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It's a wrap: Christmas presents for kids... and gifts for loved ones who are difficult to buy for

Whether they're fussy, mysterious or already seem to have it all, Claire Spreadbury asks the experts how to ace those tricky present choices

Pass the Bomb, £21.95, John Lewis
Pass the Bomb, £21.95, John Lewis
Linkee, £15.97, John Lewis
Very British Problems, £22.99, John Lewis
Barbie care clinic playset, £39.99, Smyth Toys
Lego classic large creative brick box, £34.99, Smyth Toys
The Mensa Genius Test
Gold rose large slip-in photo album, £18, Paperchase
Wellington boot family print, £11.69,

Buying Christmas presents is something you either love or hate, but even the ultimate festive fan can struggle when it comes to those who are just plain difficult to buy for.

We all have them in our lives - the relative who seems to own everything already, the elderly aunt we buy the same thing for year after year and the ones who are so picky that it's impossible to find anything you're confident they'll actually like. So, where should we even start?

Peter Jenkinson (@toyologist), a toy and games expert who runs, suggests organising personalised gifts.

"Firebox and Prezzybox are great for bespoke gifts, where you can pick up almost anything, from socks to pillowcases, with a photo printed on them," he says.

"If you're looking for something that's truly one-off, the Etsy crafters website ( will draw you into a world of wonderful items - it's like taking a trip to loads of craft markets without the crowds.

"Experiences are a huge thing this year too. From gin-making days to zoo-keeping.

"Consider a subscription of some kind, from a bi-weekly bacon delivery to a new set of socks every month. These are great, as they pop through the postbox, and it's a gift that keeps on giving."

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If you are still in need of help, here are some more top tips for tackling different categories of tricky recipients - and (hopefully!) making them happy on December 25...

Friends and family who already have everything

"It's certainly not about getting a big gift," notes Jenkinson. "But try something with thought behind it - a personalised poster or a leather notebook embossed with their name."

Or, go with a game. "Bring back the 'all round the table' family games," says Shelley Sturdy, John Lewis and Partners operations and brand experience manager. "Pass The Bomb (£21.95), Linkee (£15.97) and Very British Problems (£22.99) are three of our bestsellers which will keep them laughing."

Children you haven't seen for a while

Lots of stores recommend top toys for Christmas, so it's worth looking out for these.

This week, Smyth Toys' top recommended gifts are the Barbie care clinic playset with accessories (£39.99) and the Lego 10698 classic large creative brick box (£34.99).

Tricky teens

"The toughest crowd," says Jenkinson. "It's too easy to say streaming music service vouchers or online gaming credits. Try an experience for them - karting, driving, gliding or even chocolate making."

Sturdy suggests gift sets as an easy option, but also asks: "Is there a teenager who doesn't want to prove that they're the smartest in the family? Buy Ginger Fox, Mensa Genius Test (£7.99, sold out on, but available from Boots and Waterstones) - a card game that can be played with all their siblings."

Picky people

"I'd take a look at their hobbies and colour schemes at home," says Jenkinson.

"At least try to buy them something. Gift receipts are your friend - money is a cop-out!"

Or try a family-friendly gift, like this personalised Wellington boot family print (£11.69, from Magic Moment Designs UK on

Grandparents and elderly friends

Go personal, suggests Jenkinson. Opt for anything made by the kids, or family photos - ready framed and set to take their place on the wall.

"Create a photobook with family snaps from across the years or a hamper of treats to eat and drink," he suggests.

Gold rose large slip-in photo album, £18, Paperchase

Belfast Telegraph


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