ROSIE GREEN: Presents do matter. That’s right, I did it.


Styling: Nicola Rose. Make-up: Caroline Barnes at Frank Agency. Hair: Alex Szabo at Carol Hayes

Styling: Nicola Rose. Caroline Barnes from Frank Agency. Alex Szabo of Carol Hayes. 

 If comparison is the thief of joy, then expectation must be its assassin. This year, I must be realistic about my expectations.

My first festive season with the new(ish) boyfriend and I’m dreaming not just of a white Christmas, but one with romance poured all over it – like brandy on the festive pudding. What about skating? I’m right there. Are you looking for mini breaks that include ginger liqueur and roaring fireplaces? I’m signed up.

It is true that, just like so many people who have two X chromosomes I’m hypnotized every day by the bright lights, sentimental advertisements, and messages of love and joy. Grand gestures, small tokens, and grand gestures make my heart jump.

I was inspired by the fashion magazines of the 90s and noughties to fuel my love for yuletide overindulgence. Our December was spoiled by talented PR women, whose task it was to promote their brands by making every gift and event even more impressive. Women know exactly what women need.

The boxes contained exquisite gifts. Evening events were beautifully lit and hosted in top restaurants serving the highest quality champagne. Cashmere blankets awaited us on the seats and male models were hired as waiters lest an older, more portly one should offend the eye (although their lack of skills did often result in velouté down the velour). For a Birmingham girl, it was quite an undertaking.

This made me the most difficult person to purchase presents for. Don’t get me wrong: I was living a caviar lifestyle on a baked-bean budget. After dining at Claridge’s I would return to my house-share with my mates in South London, which was so cold there was ice on the inside of the windows. (Is your heart bleeding?) In reality, no man could match this level of excess.

After the office deluge, when I was opening presents like a child on a Haribo high (and ripping them open), I finally came to terms with reality. It was more important for me to be loved and loyal than receiving a Chanel handbag. Material gifts were not really necessary in my grand scheme of things.

If you’re in a relationship, what is it saying if the other person doesn’t make an effort to help? It is a sign of thoughtfulness and thought that a gift you give your loved one shows. Some people don’t care about presents at all, so I salute you. I imagine you are the kind of person I aspire to be, the person who smiles beatifically at their toddler’s Christmas painting and hangs it in the house for all time. You are not caught by your children recycling the art they make.

Gifts are important to me, it’s true. That’s it. It’s not about expense – it could be a food I love, a framed photo, a promise of an outing. I even like socks – as long as they’re cashmere. This feels to me as an expression of my love. So, conversely, the most depressing scenario to me is the wife who cooks, cleans, hosts the in-laws and then on Christmas morning receives £100 by bank transfer and is told to ‘choose what you want’.

When I requested a magnolia sapling for Christmas, I had no idea that my marriage would be on the rocks. I received what I can only describe as a “twig”.

A small part of me was killed. It was then that the plant died. I’m not sure how strong my gifting game was by then, so I take my share of the blame.

In my 30s I got so caught up in making the perfect Christmas – tasteful tablescaping, competitive cooking, trying to re-create the White Company catalogue at home… With divorce my world as I knew it was blown to pieces, and I bowed out of all that. In my 40s. I have a second chance at life and love, and I’m seizing the chance to rewrite traditions. So, let’s get back to the presents.

As it’s our first Christmas as a couple, do we need to agree on a rough budget?

What if we differ wildly in our spending – I get him a Rolex, he gets me a mug? It’s embarrassing. I reckon presents are a bit like sex – you don’t miraculously know what your partner wants: you have to ask.

So we’ve had the conversation and I’ve been firm – nothing with a plug.

Fingers crossed.