Christmas 2021 gifting trends

If you’re stumped for Christmas gift inspiration this year, fear not. I’ve done the trawling for you, so have a look at 2021’s biggest present trends: there’s everything from fancy jewels to giant Lego builds, with ideas for budgets large and small. Now you can easily find something for even the most picky recipients as well as the bigger crowd pleasers, so read on!

Experiences are hot, hot, hot

As a nation, we’re itching to have more experiences after being cooped up so much during the coronavirus lockdowns. As such, interesting or unusual Things To Do are becoming increasingly popular, instead of the usual material goods type of gifts. Many of these arrive as e-certificates so they’re also perfect if you’ve left things almost until the last minute, and there are some good deals around already in the run up to Black Friday.

Find Me a Gift 2 night getaway
Find Me a Gift 2-night getaway voucher, £99

The most popular experiences are still supercar driving, indoor skydiving, weekends away, spa deals, go-carting, afternoon teas, helicopter rides, fine dining and high street restaurants, and theatre trips. For example, the most popular experience at Find Me a Gift right now is the 2-night getaway for two, for £99 at a choice of 73 locations nationwide, and their second most popular is the £49 Merry Christmas experience gift voucher that lets them choose from 1200 different options. The top seller this week at Red Letter Days is the triple supercar driving day, on special offer for £99, reduced from £237.

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Red Letter Days supercar experience
Red Letter Days triple supercar experience, on offer for £99.

There’s also been a surge in demand for ‘glamping’ breaks in the UK, with everything from chalet and pod getaways to short breaks in hobbit huts, and the arts and crafts revival that started during the first couple of UK lockdowns has translated into art, photography, jewellery, DIY skills and stargazing events and more.

As a general note of caution, events are still being covid-cancelled here and there and that’s likely to continue for a few more months at least, so make sure the small print of any in-person experience gift allows them to reschedule or pivot to something else. If in doubt, buy them a home delivery experience kit, an online class, or a flexible gift voucher.

Indytute kintsugi Japanese gold craft experience kit
Indytute kintsugi Japanese gold craft experience kit, £38.

For some fresh new ideas try Indytute’s home music, food and craft experience kits, sourced from small independent businesses, which can be sent out all around the UK. They also have interesting online events and lots of mostly London-based tours, workshops, meals and shows.

Secret Santa is BACK (kinda)

The PR around this is that we’re all going to be ‘back together in person at our office parties’, but I’m not sure that’s really going to be the whole story with the way lots of events have switched back online in the last few weeks. However, chucking a small gift or two in the post might really brighten someone’s day up if you choose wisely, and organising a Secret Santa means everyone gets a little something to open without costs getting out of hand.

Oliver Bonas Secret Santa gifts under 10 pounds
Oliver Bonas Secret Santa gifts under £10

So let’s think about the lighthearted stocking fillers around the £10 mark: these sorts of Secret Santa gifts are often bought for co-workers after a random allocation, so unless you know your giftee very well, look for neutral-ish office-related presents such as coffee mugs, notebooks and planners, calendars, diaries, travel games, sweets and other snacks. Some of the best places to look this year are Oliver Bonas (books, homewares, pampering), ASOS (kits, decorations and more) and Boots (sweets, gadgets, skincare and 3-for-2s).

Boots Secret Santa gifts
Boots Secret Santa gifts 2021

If you know them a bit better and they have a more robust/crude sense of humour, then Find Me A Gift and Firebox have all the fart jokes and dodgy office banter you can handle. And for the love of eggnog, nobody had better buy me one of those gross pooing elves, although I’m sure your weird uncle Gavin will find it hilarious. PrezzyBox have that sort of stuff too but some of their more thoughtful personalised gifts under £10, from printed drinks coasters to etched votive candles, could really hit the spot if you want to get them something they really like – more suited to your work bezzie, groups of friends or organised family events.

Lavishing pets with presents

We Brits love our pets, and this year there are more gifts for them than ever before. There are even umpteen little presents for gerbils and hamsters now, no word of a lie. Do Rover and Fluffy really know it’s Christmas? That’s unlikely, but having said that a new chew toy or thing to chase might be just the thing to clean their teeth or keep them from getting underfoot for an hour or two during the festivities, which could be good for all concerned.

Pets at Home Christmas stockings for animals
Pets at Home Christmas stockings for cats and dogs, from £4.

So what’s good? There are holiday jumpers, squeaky toys, Tesco’s pet-safe versions of festive foods, nibbles, chew toys, themed hideaways, new bedding and more. If you want to really go for it, Pets at Home have multiple pet gifts bundled in stockings for all kinds of animals, and a range of pet treat advent calendars. Or perhaps the Majestic Floof in residence might prefer something simple like a plain old can of tuna, or a new basket or food bowl.

[While we mostly are a nation of pet lovers, there’s also been a huge wave of people giving up their lockdown pets in the second half of this year. Perhaps the kindest gift many of us could give in 2021 is to offer a rescue animal a permanent, loving home with all the commitment that involves.]

Sustainable & ethical gifts

Get them something useful that doesn’t trash the planet and end up in landfill by the 28th of December – you know it makes sense. I’ll be doing a full sized sustainable gift guide soon, from plastic-free stocking fillers to buy-it-once-keep-it forever investment purchases, so watch out for that.

Sourced by Oxfam sustainable gifts
Sourced by Oxfam ethical and sustainable gifts, from £1.99

In the meantime, if you’re looking for sustainable and ethical gifts in a hurry, Sourced by Oxfam is a handy one stop shop.

All things mystical

Uncertain times can cause people to shift their belief systems in different directions, which seems to be where this particular trend has sprung from. Mystical gifts can spark the imagination and encourage creativity, and things like tarot cards, crystals, gemstones and horoscopes are potentially a harmless bit of fun, although I confess I probably wouldn’t use anything like that to make a major life decision.

Wolf and Badger zodiac gifts
Left: Wolf & Badger zodiac necklace, on sale for £24, Right: Wolf & Badger art print, £40.

Anyway, in particular there are star signs on just about bloody everything for Christmas 2021, from the jewellery and fine art prints at Wolf & Badger, to leather purses at John Lewis and sheepskin slippers, it’s all over the shop. You can’t move for bumping into them. If you’re the kind of person who’d tell me that I’m ‘a typical fire sign with leo rising so of course I’d say something like that’, then knock yourself out.

Toys for overgrown boys

There’s been a sharp increase in the millennial age group buying nostalgic toys for adults, mainly marketed towards the menfolk. The tendency is towards expensive purchases, often based on TV or film memorabilia, and it looks like there’s an awful lot of self-gifting going on here as well. For example, LEGO are currently selling a StarWars Imperial Star Destroyer kit for £649.99, and a build-your-own Colosseum for £449.99 (miniature Christians to throw to the miniature lions not included, which is just as well all things considered).

Star Trek USS Enterprise Playmobil
Playmobil Star Trek USS Enterprise limited edition model, RRP £449.99 (offer below)

Some are comfort purchases, harking back to childhood loves, but most seem to be bought as talking points and/or for display. The big question, of course, is can you really afford to spend hundreds on that Playmobil StarTrek U.S.S. Enterprise (see image above) and still pay that socking gas bill lurking just around the corner? Its RRP is £449.99, but you can get it for a ‘snip’ at ‘only’ £339.99 at Smyths Toys this week if you’re so inclined.

Statement gold jewellery

If you’re the kind of person who likes to give fabulous jewellery to someone close to you, this year is all about the chunky gold chains and pendants, including collar necklaces that look great over winter knits.

There are all kinds of bracelets and beautiful hoop and drop earrings to go with them, and something to suit most budgets. For reliable high street chic head to Oliver Bonas, for fashion statements try Orelia Jewellery (see pic below), and for reasonably-priced goldtone stocking fillers visit H&M.

Orelia and Missoma
Left: Orelia necklace, £30, Right: Lucy Williams x Missoma, prices from £39.

My personal favourites this year are the quirky and interesting 18K gold vermeil pieces (quality gold plating over sterling silver) at Missoma, including their collaborations with Lucy Williams (see pic above) and gender-fluid goodies by Harris Reed. Some beautiful designs there, from simple to show-stopping.

Single earrings from Matchbox Jewellery, priced £10 to £15 each

I also like Matchbox Jewellery* who allow you to create mismatched collections of single earrings to get that curated ear exactly right. They arrive in pretty little gift boxes to make it even easier.

Luxury hot chocolate gifts

Always a good choice for a stocking filler, this year there are tubs and sachets of hot chocolate in all kinds of flavours for both the connoisseurs, such as the Hotel Chocolat cocoa range, and for the kids, where the high street and big supermarkets have you covered all kinds of winter warmer treats.

Lakeland hot chocolate melts
Lakeland hot chocolate melts gifts, from £3.49

There are melty choc spoons and bombes all over the shop too, mostly combined with plenty of mini-marshmallows for those who like it extra sweet – the best range by far is at Lakeland.

Whittard cocoa creations gift set 2021
Whittard cocoa creations gift set, £25.

Pick up one of the latest variety packs from Whittard, or a NotOnTheHighStreet gift set with a matching mug to go large for the biggest hot choc fans.

Extra requirements for certain loved ones? Look out for VeganKind supermarket’s multiple vegan options, Divine’s delicious fairly traded and ethical treats such as their new winter spice flavour, and CocoaLoco’s plastic-free packaging. There’s so much to choose from this year, so whatever their tastes you’re sure to find something just right.

Do any of these 2021 festive gift trends float your boat? What would you like Santa to bring you this year?

Full disclosure: I have been gifted a pair of Matchbox Jewellery* earrings without obligation so I could review their products and service if I liked them (and I do).

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