I always thought “Gifts for Mum” were the dullest pages in Christmas catalogues, but it’s only now, when I’m exactly the type of woman at whom they’re aimed, that I realise quite how unwanted their picks must have been. Floral hand creams designed for those who supposedly love weeding gardens and washing pans, everything scented with lily of the valley, big wicker baskets full of toiletries even I wouldn’t know what to do with. Our mothers should have been handed Olivier awards for their effusive thank-yous.
I can’t speak for others, but this mum would always like something either useful and effective or so frivolous and luxurious that I would be unlikely to treat myself. Ticking both boxes is Zoeva’s Rose Golden Vol I set (£65), which has a comprehensive selection of great-quality brushes (and a lovely makeup pouch) that work out at £8-ish a pop. There’s no look I can’t achieve with them. (Zoeva sells vegan versions, too.)
Shorter on glamour, but big on impact, is Trish McEvoy Eye Lift (£40; shades for white or brown skin). I wear this almost every day and nothing comes close to brightening and firming tired under-eyes as quickly or as well. Just dot on and pat with your middle finger.
If you would like to buy your mum some honest, effective skincare, but fear expensive mistakes, Paula’s Choice trial sets (from only £3 for up to six samples; available for different skin types) make brilliant stocking fillers (full sizes are also reasonable, should she become hooked).
If those seem too mundane or impolite, Charlotte Tilbury’s Instant Look Seductive Beauty (£49) is a useful wardrobe of three eye shadows, two blushers, a bronzer and a highlighter in easy-to-wear, flattering, neutral shades, all housed in a sleek palette that I routinely chuck in my handbag or suitcase.
If the recipient’s eyesight isn’t what it was (and I very much speak for myself here), follow my improbable lead to Maplin, of all places. Its ingenious LED light-up compact makeup mirror (£19.99) has an integrated phone charger and is my new favourite gadget. Of course, you could always take the path of least resistance instead and buy mum a Chanel Le Vernis nail polish (£20): the packaging is beautiful and indulgent, the shades are inspired and the formula is a good five times better than it was.