How did it get to be the holiday season already? I feel like I just got over the allergic reaction to my Halloween makeup and Bam! Jingle bells and sugar plums are swooping down upon me. Kind of like this episode of Frasier..loved that show!
But the fact remains, the holidays are upon us and that means gifts. I have received a number of inquiries in recent days about the ins and outs of gifting--how to deal with it in these tough economic times, what to give your boss (if anything), hostess gifts for the office party, and gift bag full of related items. The next week or so will be devoted to these issues, and I'll start today with a general overview of Gracious gifting....
Giving gifts is not difficult. It can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be. What masterful gift giving requires above all is attentiveness. Here are two illustrative tales....
My dear sister-in-law, whom I truly adore, and not only because she constantly insists that if I were to divorce her brother she would be 100% on my side, has a birthday in September. We routinely spend a couple of weeks with her family in August on the New England Coast. (I am happy to report that this vacation is truly a vacation, nothing like the tale sent last week by a readerlast week.) Invariably, Sis will compliment me on something or remark on how much she likes a particular item. And voila! Instant birthday idea. One year it was the socks I wore on our power walk; another Fit Flops. After that birthday, she told me, "Next summer I'm going to tell you that I really like your car."
Last year, we visited some friends in Aspen. During our visit, our hostess was agonizing over the death of their fruit trees. They had planted a few when they moved to their new home, but the incompetent landscaper neglected to liberate said trees' roots from their wire cages. The poor trees strangled, leaving behind a rather barren front yard. Lawsuits aside, we discovered the perfect 'thank you' gift for our hosts. We had two healthy, robust apple trees delivered to their home a week after our departure. Our friends were thrilled, and we felt great for having given them something that they truly wanted and needed.
My latest fave gift is a personalized CD mix. I know, I know, everyone uses Ipods these days, but most car systems still have CD players and most Ipod docks have a CD slot. And even if the CD won't be played, the playlists from the CDs can be loaded into the recpient's Itunes account, thus adding a bunch of new songs to the library. Now, everyone can make a CD of great songs--but as a Grace, I like to put a personalized twist on them. Consider making a playlist of songs that spell out the recipient's name, like so:
Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper
Real Real Gone by Van Morrison
Accidentally in Love by Counting Crows
Come On Eileen by Dexy's Midnight Runners
End of the Line by the Traveling Wilburys
Or, spell out a message--my Dad got "Happy Father's Day" spelled out in song this past June and was quite pleased with it.
Pay attention to your friends' and families' comments. "I can't wait to try the new Mexican place in town"; or "I love manicures but I can never justify the splurge"; or "Oh, crap. I just spilled merlot on my best white tee shirt!" or "chocolate chip cookies are my favorite by I am a disastrous baker" are perfect present ideas tossed at you like rice at a wedding. Keeping your antennae up will earn you a well deserved reputation as the giver of the best gifts. So tune in, Graces; if you're going to devote the resources to the gift you may as well make it a good one!