Hands up - Who will admit that every year it gets to the beginning of November and you make that mental note to do the Xmas shopping early this year and then before you know it you've got a week to go with not a stitch bought. If it wasn't hard enough deciding what to buy those nearest and dearest what makes it even harder is all those relatives that you see maybe once a year and don't really have a clue what to buy them so come Xmas Eve you're left scouring the stores to give up 2 hours later grabbing the only thing left on the shelves. It's a familiar scenario which i've ended up in every year for the past 15 odd years and this year i've decided to do the only sensible thing a journalist can do - talk myself into running a Xmas Shopping feature which serves the dual purpose of forcing me to look well in advance for suitable presents and also helps the you, the good readers of Designer Magazine to simply head to the shopping mall with a clear idea of the gifts of 2003.
Xmas Shopping Guide 2003
Designer Magazines Choices Of The Year
Clearly labelled into For Him, For Her, For The Kids, For The Family categories read on for the only Xmas Shopping Guide you need this year. Also included are special features on Lakeland, Superdrug and Thanksdarling which can be accessed by clicking the logo's below.
FOR HIMI still remember the halcyon days of the Commodore 64 where you could walk into your local computer games shop and buy a game for £2.99. It was never the same again until I got a PC several years back and disowned the games consoles i'd been playing on for years. Why would you want to spend near £50 on games that were so easy you'd have them completed 4 hours after you'd left the shop leaving a sinking feeling that you'd been had.
Nowadays I prefer something a bit more challenging, a bit more adult, than Sonic The Hedgehog or the latest Mario games which is where Ubisoft Exclusive Focus PC Games range come in with a huge range of budget games for just £9.99 each. Europa Universalis II, Destroyer Command, Silent Hunter II, Myst III Exile, IL-2 Sturmovik, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Rogue Spear Platinum, The Settlers IV are very much games aimed at the adult market which means you can often get engrossed plotting your next move in Settlers or live out your counter-terrorist fantasies in Rogue Spear (maybe not very politically correct in these times, but still an amazing game all the same).
This range offers a tremendous value for the hours of pleasure given and at the same time keeps the brain ticking overtime. You can find these games in most Computer Game Stores.
Initially we tried to watch Ricky Gervais' "Animals" DVD back to back with Peter Kay and we realized it simply wasn't going to work. As comics they're miles apart and while Kay is the cheery optimist with light-hearted observational comedy that we can all relate to, Gervais in stand-up mode is a cold cynical deliverer of the one liner. After an initial slow start which for any other comedian would have been crippling Gervais does actually get into the swing of things, but the constant thought throughout is that this simply isn't as good as the Office. More similar in style to his 11 O'Clock show appearances this is an essential purchase for fans of Gervais, although for fans of the Office there are DVDs, Book and T-shirts to wet your appetite till the Xmas special.
If you want to know anyone intimately simply check their underwear or socks and you'll see their true colours. The amount of Anti Capitalists I know who will happily wear Calvin Klein boxers as they're not strictly visible is unbelievable. It's a similar situation with Ben Sherman because while few people will proudly say they've bought a new Ben Sherman shirt, unless they're Ocean Colour Scene fans at which it will be perfectly obvious from a distance of 100 yards, it still has been consistently one of the top selling brands of the past decade. While I'm a bit of a indie rock kid and Ben Sherman doesn't suit my image stumbling out of gigs like a faded rock n roll star, what I wear at home is purely for comfort and the range of drawstring pants (RRP - £20) and velour robes (RRP - £40), not forgetting the socks and boxer short gift boxes at £14, are perfect for these cold winters night.
George Best represents all that is good and bad about football. Long before the likes of Beckham and Owen came along with their squeaky clean lifestyles, Keane and before him George Best were the archetypal football heroes. As much a thirst for life off the pitch as on "Scoring At Half-Time" (published by Ebury Press) is Best's tale of events.
Last year we backed a little known product called Badge-It which went onto be adopted by Kelly Osbourne and Avril Lavigne. This year and early 2004 were tipping Afro Ken to the be the biggest Japanese import with a whole range of goods from Afro Ken trainers to stationary and of course the T-shirts pictured above. Streetwise, sassy and the perfect kitsch items for the students. The guys in the office liked them so much they're currently starving themselves to fit into the skinny fit range and that's just the tip of how much in demand the Afro Ken Range is. With so many high street shops going for the cliched faux punk look it's to Top Shops credit that they're sticking their necks out on this one. T-shirts prices range from between £12-18, while a nightwear range is available in BHS and Selfridges for between £15-18 making it the perfect stocking filler for your lady or child.
It may be a predictable choice, but with chocolates you're always onto a winner. While it's become almost passé to buy a box of Roses or Black Magic, Ferrero Rocher still maintain that air of sophistication and elegance. You can choose between the Big Blinging Box (42 pack boxed chocolate @ £6.99), Rocher Pyramid (25 individually wrapped Ferrero Rocher @ £4.99) and the Rocher Prestige Box (A generous 39 Chocolate assortment of Ferrero Rocher, Mon Cheri and Ferrero Kusschen @ £6.99). For those wishing to keep the Ferrero Rocher's strictly for themselves to avoid too much over indulgence in the Xmas period there are also smaller packs of 4 available at just 59p. Available in most high street stores. As the Italians say - every day a little bit of magic!!!
Women love these sort of hard luck tales where a young working class girl pulled herself out of the gutter and made something out of her humble beginnings. What makes "Ninety Seventy Nine" different is it's the memoirs of Rhona Cameron, who most of you will know from "I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here", but was actually funnier and more watchable in her own BBC2 Sitcom Rhona. This book tells the story of her life at 15 in Musselburgh, a sleep Scottish fishing town where Rhona and her friends smoke, fight, kiss and drink and do everything you'd expect them to do.
Similarly Geri Halliwell's "Just For The Record" tells the tale of the former Ginger Spice leaving the successful group and venturing out on her own. Never has such a forgettable tale been told in such a way that you want to dive into the vacuous celebrity lifestyle of the Halliwell. What she lacks in discernible vocal talent, she certainly makes up for in her ability to stretch a simple tale beyond the realms of possibility.
Both books are published by Ebury Press and available in all good book stores.
Despite touring the UK for the best part of 2003 we still can't get enough of Peter Kay. We managed to catch him in an exclusive charity show with John Thompson, Dave Spikey and Justin Moorhouse before the huge success of "My Mum Wants A New Bungalow Tour" and although in truth Spikey blew him offstage there wasn't a dry eye in the house. One of the few comics to appeal to all the family, with the bit of blue for the dads, "Live At The Bolton Albert Halls" includes a host of new material from the tour and manages to surpass the Blackpool Tower video released a couple of years back. With Kay taking a step back from the Stand-up for a while to work on his new Phoenix Nights spin off this would serve as the perfect momento for anyone who managed to snap up tickets for the tour or indeed for anyone like us who couldn't buy tickets for love or money.
FOR THE FAMILY
Are you the sort of person who laughed at Rod Hull falling off his roof trying to fix his aerial. Fans of this sort of trivia will love "Another Weird Year 2" compiled by Huw Davies and published by Ebury Press. Featuring categories from suicide to simply animals and food and drink Davies compiles some of those funny stories to read alone or laugh at round the fire. Guaranteed to get a bigger laugh than the Xmas Crackers and always useful for amusing dinner party anecdotes.
Here at Designer Magazine we have to be down with the kids (not in the bad invisible MoFo Jacko sense of the word) so we could quite easily tell you that Busted, Blazin Squad and S Club 8 are the names being written on pencil cases right now. For parents it must be tough because they're always 2 years behind the rest of the world which means some poor kid will be opening the Hear'say album this year. Unfortunately someone also forget to tell the grans and parents that Westlife are yesterdays news (the recent cover of "Mandy" was probably bought by housewife's so it doesn't count), which is why Designer Magazine is recommending that you buy either the Blue or Atomic Kitten DVD's as a safe bet this year.
FOR THE KIDS
Blue's DVD seems the better value out of the two with a live show featuring tracks off the new album "Guilty" as well as classic singles. There's also an interview about their songwriting which we hoped for comedy value alone Lee will repeat his Tony Blair anecdote, but alas it's not to be. The Atomic Kitten DVD features innuendo's a plenty in a documentary which sees Jenny's home with her pets (her pussy presumably), the band cooking sausages in lapland and shopping in Bangkok. We also get the girls singing covers of I'll Be There For You, It's Raining Men and The Ketchup song amongst others.
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