Cheap presents that feel expensive: from posh brands and independent retailers
If ever there was a Christmas for cheap presents, it's 2020.
However, while most of us are shopping on a budget, we don't necessarily want our gifts to feel that way to the recipients.
As such, we've come up with some solutions for those of you not wanting to break the bank, but still, naturally, keen to impress.
'Cheap' is, of course, a relative term - both in terms of what you may consider a cheap present, and also in terms of what you are purchasing. Shelling out for a TV at £100 is cheap, of course, while the same amount on a face cream is eyebrow-raising.
Here, we've tried to round up presents that are cheap for the quality they represent. If it still seems pricey to you, apologies: we're looking for value for money, and that still may be enough to make you baulk.
Taschen Art Books
Founded in Cologne, Germany, 1980, Taschen is an art book publisher renowned for attempting to make lesser-seen art available to the mainstream - often at very reasonable prices. While you would certainly drop a fortune on a Taschen coffee table book - the David Hockney retrospective, for example, is a princely £2500, many of them - equally as gorgeous and lovingly compiled - are going for a pleasing £15.
We'd like Caravaggio: The Complete Works under our tree (£15), a 524-page, colour-plated recreation of the Italian masters' works, or the sumptuous recreation of Basquiat's works, £20. There are also photography books, erotic, architecture books, and books on popular culture - the £20 Star Wars retrospective is a triumph, and only £20.
Taschen print books represent terrific value for money - shop the range here
Cashmere Bed Socks, The White Company
This is an instance of comparative cheapness. £36 is a handsome sum of money, double so for socks. However, if you hear us out - cashmere is a pricey luxury. Many of us cannot afford to adorn ourselves in a full cashmere sweater or scarf. But these socks - butter soft, cosy, breathable - will do enough to transform your entire mood.
We buy cashmere socks frequently for our girl friends, and we always get grateful reviews once they've had the chance to try them. Also, for many of us, we won't spend £36 on a pair of socks for ourselves - but happily will for a good friend or relative. They render slippers unnecessary, as well. Buy here.
Sparkling Wine or Crémant
Most of the time when you're buying a champagne, you're paying for the fact that it's from the famed French region, in addition to the wine itself. And while you may end up with something tasty, if you're working to a budget, you can easily find something every bit as delicious for half the price.
In terms of méthode champenoise - the traditional method of champagne manufacture - we are utterly besotted with Jansz, a Tasmanian sparkling white that is redolent of - and every bit the equal to - Taittinger, only £18. It has a delicate mousse, is apple and pears forward, and is wonderfully dry (none of the sickliness or blousy, excessive bubbles of prosecco).
If you insist that you want your fizz from France (fair enough), try a crémant - again, they are akin to champagnes but without the added tax for being from the region. Buy here.
Humble Bath Honey
Humble Bath Honey is gorgeously formulated, deliciously scented, and feel properly luxe-y. They remind us a little of Laura Mercier's honey bath oils, though those cost £41 a piece, and Humble Bath Honey costs £10 each. They'll all made with sustainably sourced English honey, will leave your skin feeling sumptuous and pampered, and - to reiterate - smell like heaven. Our favourite is the honeysuckle. Buy here.
H&M Home Dining
Regardless of your feelings about their clothing range (not for us, we're afraid), H&M Home offers stylish and pleasingly priced homewares. We really like their patterned cushions - great for new homeowners - and their dinnerware, which feels at once on-trend and pleasingly timeless (what a trick). Prices start from £3.99, the quality is impressive. Buy here.
We own more Nars lipsticks than any other kind (and the number of lipsticks teeters towards the scandalous). The reason is simple: they provide the best colour pay-off, last long, offer a brilliant range of colours, and feel cushiony soft on the lips.
The price of a Nars lipstick reflects this quality, which is why their gift duos represent such value-for-money. For £20 (less than the cost of a single lipstick), you'll receive an ultra-conditioning lip balm and their award-winning (yes, we know the name is awful) 'Orgasm' blusher. The blusher will make you look healthier, and 'prettier' in moments. A bargain if you're buying for a lady friend. Buy here.
If in doubt, slap a lush label on it. Buying a present for a tea lover? They'll be instantly delighted to see it is from Liberty, a quintessentially English brand that is brilliantly posh. Of course, the tea itself is terrific, but your recipient will enjoy it as much for the tin it comes in - decorated in an iconic Liberty print. Once the contents is used up they'll be able to stick their standard gumboot in there and it'll look fit for high company. £10. Buy here.