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Tips for surviving Christmas – buying gifts (for expats in Dubai)

christmas-gift-guide-mycustardpie-com-1Have you been to a party on Christmas eve, come home with a head dancing with Champagne and then had to stay up to do last-minute wrapping while everyone else is asleep? I broke my own rules last year and found myself wrapping stocking presents after I’d vowed to never be in that position again. Get organised and you can trip off to all the parties in December without a care in the world. Plus you’ll feel assured that friends and family near and far have all felt just a little bit special.

1. Christmas cards

I love receiving post from friends and family abroad. The best way to receive is to give and my Christmas card list has a core of friends I’d like to keep in touch with. The round Robin letter is abhorred by some but I rather like reading them – unless of the ‘thinly veiled boast ‘our children are so high achieving’ type. There are online options if you want to save a few trees. Get round the expensive postage by picking up a large amount of stamp books next time you are home. The ones in the UK say ‘1st class’ or ‘2nd class’ so leftovers will last indefinitely. Get your cards written early (I’m doing mine this weekend) and have them ready addressed and stamped then look out for friends traveling home. A quick call out on Facebook works wonders. If they have a stamp on them most people don’t mind shoving them in a letterbox at the airport.

Bonus tip: Postcode finder on Royal Mail
2. Stocking fillers

When DO your children stop wanting a stocking? Start really early with these as they are always the most time-consuming. Jolly’s in Bath is where I usually buy ones for the teens … in August. Overkill? Not at all. Inside Out in Tavistock yielded many treasures this year. Wrap them immediately and keep a list to know what you have bought.

Bonus tip: Inside Out delivers within the UK and EU
3. Hotel Chocolat

I’ve been using Hotel Chocolat for donkey’s years and every person that has received a box of their chocolates has been delighted. They do a ‘sleekster’ which fits through the letter box (not for people with dogs!) and have a handy reminder service so you can add people’s birthdays. You can add a personalised message and ordering is easy. The Champagne truffles are to die for. Elder teen, in her first term at University, was thrilled with one of their Advent calendars.

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