Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like Christmas. I hate it — the naffness and the nausea, the binge-eating and the boredom, tempered only by internecine family rows.

The weeks of banality begin in October, with cab drivers asking: ‘What are you doing for it?’

Answer: Escape to foreign lands and forget all about it.

The excess has always worried me — not because I’m some eco-saint, but because I’m spoilt and would rather receive one small and perfectly formed gift than a great sack of guff.

When I look back on the presents I’ve cherished over the years, it’s always the thoughtful little treasures that I remember.

Hannah Betts shares advice on thoughtful gifting for the festive time of year (file photo)

Hannah Betts offers advice for thoughtful gifts to celebrate the holidays (file photo).

So often so-called ‘stocking fillers’ are the best thing about the festive season, meaning there’s nothing remotely ‘filler’ about them.

Smith’s Rosebud Salve Original Lip Balm from my mother, say (oooh, it’s £8.50 on, I’m getting some for my nieces), or the bottle of Chanel’s Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour in Rouge Noir (£24,, inspired by Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction. Although, this year I’m tempted by Prune Dramatique, a divine black plum.

The packaging of Buly 1803’s Pommade Concrète Hand And Foot Cream (£37, — covered in a single elegantly cuffed hand — is as sublime as its rich, shea butter formula.

Hannah (pictured) says that the excess of Christmas has always worried her: 'Not because I’m some eco-saint, but because I’m spoilt and would rather receive one small and perfectly formed gift than a great sack of guff'

Hannah (pictured) says that the excess of Christmas has always worried her: ‘Not because I’m some eco-saint, but because I’m spoilt and would rather receive one small and perfectly formed gift than a great sack of guff’

Or check out my new Amazon addiction: Skandinavisk SKOG ‘Forest’ Organic Hand Cream (£20,, a beautiful balm redolent of pine needles, fir cones and birch sap. You will feel it!

For years I’ve been giving Andrea Garland’s glorious lip balms, housed in vintage tins and compacts with whimsical illustrations (from £15,

This year, I’m lining up a gold number engraved with a cherub, and an array of the Rocket Girl, Seeing Stars, Let Them Eat Cake and Le Mamaluk Chat de Napolean designs.

One can order the balms in a beeswax or vegan formula, with biodegradable refills (£4.50) in red, pink, and clear. Like the antique Estee Lauder compacts I hunt out on eBay, they are true collectors’ items.

My make-up brushes came in a variety of price ranges, but most were bargain-priced. However, Charlotte Tilbury’s painterly, feline flick-creating Eye Liner Brush (£18, is a complete game-changer, so I’m buying them for one and all. If this feels insufficient, add her perfectly shaped Eye Smudger Brush (£25).


There’s also something rather lovely about anything miniature. Bobbi Brown’s Mini Extra Lip Tint Kit (£29.50, is bliss: three wee sheer lipsticks that create a flattering gleam.

I’ll be keeping the tiny Bare Pink for myself and regifting the (warmer-toned) Bare Melon and Bare Nude Sparkle.

Moroccan Oil Magical Minis (£16.20,, in original or light, are ultra-desirable: a little bottle of its award-winning hair oil, plus a hair scent with spiced amber and floral notes.

I’m never going to yearn for a pillow spray, but a This Works Sleep Plus Massage Relief 10ml rollerball (£15, heady with pepper and clove, and laced with magnesium and 5 per cent cannabidiol (CBD)? You can count me in. It’s possible to make modest but memorable offerings. The reduced Florentine soap is kept in my stock and I present it with a flannel.

This year, everyone will be getting my beloved Tiger Balm White Ointment (£7.50, to rub onto the head, neck, knees and feet, or melt into a bath.

I’d always be delighted with an aromatherapy oil from Neal’s Yard: festive Frankincense, perhaps (£19.50,, or sublime Patchouli (£9.50). I’ll also wrap up a Weleda Lavender Relaxing Body Oil (£17.75,

Where naff, lurid-coloured bath salts will only offend, Aroma Active Laboratories Sleep Salt Soak (£12, can only enchant.

It is important to think of the recipient. The dream stocking filler says: ‘I see you. Your name is on my mind. Your love is my greatest treasure. This little something symbolises what a very big something you are to me.’ 


The new files in the Leighton Denny Anti-bacterial Crystal File Duo Gift Set (£32, have a patented Titanium Dioxide Photocatalytic surface for ultimate hand hygiene.

Just expose them to the sun for 4 hours, and 98% will go away. To prevent them from splitting or peeling, they seal their edges. 




Monica Bellucci, 57, is Hannah Betts's icon of the week, who says her ambition is to 'get old in a graceful way'

Hannah Betts is a fan of Monica Bellucci at 57. Her goal is to age gracefully.

The 57-year-old Italian beauty says her ambition is ‘to get old in a peaceful way’. This means no gym, juice cleansing or meditating — rather wine, pasta, and a little light Pilates. Each day she starts with a cold bath, believing that this tightens her skin.

She then applies Dolce & Gabbana Beauty Passioneyes mascara (£37, and the brand’s The Only One lipstick (£42). Her hair is treated with olive oil, and she refuses heat styling.


Awaiting my booster jab, my hands tight with cold, I got playing with the chemist’s Mustela testers.

Mustela, a French brand of skincare that is natural and organic from France, has been making potions for pregnant women and newborns since 1950.

I’d forgotten what nourishing yet ungreasy bliss old-fashioned cold cream can be, its water and beeswax formula melting into skin.

This handy 40ml tube (now £6,, may say ‘face’, but I’m deploying it as a velvety hand cream, red nose salve, lip soother and on reptilian elbows and knees. If it’s good enough for a baby’s face…



It’s a beautiful take on pine. The scent is offset nicely by amber, lavender and incense. Burns approximately for 37 hours. 


London’s oldest independent perfumery has made its first candles. This scent of cedar and fir evokes cozy log cabins. 


White musk mixed with honeyed momosa is the perfect choice for those who are pine-phobic. 


A fantastic oak moss-birch blend with fire iron. This is the kind of holiday apocalypse one longs for. 


Patchouli eases stress — it’s the perfect antidote to a family Christmas.