You’re here because I am a swine to buy gifts for and you’ve been directed here gently by myself or a loved one. Sorry.
The short answer is: it’s easier not to buy me gifts and you should donate what you would have spent to The Patchwork Project because that is the greatest gift you can get me. I don’t value physical possessions very much, I am lucky enough to have an income that allows me to buy according to my needs, and I often like very particular things and I don’t usually communicate the details of these to others. This puts us both in an awkward position when you’ve put a lot of thought into a gift but it’s still, for whatever reason, not quite right.
If you do feel the need to get me a gift, this page should hopefully clarify a few “safe” options.
What to buy
This is a list of things I will accept as a gift.
A Charity Donation to The Patchwork Project
I am reiterating this here because I have a strong preference for this as a gift. Seriously. The Patchwork Project will put any money to better use than I will. They are the most important, most hard-working, people that I’ve ever met.
Please consider donating all of the money you would spend on me on them. Visit their website on the link above if you want, or you can just jump directly to the donation page here.
If you are a UK taxpayer please add on GiftAid during the process. This means Patchwork receive an extra 25% of your donation on top of what you give, without any cost to you.
The best present you can get me is a recurring donation to Patchwork, adjusted for your income and obligations (e.g. kids). We are undergoing a cost of living crisis manufactured by a hostile and cronyist Tory government, and this in turn is a symptom of capitalism. While I understand that this affects you, it also directly affects the ability of Patchwork to do their work and the young people of Benwell and Scotswood already experience incredibly deprived conditions. I know that I now circulate around middle-class folk, and while we are all struggling; it is much less important that you and I have to cut back on a few luxuries than it is that people are freezing and starving in a neglected area of Newcastle.
Therefore, if you are giving Patchwork a donation as a gift from me please give what you can rather than simply a token donation. Please adjust it based on your means, either upwards or downwards; don’t starve yourself, but also if you can hold off on an arbitrary phone upgrade maybe donate a little more? If you have a good household income above the National Median income (£30,500 per household as of FY20) then please consider donating a little more. A good rule of thumb would be what you would roughly spend on a takeaway or a meal out for your family.
If you still want to buy me something, these things are generally OK
As noted, I would prefer you to give more money to Patchwork. However I understand that gift giving is an important part of our culture and you may still want to give me a token item. Thank you for your kindness. Here’s a list of “Matt-safe” gifts in a rough order of preference:
- Snacks – not too many please as I have a bingeing problem! I also do not eat anything made by Nestlé. Also please don’t get me any novelty style packs but if you nab something while you do your big shop that would be grand. Broadly, feel free to grab me:
- Dark chocolate (Bourneville is a sure hit but honestly don’t worry)
- Cashew nuts
- Turkish Delight
- Chocolate raisins (bonus points for dark chocolate ones)
- Dried fruits (esp. cranberries and raisins, no coconut or banana though please)
- Honey-coated nuts or chilli coated nuts
- Kinder chocolate
- Fruit and Nut chocolate (milk, dark, whatever)
- Chocolate bars (Tony’s Chocoloney, Dairy Milk Caramel or Daim, or Galaxy Caramel)
- Flowers – I love flowers. Please do not overspend on this, but if you grabbed me one of the mid-range bouquets from a local florist or even at a supermarket that would be lovely. I like deep colours contrasted by whites or pale colours. I’m not that fond of pink but it’s not a strong preference in flowers. Carnations or roses are a nice touch. Please also consider that we have a cat and while she’s mostly good with flowers, it’d be amazing if you got me flowers that were pet safe (the link goes to Bloom and Wild but don’t worry about getting them from there, just use the list).
- House plants – I love house plants and if you think flowers are too transient then this might be the way to go. Again please consider pet safe house plants, but I am likely to find somewhere to put them out of reach. Please also consider that we live in the North East of England and in an East-West facing house. We don’t get loads of light! Any plant described as needing indirect light would be grand. I already have lots of Spider plants and Devil’s Ivy / Golden Pothos but they’re among my favourites so don’t worry if that’s all you can find. Another safe bet would be any breed of Calathea. Don’t worry about a fancy pot, I’ll pot it but I prefer plain white ceramic pots if you’re determined.
- Cheese – similar to snacks. Not too much please but a bit of nice cheese would be lovely as I rarely buy it in for myself. Brie, Wensleydale, and Cheddar are solid faves. Even better if they’re flavoured in some way.
- Tea (loose leaf) – I like loose leaf Rooibos tea. I hate green tea, and my ADHD meds mean I cannot drink caffeinated tea. If you could get me some Rooibos that’d be lovely. If it’s flavoured with vanilla, mint, or honeybush that’s even better.
- Wildflower seeds – but only if you promise to come seedbombing with me :-)
- Toiletries – while buying me toiletries is riddled with pitfalls and dragons, I can describe what I do like fairly well. I like bars of soap and I do not use shower gels. I have a strong preference for coal tar soap. If you pop into wilko’s and get me a four-pack of Wright’s Tar Soap that’s honestly the best you can do. Menthol soap is always a treat, though if you’re worried about always getting me the same thing. I do not use deodorant or body sprays but if you want to buy me some beard oil that would be lovely. I prefer woody, minty, and fruity smells and don’t like flowery smells so much. Some favourite beard oil I’ve had in the past has been: The Buccaneer by Audacious Beard Co., Milly’s Vanilla and Mango by Apothecary87, and Cedar and Sage by the Body Shop but please do not feel restricted to these. If you’d prefer, just get me some Jojoba oil from eBay (not Amazon) so I can make up some of my own oil. Please do not get me any shaving gear; I have a safety razor and enough blades to last about 10 years, and I have bars of soap and a badger brush to use as shave foam.
- Handkerchiefs – plain white, cotton or linen. Ta.
Please do not buy me these things
This is a list of things that I kindly ask you not to consider buying me:
- Alcohol – I do not drink alcohol. I sometimes drink some mead at the solstice, but please do not buy me any because I often don’t even drink then.
- Anything branded (i.e. merchandise) – even franchises or hobbies I like. This goes for cups, stationary, clothing, toys/trinkets, games, etc. No Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Linux, etc.
- Board games – OK I love board games but honestly these are way too expensive. Please just tell me about a cool game and we can work out the best way to get it and play together :-)
- Books – I am very funny about the books I own and do most of my reading via an e-reader. Another factor in this is that I am very political and might not enjoy the book you get me despite it ostensibly being thoughtful. Please do not buy me eBooks either.
- CDs – I have no way of playing them, and I buy all of my own music digitally.
- Clothes (including accessories) – Here be dragons. Even I do not know what clothes I will enjoy. Style and fit are important factors in how I choose my clothes but I also value the feeling of the fabric and the environmental impact/durability of the item. There is no way that I can ask you to do all of that thinking and keep up with my often very fickle and inconsistent-but-oddly-strict preferences. Please do not buy me clothes. Even if you’ve heard me say “Oh I fancy getting myself
[insert item of clothing here]"; there is no way that I have communicated everything I have in mind about the item and I guarantee that you cannot read my brain. I also often take months or years to decide to actually buy something; I took 5 years deciding on a watch.
- Decorations or Ornaments – I do not like these, even if they are from franchises/topics/hobbies that I otherwise enjoy.
- DVDs – I have no way of playing them.
- Electronics or Gadgets – I am very strict about new technology coming into my house and I am very choosy about what gadgets I use. I prefer low-tech solutions to most problems. If I have to plug it in, it makes a noise or lights up, or connects to the internet do not get me it even if you’re sure. Tell me about it and I will either get it for myself or read up on it. I do not need a tablet, Alexa, new phone, smartwatch, bluetooth speaker, TV, etc.
- Jewellery – See Clothes.
- Homeware and Cookware – Again, I like to curate this based on what I actually need and how I live my life. If you want to get me some homeware as a gift, it’s much better just to get me some tea or some snacks. I have only ever received one piece of cookware as a gift that was exactly what I wanted and this person lived with me for two years including the 2020 lockdowns. It is impossible to replicate this feat.
- Mugs / Cups – I felt compelled to put this here because I see people buying them for each other all the time. I will not use it and will donate it to charity. I have one stainless steel mug and a stainless steel bottle that I use for everything. No novelty mugs, large tea mugs, or designer cups, please just get me some Rooibos instead as I will actually appreciate that a lot more.
- Paintings or wall art – I am a git for things on my wall. Please get me a houseplant or some flowers instead.
- Pagan stuff – It is very thoughtful of you to consider getting me something pagan for a gift, but ‘pagan’ is a very big umbrella term which encompasses a wide variety of faiths (and approaches to those faiths) and your thoughtfulness will likely lead you down the wrong direction because a lot of people have written a lot about this online. Please do not get me anything with a pentagram on it, or with any sort of runes or ‘viking’ aesthetic pieces. I worship some older European gods but I am not a viking nor am I particularly into viking stuff. I am also not a Wiccan, so please don’t get me anything with “Blessed Be” written on it either. I tend to keep my worship relatively private and within the confines of my family. If you’re interested in discussing theology or my religious practices please just ask.
- Stationary – I am very choosy, and very changeable, about my notebooks, journals, and stationary. Additionally, I don’t need it. I have one mechanical pencil where the lead lasts me five years between refills and one refillable fountain pen where the ink lasts me approx three years per bottle.
- Stocking fillers – You know the type of things that appear in supermarkets and in places like Fenwicks around Christmas time? Wooden puzzles, “man” toys, red boxes containing gizmos, or funny shot glasses, or “grooming kits”. Please, please, do not get me any of that because I will not use it. I will appreciate some simple toiletries and/or snacks much more than these things.
- Videogames – I don’t play them very much. When I do, I am always five years behind and there’s no way of knowing what I fancy playing at that moment.