The Best Things in Life Are Free. Well… Free-ish.

British journalist and all round babe Dolly Alderton shares her thoughts on what we should be doing for our loved ones this holiday…

All the best things in life that are actually free (kissing, devotion, a swim in the sea, a call from your mum, trust, intimacy, etc. etc.) can’t be wrapped up. And we aren’t five anymore, so it’s no longer charming to make a voucher from a piece of paper and a highlighter pen entitling the recipient to an endless supply of the above.

Then there are all the things that perhaps aren’t the best, but are pretty damn good. A beautiful new notebook, a big bouquet of poppies and chamomile, a first edition of your favourite book, a weekend in Paris. New boots. A beautiful shade of lipstick you never thought would suit you.

But then there are the free-ish presents — the ones that have love and thought and time poured into them. These are the presents people remember forever. Like the lucky penny my first great love drilled a hole through and made into a pendant for me, that I still have safe in my jewelry box. Or the cushion my mum embroidered when I went away to university.

Go for a few free-ish gifts this Christmas. Run a hot bath for your love, and bring him/her an ice-cold gin and tonic (slice of cucumber and Hendricks, thank you very much). Make bottles of beautiful body oil for your friends. Bake mince pies for your colleagues; roll salted caramels for your flatmates. Buy your dad’s favourite album on vinyl and frame it for him. Get a lobster roll sent to your best friend’s office for lunch. Print a photo of yourself from childhood for your mum and scribble your favourite poem on the back. Track down a newspaper from the day your granddad was born. Take your partner in crime, a discounted bottle of champagne and two plastic glasses up to the place that has your favourite view of your city. The look on their face will be so much lovelier than anything you could buy.

(And if not then, yeah, Paris is always a good idea).

Dolly Alderton is a British journalist, writer and director. Her fantastic weekly Podcast, The Pandolly Podcast, which she co-host’s with FP fave Pandora Sykes is available to listen to now!

Check out Dolly’s website and follow her on Instagram.

Photography by Joanna Bongard

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Experiences are always better gifts than materialistic things. Most people are happy with a genuine hand written note – I know I am! Tracking down a newspaper for the day of someone’s birth sounds super cool!

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

6 years ago

These are SO genius THANK YOU! My favorite blog posts are always the ones that give and spark ideas to for others!

6 years ago

This is such a lovely post! And so true. The things we can give for free are so much more meaningful than materialistic things, I believe.