Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Trip Continues...

(This is a re-post of How to Get with The Season Without Going to the Poor House, Part 2 - from last November...)

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. So Xmas is coming. Geese are starting to freak out. So are most men. This year, I've advised my very generous but not-given-to-gift-buying-when-the-target-holidays-occur husband that I need a little something other than a nicely wrapped computer battery. Of course, I don't need a thing. But, when everyone else is opening those gorgeous, thoughtful gifts I've lovingly sought out with just them in mind, I'd really appreciate a bit of the same.

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)
  • L'Occitane
  • AGO Gift Shop (Toronto) - or any good gallery gift shop
  • Chapters/Indigo (Canada) / Borders (US)
You will note that many of these are rather lovely stores, selling rather lovely merchandise. But you don't have to buy the evening gown for 15K. You can buy a lipstick from the Bobbi Brown counter and have it nicely wrapped for free. You can buy the cashmere socks or a well-designed tube of hand cream and save approximately $14,970. And here are a just a few gift options for the various people in your life.

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.

These gifts can range in price from about $20.00 to $200.00 and up. Here are a couple I've bought for various peeps:

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 in all price points)

  • Clothing if you are sure of her size and style

  • M0851 Bag

These gifts can get pretty pricey. But I've bought my mother some beautiful antiques, over the years, that are treasured and yet cost less than $30.00.

For the Men:

  • Wallets and other leather goods

  • Gadgets (iPhone, video games, techy stuff)

  • Hats, scarves - preferably merino or cashmere! (Remember you can find this on sale.)

  • Leather gloves

  • DVDs

  • Cologne - something you know he likes

  • Affordable crystal wine glasses

  • Riedel O Wine Glass

      These 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 and the like

      • Diaries with keys

      • Webkinz

      • 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)

      • Puzzles

      • Art SuppliesThis list really does go on and on.

      The great thing about kids is that they love anything as long as it's wrapped! The price point here is often very reasonable. You can get a nice kid gift for $10.00. Or spend a living fortune...


      1. I buy every kid books, whether they like it or not.

      2. I'm a good store *waving hand*! Buy your mothers Little Woolf necklaces from me!

      3. Mr. OM is soooo difficult! I blew it last Xmas and now I have to make up for it this year. I have no idea what I'm going to get him. I wish it was a simple as getting something on this list!

      4. Great ideas although my budget is more for the nice soap for all this year!

      5. these are some very good suggestions. we do a lot of J Crew and Club Monaco in my family. actually i would love it if someone would buy me a box of chocolates.

      6. Great ideas here. I second the box of chocolates idea.

      7. I'll second iheartfashion: and I also buy books for the adults. . . .

      8. Hey Kline, have you tried the L'Occitane 100% shea butter yet?

      9. a very concise reminder of what to buy! i like it!

      10. We can make shopping so easy and even FUN!!!. We carry hundreds of dance bags and the complete Stephen Joseph line!

      11. I like to think Savon de Marseille is a good present for anyone. That and Molton Brown!

      12. Love Savon de Marseille. And I second iheartfashion's sentiment - books for all children, tough if they don't like it!

      13. Janet: Secretly, they all like it. Even if it doesn't thrill at first.

        Ms. B: Of course, all the lucky mums will get your jewels for Xmas!!

        E: I find it hard to believe that you blew it. I know you are a most thoughtful gift giver.

        Kate: Nice soap is a beautiful gift - whether you are a richie rich or just totally tasteful.

        Mad Frou and Mardel: I LOVE the chocs. One of my fave gifts.

        Miss C: I love getting books. Always have. The kids can be a tougher sell... But only till they sit down and focus.

        April: I LOVE that stuff. It is truly excellent.

        Pink: You could do everything at Liberty in one afternoon :-)

        E8: Oh, I forgot the Molton Brown. Very good call...

        Iris: Can't argue with your philosophy.