Stationery for me, please, Santa!

A box of pens would make Marianne's Christmas Picture: Simon Parker

A box of pens would make Marianne's Christmas Picture: Simon Parker - Credit: Archant

This is the time of year when thoughts turn to Christmas shopping.

For most people that will mean a trip to Castle Mall or Chapelfield plus numerous visits to department stores to try and buy gifts that are both affordable and stylish..

Its an exhausting job, and always turns out to be more expensive than envisaged, but for me, being a touch on the tight side, its not like that.

In fact I pride myself on giving people useful practical gifts, that don't cost a fortune, and I achieve it by doing most of my Christmas shopping in stationery shops.

I've always liked stationery ever since I started school.

Getting a new exercise book on the first day of term always gave me a thrill and I frequently made a vow to do better than last term at keeping my paper clean and neat.

That usually lasted about two weeks, and then my book would be covered in ink blotches because we still used ink made from a powder mixed with water and dip pens.

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No Biros allowed.

If your book was bad enough, and mine often was, with dog eared pages and torn bits; the school would give you a new one, provided your parents paid for it.

This meant a visit to the stationery cupboard with the class teacher.

In it were lots of things I wanted and desired, but couldn't have because everything was rationed out strictly according to need.

Keep in mind this was the 1950s.

Once I had left school and was earning my own money, I could go and buy any type of pen I liked, as well as lined writing pads, or unlined writing pads, just because I liked them.

I also discovered things like gusset envelopes, manilla files and different types of folders.

How I would have loved someone to buy me a box file filled with different sized bulldog clips, extra large steel paperclips, and a bag of assorted rubber bands for Christmas instead of boxed sets of toiletries, that I didn't always like the smell of.

We are lucky in Norwich, because as well as the well-known national chains of stationers we have a little gem a few hundred yards down Salhouse Road.

This place has the plainer stuff that I prefer.

I am a very unostentatious clutter free type of woman, so no folders with pictures of flowers or abstract patterns for me.

I like all my office stuff to be black, or charcoal grey.

There's nothing like seeing a row of neat box files on a shelf all matching, and neatly labelled.

I'm not sure if I'm slightly odd in my extreme interest in stationery, but I think I might be because in the whole of my life I've only met one other person who's as besotted as me, and who also enjoys thumbing through a stationery catalogue in the evenings in the same way most women would look at a fashion magazine.

Trust me, there are many people who would be delighted to receive a really good stapler, hole punch, or sticky tape dispenser, this Christmas, so why not visit a couple of stationery outlets as well as your usual shops this Christmas.

A stationery shop is the ideal place to go for a Secret Santa.

Stationery is truly unisex, its also suitable for all age groups.

There are lots of useful items well under a pound that you can buy, starting with proper metal pencil sharpeners, packets of pushpins, and treasury tags.

Why not take one of those new fangled five-pound notes to your chosen shop and see what you can get?