Christmas Gift Giving Guides | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


Christmas gift-giving guides

Christmas shopping
The Tatler | 3 December 1952

We are now counting down the days until Christmas, and there are only a few days of shopping left.  Many of us are looking for inspiration for that perfect gift.  The newspapers found in The British Newspaper Archive can provide a number of gift-giving guides.

We can see an increase in Christmas advertising and gift guides from the late 18th century as mass consumerism became a trend of Christmas. Before the days of social media, Pinterest, and Amazon wish lists, you had to work out the perfect gift on your own, but these guides were there to help.

Practical guides

The Tatler took a practical approach to its guides of 1952, listing gifts by cost from £1 to £5.

Christmas gifts for under £1, 1952
The Tatler | 3 December 1952

Christmas gifts for over £5, 1952












Gifts include pocket pruners for any gardener; a plate warmer for buffet meals; a silver egg-cup and stand in one, with a spoon; and a carton of six Embassy ‘High Life’ cigars (we don’t recommend that last one).

Pocket pruners
Silver egg cup







Plate warmer










We found more gift ideas from the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News in 1923, including beautiful, artistic glass bowls and reliable watches.

Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News | 15 December 1923



The Sphere gave us a practical guide for gift giving that could easily be used today.  If you are hitting a wall for gift ideas you can always rely on perfumes, colognes, chocolates, tea, and champagne.

The Sphere | 1 December 1928



Children’s gifts have changed immensely since this guide was created by The Bystander in 1936.  There are no mobile phones, tablets, or game consoles, instead, they recommended a rocking horse, doll with high chair, toy train, and aeroplane with wheels.

The Bystander | 2 December 1936

Explore our blogs for more Christmas cheer.

Christmas Blogs

For her & him

We cannot deny the fact that many of these gift guides reinforce historical gender roles. Homeware and makeup are recommended for women while sporting goods and handkerchiefs are recommended for men.

Peterborough Advertiser | 9 December 1955
Illustrated London News | 8 November 1957










We have found many broad guides for gifts, but there are some for those in our lives with specific interests or lifestyles such as the gardeners and executives. We know it is cold out there, but those in our lives with a green thumb would love a new spade, a glove fitted with steel spikes to tear up those weeds, or a new rose tree.

Illustrated Police News | 16 December 1937



For the executive in your life, The Sphere offers a five-page guide for presents including golf bags, fishing equipment, and a Bell & Howard movie projector.

The Sphere | 19 November 1960











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