For almost 25 years, people have insisted on buying gifts for what's between my legs instead of what's between my ears. Pink princess cards, jewellery, jewellery boxes, ineffective chiffon scarves, sparkly feathery pens, fragrant soap... Okay, I like the soap. While I certainly went through a teddy-bear phase when I was younger, impractical presents just aren't me. If it doesn't do something, if it's covered in ridiculous decoration, if it's unnecessary in the day-to-day improvement of my life, then I probably don't want it.
Obviously, this is just me. There are plenty of girls out there who would give an arm and a leg for Barbie's latest whatever, or something to add to their items-with-butterfly-prints collection. That's fine too. But when buying for girls, you're not buying For A Girl; you're buying for a person, who just so happens to have two X chromosomes. So stop highlighting the fact that you've noticed what's under their clothes and buy something that shows that you've noticed what's between their ears.
Here are some gift ideas for the ladies in your life that are appropriate for the men too.
1. Tickets to a local attraction. This could be a museum, aquarium, zoo or film festival.
2. A disposable camera – reclaim the lost art of one-shot photos!
3. A game that everyone can join in on. Try something fast and fun, like Bananagrams or Grip Ball
4. 'Indulgent' furniture – that means something more beautiful than functional. A beautiful book-case or ornate coffee table would be a timeless gift. I still have a music box my late grandmother gave me when I was a little girl.
5. A short course in something she's always wanted to learn – pottery, fencing, singing, information technology.... the list goes on!
6. Something sporty – for example a soccer ball, scooter, or a pair of rollerblades. Any gift that is also an experience means you'll be in their good books for years to come.
7. How about chipping in for something larger that she can save for? A money tin containing the first of her iPod savings is an exciting start to a treasured item.
8. Finally, if you're completely out of ideas, it's okay to ask. Sometimes there's no knowing what someone would love to be given unless they tell you, and spoiling the surprise is worth getting them something they'll really love.
This year will be my 25th Christmas. Here's hoping I finally get that classic wooden train set I've always wanted.