We're all different kinds of present givers — there's the ones that buy, slowly, all year long; those that take enormous amounts of time and energy to get the most unique piece; those who blow the budget; and of course, the cherished Christmas Eve petrol-station-shopper (hello, Dad!).
Whichever you are, don't fret: tabloid! has a gift idea for those in your life, and advice from one of the best in the business, the founder of gifting website gift-library Caroline Stanbury, who's here to guide you through the minefield of modern gifting. Whatever happens — whether you find yourself trawling the mall desperately or tied up with rolls of ribbon and Sellotape, it's the thought that counts. "Giving a gift reminds people you're thinking of them and brings happiness to people in an otherwise ordinary day," says Stanbury.
"Giving an appropriate gift indicates thoughtfulness and a genuine effort, which are important sentiments behind giving a gift."
In a recent poll, nearly half of InStyle US readers said cash was an appropriate gift. What do you think about cash as a gift? Have you ever given or received it?
I have received cash gifts mainly to put in a bank for my children, from godparents and family. I think it's more common to give a gift voucher though, as some people are scared to choose a specific gift for someone else and cash is the easiest alternative.
I believe that choosing a gift for someone means you took your time and thought about what they would truly like.
Gifting at work can be a minefield. What's a good gift for your boss — or should you "gift-up" at all?
It depends how close you are to your boss! I think when it comes to gifting at the workplace, generally a group gift is the best way to go, like a basket of fine foods to share in the office or a box of chocolates.
This brings the team together to socialise and people don't feel left out.
What about gifts for your staff — what's the right thing to give someone who works for you?
I don't give gifts except for birthdays, and then I usually know what the girls like on the site. A Claudia Avendano Crocodile Envelope Clutch or a Nina Campbell travel bag for knickers always goes down well — something girly and fun.
It's always said that men are tough to buy for. Do you agree with this? Who is more difficult, men or women?
Yes, I find it so hard. It's either the classic gift like a nice sweater or a fun pair of cufflinks or a gadget. With gift-library.com I have tried to make it easier. I have a lot more ideas now from games to golf items and books.
Should you ask your spouse what they want for Christmas, or just make your own choice?
I always ask my husband because I want him to have what he wants and enjoy it! He'd never dream of not asking me; having said that, I love anything girlie.
What's your take on re-gifting? Have you ever done it or discovered someone's done it to you?
Funny! I have one of my best friends who re-gifts and I always know when she does it to me. I have to say she doesn't hide it and she thinks it's very clever so things aren't wasted. She's probably right; however, I could never get away with it. All my friends know each other and it would be too embarrassing if they found out!
Many people are on a tighter budget this year. Do you have any tips on finding a meaningful gift for less money?
It's not about the amount, it's about fun. Personalising gifts is a perfect way to show that you have made an effort without breaking the bank. At gift-library.com we have a variety of products that can be tailored to the recipient or embossed, which guarantees that your gift is special and unique to you.
You started gift-library, a bespoke gift service. How is it bespoke?
Well it's bespoke in that we can tailor-make things to our clients' needs. We can go from initialling a gift to custom-making one especially. To bracelets and jewellery with your name on it, to table football games where the players are your family against your favourite team — with personalised uniforms for the players. It's limitless and I try never to say no to clients and will track down everything they desire.
Best gift you ever received and why?
Hands down, all my children. They keep me going when I get home from a long day; they just make me smile. Other than that, the jewellery from my husband.
Best gift you ever gave, to whom and how did you pick it?
I like to think that when I give gifts they are the most appropriate gift considering the budget, their taste and my relationship with them. I give so many gifts that I don't know if there is a best one. But I try my best to offer clients and my friends the best there is out there.
Worst gift you ever received?
Gosh, that's hard. I hate to receive make-up. If I receive a gift I really dislike, I will exchange it.
Your festival season gifting strategy — are you a planner or a last-minute person?
I am a planner and as I have so much on my plate, I did all my gifts in November so I feel quite relaxed with respect to the gifts. It helps that for 365 days of the year, I am thinking of gifting and travelling the world trying to find things I would like to give.
I have people that immediately pop into my mind when I see products on my buying trips.
The gift you'd love to receive this season?
I would love the Beazy Roberts pineapple necklace — I love it! And a VBH bag.
gift-library.com's Caroline Stanbury gives her top gift picks for:
A pair of Masserano Paolo cashmere slippers.
Polariod camera — it's fun!
A cashmere sweater by Hawick Cashmere.
Jewellery from Hannah Martin or Beazy Roberts — chic and eclectic.
Sea Jet for a holiday. Firebox does a great one!
Puzzles to keep them busy — I have four kids! I also love the aluminium piggy bank by Bombay Duck or the Spy Set by Anzu.
Flip Video cameras. We can't keep them in stock.