Have yourself a fashionable Christmas, with some tips for great retro gifts
With our minds turning to Christmas, we know it's time to think about shopping for presents. Well that's what most of us are doing, but there is a tiny minority who have been getting into a new trend of "re-gifting".
Now this is not something I wish to encourage because it doesn't seem to be in the spirit of Christmas - or economic recovery - but it can solve the problem at the end of next month about what to do with the presents you don't want.
This can happen to all of us of course, so if you want to recycle by re-gifting for Christmas next year, or if you receive some early gifts in the next few weeks that you think you might rewrap for this year, then here are the rules.
1. Make sure the giver doesn't live nearby and never visits. If someone gifted you a flock of plaster ducks, they are going to expect to see them in full flight on a wall somewhere - and not in the outdoor loo or the man cave.
2. The new recipient shouldn't know the original giver. Long lost relatives can be a real risk here.
3. Steer clear of re-gifting things that can go off or die. Puppies and plants aren't a good idea, and cake and chocolates can leave a bad taste in the mouth in more ways than one.
The ideal re-gifting candidates are durable, unidentifiable and not generally displayed or used in public.
But I joke - well sort of. Nevertheless, for me and many of us, Christmas is really about good old-fashioned things, such as mince pies, turkey, paper hats, bonbons and the special feeling of Christmas carols that never age, nor fall out of fashion. Some things just don't lose their appeal and some things are always on their way back. Social researcher Mark McCrindle says "it takes between 15 and 20 years, one whole generation, for something to become so retro that it is fashionable again".
So if you are looking for presents, think about some of the good old things that are just becoming new again.
Like vinyl records, for instance. Vinyl sales are at their highest since 1991, with 127,000 12-inch vinyl albums sold last year. Vintage clothing is also all the rage and is providing the Salvos and other op shops with a steadily growing well-heeled customer base. In the Salvos' case, this trend has given them a sales boost of nearly 4 per cent this year compared with 1.2 per cent for the average retail outlet. And that's not all down to increasing poverty by any means.
Some other items to re-emerge as the new cool are rotary dial telephones, Parker sideboards, Smurfs and corsets.
"You'll never get me into one of those again" Louise says.
Charlie nods discretely in subversive agreement.
I'm a bit keen to revive a few things myself.
So here is my list of presents for this Christmas that just might bring back a great tradition from the past - fountain pens and blotting paper for handwritten letters, wooden newspaper and magazine racks, valve radiograms, jaffle irons, jodhpurs, the old pressure cookers, fondue sets, gift vouchers for Arthur Murray's Dance Studios. And what about tea ladies?
"We used to have them when I first started," Charlie says.
And milkshakes in the metal containers when you get more than one glass - if all that meant was a visit to the milk bar, what about a "spider", the unique combination of lemonade and ice-cream, for the maximum sugar hit.
There are also a few things around this year that I think you should avoid buying as Christmas presents. Microphone tongs might turn the snags on the barbie but you probably don't want dad broadcasting Good King Wenceslas from the backyard after a stubby or three. Spray-on hair could be tempting at less than $15 a can, but socks or jocks are a much safer bet, and toilet roll holder iPod docks.
Whatever you do about presents this year, it's worth remembering it's not just the thought that counts. It's about being really happy to have anything in your Christmas stocking - even if it's just your legs.