Louise Moody feels a frisson of excitement as she gazes at the beautifully wrapped gift bearing her name beneath the Christmas tree.
For come Christmas morning she knows there’ll be none of the old dread that her presents might be ill-fitting clothes, shoes she doesn’t like, or even a vacuum cleaner like one a friend’s husband once ‘treated’ her to.
Because three years ago Louise, 47, put a stop to feigned delight. Now, opening her festive gifts is, she says, utterly thrilling.
Why? Because she buys them for herself — and with some style. Her first ‘to me, from me’ gift was a 1.78-carat aqua blue diamond and platinum ring costing £4,500 for Christmas 2017.
‘It was paid for with my savings, which meant my accountant husband Andrew couldn’t protest,’ says Louise, from Chelmsford, Essex.
Louise Moody, 47, feels a frisson of excitement as she gazes at the beautifully wrapped gift bearing her name beneath the Christmas tree
‘For Christmas 2018, I bought myself a £4,500 Rolex watch, last year I blew £600 on a pair of black Louboutin heels, and this year I’ve splurged £2,000 on a platinum and diamond eternity ring.’
Self-gifting is a trend that’s exploded in recent years, but never more so than this Christmas with many of us feeling we deserve to treat ourselves after the ravages of 2020.
Known in the retail industry as the ‘lipstick effect’, research has shown that women are more likely to purchase luxury gifts for themselves during difficult times. According to drinks brand Bacardi’s research, half of Britons intend to self-gift this month, with an average spend of £181.
Global financial consultancy Deloitte says Black Friday is a major factor, with many people snapping up luxury items at a discount then wrapping them as gifts for themselves.
RSPCA press officer Amy De-Keyzer, 32, feels similar anticipation about self-gifting, something she started in 2017
Meanwhile, the Gift Card & Voucher Association (GCVA) estimates self-gifting represents 21.8 per cent of consumer spend on gift cards — worth more than £1 billion — where shoppers buy gift cards at discounted rates for themselves,.
Psychologist Martin Goodyer says self-gifting can be hugely beneficial for our esteem.
‘There is a joy in buying gifts for other people because it helps bolster our internal self-worth,’ he says. ‘But even better is when you strengthen your self-worth by recognising you too are deserving of a special gift.
‘It need not be big nor expensive, but it must be something you would not normally buy for yourself.
‘Making sure you’re on your own list to receive a gift stimulates powerful, feel-good emotions.’
Devotees such as Louise say self-gifting is infinitely more thrilling than the anticipation of unwrapping a gift you’ll loathe.
‘I don’t want surprises — I want to treat myself to things I’ve coveted for months or even years, and the only way to ensure they find their way down our chimney at Christmas is to buy them myself,’ she says.
You might imagine her husband would feel put out that Louise has so little faith in him. On the contrary.
‘He’s useless at buying presents,’ adds Louise, who works long hours running her bakery business (sticky andsweetcupcake.co.uk) from home, where the couple live with their children aged 14 and 11.
‘The things he used to buy me usually had to go back to the shops because they didn’t fit or I didn’t like them. Even my mum tells me I’m hard to buy for.
‘Self-gifting takes the pressure off Andrew and he’s quite happy just buying me stocking fillers such as the perfume he knows I like. This year he’s buying me jeans, which I’ve chosen to make sure he doesn’t get the wrong brand, size or style.
For social-media manager Stephanie Merry it’s the whiff of a new leather Mulberry handbag that puts her in the festive mood
‘He loves antiques, so if there’s something he particularly wants I’ll buy that for him.
‘There’s a real sense of satisfaction buying myself a significant present after working extremely hard all year, frequently for 14 hours a day.
‘I’d always coveted an aqua diamond ring, and when Andrew bought himself a Rolex for his fortieth birthday, because he also works really hard, I decided I wanted one, too.
‘The eternity ring I’m self-gifting this year will replace my existing one as it’s gold whereas my wedding and engagement rings are platinum and I wanted one to match.
‘When I bought it, I handed it straight to Andrew to wrap and put under the tree. Part of the anticipation is I don’t look at my gifts after I’ve bought them until I open them at Christmas.
‘My friends don’t self-gift — they just complain about what their husbands buy for them.’
For many of us, the aromas of mince pies and mulled wine are synonymous with Christmas. But for social-media manager Stephanie Merry it’s the whiff of a new leather Mulberry handbag that puts her in the festive mood.
This is the fifth Christmas she’s gifted herself a pricey bag from the British brand, but this year she also had a Black Friday online blowout on a £370 cashmere scarf by Burberry and £360 Valentino sandals.
It is 2020, after all.
Joining them under the Christmas tree, bought during a trip to Selfridges in London, is a Mulberry Amberley in black with studs, costing £597 in the sale.
‘I should have been in Dubai with my family for Christmas, but that’s been cancelled, and with the money I’ve saved on commuting, socialising and holidays, I decided to treat myself even more than normal,’ says Stephanie, 33, who lives in Stevenage, Herts, and has a successful lifestyle blog (merrymusing.co.uk).
‘I’m single and I don’t have any nieces or nephews, so I’m indulging myself while I can and because I work really hard.’
She started self-gifting for Christmas 2016 when her blog took off as a side hustle, meaning she suddenly had more income.
‘I’ve always loved luxury items and have long had a thing for Mulberry. When I got my first job after university ten years ago I spent half my first salary on their iconic Bayswater bag, which cost £595.
‘After that splurge, I had to save hard for a couple of years to buy another one, but now I have the means to treat myself every Christmas.’
Stephanie’s self-gifted Mulberry bags include a £695 ‘Lily’ in taupe, the same design in midnight, a larger £895 ‘Lily’ bag in grey, and a small ‘Darley’ in pale slate, which cost her £595.
‘But I never start using them before Christmas — that would spoil the excitement,’ she says.
RSPCA press officer Amy De-Keyzer, 32, feels similar anticipation about self-gifting, something she started in 2017.
Having snapped up a pair of Versace sunglasses for £300, she justified the extravagance by saving them as a Christmas present for herself.
The following December she and five girlfriends splashed out £500 each on a trip to Paris as a Christmas treat, and last year Amy took things up a notch with a £950 Louis Vuitton handbag she’d coveted.
‘My husband had never taken the hints I’ve dropped over the years, or was choosing not to, so I took matters into my own hands,’ says Amy, who lives in Horsham, West Sussex.
‘I had a meeting in London a couple of weeks before last Christmas, so I seized my opportunity to go to the Louis Vuitton shop on Bond Street and bought one as a self gift.
‘It felt indulgent and a little bit reckless to part with almost £1,000. But I work hard and squirrel money away, in part for rainy days but also so I’ve got money to spend on something other than paying the bills or feeding our dog.
‘When I left the shop I wanted everyone in the world to know I’d got a Louis Vuitton bag — I was chuffed. It’s an investment I’ll keep for years, and still makes me feel giddy every time I use it.
‘I can’t blame my husband as he’s very good at buying presents such as spa days and perfume, but I think it’s so important that we treat ourselves to luxuries now and again, as it brings a different feeling of satisfaction.’ That has certainly been the zeitgeist this year of lockdown.
Statistics from tech firm Emarsys revealed that during the first week of April — when many people couldn’t even get hold of loo rolls or pasta — consumers worldwide splurged 57 per cent more on luxury goods online, including handbags and high-end designer trainers.
Amy adds: ‘I work hard, and life is stressful, especially this year. I’m quick to treat other people at Christmas, if they get married or have a special birthday. But as women we’re not very good at treating ourselves guilt-free.
‘Even now, when I go Christmas shopping for myself there’s always that moment of: ‘I can’t believe I’m spending so much money!’ I try to remind myself I’m a generous person and enjoy buying gifts for other people that I know they’ll really love.’
Still, as if to justify her self-gifting, Amy adds that day to day she shops on the High Street.
But self-gifting gives her a thrill.
‘It’s a terrific feeling to have something under the Christmas tree that is a substantial reward for the hard work during the year,’ she adds, revealing this year’s gift to herself is a practical but expensive laptop, on order at £1,500.
‘Top of the list for Christmas 2021 are Chanel sunglasses, a pair of Jimmy Choo heels and some diamond earrings,’ she says.
‘Tis the season of giving, but it seems receiving presents from ourselves is a trend that’s here to stay.
Merry woofmas! Baubles, blankets, bags… there’s nothing you can’t personalise with your pooch’s pawtrait, as JENNI MURRAY discovers
While most people have pictures of their children as their screensaver, I have my dogs — Butch, Frieda and Madge. And I’ve discovered there’s no end to the ways a dog lover can immortalise their pet. From tree baubles to puzzles and canvases, there’s a host of products to choose from. And here they are, my three, in every form you can think of . . .
Hand-painted pet portrait bauble, £22.99 each, etsy.com
If you haven’t decorated your tree yet or have room for more baubles, you can send a photo of your dog and have him or her hand painted onto a bauble by Kerry Clarke. Contact her via artkerry.co.uk.
Last orders for Christmas delivery: Sunday 20.
Glass photo clock, from £23.99 (cewe-photoworld.com)
Ah, Butch, a clock with your ever appealing eyes gazing out at me. How long will it take you to learn that when the big hand is pointing upwards and the little hand pointing to the middle on the left it’s nine o’clock and time for walkies?
Last orders: Tomorrow
Personalised socks, £19.99 (prezzybox.com)
I think having your dog on socks is taking your passion for your furry friend a little too far. But, if you love them, they come in three sizes. Last orders: Today.
Trio photo upload mug, £9 (moonpig.com)
I love a mug, so I’d be happy to have one of my three on the breakfast table. Last orders: Wednesday 23 with special delivery.
Jenni Murray (pictured): While most people have pictures of their children as their screensaver, I have my dogs — Butch, Frieda and Madge. And I’ve discovered there’s no end to the ways a dog lover can immortalise their pet
Pet Mushion, £17.99 (firebox.com)
These pet ‘mushions’ are a bit weird. Yes, I recognise their faces, but they look somewhat deformed all squashed up into a squishy cushion. Last orders: Today
Ravensburger personalised puzzle, from £24.99 (cewe-photoworld.com)
MY neighbour spends lots of her spare time doing jigsaws and she adores my dogs. Hope she doesn’t read this or she’ll know what she’s getting for Christmas. It can have 500, 1,000 or 1,500 pieces.
Last orders: Saturday 19
IT’S A WRAP
Personalised ‘Happy Woofmas’ photo upload gift wrap, £5.99 (prezzybox.com)
SORRY, Madge, but this is really not to my taste. And anyway, why spend £5.99 on something that will be ripped to shreds on Christmas morning? Last orders: Saturday 19
. . . AND FOR ANY TIME OF YEAR
it may be too late to get the following products for this Christmas Day, but they’d make great purchases at any time of the year.
Custom pet fleece blanket, £54.95 (pixaprints.co.uk)
Butch will love to curl up on his very own fleece blanket. You send a clear photo of your pet, and an artist sketches it.
Photo upload glass diamond ornament, from £49.99 (gettingpersonal.co.uk)
I LOVE this: Madge held for ever in a glass diamond ornament. It’s done by etching the image using 3D laser technology. It will make me smile every time I look at it.
Photo apron, £14.99 (gettingpersonal.co.uk)
My three know I’m not a fan of cooking and like to spend as little time as possible in the kitchen. This apron shows a doggie photo and can carry a message with up to 70 characters. Mine would be ‘I’m in the kitchen. Get me out of here’
CLOSE TO YOUR HEART
Embroidered T-shirt, £85, hoopnloop.co.uk
Have your pet embroidered on the front of a T-shirt. I think Butch looks a little alarmed in this one. Maybe he thinks wearing him is taking my devotion too far! At £85 to have your animal on your chest, I agree.
Vintage pet canvas, from £54.99 (purrandmutt.com)
Some of you may love to have a vintage pet canvas with your pets dressed up as historical characters. Personally I wouldn’t give it house room. It’s kitsch and I instinctively disapprove of anthropomorphism.
Pet photo blanket, £29.99 (lovegifts.com)
Madge looks very happy to be featured on this blanket, which is available in two sizes and is made of soft polyester fleece.