THE GOOD LIFE BLOG
THE GOOD LIFE BLOG
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Christmas is soon upon us, and if you’re in need of some gift inspiration, I’m here to help. Whether you’re buying a gift for a Francophile or simply wanting to buy gifts like the French, I have the gift guide for you.
Keep in mind that some of these gifts can be a bit pricy, but there are gifts for every budget on it. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be luxurious!
And, a little tip: never discuss the price of a gift. The French find it both uncouth and uncivilised, and I think we should stop focusing on the price of gifts. You should never feel like you have to spend more than you can afford, or that a gift isn’t nice enough if it was cheap. It’s the though that counts!
So, without further ado, let’s dive into some tips for cadeaux your Francophile friends will enjoy (and for anyone really, there are some lovely gift ideas on this list)!
1. French food
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Even though you maybe aren’t currently in France, you can still find French food items in many shops, and especially if you go to a specialty shop. Suggestions for French food items to gift are French cheese (some suggestions are Brie, Saint Agur or Saint Albray), French macaroons, Madeleines or some luxurious French chocolate that will make the receiver say “Oh la la!”
2. A cheeseboard
If you have a Francophile friend, why not help them Frenchify their dinner parties? A French dinner party rarely ends without getting the cheese out. So, what’s more perfect than giving them a cheeseboard?
You can find cheeseboards in all shapes and sizes at any price level. If you want to splurge you can include a set of cheese knives or some cheese to go with the board.
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3. French wine, liquor or champagne
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Continuing the “food-theme” we move onto French alcohol. If you want to give someone alcohol you should always look into two things in advance: 1) do they actually consume alcohol? 2) Do they have any preferences?
Once you know that it’s safe to get them alcohol as a gift, you can look for a nice French wine, some French liquor, or, if you really want to splurge: Champagne from Champagne.
4. French perfume or cologne
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If you know the persons taste in scents, a French perfume or cologne is a great gift.
From Chanel to Jean Paul Gaultier, there are a lot to choose from. Some classic French perfumes include Chanel n°5 and Miss Dior. If you need more ideas, have a look at this list of The most Iconic French Perfumes Of All Time.
For colognes Dior Homme, Dior Eau Sauvage or Jean Paul Gaultier La Male would be a good choice for a French classic.
5. French make-up
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It’s something about those French brands … By Terry, Chanel, Dior, Givenchy, Lancôme … just the names ooze luxury and class.
Most of us will never be able to afford a classic Chanel bag, so the next best thing is their makeup. A nice lipstick or nail polish is a small, but luxurious gift most women will appreciate.
6. A subscription to a French magazine
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If we can’t be in France, we can dream of it, can’t we? So, why not give your Francophile friend a magazine subscription? This is a gift that keeps on giving, since the recipient will get a new magazine at regular intervals.
Some classics to choose from are Marie Claire, Vouge and Elle. If you want something more “outside the box”, there are plenty of others to choose from, like Télérama (which covers TV, music, cinema and more) or LiRE (which covers books and literature). ("French Cottage" in the picture above is published by Victoria Magazine / Victoria Classics.)
To find subscriptions available in your country, you can visit Unipress who (according to them) deliver 650 different magazines to more than 190 countries.
7. French lessons
If your friend is a Francophile, but doesn’t know the language very well, it could be nice to gift them some French lessons. If there aren’t any classes available in your local area, you can gift them a subscription to a language learning service like Babbel or Duolingo.
8. Crêpe Pan (and a wooden batter spreader)
Crêpes are a French dessert classic – but you can also make them with a savoury filling. The sweet ones are called crêpes sucrées, while the savoury galettes are called crêpes salées. A proper crêpe pan will be a perfect gift for Francophiles and French expats alike!
And you have plenty of options. You can buy anything from the easy to use non-stick ones to electric griddles. Just remember to also get them a wooden batter spreader so they can get a professional finish to their crêpes!
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Whether you choose to get something by a classic poet or a more contemporary book, books are a nice gift for just about anyone.
Try to find something in their favourite genre, but if you don’t know any of their favourites, a book about French food or French lifestyle is a safe choice. One example is the book Bright Lights Paris: Shop, Dine & Live...Parisian Style.
10. A classic piece of clothing
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If you want to gift someone a piece of clothing, choose classic pieces and neutral colours. Pieces like these will never go out of style and is therefore a safe and sustainable choice.
Classic pieces can include: a Breton stripe top, a black jumper, some nice wool gloves, or a scarf. If you’re buying for a man in your life a nice wool tie is also a stylish option.
Whenever you are looking for clothing, remember that natural fibres like wool, linen and cotton are best. They are more breathable to wear and keep better. In addition, they do not release microplastics in the wash.
11. Candles or a reed diffuser
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A scented candle or reed diffuser can be a nice touch in any home, and can help you relax. It’s no secret that a high-end candle can be expensive, but it is a really nice gift. Among the high-end brands, Diptyque might be the most famous of them all. They are known for quality and beautiful designs. Another well-known high-end brand is Ladurée.
However, there are (luckily) many budget friendly candles and reed diffusers to be found. Some of these even produce candles that are good dupes for Diptyques scents.
Some brands to look for are Brooklyn Candle Studio, Tussie Mussie and Maison Marie Louise.
An alternative to scented candles is a reed diffuser. These create a long lasting scent in your home. One advantage the reed diffuser holds is that you can leave it wherever you want, and don’t have to keep an eye on it like you have to do with a burning candle.
Many candle brands carry both candles and reed diffusers. Reed diffusers are generally easy to find, but some nice ones to mention are the ones from The White Company and the Danish brand Meraki.
12. Something for the bath or shower
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I think most people would like to receive a nice quality bath or shower product. Most of us don’t splurge on these items in our everyday life, but there is nothing like a good spa-like product. It can elevate any mundane Monday morning shower.
Some brand suggestions are Le Petit Marseillais, Durance or Bioderma. Another well know brand is Yves Rocher.
13. Savon de Marseille
Savon de Marseille is a soap with long traditions. It has been produced in Marseille for around 600 years. Traditionally it was made by mixing sea water from the Mediterranean Sea, olive oil and alkaline ash from sea plants. The mixture was heated for several days before it was poured into molds.
Today there are two main varieties: one made with olive oil and one made with palm oil (or a mix of palm and coconut oil).
Savon de Marseille is often used for washing delicate garments like wool and silk. It’s also used as a hand soap, but then mostly in it’s liquid form.
14. Christmas ornaments from Paris
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You can find many Christmas ornaments shaped like famous landmarks from Paris. These can be really beautiful on any three, and will remind the receiver of one of their favourite places in the world.
You can find ornaments like Arc de Triumph or the tour Eiffel in the online shop Christmas Company or on Amazon.
Product picture from mariagefreres.com (link in article)
For the tea lovers in your life, this is a great gift. Teas from the famous Mariage Freres will always be popular. This tea company sells everything from Darjeeling to Earl Grey and different fruit and herbal teas.
I hope you found this article valuable! Feel free to comment below and also share the article with someone else who might be interested. And if you're interested in reading more articles related to France, check out the French Lifestyle and Everything French categories in the menu bar of my blog.
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Every year I hear many people complain about how stressed out they feel before Christmas. Even though most people enjoy the holiday itself, many of us seem to stress around to get everything prepared in time. So, today I want to talk to you about how you can make your December stress free.
1. PLAN AHEAD OF TIME
I know we’re only in November, but time flies, and December is just around the corner. I know there are always lots of things we want to do, and feel like we have to do before Christmas arrives, and I think the best way we can tackle this is by planning.
That’s all well and good, but what should you plan?
I suggest sitting down with a nice hot beverage, and make a list. What is it that you need to get done? I have some suggestions for common things, so let’s look at the categories together:
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Cleaning your house or apartment
If you live in an apartment you’re kind of lucky – there are fewer spaces for you to clean. But if you have a house, there is more to do. I know my ex mother in law would clean the walls and ceilings for Christmas, but unless you feel it is really necessary to do this, I suggest you skip it!
However, there are a few cleaning tasks you probably want to do: cleaning the windows, vacuuming and washing the floors, washing the bathroom and dusting.
You might feel stressed out about all the cleaning you need to do before Christmas, but realize this: you most likely have a regular schedule for most of these tasks. The only extra activity is cleaning the windows, which you probably do a little less often. And maybe washing the floors, which you might do less frequently than vacuuming.
To make it easy for you to plan your cleaning, get my FREE downloadable list!
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So, sit down and check your calendar: When is Christmas this year? I mean: What day does it fall on? If you have a regular cleaning schedule where you vacuum, do the dusting and wash your bathroom on a Friday and Christmas falls on a Thursday, you simply follow your normal routine up until the week of Christmas. So you’ll do your regular cleaning the Friday before, then again on Wednesday, right before Christmas.
Then you wash your floors on that same Wednesday. As for the windows, I suggest washing them one or two weeks before Christmas.
Plan your baking & cooking
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The next point of planning I want to talk about is baking and cooking. Do you have a habit of making cookies for Christmas? Or do you have any special meals you like to cook? Well, plan it ahead of time.
I've made it easy for you by creating this FREE downloadable and printable Christmas baking plan.
In Norway we have a tradition that says you should bake 7 different sorts of Christmas cookies. And that’s a lot of baking if you’re going to follow tradition. With our modern lives it may be hard to fit this in between everything else that’s going on.
So, before December knocks on our door, I like to plan when I’m going to bake my cookies. Sometimes I like to make several types of cookies in one day, to reduce the number of baking days. But then I always make sure that if one cookie is particularly laborious to make, the other ones are easy to make.
On Christmas we also like to serve traditional food for our lunch and dinners. These meals often take a lot of time to prepare, and there may be several operations happening in the kitchen at the same time. To reduce the amount of stress, I like to see if there is anything I can make ahead of time and just reheat it when the day arrives.
With a lot of dishes, they even taste better when they’re reheated!
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One thing that comes to mind is gravy, but many desserts can also be made ahead of time and frozen.
Plan your Gifts
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We all love gifts, don’t we? But at Christmas, you often have so many people you need to think of that it becomes stressful to find a gift for everyone. So, start now, and make a list of everyone you plan to give a gift. This takes away the stress of being afraid you’ve forgotten someone. You're more than welcome to use my FREE downloadable list if you want to.
When you’ve made your list, start looking for gifts. Some people are easy to give gifts to, but if you’re uncertain of what to give, ask people what they want (or need)! And, for people who have everything they need and then some, you can give edible gifts. Some chocolate or a bottle of wine (if they drink alcohol) is always appreciated, as it is a gift they can use.
I know this next idea is a little late to do it this year, but I know people who start buying gifts in January! Talk about being ahead of the game! But I guess it’s because a lot of things are on sale in January, so you could save a lot of money if you buy most of your Christmas presents then. However, I would only do this if I absolutely KNOW that this is a gift that the person will like a year from now.
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If you want ALL my FREE downloadable Christmas planners, you can get them in one bundle here.
2. REDUCE WHAT YOU'RE COMMITTING TO DO
As always with intentional living, I should mention that to make your December stress free, you might want to reduce the amount of things you’re doing.
Don’t overdo the cleaning
For some reason we have this feeling that we have to clean in excessive amounts before Christmas, even though most of us have regular cleaning schedules we follow throughout the year that are more than enough to keep our homes clean and tidy. But for some odd reason a lot of us feel a need to clean in bizarre places before Christmas, like the bottom of the drawers in our dressers... I mean ... come on! It doesn’t hurt if people understand that we actually sit, breathe and live in our houses! There’s no need to exaggerate!
So: If you feel stressed out about cleaning, reduce what you clean. As I mentioned, I don’t see the point in washing my walls and ceiling, so I don’t do that. And no one dies if there’s a little dust in a corner. Really, I promise it will be fine!
Keeping to your normal cleaning routine can help make your December stress free.
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Keep the baking to what you will actually eat
Another thing you can reduce is the amount of cooking and baking you’re doing.
Is there a cookie you make every Christmas that no one really eats? Or is it simply too many cookies to manage eating them all before they go stale?
Well, reduce the amount!
As I mentioned, there is a tradition of baking 7 different types of cookies for Christmas in Norway. But for the most of us, it’ll be too many to consume (and to have time to bake them all).
I know that even though I like baking, some years it’s only achievable to bake maybe 2 or 3 types of Christmas cookies. And that’s fine! Christmas will come anyways. And when I understand that I will only have time to bake a certain amount, I prioritize what I bake. So I only bake our favorites.
If you absolutely want a certain kind of cookie but don’t have the time to bake, there are a few options:
One option is to buy the cookies you want. Most stores sell the classics, so you can get your hands on them without baking.
Another alternative is to arrange a cookie-swap with friends and family. If you only have time to bake 1 type of cookie but have 4 friends or family members who are also baking, you can arrange for everyone to bake something different and swap. So, you’ll have 5 types of cookies from the effort of making 1!
Another tip (as mentioned above) is to reduce the recipe, so you have a more manageable amount to eat.
Gifts and advent calendars
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As much as we all love gifts, we also appreciate good food and good company. And we could all do well to focus more on that.
Not only do most people have what they need, it’s also better for the environment to reduce the amount of stuff we give each other.
So rather than stressing about finding physical gifts for people, gift them time. This time could be something you do for them (like cleaning, baking or helping them with something) or an activity they can do (or that you can do together).
I also know that a lot of parents (myself included) love making advent calendars for their children. However, a lot of the time these calendars are filled with trinkets that are fun right there and then but are soon forgotten about or broken. It can also be a bit stressful to go around finding 24 (or 25) little gifts and wrap them all.
I prefer filling the advent calendar with a combination of things they need (like socks, notebooks etc), some candy (but not every day!), and then things like face masks, nail polish and other beauty products (for my girl), Christmas decorations for their room, snack bars, small candles, etc.
You're welcome to use this downloadable FREE Advent Calendar Gift Plan if you want to!
Alternative advent calendars:
-A Christmas book: find a book with 24 (or 25) chapters, so that they can read a chapter a day (or you can read to them before bed). This shifts the focus towards spending more time together.
-Reversed advent calendar: with this one, your child gets a packet of 24 (or 25) bows or ribbons at the first day of December. The bows will be used to mark a toy or a piece of clothing they no longer use, and can part with. Mark one item every day. Collect the toys and clothes and donate them so they can go to someone in need.
For younger children you can tell them that the toys are taken to the North pole so Santa can “fix them up” and give them to other children. In return, Santa will bring some new toys for them for Christmas (make sure to not promise that Santa will replace everything they give away, though!)
For older children it’s nice to explain that not everyone is as fortunate as they are. It’s nice for them to learn about the joy of giving, and most children who are old enough to understand will be happy to be able to help someone else.
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-Activity calendar: instead of getting things in their calendar every day, you can give them an activity each day. This may sound like a lot of effort, but this can be activities you’ve already planned for, and activities that don’t take too long to do. For example: you can wrap a cookie cutter for the day when you’ve planned baking cookies. Another gift can be hot chocolate after dinner, a round of cards or staying up 15 minutes longer to read an extra story at bedtime. Your imagination is the limit!
3. MAKE YOUR OWN TRADITIONS
I find that stress is often caused by things we’ve committed to do, but don’t really want to do. In order to make December stress free, I want to suggest to you that you make your own traditions.
You might think this is counterproductive, adding more things to what you do, but hear me out.
What I mean, is that sometimes we follow traditions simply because they’re traditions and because that’s how we’ve always done things.
I’m here to tell you that if there are traditions that you have, that you are committed to only because they’re traditions, it’s okay to cut them out.
For example: If you don’t enjoy participating in the "Secret Santa" tradition at work because you find it stressful to try and find a gift for a colleague that you might not even know very well, it’s okay to opt out of it.
You can make your own traditions
Instead of following old traditions that don’t suit your lifestyle and don’t mean much to you, create your own. Maybe instead of exchanging gifts with your friends you want to arrange an informal lunch at your house? (You could even order the food!)
Or maybe there are things that you want to add to your routine to slow down? Some activities can release stress even if they’re an addition to what you usually do. Spending time with your loved ones is one of such activities.
Or maybe there is something you’ve always wanted to do before Christmas that you never got around to? Maybe there's a certain Christmas movie you want to watch, or maybe you want to go to the ballet to see the Nutcracker performed.
Or maybe you just want to do something simple to add more “hygge”, like lighting a candle every night while you drink a cup of tea, or get up 15 minutes earlier each morning to take a little extra time with your breakfast.
These are all things you can do to make December stress free for yourself.
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I hope this article has inspired you to really think about what you spend your time and money on this December, and hope the things I’ve covered are things that are really meaningful to YOU. If not, it’s okay to cut something out and add something else in order to make YOUR December stress free.
And remember: My FREE downloadable and printable Christmas planners can make it even easier for you, so I suggest you get them right now!