The art of shopping will not be disputed by me. Not to be all braggy, but I actually think it is one of my great life skills. Oh, I know, it's shallow and meaningless compared with, say, helping starving people and educating children. But it is a necessary activity and one which we should aim to do intelligently - if not ecstatically.
My husband is intimidated by holiday shopping. He loathes it. He's afraid of stores. He's afraid to buy things for me because I do all the discretionary purchasing in our lives (and 90% of the rest of it) and he hasn't needed to develop the skill. Secretly, I enjoy being the boss of the shopping. But it doesn't bode well when I want a little treat. Note: Scott has given me some of the most lovely gifts I've ever received - from jewels to, ahem, electronics. He just only buys when the inspiration hits him. Otherwise it's just not his thing.
While it vaguely defeats the purpose, I feel so responsible to help him get through the challenge that I have a) presented him with a list of stores containing items I enjoy, b) spoken with a couple of key SA's who have kindly offered to guide him if he visits them and c) explicitly indicated the kind of items I like - and "need" - in various colour palettes that might be useful.
"Why don't you just go buy the things, wrap them and give him the bill?", said my mother good-naturedly. You see, she knows me. And she knows him. And trust me, I'm tempted to do it. But I have to let the little tadpole swim into the sea. It's times like these, I recognize my bourgeoisie is painful. But here's the thing. I don't want something cher. (Cher, of course, is relative and I'm obviously speaking only from my own economic perspective... What's affordable to me may be out of someone else's price range. Lord knows, much of what I see is out of mine.) I'd just like something lovely and thoughtful. One thing. And preferably it should smell, feel or fit nicely.
A propos of giving gifts - let's focus on the giving rather than the buying - you do not need to spend a lot to thrill someone you care about. To wit, here are some reliable stores for gifts at various price points:
- Club Monaco
- J Crew (US)
- Holt Renfrew (Canada)
- Ziggy's At Home (Toronto)
- Suite 88 Chocolatier (Montreal)
- The Gap (for Ts, jammies, kid's stuff, undies, skinny turtlenecks and scarves)
- David's Tea (Toronto)
- AGO Gift Shop (Toronto) - or any good gallery gift shop
- Chapters/Indigo (Canada) / Borders (US)
- NEW for 2010 posting!: Etsy Shops
(Please remember - it's not about how much you buy or what you pay. It's about how thoughtful and sensory - and beautifully presented - your token of affection manages to be. If you wouldn't want to receive it, please don't give it.)
For your kids' teacher, housekeeper, daycare staff - and anyone else who helps you to logistically function in your life:
- Fine chocolate - the bigger the box the better.
- Hand milled soap and body products made with fine essential oils.
- Gift cards (Chapters, iTunes) - but only if you can't be more personal.
- A spa treatment - but only if you know the person fairly well.
- A book about a subject that interests the giftee.
Savon de Marseille
For Your Mother:
- Really the choices are endless, but how about fine leather goods (bags, wallets)
- Lovely tea pot and cups - don't forget to include some tea.
- Cashmere scarf
- Unique jewelry (it comes at all price points)
- Clothing if you are sure of her size and style
These gifts can get pretty pricey. But I've bought my mother some beautiful antiques over the years, ones that are treasured and yet cost less than $30.00.
For the Men:
Riedel O Wine GlassThese gifts can also range in price quite substantially. I just bought 4 Riedel cabernet glasses for my father, wrapped by the boutique in a fantastic tube to look like a Christmas cracker, for $40.00 all in. And they're "crystal".
For the Kiddies:
- Books, books, books!
- Educational toys from Chapters or Amazon and the like
- Diaries (with keys)
- The latest "kid craze" toy
- American Girl stuff (My daughter calls hers a Canadian Girl!). Not the least $$ on the list. So maybe leave these for the grandparents!
- Clothing from H&M Kids, Gap and other affordable stores
- Boots and slippers
- Gorgeous iced cookies
- Lip balm and hand cream - little girls love this!
- Special outing to see a musical, ballet or special Christmas movie (or other cultural event)
- Art Supplies
The great thing about kids is that they love anything as long as it's wrapped! You can definitely find a nice child gift for $10.00. Or spend a living fortune...