Hopefully she will be significantly better at geography than her mother.

Over the past year I’ve tried to take photos whenever I remember, although I must admit to much preferring to living in the moment rather than through a lens – but that is probably a discussion for another day. For family I’m having some of these images framed, I’m sure James will appreciate a “grumpy Mabel” being added to our gallery wall that I have ready and waiting for him under the tree. Wilko do great value grey frames by the way – they are about £7 each for the larger sizes.

What is the most thoughtful gift you have ever received? I would love to hear about them in the comments box below.

Purveyor of short shorts. Make-up junkie. Hopes to grow old disgracefully.
Follow Charlotte on instagram @charlotte.oshea
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17 thoughts on “It Really Is The Thought That Counts

  1. Love this post Charlotte, it is so easy to get caught up in the need to spend a fortune on presents when really it should just be about the thought and choosing something you think that person will like and enjoy. This is the true meaning of gift giving surely! Hope you all have a lovely Christmas and enjoy your little trips away! X

    1. Thanks so much Sarah! as I type I am just trying to decant all of my liquids into travel bottles – we are only taking hand luggage which is a novelty! Have a lovely Christmas x

  2. 2 years ‘Leo’ bought me the gift of making a donation to Unicef that would help to deliver a baby and I remember the words in the card… ‘a gift that gives someone else the chance to be as wonderful a mommy as you’. I cried for about a week. By far and a way better than any physical gift I’ve ever received.

  3. I know it sounds dreadful, and not really in keeping with it being more about the thought than gift….but the best gift my husband bought me for Christmas was shortly after we had our 3rd baby – he sourced an antique ring which had 3 diamonds inset – one for each baby we’ve had. It was lovely, my favourite gift ever (but i’m guessing probably cost a pretty price!).
    Enjoy Dublin – and the Cotswolds. Dying to know which hotel you are going to in the Cotswolds! We love Dormy house – never been in deep winter, would love to go (minus 3 kids) for a winter mini break with the husband. Also, love that Quince website you’ve linked to for the Rifle paper co calendar – why have I never discovered this before?!

    1. I always get a little bit excited when I hear people love Quince because it belongs to a friend of a friend, she’s my age, has two young kids, just feels so inspirational!

  4. I was horrified when watching I’m a Celebrity, Get me out of here, that the average spend on Christmas for each family is over £800!! We have just moved into a new home and its been an expensive time, whilst the cost of nursery each month really makes my eyes water! We are hosting on the big day and it is all getting very expensive. 🙁 My husband and I have agreed to just buy each other a few budget friendly gifts this year but I can’t help but feel that it will be a bit sad this year when we open our presents and we don’t have much to actually open. But answering your question, my favourite ever gift from my husband was last year when I opened a silk scarf which he had designed and had printed. Its absolutely beautiful and horses dancing in the corner. Its so precious. I have just, after reading this, suggested to my husband we each organise a day out over Christmas to make memories because you are so right, thats what its really all about. Enjoy your trips!

    1. £800?! Wow. I didn’t know that. Your scarf sounds beautiful and how very thoughtful. I love the gift of ‘doing’ something. I’ve bought vouchers for my parents this year for their favourite restaurant because those special times really are important 🙂 Have a lovely Christmas x

  5. Last year I had only been dating my now husband (and a dad to be!) a few weeks before it was my birthday. He had already clocked that I spend an inordinate amount of time watching crime dramas, although hadn’t got round to The Killing. He bought be a box set for my birthday and despite him having seen it we spent a lovely autumn/winter ploughing through it and he never once let slip who the killer was!

    He is good on the gifts front (having recently treated me to a lovely copper hanging rail for the bedroom and some Alice Monroe earrings that I HAD to have after the lovely Suranne Jones wore them in Dr Foster) and when I was having a particularly bad day on the pregnancy sickness front let me open one of my Christmas presents early. It was a jug I had seen on our honeymoon in Italy that I had to convince myself I did not need in my life…when we all knew I did!

    1. I think you have a keeper there. Love how much he has paid attention to all the little things and the box set idea is such a lovely one xx

  6. My husband and I are giving ourselves tickets to The My Dad Wrote a Porno tour. I’m so looking forward to it, we don’t need ANYTHING in our home and I would always rather do something with loved ones than buy them another nic nac that just gets put away in the cupboard. My best friends and I also forgo Christmas presents and have a weekend called January joy – we go to a spa, have treatments and then go out for afternoon tea or drinks. It’s the best weekend and really lifts January which can be quite depressed.

  7. I think the most thoughtful gifs are ones that show the person really knows you. For example some friends spotted some Nirvana sheet music in a charity shop that I’d been after for years (for Unplugged in New York) which wasn’t expensive but was just so thoughtful. And the best gift my husband has given me would have to be a replacement for a childhood toy that I was sad not to have (due to some traumatic circumstances I won’t get into). One year when we’d set a really low spending limit as we were skint, I got the set list poster he had saved from a gig he once played – very cherished but somewhat tattered – and had it framed which was very well received!

    1. What a keeper Annie. I have to agree when someone picks up on something you mention moons ago, it’s so heartwarming x

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