gift should reflect the relationship you have with the recipient. Giving a
truly great present speaks volumes, but how can you be sure to find the one
that will perfectly suit the person you’re shopping for? The following tips are a guide to savvy
DO . . .
Strategize. When selecting gifts for a friend or business associate, consider a twist on the golden rule. Don’t look for the gift that you would like to receive, but the gift that you think or know the individual recipient would like to receive. This means knowing something about the recipient, and the kinds of things he or she likes. Long before the holiday season, ask yourself where that person works and plays. Does he or she garden, play golf, go hiking? What is that person’s taste (conservative? flamboyant? What are some of his or her favorite things?
Choose the Unexpected. A sure-fire way to give a gift with impact is to choose something different and unusual. This season, try “function with flair,” from the kitchen to the home office: purely functional items that can also be works of art. For example, beautiful linen napkins that can be used as place mats, or office supplies or kitchenware with designer flair.
Let the Gift Speak for Itself. Image is important, from what you choose to how you present it. Quality wrapping indicates that thought and care went into your present, and will leave a lasting impression. Instead of using last year’s reindeer paper, try an art supply store for unusual paper sheets, or wrap a gift in brown parchment paper tied with a red bow.
DON’T . . .
Become a Cliché. Fight the urge to give a gift card or gift basket. While they are both easy and safe, they will be forgotten in a few weeks. Instead, take the extra time this year to search for gifts in new places, such as on vacation. If you keep your holiday list in mind throughout the year, you can purchase presents whenever you see the perfect item. But you don’t really even need to go out of the house—catalog and online shopping are convenient and open 24/7.
Dismiss Your Intuition. Someone once told me that great gift giving is 70 percent inspiration and 30 percent fieldwork. If possible, get out of your regular routine to inspire some great gift ideas for 2010. Try a new street or area in your city. You’ll be surprised at what you find. Museum book and gift stores have some wonderful items sure to please, too. Let your intuition guide you to the best finds!
Be a Slave to Labels. Why pay more for designer names, especially in this economy? If your dream gift has a designer logo, terrific, but most people appreciate gifts that are reflections of their taste—from style to function to color—with or without a famous label.
Unique Gift Ideas
1. Make a donation to a charity in the name of the recipient, but do your homework first to find out which causes he or she supports.
2. Purchase an American flag from your local congressman or woman. They are under $20 and come with a certificate stating that it has been flown over the nation’s capitol.
3. Offer to take a friend’s small children for an afternoon or a sleepover. The gift of time is priceless!
4. Decorate a holiday wreath and deliver it in early December so your giftee can enjoy it all month long.
5. Homemade gifts such as preserves and pickles are always welcome, and the giftee can share them with family and office mates.
20 Gift ideas to get you started…
1. American flag. If there were ever a time to be patriotic, it’s now. If you buy one from your local state senator or representative’s office, it will come with a certificate of authenticity that says it has flown over the state capitol. Under $25.
2. One-hour closet organizer. Who wouldn’t want to open the door to order and organization? Hire someone to go to your giftee’s house and organize his or her closet. Under $100.
3. Support your local fire station. Every station sells merchandise such as T-shirts and hats, which are great gifts for the entire family. Under $30.
4. Monogrammed note cards. Having a fun stationery wardrobe is key to staying in touch, even in a time of e-mails and text messages. Available with monograms or one initial, they’re at most stationery stores and make great gifts, especially for the young set. Under $50.
5. Colonic treatment. It was a gift for my birthday. Odd, yes, but it was different and cleansed the bod in a unique way. Under $90.
6. Picture frames. As long as they’re not from a dollar store, frames make great gifts. If you have a photo to go with one, even better. Under $50.
7. Silicon egg poachers. They come in packs of two and look like chickens. These things are great. Breakfast in 30 seconds or less! Under $20.
8. One-year magazine subscription. You can never have enough. Great for the teen set. Under $20.
9. Jar of homemade preserves or pickles. Especially if they come from your home and your garden. Priceless.
10. Personalized gift tags. These can be used for just about anything, including food and wine, all year long. Under $20.
11. Museum store gifts. Unusual and artistic choices fill museum stores: books, jewelry, toys, home décor gifts. Under $30.
12. Gift cards. Not the ones from department stores, but the ones many use on a daily basis: parking debit cards, car-wash cards, and yes, even coffee cards. $20 and up.
13. Travel gifts. Gifts from faraway places are always treasures. Wide price range.
14. Wine holders. Look for the very modern holders for one to two bottles. Terrific for your giftee to take to restaurants for bringing home leftover wine. Under $20.
15. Monetary donations. In our family, anyone who makes it to 80 or above gets a donation to the gift giver’s favorite charity. Priceless.
16. Plants. A living gift that keeps on giving. $10 and up.
17. Smartphone holders. If you know what type of smartphone your giftee has, a choice of covers will allow him or her to change them with the seasons. Under $25.
18. Earthquake kit. Available for home and car, an earthquake kit can ensure some peace of mind in earthquake country. Under $100.
19. Tip towels. These come in handy for the powder room, monogrammed or not, and they are available in themes for the holidays. Under $20.
20. Milk frother. Who needs Starbucks? Steam your own milk at home for the perfect latte. Under $20.
Lisa Mirza Grotts is a recognized etiquette expert and the author of A Traveler’s Passport to Etiquette. She is a former director of protocol for the city and county of San Francisco and the founder of The AML Group (www.AMLGroup.com), certified etiquette and protocol consultants. Her clients range from Cornell University and Microsoft to Nordstrom and KPMG. She has been quoted by The New York Times, The Sunday Times, InStyle magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times, and USA Today. She has appeared on various radio and television stations, such as ABC, CBS, and Fox News. To learn more about Lisa, follow her on www.Twitter.com/LisaGrotts and www.Facebook.com/LisaGrotts.