Christmas gift ideas for those on a shoestring budget


The festive period is upon us yet again as retailers go all out to urge consumers to spend money at their stores as opposed to just buying everything on Amazon instead. Waitrose have claimed an early prize for Smuggest Advert of the Year, roping in Heston Blumenthal and Delia Smith to proclaim “We didn’t spend money on a fancy Christmas advert this year.” Presumably the premium supermarket chain didn’t bother with a Yuletide-heavy promotion because they splurged their budget on a couple of multi-millionaire chefs for some post-ironic back-patting instead. [Editor’s note – they’ve actually donated their fee to charity]

Rather than rushing to the petrol station at quarter to midnight on Christmas Eve in a mad panic having left my Christmas shopping to the last minute yet-a-bloody-gain, I’m preparing early this year. After all, I had my fingers burnt both literally and metaphorically with last year’s Ginsters pie idea. I’ve compiled a list of cheaper fail-safe suggestions everyone can enjoy, rather than inane ‘something for him’ or ‘something for the wife’ ideas that clog up free magazines handed out at tube stations.

Board Games

With my complete lack of social media clout, I’m hardly best-placed to lead some sort of revival. But board games are great, particularly traditional favourites like Scrabble and Monopoly. And deviating ever-so-slightly from the theme, I’m lumping Subbuteo and Scalextric in as well. As video games become increasingly immersive and life-like, people young and old are eschewing the humble board game, which hasn’t evolved since about 1962. But why can’t people enjoy both? Let’s re-engage with the physical form, folks.

Blu-ray Boxsets

I was Blu-ray sceptic until fairly recently, stubbornly refusing to anachronise my huge DVD collection like a miserable Luddite. (Though by inventing the word ‘anachronise’, I’m not shackled by tradition in every sense.)  Having bought a Blu-ray player, I now appreciate what I was missing: the joys of glorious HD. And there’s some great boxsets on the market to gorge on over Christmas.

The Stanley Kubrick Collection, featuring nine of the visionary auteur’s classic films, is a must-own for anyone who considers themselves remotely culturally interested, and there are other bargains to be had such as the Harry Potter film collection and TV shows like Homeland and Game of Thrones. All retail at under £30 if you search around. If you’re still digging DVDs then for God’s sake purchase Breaking Bad, which is not yet available on Blu-ray.

Stocking Fillers

My family have the same stocking filler staples each year: the obligatory socks, a chocolate lolly, and a solitary orange nestled at the base. One year I forgot to remove the orange (I usually put it straight back in the fruit bowl) and it spent a whole year decomposing; a testament to how infrequently we use the loft. In addition to these stock stocking gifts, there’s room for a few more treats. Why not a book? Kindles and iPads are threatening the future of literature, but currently fail to replicate the experience of page-turning from cover to cover. Maybe it’s the smell of parchment.

I recommend non-fiction like Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test and Caitlin Moran’s Moranthology, as well as celebrity hardback fare like David Mitchell’s Back Story and Charlie Brooker’s I Can Make You Hate. In terms of fiction, perhaps the ultimate stocking filler is Dan Rhodes’ superb Anthropology: And a Hundred Other Stories, available for £3.99 brand new. It consists of 101 love stories; each 101 words long, some happy, some sad, all in their own way hilariously written.

This article was written by David Lintott – you can follow him on Twitter @DavidLintott