Picking Presents

It’s no secret that I’ve become remiss in my blogging.  Instead of discussing how busy I’ve been in 2010, I’ll just jump in with my informal 2010 gift giving guide.

If money is tight for you this year like it is for me, you know how important creativity is in picking the perfect presents.  Yesterday I hit a road block.  I just couldn’t think of what to get a particular person on my list.  I did an informal poll and a few friends really inspired me.

Sara reminded me that the best gifts are usually things that people feel too guilty to buy themselves.  She suggested luxury items like cashmere lined gloves or decadent chocolates.  These gifts fit the bill of quality versus quantity.  Katie took a different approach and suggested that I infuse my gifts with fun.  Adults need to play too, so why not gift a toy or stuffed animal sure to make their inner-kid smile.  Ruby’s idea of a gift basket combines the first two ideas in a sort of catch-all present.  A great gift basket usually has a theme and a focal point–one main present and several accompanying items or accessories that tie into the theme.  If you’re an early and organized shopper, this is a great option because you’ve got the time to find just the right pieces.  If you’re an indecisive or late shopper, you too can cobble together a cohesive basket.

After sleeping on it, I awoke refreshed and ready to start shopping again.  I knew my creativity was back when I ran into a coworker this morning and was able to help her out of her holiday gift buying funk.  She said, “You should go write a book about this,” so naturally my response was to hop on this blog.

Teresa’s dilemma was trying to find a gift for a person that has everything.  We all have a few of those people in our lives.  My favorite solution is to gift something handmade.  I once spent a whole afternoon crafting just two ornaments.  I bought the pre-fab paper mache ornaments from Michael’s, painted them, and then decoupaged them.  On one I pasted an image of James Dean and some of his famous quotes.  On the other I printed lines from the recipients favorite Greek tragedy, dipped the paper in tea, and crumpled up the paper to make it look like it came from an aged playbill.  The whole project cost me less than $10, but the ornaments were incredibly well received and the love with which they were made was priceless.

If you’re not crafty, don’t worry!  My other standby is edible gifts.  Scout out hometown shops or farmers markets for specialty food items like honey, handmade candy, whole bean coffee, or beer.  One of my favorite gifts I ever gave was a carefully selected group of cheeses for my brother.  (It was also the most pungent gift ever opened!)

The holidays can be stressful, so I say avoid box stores as much as possible and escape to places that always offer comfort.  My favorite bakery in town happens to sell delicious preserves.  Just around the corner there’s a wine tasting room with killer flat-rate shipping.  Might I suggest Etsy to those of you non-converts?  From the comfort of your own home you can buy amazing handmade crafts, small-batch edible goods, and vintage finds.  Individual sellers in a vast online marketplace can be overwhelming, but for me it’s not any worse than braving the parking lot at the mall!  Even with the cost of shopping*, I always feel like I’ve come out ahead, and most sellers will gift wrap and enclose a note to your recipient free of charge.

Hopefully I’ve helped and gotten you out of your own gift giving rut.  Happy Holidays from your Girl Friday!

*My pal Darrien Segal is offering free shipping to her first twenty customers!!

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