My reading list

Your reading list is empty! Add articles and start reading now.

The capital's tastemakers reveal their top Christmas gifts

Movers and shakers on what they want to give – and receive – this festive season

Paul Smith, Designer

“Many years ago, my wife Pauline made me a small tapestry with a heart on it. More recently she commissioned somebody to make me a tape measure in ceramic, which she put into a box covered in tailoring fabric that she’d hand-stitched. I really value gifts that involve effort and thought. 

"For the family, it gets more and more difficult every year. We’ve given ‘the camera’, ‘the painting’, ‘the holiday’ and so on. But I always try to be attentive to conversations and register when somebody has mentioned something that further down the line might make a nice gift. A friend mentioned to me recently that she was feeling a bit down but that her love of gardening cheered her up, so I bought her a copy of a fantastic book: The Art of Making Gardens by another friend of mine, Luciano Giubbilei.”

Amanda Wakeley, Fashion designer

“One year I was lucky enough to receive Terry O’Neill’s iconic black and white photo of a windswept Brigitte Bardot from my husband Hugh. He had Terry write a special message on it for me. It’s gorgeous. This year I’d like to receive a new pair of powder skis... and a heli-skiing trip to Alaska or Japan to use them! 

"When it comes to shopping for Hugh, my first port of call is always Berluti. Every piece is so beautifully designed and crafted; I think I get as much pleasure choosing a present from there as he does receiving it. Connolly will definitely feature on my Christmas shopping circuit, too – Isabel Ettedgui has done the most incredible job of curating the brand as well as creating a divine retail experience.”

David Gandy, Model

“I’ve had so many great presents from so many great people – it would be too hard to choose one in particular. I think the thought someone puts into it is the most important thing. I always aim to make my presents personal, although above all I prefer to see friends and family and to get everyone together. There isn’t anything I need, so spending time with the people who are special and important to me is what it’s all about.” 

(David Gandy is ambassador for luxury menswear brand London Sock Company, www.londonsockcompany.com)

Alice Temperley, Fashion designer

“I once received a beautiful huge hippopotamus skull that now lives in my kitchen – it reminds me of seeing them on the river banks in Kenya when I was a kid. I make a few special gifts every year. It’s easier as we get one person from the family to buy for as a Secret Santa. This means you can really think about making it personal. First up, I will be making my boyfriend a textile hanging for some large windows in his new house. 

“I’d like to be taken on an adventure... or even just be treated to breakfast in bed. I’m a hopeless romantic and surprises and being super thoughtful are always the best, no matter how big or small.”

Jason Atherton, Chef

“My wife, Irha, bought me a Rolex for my 40th birthday. We didn’t have much at the time and we were religiously saving up for a house, but she had been putting money away for a while. I was so touched by it. I would love to buy her a beach house in the Philippines, her home country; somewhere for us to relax and contemplate life together – the beaches over there are incredible. I’d also organise a river cruise for my parents, as they’re always saying they’d love to go on one.

“If Father Christmas were a Michelin inspector, I would love a second star for Pollen Street Social, please. I promise to leave him a glass of milk and a cookie.” 

William Banks-Blaney, Founder, William Vintage

“The most amazing gift I have ever received was from a couple whose house I decorated in New York when I was an interior designer. They gave me an original Warhol. 

“This Christmas, I’m aiming to give all my closest friends something that has their birthstone in it. I, on the other hand, would like a solid silver ice cream pint holder and a meal with everyone I love at the same table: the greatest luxury of all.” 

Emma Bridgewater, Potter

“Perhaps my all-time favourite gift was a bundle of sticks that turned into a cherry orchard, an inspired present from my husband Matthew one year. Now, ten years later, it is a cloud of blossom in spring and produces baskets full of fruit in summer. The most exciting thing is when a present lasts a lifetime. For our wedding in 1987, we were given a wind-up leather tape measure that has measured all our houses and gardens since: an unqualified success.

"When it comes to giving gifts, I’m spoilt for choice in having our own factory that makes the most perfect personalised pottery. A teapot and some mugs with the name of the recipient is probably a favourite gift of mine.”

Ozwald Boateng, Fashion designer

“The best present I’ve ever received is my kids. If I could give anything this Christmas, I’d give my parents more time. I’d also like to find a new Bikram yoga spot in central London because the one I used to go to has just closed down and yoga is the only gift I give myself.”

Martine Assouline, Co-founder, Assouline

“My printer gave my husband Prosper and I the best gift possible when we received La Colombe d’Or. It was the first copy of the first book by Assouline Publishing and will always be very special to me for many reasons; one of them being that both of us had contributed so much to the creation of it as authors. This year, I’m going to smile – not only to the ones who smile back, but to everyone just as an invitation to feel better.” 

Francis Sultana, Interior designer

“I’m currently designing and making a customised desk with internal drawers for my partner David Gill – it’s something that he will use every day.

The best gift I’ve ever received was a Toledo Vacheron Constantin watch, but this year I’d like a ten-day holiday to Mustique.” 

Mark Hix, Chef

“The chef Valentine Warner gave me a brass pestle and mortar that once belonged to the food writer Elizabeth David, and it’s still the best gift I’ve ever received. 

“As you can imagine, I’ve tried and tested dozens of knives over the years. They should be a purchase for life and, if looked after, will certainly outlive you. Flint and Flame knives are of unbeatable quality and have the right look and feel – you can even get your name engraved into the rosewood handle. I’ll be giving them as gifts this year. I’d like a Cobb barbecue. I love cooking fish straight out of the sea, but hot barbecues are a tad tricky onboard a boat. You can pick up and move the Cobb tabletop barbecue with your bare hands while lunch is on the go.”

Carmel Allen, Creative director, Linley

“The present I loved most was from my parents, who were notoriously bad at gift giving because there were nine children and everything was rather last minute. I’d finished university and was heading off to Rome to complete my studies, so they gave me a very special watch with Roman numerals. I was blown away that they’d given it so much thought and I still wear it every day.

“I love Peter Hone’s architectural plaster casts and will be buying a few from the Sir John Soane’s Museum for close friends. The British Museum and the V&A shops are treasure troves and I tend to do a lot of my Christmas shopping there. The Foot of Hermes from the British Museum is definitely for the ‘what do you buy for someone who has everything’ list. From Linley, I’ll be buying lots of AlphaBoxes for my godchildren and sisters – everyone loves a box with their initial on it. I hope I receive one in my stocking, too.”

Karam Sethi, Founder, JKS restaurants 

“I received a print of Francis Bacon’s Self Portrait Seated (1970) one Christmas – that was a memorable gift. This year, I’d like to see the new Herringbone griddle pan from Crane Cookware under the tree. All its pieces combine style and functionality and they’re virtually indestructible. 

“I also love La Fromagerie. I’m always in the Marylebone shop – it sources fantastic cheeses that can be picked out for Christmas cheeseboards. It also makes up hampers that make for great gifts.” 

Jason Basmajian, Creative director, Cerruti

“The best Christmas present I have ever received was a surprise visit from my entire family when I first moved to Paris. It was great. We celebrated together in my apartment and it really underlined what Christmas means to me: time with loved ones.

 “It’s a pleasure to give, but we have a no gifts policy among close friends and family. Instead, I would like to give my time and experience to young people in the industry who need guidance. We started a collaboration with the Parsons Paris design school this year and it has really inspired me to share my knowledge with the next generation.

“In return, I would like to receive some quiet time with loved ones to read, cook and watch films. As I enjoy travelling I wouldn’t mind a trip away to somewhere I’ve never been, such as Patagonia or Bhutan.”

Monica Galetti, Chef

"The best present I’ve ever received is probably a framed picture that my sister Grace gave me. It was a photo of us when I was five and Grace was only two. I hadn’t seen it in a long time so it was such a wonderful surprise receiving it for Christmas.

"I’m not fussed about getting any gifts as such this year, I just want some peace and quiet. I would love to enjoy a relaxed Christmas at home with my daughter, husband and dog."