I made my mum a brush out of a coat hanger and two balls of wool – the Christmas present I’ll never forget

Having no money and no clue, I took my gifting advice from Blue Peter. My mother put the homemade object in a drawer – and we never spoke of it again

It was November in the early 1970s and, as usual, I had no money and no clue. And my mother wasn’t going to help with the latter. While everybody else in the Jeffries family would supply lists of gift ideas for Christmas – my father’s, for instance, included a woolly hat, Anna Karenina and a socket set – my mother gave no hint as to what she might like.

The gold standard for gift giving is that you produce a present that shows the recipient you know them better than they know themselves. They never knew they wanted salsa lessons or a velour jumpsuit, but thanks to you, they do now. Otherwise you might as well just give them the receipt so they can exchange your hopeless offering for something they’d actually like. Or short-circuit the whole process with tokens.

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