Now that Black Friday is apparently a thing, my inbox is flooded with a crazy mix of promotional emails, with businesses either offering 20 per cent off everything, eschewing the sales gimmick because they don’t believe in rampant consumerism, or pledging to donate a percentage of sales to a COVID-related charity.
Capitalism just doesn’t seem to know where to land this festive season, after what has truly been a gruelling year for most of us.
As usual, I’m torn as to how I want to celebrate this year; part of me wants to deck the halls, the other part of me is in full Grinch mode, wandering around Westfield muttering “crass commercialism” at startled shoppers stocking up at T2.
If I do manage to summon up some Christmas spirit, I will definitely be shopping locally.
I find an extra sense of joy in purchasing something that is Aussie-made, whether it is a Dinosaur Designs bowl, a piece of jewellery from a new designer, or a handmade soap from the markets.
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But one thing that gives me great pleasure at this time of year is reading the holiday gift guide from some of the tonier publications in the US, such as the New York Times‘ magazine or Vogue.
It’s gift porn, with suggestions so blithe and untethered from most people’s reality it’s an art form. The Times is eking it out in instalments, like an exquisitely demented Advent calendar of gift suggestions, positing fair-trade bicycle baskets to Siberian sturgeon caviar kits.
Some of my favourites so far have been home delivered Japanese ichigo strawberries (redder and glossier than your run of the mill garden variety), velvet moccasins with gold embroidered bows from Istanbul and gold vermeil earrings ‘inspired by the African diaspora’.
Christmas presents in cold-climate countries seem to have a whole other layer of luxury. I just slather with envy reading about cosy Fair Isle cashmere beanies, $3000 pashminas from the Vale of Kashmir, and $460 velvet-and-pearl hair scrunchies.
The kooky American Vogue editors don’t seem to have any particular guiding light or logic behind their gift suggestions, which can range from a $120 facial oil to some $12,000 Saint Laurent skis. Then there’s the covering of a beetroot candle by Loewe, a silver chainmail hand-sanitizer pouch (yes, this exists) a mahogany and obsidian face massage tool and a bottle of living vinegar (?) for good measure.
If I’m going to get into the Christmas spirit, I really think I need to be more inventive.
My son asked me what I would like to see under the tree and I said something really ordinary like a new coffee pot or some hoop earrings. I clearly need to lift my game.
So, if anybody wants to buy me something, I would like some hand-loomed towels, woven baskets, hand-made ceramics, perfumed oils and soaps, organic bed linen, indoor plants, and oodles of candles. All made in Australia, thanks.