Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Gift of Gifting

Some people know how to do this. Like having style, being a gifted gift-giver is probably in your genes. You can admire someone, hoping something rubs off. Or you can hone your skills by experience (yours and mine).

Wish list fulfillment. If someone says they want a certain something, GET IT. That's not taking the easy way out. This "thing", whatever it may be, is definitely wanted. Don't try to be all creative and go beyond what they request or interpret said item into something more along the lines of your taste level. This is especially true when gifting a child. Ever notice the look on a child's face when he/she realizes the present he/she asked for is NOT under that wrapping paper, torn off moments earlier in great anticipation? Better yet, remember when you didn't get that dreadful toy-du-jour you so longed for?

Gift card. If you are opting to go this route, add something to make that card more exciting to receive. Stick it in a page of a new book (that bears some relation to the gift card's provenance— an artist's work with a gift card to an art supply store, a book on gardening with gift card to a garden store). Frame a gift card in a pretty picture frame. Hide a movie gift card in a giant tub of popcorn. You get the idea: add a gift to a gift card.

The gift that keeps on giving— a year's subscription to a former hometown or vacation place newspaper, specialty magazine devoted to a hobby or interest, membership in a local cultural institution.

Money. Never underestimate the thrill of the real thing. The fun is in the creative way you present it. I have never discovered how banks keep supplied with new bills, but the bank is where you'll find 20 crisp $1 bills. Tie them on the branches of a tabletop tree (faux or rosemary). Roll them into tubes, tie with string and turn a bare branch into a mobile. Fill a mini lunch box, tupperware container or empty (dry) plastic water bottle with artfully crumpled bills. Note: Even if you are crumpling, start with new bills lest you end up with wilted lettuce instead of a fresh green salad.
Fun three ways:
to make, to unwrap, to spend

Why gift vouchers are not a good idea. Even in the best of economic times one can question how commercial the holidays become. Downright grubby sometimes, if you ask me. Nevertheless writing "gift vouchers" to friends and family doesn't do the trick because no one ever redeems them. I've written my share of vouchers for foot rubs and car washings and pick-the-movie-of-your-choice, but I've never been called on to make good. Perhaps the recipient is reluctant to appear grubby him/herself by asking me to "pay up".

Men and gifts. Though I'm guessing few men are reading this, the rest of us realize how the gift-buying process can unhinge them. In the lovely boutique where I work, we easily spot that deer-in-headlights look. We aim to soothe by giving them "extra bonus points for coming into her favorite store". Because everyone loves to open something, more boxes are better than less; any box is better than an (unadorned) gift card. We also caution him, if unsure of her size, to buy smaller rather than larger. Just because. If you're passing on this advise to a brother/father/son/nephew/friend remind him to get a gift receipt as well. I personally think giving a man your gift list (along with style numbers, sizes and colors) is a bit tacky, but hinting is a form of flirting.

Gifts and men. Experience has proven that gifting time is never the right time to perform a makeover. This is not when you present him with a new sartorial style or new hobby. If he wanted a satin smoking jacket he would have found a way to get one by now. If he wanted to carve his own recorder out of a block of wood, he would already have purchased said block and $300 worth of wood carving tools. You kind of can't go wrong with team logo anything, but only if he is passionate about that team.

Wrap it up. You don't have to spend a fortune to nicely tie up a gift. I've had great success with cheap (dollar store) butcher paper and (hardware store) jute twine. I know a gal who recycles her local newspaper's oversized wall calendar as wrapping. Foreign newspapers, especially Chinese and Korean, are colorful and graphic. Go for the noise factor and the dollar store again (the cheaper the paper the more it crackles) when wrapping kids' presents. Taunt the teenagers on your list with several layers of (dollar store) wrapping paper. Fie on the fancy gift box too. I'm not against recycling cereal boxes or soda cartons. If the present fits, so be it. For years I recycled a beautiful blue box from a nameless fancy emporium to hold any number of unrelated gifts. The warning scrawled on the lid avoided any disappointment: "NOT from T.....y".
Warning label required

While we're on the subject, I would like to know if anyone has ever actually received a new car for Christmas tied up in a big bow?
Don't forget I like leather upholstery...


  1. Not for Christmas, for a wedding anniversary! I was blown away and drove home like an old lady because I could hardly see through the tears of joy and gratitude.

  2. Lucky lady! Did the bow stay attached?