I often get asked for suggestion on Christening gifts. Where to go, what to get, how much to spend. I’ve listed a few of my favourites below with the basic proviso that the best Christening gifts are heirloom worthy but don’t need to break the bank.
For a more discerning budget
THE CUTLERY COMMISSION
A bit about them:
The Cutlery Commission is a multi award winning British giftware brand selling bespoke, personalised cutlery and silverware. From a small workshop in
Gloucestershire, all of the cutlery is hand-stamped by a cheery gaggle of Mums
known as ‘The Spoonettes’, who use industrial tools to indent each letter into the silver plate.
After winning ‘Gift of the Year 2013’ and being launched in John Lewis and Liberty London, this little cottage industry has gone from strength to strength and has been featured in numerous publications including The Guardian, Country Homes & Interiors and BBC Good Food.
Why we love them: balancing the tight rope between personalisation and timeless taste is not an easy feat, however the cutlery commission manages both with ease. We particularly love the personalised vintage soup spoon with letting stamped in a circle around the edge.
Our top christening pick: Personalised Rose Gold Teaspoon (pictured above), from £20.00, with christening personalisation.
RUE DES PETITS
A bit about them:
Rue des Petits (‘The Street for the little ones’ in French) is an online boutique offering a cherry-picked and exclusive selection of young, up-and-coming European designers, so that looking for the unique and perfect gift or treat for your little ones is made much easier for you!
Embracing the English tradition of beautiful packaging and hand written cards, you will find different packaging options, so that you don’t have to run for ribbon and cards once you receive your parcel!
Why we love them: Anyone following our Instagram (@sparemytime) will see that we’ve featured Rue Des Petits a few times before. In our mind, it’s a wonderful treasure trove where you can always find the perfect gift for any occasion.
Our top christening pick: Mini ‘kiss’ bracelet from Merci Maman (above) £19.00
THE COMPLETE WORKS OF …
Why we love them: There is something rather lovely about giving books as gifts, especially stories which have been enjoyed throughout the generations.
My children have been gifted a number of the classics over the years and none of us are remotely bored of them.
Our top christening pick:
- Winnie the Pooh (see this lovely hardcover edition; £26)
- Rolad Dahl (see this beautiful centenaryedition; £65)
- Beatrix Potter (see here for a superb deal; £35)
Middle of the road : £50 – £200
HOUSE OF CARVINGS
A bit about them: Hand carved by David, based in a barn in the heart of the New Forest, all products are hand drawn, cut, shaped, sanded and waxed to order, making every one as different and unique as the person they are created for.
Why we love them: David using traditional methods to hand carve and personalise wood products – all have a sense of charm and a sensitivity to their provenance.
Our top christening pick: These personalised letters are a perfect way to celebrate a special occasion. The carving is hand designed, worked and finished in wax by hand, then engraved with either a name or date making each letter a truly bespoke and personalised gift. A single letter comes in at £50.
THE LONDON SILVER VAULTS
If you haven’t been to the Silver vaults in Chancery Lane it’s worth a visit (even if only for the day out).
A bit about them: Located in Chancery Lane, between the City and West End, The London Silver Vaults is home to the largest retail collection of fine antique silver in the world. Behind the huge safe doors and within its vaulted walls, you can find anything from a champagne swizzle stick to a full size silver armchair! Although English silver predominates, there are 30 specialist retailers here selling designs and precious objects from every corner of the world. Its unique setting makes the Vaults one of London’s most unusual shopping destinations.
What we love: You never quite know what you’ll end up with when you head to the silver vaults but there is always something for most budgets, tastes and occasions with great stories guaranteed.
ASPINAL OF LONDON
A bit about them: Aspinal of London is founded on the fundamental premise of offering customers the most beautiful, elegant and refined designs of superior quality – to enjoy for a lifetime. Each piece is created by an amazing talented team of designers, headed by Creative Director Mariya Dykalo, in their West Sussex Headquarters, deep in the heart of The National Park of West Sussex Downs. Each piece is handmade by genuine leather craftsmen and women.
Why we love them: Aspinal produces beautiful timeless leather goods, made in the heart of England. What’s not to love!
Our top christening pick: World Atlas, £140 with personalisation (£25).
I first came across the concept of this christening gift when my goddaughter received it from her aunt. I was (and still am) taken by the thoughtfulness of it. She’d gone an extra step by hand writing in the opening cover a beautiful gaelic poem about finding your way home.
With that special sparkle : £200 and over
DRAGONS OF WALTON STREET
A bit about them: Dragons has been hand painting children’s furniture for over 30 years since founder Rosie Fisher opened her doors on Walton Street in the heart of Knightsbridge, London in 1979. Now located in the Nursery Furniture Department at Harrods, the Dragons furniture continues to be predominantly built by British master carpenters and lovingly hand painted at our Studio in West Sussex.
Why we love them: Dragons is one of our favourite kids’ luxury brands. Top quality, with that essence of heirloom special (I still have a Dragons chair from my childhood), they are at the more pricey end of the scale but worth every penny.
Our top christening pick: This has to be their rush seated chair. Handpainted, with a selection of designs to choose from these fabulous heirlooms cost £315-£340. It this pushes the boat out a little too far, check out some of their other handpainted goodies – each special in it’s own right.
LAYING DOWN WINE
I’m no expert on wine (bar thoroughly enjoying the odd glass or two!) but if you are thinking about gifting fine wine to your godchild this is a very helpful article from Privatecellar.co.uk
“Modern godparents are tending to lay down a case of Bordeaux for the Christening and then topping this up each birthday and Christmas. Initially, the cost per case is quite high as you need to buy a wine which is of high enough quality and from a great vintage to last for a minimum of 18 years.”
“Buying wine for a godchild is a lovely, romantic thing to do,” Tom Cave, Berry Brothers says. “But you’ve got to do it properly and splash out a bit and buy something that will last. Port ages better than claret, but probably doesn’t keep its value so well. My advice is to spend a minimum of £200 a case and to trade things as you go along.”
“There are several basic things you should remember when laying down wines, such as: storing the wines with the merchant you bought from; and in bond if you want to delay paying VAT and duty. They will be listed under the godchild’s name and will belong to them even though you will be the one charged for the annual rent.
Many top wines now come in boxes of six, which makes the pill a bit easier to swallow. And there is no capital gains tax if and when the wines come to be sold.” Jonathan Ray, The Field. HOWEVER it’s ALWAYS best to consult with a tax adviser to see how to make the most of fine wine as an asset.
Our top sites for buying wine on bond: There are so many to choose from but to my mind if you’re going to be storing wine you might as well go with some of the best.
NATIONAL TRUST LIFE MEMBERSHIP
A bit about them: The National Trust is a charity founded in 1895 to preserve our nation’s heritage and open spaces for everyone to enjoy. The National Trust looks after coastline, forests, woods, fens, beaches, farmland, moorland, islands, archaeological remains, nature reserves, villages, historic houses, gardens, mills and pubs. They restore them, protect them and open them up to everyone. For the Trust, conservation has always gone hand-in-hand with public access.
- 775 miles of coastline
- Over 248,000 hectares of land
- Over 500 historic houses, castles, ancient monuments gardens and parks and nature reserves.
Why we love them: The trust’s sole intention is to preserve some of our nation’s greatest heritage. Sure it can be a bit bufty dufty at times and can hardly be cited with being cutting edge, but on a more superficial level I find it hard not to love an institution founded on victoria sponge and to whom Beatrix Potter saw fit to donate thousands of acres of Cumbrian countryside.
Our top christening pick: if you are looking for a christening gift that will keep giving, a life membership of the National Trust is your answer. What could be better than access to the entire National Trust portfolio for your entire life? At a cool £1,605 you better hope your godchild develops a taste for victoria sponge.
I hope these inspire you in your search for the perfect gift. Please do share your ideas, the more the merrier!