Christmas shopping made easy

| October 5, 2012 - 23.23UTC
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Christmas already? Don’t panic! Kelai Wanjiru’s gift guide and top tips will help you get the festive season started…

At Kenya Yetu, Christmas has come early. No last-minute shopping for us: we know that a bit of forward planning can make the difference between holiday-season heaven and hell.

At its heart, of course, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus. But you almost wouldn’t think so now that there’s so much else going on around this sacred day: the decorations to hang, the new party shoes to buy, the kids demanding PlayStations, the family fighting over the TV remote.

It would be unrealistic to try to uncommercialise Christmas. But in order to try to make the present-buying a little easier to bear, we’ve rounded up some gift ideas to get you started. Plus, there are top tips on making Christmas stress-free – and bringing it in on budget.

For him:

1 The snazzy dresser
For the man who needs to make that first impression last, the slick leather Uzzi Belt is a classy accessory. Ksh 3,100; Truworths

2 The hitchhiker
These rugged hiking shoes, from US brand CAT Footwear, are ideal for the man who loves adventure; the trendy design means they’ll look good around town too. Ksh 14,300; Truworths

3 The laid-back guy
Does your man hate getting all dressed up? A pair of brown-leather Hush Puppies loafers will mean he can look smart while keeping his feet comfy. Ksh 12,000; Angelo

4 The tech fan
Help him protect his iPad in style – Annabelle Thom’s hand-stitched leather cases will keep his tablet safe and smart. Ksh 4,500; African Classics Ltd

5 The classy client
Help him toast his birthdays and business successes with these classy wine and champagne glasses – we love the stripe detailing. Ksh 500 each; Mr Price Home

6 The creative cook
Indulge his dreams of becoming a chef and his love of setting things on fire with this chrome-effect kitchen blowtorch – ideal for caramelising crème brûlée. Just stand back! Ksh 5,450; The Kitchen Co

7 The barman boy
Help him create his own mojitos with this cocktail shaker. Add in a muddler (for mashing) and a jigger (for measuring), and he’ll be able to mix-up some magic! Ksh 1,550 (Shaker), Ksh 1,750 (Muddler), Ksh 900 (Jigger); The Kitchen Co

8 The wannabe rock-star
What young boy didn’t dream of growing up to be a Rolling Stone? It’s never too late to learn: specialist music store Recordez has a range of instruments – its aim is to ‘empower Kenyans to develop their music potential’. Ksh 12,800-35,000 (Guitars); Recordez

9 The would-be warrior
Make your man feel more macho: a Maasai spear is the most motivating bit of decor for any office or study. Ksh 6,000; Tazama Art Gallery

4 more we love
But him a pair of tough and trendy Bondiblu sunglasses (From Ksh 4,500; Lintons); Estée Lauder’s Pleasure for Men Cologne is fresh, but not overpowering (From Ksh 6,000; Lintons); the football-shaped bottle opener is perfect for his boys’ night in (Ksh 1,650; The Kitchen Co); Clinique’s male grooming kit proves beauty products aren’t just for ladies (Ksh 8,000; Lintons).

Top tips:
Prepare to be creative: most men, when asked, declare that they don’t want anything for Christmas – not helpful! You’ll need to come up with ideas yourself – think about his hobbies or ask his friends.
If none of the family can think what to buy the guy, club together to get him something bigger – maybe a posh dinner out or an expensive new suit – rather than everyone struggling to come up with lots of smaller gifts.

For her:

1 The art lover
African art isn’t just for tourists. Tazama Art Gallery has some fine pieces that will enliven any room: maybe a Mara Lion in oil paint or a striking warrior sculpture? Ksh 35,000-110,000 (Paintings), from Ksh 5,000 (Sculptures); Tazama Art Gallery

2 The camera queen
The new Nokia 808 PureView smartphone is for the gossip girl who likes to take incredible images. The still camera is top-notch, plus there’s full HD 1080p video recording and Rich audio capture for smooth sound. The ultimate gift! Ksh 52,900; nokia.com

3 The home goddess
Who knows what she can create in the kitchen with the right tools? Buy her the funky Joseph Joseph Kitchen Set, which includes a magnetic spoon, cool square colander, spaghetti measure and more. Ksh 9,350; The Kitchen Co

4 The drinks diva
Great for a girls’ night in: she can mix up cocktails for her friends in the glitzy City Lights Sparkling Cocktail Shaker. Or keep her champagne cool in the pretty in pink Neoprene Bottle Bag. Ksh 4,250 (Shaker), Ksh 2,100 (Bag); The Kitchen Co

5 The girl about town
Any old dress can be jazzed up with the right jewels and shoes. These elegant extras will complement just about any outfit. Ksh 7,500 (shoes), Silver pearl jewellery set: Ksh 900 (Bracelet), Ksh 1,300 (Necklace), Ksh 1,300 (Earrings); Truworths

6 The glamour puss
It’s party season so she needs a party bag: this silver clutch, with chain detail strap, will match many a festive gown. Ksh 3,300; Truworths

7 The accessories lady
These soft, light and versatile silk scarves come in a range of different colours – there’s one for every girl. Ksh 1,900-2,700; Truworths

8 The fashionista
Annabelle Thom’s bags are all designed and handmade in Kenya by a team of skilled craftsmen; we love the Maasai bag’s great beadwork. From Ksh 11,500; African Classics Ltd

9 The style setter
Geometric patterns (think bright zig-zags and bold lines) are a hot trend this season – work it with this cute and colourful Ginger Mary clutch. Ksh 4,100; Truworths

4 more we love
Help her make her own cappuccinos with a do-it-yourself Aerolatte milk frother (Ksh 2,750; The Kitchen Co); Estée Lauder’s All Day Lipstick stays put for hours, keeping her fabulous (Ksh 3,000; Lintons); custom-made Tivona gift hampers, containing everything from chocs to spa treats, come in sisal baskets hand-woven in Kisumu (Ksh 3,500-4,500; Tivona); make her Maasai-chic with a vivid maa necklace (Ksh 1,500; Maasai Market).

For kids:

Bookworms will love The Third Wheel, Book 7 of Jeff Kinney’s fab Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, and Dear Dork, from Rachel Renée Russell’s funny Dork Diaries (from Ksh 550; Text Book Centre).

Get your kids away from the TV with a trendy scooter (Ksh 4,900; Toy Zone) or into the kitchen with a starter Child Bakeware Set – a great way to spend time with them, teach them life skills and fill your bellies too (Ksh 2,650; The Kitchen Co). To help them eat well, pop a cute animal cosy – hand-knitted by women in Njoro – on their breakfast boiled eggs (Ksh 200; The Kitchen Co).

Christmas on the cheap?

Times are tough and the worst thing you can do at Christmas is get mired in more debt. But there are plenty of ways to keep up the Christmas spirit without breaking the bank. Here are our top tips:

Start early
Begin Christmas shopping now: look out for bargains, take advantage of sales and don’t panic-buy expensive items because you’ve run out of time.

Look online
There are great bargains to be had from internet retailers.

Make your own cards
Consider making your own Christmas cards, using family photos, leftover wrapping paper and scraps of ribbon and material; it could be a fun project for you and the kids.

Make your own presents
Can you knit? Are you a great cook? Make people presents! Homemade gifts feel more special, too.

Don’t buy a new outfit
There will be plenty of parties to go to, but don’t feel you have to splash out on a new dress or suit. Update last year’s finery with a pretty scarf, sparkly earrings or bright new belt.

Only buy for the kids
If money is tight, make an agreement with friends and family that you will just buy for the children this year.

Do a ‘secret Santa’
Rather than buying gifts for everyone in the office or family, put everyone’s name in a hat, each draw one out, and buy only for that person; set a price limit too.

Essentials…
Top tips for stress-free shopping

1 Listen to your loved ones
People give away their likes and dislikes in general conversations; store the information – it could inspire a very personal present.

2 Make a list (and update it)
Know who you have to buy presents for, so you don’t miss anyone out; tick their names off when you’ve got a gift, so you don’t buy two gifts for the same person.

3 Plan your day
Know which shops stock the gifts you want to buy, then plan the most efficient route between them, to minimise time in traffic jams.

4 Shop alone
Don’t take the kids! You’ll get your shopping done more efficiently if you go alone – plus, you want your gifts to be surprises.

5 Think before you buy
Don’t buy in a panic. Consider: will my loved one actually like or use this gift? Presents with a practical purpose are good.

6 Do not go over budget
Set yourself a spending limit and don’t exceed it. As much as you want to please people, don’t leave yourself broke and miserable.

7 Buy a few extras
Purchase some back-up presents, such as chocolates, just in case you forget somebody or unexpected guests arrive bearing gifts.

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