Books to give to your Secret Santa
Secret Santas often mean buying for a stranger, on a budget, and seeing a public reaction to your gift. Argh! Never fear - here are some gift ideas to banish awkward moments...
'Tis the season to be jolly... very, very jolly indeed. If your lucky recipient likes a festive tipple (or three), they might benefit from this pocket-sized guide to the morning after the night before from the Ladybirds for Grown Ups series. Printed in large, easy-to-read type that even the queasiest reader can learn from, these simple tips can help anyone to cope with the party season, and the pesky work days in between.
Viewers of the accompanying TV show won't be disappointed as they work their way through this companion quiz book, featuring familiar rounds such as Connections and Sequences, to make sense of apparently unrelated questions and clues. Perfect for family festive gatherings, this book can be enjoyed alone or in traditionally competitive Christmas teams.
If you've already had conversations about whether we're in for a white Christmas this year, you might be one of many totally weather-fixated Brits. Chances are, the person you're buying your Secret Santa for is, too, so you can't go wrong with this ode to our national obsession, filled with facts, myths and maps, and beautiful illustrations.
You've all heard of hygge by now, but Meik Wiking is on a mission to share another Danish concept with us, and this time it's much easier to translate. Lykke is the Danish word for happiness, encapsulating the idea that how we live small moments in our everyday lives affects our lifelong fulfillment. From community to cooking, this book covers everything you need to know.
If you've had a few party-season hangovers (see above) it might be time to have a good read of Cheever's collected writings on the perils of drinking too much - part of the gorgeous Vintage Minis collection. Short stories on teenage drinking, high-functioning alcoholism and boozing to utter oblivion reflect the social, physical and psychological ills of our time and serve as a great cautionary tale against over-indulgence. One for the recipient to read before the work do, perhaps...
If you don't have a Sherlock fan in your life (and you almost definitely do), then this little gem is also ideal for puzzle and problem geeks, who can test their detective and deduction skills with these 200 questions and follow in Sherlock's footsteps to piece together the clues - all with the (optional) help of a few hints and answers from the man himself...
Is there someone in your office whose approach to life is a bit... er... slapdash? This guide by the impressively named ex-Navy SEAL is a lesson in the simple daily tasks we can easily complete to put our bodies and minds in order. Starting with the first job of the day - making the bed - he teaches us the importance of small things done consistently, and leads us to lessons on respect, resilience, organisation and humility.
If your Secret Santa pick is a fan of wordplay, riddles and rhymes, try this gem for a collection of Lewis Carroll's most extraordinary and eloquent verse. Be careful not to open the pages yourself before handing it over, or you'll be drawn into its magic and find yourself utterly unable to give it away. As with all the Penguin Little Black Classics, it is also, conveniently, just small enough to fit in a stocking.
If you're stuck in an office all day, or you know someone who is, bring the simplicity and beauty of the natural environment indoors with Thoreau's landmark book on escaping the overstimulation of urban life and replacing it with self-sufficiency, introspection and a form of mindfulness.
For the literary readers in your life, this dinky but exquisite edition commemorates 100 years since the publication Hogarth Press’s first book - Two Stories, by Virginia and Leonard Woolf. Using 'The Mark on the Wall', the story originally written by Virginia for the book, as a stimulus, Mark Haddon adds a short story of his own and a portrait of Woolf herself. With Dora Carrington's classic illustrations and a stunning cover and type design sensitive to the original text setting done by Woolf herself, this is a truly delightful little package.