…because candles and chocolates are insipid…and we know you’re better than that.

Christmas is a blessing. Or so we’re told. It brings strangers together and loved ones closer. This is true, unless you have a girlfriend. In the event that you find yourself coupled up at Christmas, the holiday season becomes a minefield. Even the most relaxed girlfriend or boyfriend has the potential to turn into a heaving beast of unfathomably high expectations – causing you to become an edgy mess of festive angst in the process.

Practical or extravagant? Meaningful or throw-money-at-the-situation? If she has you (and a big diamond ring on her third finger), does she really need a present? Big and colourful or small and precious? Something they need, or something they absolutely don’t need because that’s the spirit of luxury and giving? STRESSFUL.

Some basic guidelines from a boyfriend with moderate taste and a whole lot of experience reading between the lines:

    1. Go for quantity. Opting for that one big gift you’re certain she’ll adore is a risky strategy and, frankly, a dumb one. Why hedge your bets? It’s sod’s law, she will loathe it, question internally why she ever went out with you in the first place and embark on a sequence of lies which begins with feigned delight (a.k.a. thinly veiled disgust) and ends with her offloading it in a charity shop and pretending it went missing. Plus, opening lots of different things fills even the grinchiest person with childlike glee.
    2. Yes of course she needs a present you fool. A word to the newly engaged – that ring you bought, yeah it doesn’t get you off presents for the next few years, that’s a myth. Your significant other might have said that gifts aren’t important this year but, newsflash, she’s lying. You can bet your bottom dollar she’s got you one and you can bet your very last penny that she’ll see “oh I thought we weren’t doing presents this year” as an elaborate ruse and will spend all day waiting for you to leap out from behind the sofa with a fancy box and a “JUST KIDDING!”
    3. Practical Vs Extravant? Both. Get both. Even if she’s spent the last two months lamenting the lack of smoothie-maker in her life, trust me, if you just get her a smoothie maker, she’ll think you’re making some allusion to the fact that women belong in the kitchen. Get the smoothie maker AND Malene Birger clutch and you’re on the money. The smoothie maker shows that you were listening even as you were craning your neck around her to see the United goal. The clutch?…. Well that will get you laid.


A little caveat – you know this already. If you didn’t, you’d be reading GQ instead of our alternative guide… But here it is again…ALL WOMEN ARE DIFFERENT. The best thing you can do is watch and listen. This guide is just that, a guide to some interesting products and unique brands.


If you want to pay top dollar for cheap metal that will bend and tarnish almost immediately then, well, more fool you… There are some brilliant and unique brands out there. You might have to shell out a little more, but you’ll have invested in a statement piece and an independent retailer.


Your girl’s got attitude in bunches, that’s why you love her. London based Moxham specialises in statement jewellery. Designer Madeleine Moxham has a very identifiable aesthetic – her leather and hardware is fast becoming iconic. The perfect way to offset a dainty or simple outfit. Here are a couple of our picks:

Moxham XWHY Magazine

Me & Zena

If she’s more  of a dreamer, you could be looking at a Me and Zena piece – a playful and poppy take on accessorising.

Me and Zena jewellery XWHY Magazine


Boutique brands are a much better choice than anything you’ll find on Oxford street. This is also good news for those of you who leave your shopping until the last minute, because it will save you from wrestling with the throngs of unhappy and desperate central London shoppers… Here’s a tip for nought though, don’t leave it until Christmas eve. Your last minute panic buy will invariably be disastrous.


That being said, welcome back to an old institution. Japanese inspired French brand Kenzo has had quite the resurgence in recent years, due to it’s iconic tiger head image. It’s quirky, fun, cool – not your average haute couture. Yes, pricey, but not all of it is budget-blowing. For the high-fashion fiend.


Nike x Liberty

The collaboration between Nike and Liberty continues to be one of the most loved in footwear history. The unique liberty print combined with classic Nike styles is a winner with any sports-luxe lover.

Nike x Liberty

SilverSpoon Attire

A luxury streetwear line that features leathers, brightly coloured beanies and, strangely, veils. If it’s good enough for Rihanna, it probably meets your girlfriend’s standards.

Silver Spoon


Backpacks are in. There are some great leather drawstring number out there, but for a girl who likes a bit of colour, Mipac have a broad selection of styles, from leopard print through to denim.




Mipack 1Mipac 2


This swedish brand is all about clean lines and simplicity. Classic, effortless chic. It pisses all over The Kooples.I don’t know ANYONE that doesn’t like a bit of Acne.

ACNE xwhy

Ragged Priest

This rocky brand takes inspiration from late 80s/early 90s. Mixed tartans and cut and sewed leather give it a contemporary edge. Cool points.

Ragged priest


She’ll have a beauty brand. Whether it’s MAC or Dior, the likelihood that she ever deviates from her fave is slim – it means she knows what works for her skin, so that’ fair enough. So if you’re going to fill her stocking with beauty products they’d better be weird, inventive and the latest technology.


If you really want to know, these are eyelash thickeners for women that can’t be doing with fakies. And, really, who can actually be bothered with fake eyelashes….except for say the comedy value of waking up next to someone who looks like they’ve got spiders making a strategic attack on her cheekbones.



Everyone is into lipstick. No one is into having it spread across their teeth or rubbing off from the inside out over the course of a meal. Semi-permanent lipsticks are cropping up all over the place, but in the event that her favourite brand hasn’t got one, opt for this one. It’s a good’un.



The anomaly. You can get away with buying even simple products from Benefit, because their retro-inspired packaging and weird ingredients turn even the blandest things into magical offerings. This Fine-One-One would make a fun addition to another gift.



You love spending time with her, she loves hanging out with you. You’re both interesting people or you wouldn’t be reading XWHY (we like to think), so why not head off somewhere interesting and wrap yourselves in each other’s company for a weekend, while exploring somewhere cool.


Doesn’t get much cooler. Whether it’s weird and disturbing paintings of significant moments in Hitler’s life at the Neue Nationalgalerie, or 24 hour techno music at Berghain, you’re in the right place. You could even take a street art workshop together…


Perast and Kotor

Montenegro, perhaps not strictly a weekender, as this little coastal town is tricky to get to. But my god, it’s f***ing beautiful. Put aside your pretensions and stereotypes about Eastern Europe. Stay in Perast, which is a tiny little fishing village on a fjord, hire a car and drive into Kotor and the surrounding areas. Rickety ramparts and other leftovers from the Balkan wars, pedestrian-only towns and more cobblestone than you can shake a stick at. Plus, say what you want about this part of the world, but they love to party, so prepare for some nightlife.



In the UK. If it really is “you time” that you’re after, you don’t have to go far for a magical experience. Coracle is a yurt in Dorset. Not sold yet? Yeah, I wouldn’t be either. But this 18ft yurt has a tree shower with “piping hot” water, hammocks, kitchen facilities and a nearby sauna yurt. Plus, the downseason has some nice competitive prices, so why not take some thick jumpers and enjoy the quiet. Have a wee LOOK.



WORDS: Michael Thomas


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