The Right Gift: On-Line Resources
Giving a gift is easy but giving a gift that the recipient will truly enjoy takes time, thought and effort. Gifts are delivered with a message: Happy Birthday, Thank You, Congratulations, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah – and the message is best conveyed with a thoughtful gift.
A true gift is given to make another person happy and to successfully accomplish this, the mindset has to be on the recipient and what he or she would enjoy. This is harder than it seems as often times people forget that their preferences are different from others. Years ago, I gave my husband a box of chocolate pecan turtles thinking he would enjoy them as much as I would but when he jokingly told me he was going to buy me a box of cigars for my birthday, I got the message. The old adage – put yourself in their shoes – comes to mind and now guides me in making gift selections.
- Diet Books: Most people don’t want to be reminded to lose weight;
- Books on How to Raise Children: Most parents don’t want to be told how to raise their kids; there are a thousand successful ways to get from Point A to Point B and until you’ve walked in someone else’s shoes, it’s best not to judge;
- Gift Certificates to Tire Kingdom: I’ve yet to meet someone who would appreciate this one;
- Jewelry: Jewelry is a very personal gift; best to let the recipient choose his or her own;
- Bathing Suits: Unless the recipient is under the age of 2, stay away from this one;
- Stationary: Stationary is a very personal choice best left to the recipient;
- Re-Gifts: We’ve all received re-gifts which are easily recognizable (i.e. the gift receipt in the box dated 2 years prior or the charity event cast off). This is a serious faux pas;
- Books on Politics or Religion: Based on the old rule of etiquette not to talk about either of these topics with friends (or some family members), better to buy these books for yourself; and
- The Same Gift for Everyone: Years ago I bought ties for all my brothers and they rather ungraciously let me know how they didn’t appreciate them. Although their methods were not kind, they were right. Not much thought is put into buying the same gift for everyone and that message comes through. Everyone wants to feel that he or she is special so consider the individual.
A good general rule of thumb is not to give anything that you wouldn’t have a conversation about. Think about the recipient – favorite hobbies or lifestyle – and chances are a gift idea will come to mind. I’ve yet to meet a person who doesn’t like to eat and so the gift of a favorite food – be it chocolate, olive oil, cookies, nuts, or jams – will more than likely be enjoyed.
What follows is a list of suggested gifts that I’ve sent to friends and family with good results.
No one makes a better cake than Perfect Endings out of California. The company’s line of vintage cakes – Coconut, Red Velvet, Devil’s Food, German Chocolate, and Banana – are extraordinary. Each cake is made with real butter, cream, chocolate eggs, and can be purchased directly from the company for $55 plus shipping or through Williams-Sonoma for $80, shipping included.
Most cooks love gadgets or anything that makes kitchen tasks easier and quicker. Zyliss, a Swiss company makes top quality kitchen tools that most cooks love. Amazon (www.amazon.com) carries a good selection of these tools. There is also a wide selection of cooking tools, food (the brioche is phenomenal) and supplies at www.williams-sonoma.com and the gift wrapping is beautiful.
Think twice before giving a Julia Child cookbook to a kitchen novice or risk the book will be forever parked on a shelf. Instead, pick a more appropriate cookbook aimed at his/her skill level. Cooks Illustrated (www.cooksillustrated.com) writes excellent cookbooks that are fun to read, easy to follow, and most importantly, the recipes produce delicious results. If the gift recipient is a vegan, consider a Happy Herbivore book or if a vegetarian, consider a Celia Brooks Brown book.
For the best selection of bakeware and ingredients, go to King Arthur Flour at www.kingarthurflour.com. Parchment paper, scone pans, and silicone cups to make lava cakes are just a few of the wonderful products this website sells.
King Arthur also sells everything needed to make a pizza, including the pizza stone for those who love the infamous Italian pie and for the baker who gives her creations, King Arthur has a wonderful selection of disposable baking pans and cups.
Nearly everyone loves cookies and Amy’s Cookies makes a Viennese Crescent that will please the most discerning cookie connoisseur. Made with almond flour and lots of butter, this cinnamon dusted cookie melts in your mouth. The key lime sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies are also excellent.
Although orders can’t be placed on-line at the company’s website (www.marieandfreres.com), the store does take phone orders (206-859-3534) and ships promptly.
The macarons come in a wide variety of flavors and although the company has a beautiful website: www.laduree.com, The website is not set up for orders; best to visit the store or call to place an order.
Equally as good, if not better is a box of croissants ($39 for a box of 15 large or 24 small) from Williams-Sonoma (www.williams-sonoma.com). The croissants – plain or chocolate – are shipped frozen from Galaxy Desserts and arrive on dry ice. Easy instructions to thaw and bake. Unbelievably good..next best thing to enjoying a croissant at Pierre Hermé in Paris.
Tea Forte sells a variety of tea in unique pyramid-shaped tea bags that look as good as they taste. Go to www.teaforte.com and place an order but don’t forget to include a canister of orange spice cookies which go perfectly with a cup of tea.
Koeze is based out of Michigan and sells colossal cashews, pecans, mix nuts and pistachios that are absolutely delicious and addicting. The nuts come in glass canisters or in gift boxes that can be ordered at www.koeze.com.
Most sports enthusiasts love layering so fleece jackets are an important part of their wardrobe. Backcountry (www.backcountry.com) has a wide selection and carries stylish brands including Mammut, Norrona, Peak Performance, Acr’teryx, Helly Hanson, Billabong, Marmot, Patagonia, and more. Prompt (and often free) shipping and excellent customer service.
Go to www.jonathanadler.com to review the complete line and to send a gift. The porcelains are just plain fun.
Everyone who has a fireplace and uses it knows that fires are not just lit and left; they need to be worked, cajoled, and fed to continue burning. One of the best wedding presents we received was a fireplace tool called a blopoke made by a company in Connecticut. The blopoke is a four foot long hollow rod with a poke at the end which serves two purposes: allows the master of the fireplace to move the wood around and also to blow air down through the rod to ignite the fire. Lightweight and made of solid brass (unlike copycat versions with stainless steel with a brass coating), the Blopoke really works and is the one wedding gift we’ve used the most through the years. The Blopoke can also be personalized which makes it all the more special. The company has a website: www.blopoke.com and the tool can be ordered for about $150 plus shipping.
For those who travel often, www.magellans.com is the go-to website for adaptors, tools, appliances, clothing, and more. The selection is vast and for those planning a major trip, a gift from this website will be used and appreciated.
Every so often, a special gift needs to be given and a sterling silver frame usually is the right gift because no one has enough silver frames to display family photographs. The silver frames from Tiffany (www.tiffany.com) or Christofle (www.christofle.com) are simple but elegant and come beautifully wrapped.