It was the year 2000 and I was 14 years old. School finished – the last bell of the day still echoing down the hallway – I wrapped a scarf tightly around my neck; shivering as I walked down the lane towards the centre of my small market town. Being 14, I had a natural aversion to warm, winter coats; nothing distressed me more than the thought of damaging my carefully curated image with something as impractical as a jacket. Ribs trembling and teeth chattering, I marched on.
Hurrying past the river and a row of sloping cottages, I eventually reached the town centre. Christmas lights sparkled overhead. It was only 4.30pm, but the dark winter evening had already wrapped itself tightly around the town’s Georgian buildings. Buckingham’s little Christmas tree glowed like a lighthouse in the middle of the market square. Next to it stood my group of friends, closely gathered on the high street. They were equally as coatless.
“We’ve only got 30 minutes until it shuts”, my friend had shouted – “hurry up”.
I was 14 and about to embark on a rite of passage that befalls every teenage girl: Christmas shopping. Prior to 2000, the buying of Christmas presents was something that my mum did; an activity for stressed looking adults as they rifled through the wine cupboard for something to give the next-door neighbour. My job was to simply circle items inside the collection of Christmas gift catalogues and to wait expectantly.
Yet aged 14, something changed.
This sudden shift had begun a year earlier, when I’d sat in my bedroom surrounded by hundreds of Christmas cards; each one painstakingly personalised for every kid in my year group. My hand cramped and the smell of the blueberry-scented pens made me nauseous, yet I knew I had to go on. There was no choice. The next day, children staggered into school, their bodies bowing under the weight of festive greetings. Handing out cards robotically to everyone who walked past, we’d each become yuletide, card-exchanging, zombies.
A year on and things only intensified. This year, girls were making Christmas gift lists: names being added and deleted almost hourly. We were adults now – with a disposable income of at least £20 – and understood the importance of gifting as a symbol of our appreciation for our many friendships. Somewhere between buying our first stick of roll-on deodorant and kissing a boy, we had discovered a new understanding of what friendship meant. We were now an invincible, loyal gang; a sisterhood who would share every up and down of puberty, together.
A Christmas gift only cemented this idea.
And so it was that on that cold December night, my own girl gang gathered in the centre of town, ready to recognise the significance of our friendship through the purchasing of scented toiletries. Living in a small town, our shopping options were limited: the high street beginning with a charity store and ending with the local pub. In between stood a collection of independent gift stores; sanctuaries of potpourri and ceramic woodland animals. Yet there were no real stores for teenage girls – not any that would cater to our discerning tastes, anyway.
Aside from one, that is.
Growing up in the late 1990s, Boots was a haven for any teenage girl: its ‘Natural Collection’ range providing generations with trademark scents and shimmering lip balms. My own signature scent came courtesy of their vanilla body spray, whilst my bath time was filled with incandescent ‘bath pearls’ that clung – dried and shrivelled – to the bathtub for days after my Sunday soak. On my 14th birthday, I received a ‘whipped strawberry’ body cream that I lavishly applied before school each morning; the delicate fruity scent drifting through the classroom as I arrived for my lessons. Boots made me feel like a woman: a strawberry scented one.
On that cold, December night, Boots was therefore the only place we could – had – to go. Canny shoppers on limited budgets, Boots’ regular ‘3 for 2’ offer on their gifts also meant that we could ensure that nobody was overlooked with Christmas gifts for her and Christmas gifts for him (for those lucky enough to have secured a real-life boyfriend) filling the shelves.
I still remember crowding around the small section of that little store, spritzing, smelling and liberally applying the lotions and potions. ‘This is so Lauren’, I vividly remember my 14-year-old self declaring, before buying my cherished friend a kiwi-scented hand cream.
Two days later, at the inaugural Christmas sleepover, we excitedly exchanged our gifts; each a testament to our new found independence and maturity. That we’d each bought one another the same presents didn’t matter, this was about much more than shower gel. Our first exchanging of gifts was a milestone: a step away from childhood and a move towards our Clearasil dominated teenage years.
Seventeen years later and I can still remember our collective trip to Boots incredibly clearly. I can even remember the smell of the Passion Fruit body spray; a scent saved for only the most sophisticated of parties. It’s a compilation of memories that makes me smile and feel just that little bit more festive. Still each Christmas, I find myself walking the aisles of Boots (always hunting out Natural Collection products) and browsing their endless range of gifts. It makes me feel 14 again.
In the spirit of this festive-inspired sentimentality, we’re thrilled to therefore be working with Boots this Christmas; re-igniting the excitement of our teenage years and sharing with you our own gifting experience. With their help, we have put together a bundle of 12 incredible gifts, all of which we would love one lucky reader to win!
Below is the list of these 12 beautiful (travel inspired) products – you can find all on the Boots website.
In order to enter our A Gift A Day Giveaway, just tell us below what would be on your Boots Christmas Wishlist – easy!
This competition will run for 12 days and will close on the 11 December. A winner will be picked at random from Rafflecopter and announced on the TTT Instragram account on the 12 December.
This competition is open to UK residents only (sorry).
Good luck and Merry Christmas!
This post is in conjunction with Boots but all thoughts are our own.