What do you do when your partner seems to have everything she wants: a full wardrobe, innumerable shoes, and handbags for occasions you didn’t even know existed? Since you’ve been together, you’ve given her all the gifts you can think of. But now you are out of ideas. And Christmas is just weeks away!
give her an experience - it’s the new ‘stuff’.And don’t worry about the timing. You really don’t need to cram in a ‘gift’ event before 25 December. Let’s be honest, the month is way too full of shopping and parties to fit in any downtime. January, however, is a long, dark month of back-to-work and dry-athlons. It’s the perfect time to escape the gloom and enjoy an activity or two. Now all you need to do is find out what she’s into or always wanted to try… (Hint – have a quiet word with her friends.)
She might love shaping clay on a potter’s wheel. It’s sensuous and artistic and, best of all, you get to take home something you made. Paint on a slip decoration (liquid clay, sometimes with colour), get it fired and the sense of achievement will be huge. And you can do it together! She’ll be channelling her inner Demi Moore, while you work on your Patrick Swayze. Kite Studios in West London (www.kitestudios.org) is a good place to start – though you won’t have to look wheel far to find a potter near you.Give her the chance to explore her imagination and capture the human condition in a work of art. Never mind the Pollacks, she can paint her own large canvas at an Abstract Art Weekend Workshop in Berkshire (www.joedaisy.co.uk/abstractpainting.html), where a glass of wine at lunch will really get the creative juices flowing. Or go back to basics with some life drawing. A Royal Academy (www.royalacademy.org.uk) class would certainly impress her as an upmarket choice. (Don’t think you can skimp by giving her a 2B pencil and getting naked – not cool!) If she needs more structure when wielding a pen, a calligraphy class might hit the write note. Or why not give her the chance to make her own jewellery? This way you get to cut out the middleman – you – completely! There are zillions of short courses, from silversmithing to goldsmithing, stone-setting to the finer points of beading. Try the British Academy of Jewellery (baj.ac.uk) to get some ideas.
Find a cooking class for the latest on-trend cuisine: think crafting Basque pintxos in SE1 (www.mimofood.com/en/location/london); perfecting the perfect choux (in Paris); or mastering Thai spices at a cookery school in Bangkok (www.baipai.com). Adding a trip to the source of the cuisine not only takes the course’s authenticity to another level, it makes the whole event a much bigger experience. Your (chocolate) brownie points will be off the scale!
Take her foraging for chanterelles in Cornwall. Yes, close down the Ocado app and get out into the country with Fat Hen (www.fathen.org), where you will wander the seashore, hedgerows and woodland to find seasonal edible fungi (and other wild veggie bits). Magic! And after that workout, all these tasty items will be cooked up into a yummy dinner with other local produce.
Whisk her away for a 3 or 4 day break only a short-haul flight away. Even a busy girl can drop a note to the boss and grab a long weekend of sun and sunnies... then think of a surprise activity on arrival for an even bigger experience. Try a cool hotel in Gran Canaria – it’s a
mini continent, boasting everything from volcanic craters to snow-topped mountains, sand dunes to rich forests.
Check out – well, check in – the Hotel Cordial Mogen Playa (www.cordialresortholidays.com/gran_canaria)for good value and a botanical garden!
In for the long haul? Belize is a hot destination in all senses at the moment. January to March has the lowest chance of rain, making this an ideal time to explore this tiny adventure-packed nation. Belize attracts a fraction of the crowds of its bigger neighbours yet it’s home to Mayan ruins, national parks, nature reserves and the Belize Barrier Reef – all begging to be explored. Look out the Coppola-owned Turtle Inn (www.thefamilycoppolahideaways.com/en/turtle-inn) for individual thatched cottages and cooling sea breezes – that’s a cocktail, right?
Alternatively, say nay to that elusive ball of fire in the sky and head in the opposite direction – north! Embrace winter and go all Nordic in thermals and faux fur. Sit on Santa’s lap (not you) in Lapland – it’s not just for kids –then take in the Northern Lights and some proper snowmobiling as well. After all that cuddle up in an ice hotel (www.icehotel.com) and enjoy some combined bodily warmth. Brrrilliant!
Go very off-piste and really surprise her with a visit to somewhere totally unexpected. You could go as far as the Faroe Islands to dine at Koks restaurant (www.koks.fo) – billed by the New Yorker as the world’s most remote foodie destination. (Maybe don’t tell her that the menu features salted gannet and fermented lamb till you get there…). Or perhaps keep some of that spirit of adventure and hie to the Highlands to Gille Brighde ( a mere 70 miles from Inverness) for excellent locally-sourced seafood, game and venison.
Make it the winter of her deep content: give a gift that is season appropriate.
Vogue’s advice for festive fabrics is to stick to velvet, chiffon, silk or lace. With all that dressing up and fancy parties, your better half will be scouring the boutiques for the right ensemble.
Why not help her out with a Lily Gardner Lace Cuff that mixes the modern and traditional by setting French lace from 19th century looms inside crystal-clear Perspex. It will definitely get the table talking as the port is passed round!
And, finally.. What does the woman who has everything really need? Time.
So...Book a babysitter or send the teens to a bootcamp. Serve bubbles in bed for breakfast… and lunch… Upgrade your Netflix for a box set bonanza. Give her a Deliveroo fuelled day of absolutely nothing – pure relaxation.
Get the idea? (Hopefully she’ll want to share the day with you – but if not, no worries.You’ll get your reward later.)