I’m bad at planning and usually leave everything until the last minute. Every year I get caught out. Last year, I even forgot to buy a present for my husband. So this year, I have started compiling a list on a to-do app on my phone. Every time someone in my family says they like something, I capture it.
My parents were born in China, so Christmas is not such a big thing for them — we tend to have a big celebration with them at Chinese new year instead. But my husband is French and Christmas and all its rituals are very important to my in-laws.
When I emigrated with my parents from China to France in the 1990s, they started to buy me presents at Christmas. I was about five when they first did the whole thing with a tree, and I was like, “Oh my God, France is such a great country!”
The first time I opened a present, my hands were shaking. Santa was a concept I had known nothing about before then, but I really believed. I think it turned out to be a Barbie doll. Young children are very innocent.
It’s very important to give gifts that you have thought carefully about, not just something you bought online in a rush. I don’t like mass-market products; I look first for quality, and second for something that will be well used.
For my parents, it’s all about practicalities. They live in a cold house, so high-quality fleece jackets will be a good choice. They would probably never spend the money to invest in quality, so I’m looking forward to buying them jackets that will last.
Or I might give my mother a cast-iron pan that will last her for ever and she will remember me whenever she uses it. And a hamper full of all the food she used to have in China and loves the most: Chinese confectionery, biscuits shaped like a panda, and special tea that she can’t find near her home in France, but which I can buy in London’s Chinatown.
I will buy shoes from Veja for my mother-in-law. I like that they are not a commercial brand and they use sustainable materials. I want to encourage the older generation to buy things that look good, are good for the planet and don’t cost too much.
I live in Highbury in north London, so I’m surrounded by small independent shops. Wandering around is a great way to discover homeware. I like Search & Rescue on Stoke Newington’s Church Street, which stocks a great mix of candles, vintage homeware and cosmetics. On the same road is Know & Love, where I bought a bag made in Kenya from recycled materials for my co-founder, Leslie Fournier. And there’s a beautiful children’s clothes shop called What Mother Made where I buy things made to order.
My daughter is two, so she will receive books, and perhaps tools to help her express her creativity in crafts. I like to make her small bundles of books tied in a bow, which I buy from second-hand shops. It doesn’t matter if they are in an imperfect state; she doesn’t care, right? And it’s good to reuse books.
My best piece of advice is to remember that gift-giving is not about the money you spend. My husband and I don’t spend more than £100 each on each other’s gifts. Now we have our daughter, spending time with her grandparents is very special for her and for them. So I will select a photo, one for each set of grandparents, as their very special present.
Sandrine Zhang Ferron was born in China and moved to France as a child. She is co-founder with Leslie Fournier and CEO of London-based Vinterior, an online antiques and collectibles marketplace founded in 2016 to champion ‘the unique, the interesting and the timeless’ and independent sellers
De La Jardin
Onsen check terracotta and off-white vase, £340, delajardin.com
Desmond & Dempsey
Quilted robe, £310, desmondanddempsey.com
English bobbin wall mirror (1800s), £290, vinterior.co
Green and white checkerboard loopy mug, £75, henryhollandstudio.com
Cast iron 26cm frying pan with wooden handle, £195, lecreuset.co.uk
Basil + parsley + black pepper wash (500ml), £22, montamonta.com
Recycled cashmere hoodie, £285, pangaia.com
Women’s retro pile fleece marsupial, £130, eu.patagonia.com
Piglet in Bed
Men’s midnight stripe linen pyjama trouser set, £99, pigletinbed.com
Eco lambswool throw, £77, searchandrescuelondon.co.uk
Classic sailboat 3D toy, £17.50, searchandrescuelondon.co.uk
Ollie canvas Poker Pierre shoes, £65, veja-store.com
Set of six stunning cut glass white wine/ Champagne glasses, £135, vinterior.co
Xl Italian ceramic leopard figure 1960s, £1,150, vinterior.co
Follow @financialtimesfashion on Instagram to find out about our latest stories first