Gift aid

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It’s that time of year again. The gift guide season is upon us. We go to press this week with some pages in the Saturday Magazine and more will doubtless follow in other sections.

I’m not sure if I speak for other newspapers here, but the guides are pretty last-minute affairs on The Times. I spend most of the year saying we haven’t started thinking about it yet (your pitches start coming in as early as June) and then in a flash it’s all over.

I collect your Christmas gift related emails in a big folder as they come in and then dump it on the desk of whichever Times elf has been charged with putting the guides together.

That varies according to which section it is in, but as a general rule, it tends to be left to fashion assistants. You can still send stuff to me, of course, and I will forward it on, but I don’t really get involved in the final decision.

So how do you improve your chances of being included? Well, it’s a complete lottery, if I’m honest, but the only thing that matters is how it looks. It’s all about the visuals. Therefore always embed a cut-out image in the email. Opening attachments and (heaven forbid) following a wetransfer link to find out what the item looks like is too much effort in a first read-through. Save links and dropboxes for when we ask for a higher res image.

Second, be concise. Do you see a mini essay beneath each gift on our pages? No. If it requires more than a short sentence to explain why it’s so hot, it’s not going to work (that rules out the most PR’d suggestion I receive: special edition whiskies, which all look the same). Put your efforts into the images. Did I mention it’s a visual thing?

Most of all, though – and I know this sounds obvious – do make sure it is genuinely desirable. Would it make your face light up on Christmas morning? At the end of the day, that’s all we are looking for.

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