Am being super organised this year as I realise I often start these guides in December (which feels right) when it’s too late to get hold of some of the stuff (which is wrong) so this year I thought I would start now and you can ignore me if you can’t face it yet (come back in a week) or you too, can be organised. I have traditionally arranged my gift lists by room as I find I don’t fit into the usual foodie fashionista, pet loving parent or tech-obsessed teen. I love all those things and yet the gift guides don’t ever seem to relate to me. Last week one of the weekend papers promised 327 ideas for Christmas presents.

madaboutthehouse kitchen


“You won’t find a single thing in there,” said The Mad Husband peering over the top of a different section.

“Yes I will, of course I will,” I retorted. “I always want everything.”

But I didn’t. So I revert to rooms. Because we all have those. And because present-buying should be, in theory, quite simple. Buy something for the person that they would like or need and wouldn’t buy themselves. If you can also base this around the activity that takes place in a certain room then that gives you something to bounce off. And remember these are suggestions to get you started. A sort of lateral thinking exercise if you like.

We are starting in the kitchen. Because, you know, as a foodie fashionista with a pet and a love of tech (and the owner of two teenage boys) I do spend quite a lot of time in here. There will be ten suggestions but remember, if these aren’t right use them as jumping off points for your own ideas. I have included a coffee idea because I drink a lot of coffee. I haven’t had a cup of tea for 30 years but you can think around that. And never forget the classic – fabulous mug, pretty tea towel, milk jug, pack of fancy biscuits and a magazine subscription. That is, in essence, the gift of time and who doesn’t want that? You are telling someone to take time out of their day and have a few moments to themselves. Works with tea, wine, brandy – whatever their poison.

Talking of which, the first gift involves my personal poison. Sparkling water. I am addicted. I drink it all the time. Coffee all morning, water all afternoon and wine and water all evening. I’m very boring when it comes to my drinks and if I only drink tap water that too becomes very boring. And so I have a fizzy water habit but the bottles are an endless concern. Now I could buy a soda stream. But this is about pretty and practical things that you wouldn’t buy yourself. So, this:


RRP £179 (but shop around)

aarke carbonator
aarke carbonator

It’s a gorgeous piece of design and one I would happily keep on the worktop all the time – which is the point of a kitchen gadget because if you stick them in the cupboard they never come out again. Hello juicer at the back there…. It comes in black, white, gold, copper and silver and you have to buy the gas canister separately but it’s compatible with a number of different ones. You can buy spare bottles as well, but I would suggest decanting into glass bottles you already have if you wanted to have several in the fridge at once. This is the gift I want The Mad Husband to see. If he doesn’t, well he has a birthday in January so either way….



Koi fish stacking glasses
Koi fish stacking glasses

If I’m going to have my own fresh fizzy water then I might need these fun glasses to drink it out of. I do seem to love a fish motif (we have a lobster shaped clock in the kitchen and the Paola Navone fish carafe, so it was probably inevitable that these were added to the list. I can’t explain it. I love it. And, while they come in different colours, this smoked grey goes so well with the carbonator. There are lots of stockists so it might be easier to google the item and see what comes up.


from £23.95 or £80 for the set

hokan bowls
hokan bowls

Talking of stacking, and reducing plastic, this is another good idea. These stacking ceramic bowls will store leftovers in the fridge and also work in the oven and microwave. And they look pretty enough to serve the food in too. Now the biggest one would be tight for a stew or fish pie for two but generous for one. But then you could just stick the leftover in the fridge overnight and reheat it the next with an extra helping of vegetables to bulk it up a bit the next day.

I have bought those stretchy lids that are meant to fit over your bowls for leftovers but out of the set of 12 only two fitted my crockery without popping off and I’ve lost all the tupperware lids and even if cling film stuck to them, it’s a Bad Thing, whereas this is a Good Thing. Particularly the fridge to oven to table to dishwasher scenario. One pot for all those uses has to be a good idea. Also Nigella LOVES them apparently.


around £60 (but UK customers watch out for customs)

herb knife from facture goods
herb knife from facture goods

Now this is something I spotted on Instagram and instantly thought it was a good idea. Mine hasn’t arrived yet as I had to pay customs duty so US readers – go for it – Europeans need to allow extra time. It’s billed as a cheese knife but those tiny holes are there so you can de-leaf your fresh herbs. And fresh thyme is such a bore but pulling it through here is such a clever idea. I know someone who will like this and I’m pretty sure he won’t have read this far down either….Add cheese for extra giftiness.


from around €8.95

glass candle holders from anna and nina
glass candle holders from anna and nina

Time for something pretty for the table. I’m a self-avowed catastrophist and am always worried about freak gusts of wind blowing candles over but I can just about deal with them on the table. These are so pretty and if you arranged a central group of them in different shades, or different shapes of the same colour with toning candles it would look so pretty. Use instead of flowers maybe?



brass pepper mill from trouvabrass pepper mill from trouva
brass pepper mill from trouva

Now this is a classic example of the thing that is beautiful but you probably wouldn’t buy for yourself because it’s expensive for a pepper mill. Although it will get used every day and give pleasure while you are doing so – which is pretty much the definition of the perfect Christmas present. I’ve wanted one of these for years but we have a very nice wooden one which The Mad Husband loves and he won’t countenance another so…. If you were worried this present was a little too practical and lacking in funds then (apart from can we actually still be friends) you could always present it with a voucher for a dinner at his/her favourite restaurant, which could be anything from the local Italian to the fanciest place in town. Also, the voucher can be a good idea as it’s delayed payment – think of that people at this time of year.


£30 for four

set of four white linen napkins from graham and green
set of four white linen napkins from graham and green

These probably fit with the candlesticks and is a more formal version of the tea towel and mug present mentioned at the beginning. You can buy linen napkins everywhere but I always think it’s a real treat to add them to a meal and makes even a humble plate of pasta feel a bit more special. Again, think laterally as to how you can make this more exciting, if you are worried that these alone won’t cut it. More table accessories, a fabulous cake – maybe homemade which would work well as a present from you and small children to a grandparent for example. The aforementioned candlesticks and a promise of dinner out. Hell, just buy two and stick an engagement ring in one of them. Or, the other thing that is all the rage is monogramming. People love seeing their initials on things.



coloured glass straws from etsy
coloured glass straws from etsy

I have noticed a definite sustainable leaning in these presents for the kitchen which I didn’t deliberately set out to achieve. However, I think this perhaps is a reflection of how this conversation is at the forefront of our minds at the moment and rightly so. This set of five glass straws is pretty and will jazz up a glass of teatotal January water a treat. I find the metal ones set my teeth on edge so these are better for me. There is free UK delivery (they are coming from the US) but, as always, if you like the idea but want a different version then you can hunt for one. Here is a set of plain glass straws (UK stockist)  that includes a brush to clean them with. Again, add a couple of cocktail bottles or a recipe book and away you go.


£30 per person

dinner plate, side plate and bowl in rose pink from rockett st george
dinner plate, side plate and bowl in rose pink from rockett st george

Nothing like pretty plates to make every meal more enjoyable and these are lovely. The other point to make is that these days it doesn’t all have to match. So you could buy a complete set like this – or perhaps three sets to mix in with your existing plain white or ivory crockery, or, if you felt that it wouldn’t mix as well as you would like, then buy just a set of bowls for pasta, or pudding. Or just the side plates. It’s up to you. You’ve got the gist by now.



kinto slow coffee brass stand
kinto slow coffee brass stand

As I mentioned earlier, sometimes the best Christmas present is the one of time, or the recognition that the person who receiving the gift should take time for themselves so for that reason I have included this beautiful slow coffee dripper. But, as a dedicated coffee drinker, I also wanted to include another idea. We have a Nespresso machine and the pod wastage is something that massively concerns me. I have been looking into re-usable pods and there are very mixed reviews. Some are to do with technique – how much you tamp the coffee down so that it still flows but isn’t too weak, and others to do with compatibility with various machines. I haven’t used any yet so I don’t feel qualified to suggest which are the best ones but they are on my wish list. I think, perhaps these ones, although the issue seems to be that in order to get a good layer of crema the top must be foil – so not sustainable but less waste than the original pods. It’s a dilemma. If anyone has used them let me know and if not I shall carry on researching and will, inevitably, buy some so I will let you know how I get on.

The point being that if you live with a tea or coffee addict there are countless idea for presents starting with the choice of method, the drinking vessel, the book/magazine to go with it, via biscuits, tea spoons and trays to put it all on. I’d take any of the above.

I hope that has been helpful. And, as a final, final idea if you are thinking of buying a recipe book I have both by Alison Roman although this one Dining In is brilliant. You will never just steam a green vegetable again as she has so many more interesting ways to cook them.

I hope that has given you some thoughts. The sitting room is up next….

Kate Watson-Smyth starts her Christmas gift guide: room by room with gifts for the #christmasgifts #cheeseknife #madaboutthehouse

Tags : Christmas gift guidechristmas giftschristmas presentsGifts for the kitchenKitchen gifts
Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. LOVE the Koi Glasses…. I want two fish though, so we have 8 for bigger groups!! Must forward this list to my ‘Santa’ 🙃

  2. I have the aarke carbonator and can confirm it is brilliant. I bought it because I felt so guilty about the amount of water bottles I was recycling- much better to have something I can use over and over. The water tastes great and it’s so easy to do- I reckon each cylinder makes about 60litres and can be refilled. I also concur with other readers that the bean to cup coffee makers are the best – I put the grounds on the garden so it’s quite environmentally friendly.

  3. Kate, I absolutely love this gift list format. I need to buy the Koifish stacking glasses for my wife. She will love them!

    Thanks 🙂

  4. About 25 years ago, as part of a law degree at Cambridge, I researched Nestlé’s promotion of baby milk substitutes in the third world to mothers with virtually no money to afford the products, or access to clean water to mix the powder, but who were led to believe that this was the best chance for their baby. It left me utterly appalled, and I have never knowingly bought a Nestlé product since. I worked in conjunction with Baby Milk Action , who have just produced a film, Tiger, on the subject. Apparently it all continues. Never mind the recyclable pods Kate, ditch the Nespresso machine!

  5. Great ideas – first gift list that I’ve actually wanted things from! Mind you they’re all for me 😂
    Appreciate the early posting too x

  6. Good luck to Mark’s brother and will definitely watch programme.

    Kate – great ideas although I bought one of those slow coffee things for my coffee drinking husband and problem was it was too ..well.. slow! for him anyway Drip Drip.
    I’m a tea drinker , the real slow drink with a proper ritual and none of this tea-bag in a mug malarky – plus loads of gift-buying possibilities. China cup and saucer, teapot, spoon , milk jug, sugar sifter, tea caddies , tea cosies, trays, butlers??

    The cheese knife looks sweet but seriously Kate if your juicer is still in the cupboard ( where my magi mix lurks ) do we really have the ‘thyme’ or indeed inclination to thread a sprig of any herb through the eye of a needle ?

  7. We bought a bean to cup coffee machine rather than a Nespresso – takes up more room on the worktop, has to be cleaned more often and probably costs more to buy initially but I’m guessing beans are cheaper than the pods and it really is just one press of a button for a coffee. Maybe worth thinking about if anyone is looking for a new coffee maker. Love so many of your present ideas (but mainly for myself!)

    1. I second this. When we were looking to buy a coffee machine I couldn’t bring myself to buy one that uses pods. Such a good decision, I love my bean to cup machine, its quick, easy to clean and friends who have pod machines say it makes a great cup of coffee. Mine’s a DeLonghi, one of the more basic ones but absolutely cracking.

      1. The DeLonghi is great. After staying on a coffee farm in Porto Rico I seriously upped my game. Now we spend many happy weekends seeking out coffee roasters and buying our beans direct from them. Happy days.

  8. Hi Kate- I wondered if I could use your fab blog to ask as many people as poss to watch ch 4 ‘24 hours in A & E’ next Monday 2nd, to raise awareness of a rare condition called ‘Noonan syndrome’ which is desperate for more funds. The prog features my late nephew, Mark, who died in April, aged 33, and his parents…they gave Mark the best quality life they could while struggling with some of the awful affects of Noonans(Lymphodoema being the most serious, which ultimately caused a fatal heart attack) the last 3 years of his life were spent mainly in hospital- he was such a brave, happy chap and a real character, despite all the difficulties he had to contend with and it would be great if people could support the charity with donations, however small. Marks brother is running the London marathon next year in aid of Noonans. Thankyou

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