Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Clip Trip Continues

(This is a re-post of How to Get with The Season Without Going to the Poor House, Part 2 - from November 2008... It goes along with yesterday's previously posted piece.)

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)
  • L'Occitane
  • AGO Gift Shop (Toronto) - or any good gallery gift shop
  • Chapters/Indigo (Canada) / Borders (US)
  • NEW for 2010 posting!: Etsy Shops
You will note that a couple 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's a brand I've bought, year after year, 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 at 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, ones 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 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)
    • Puzzles
    • Art Supplies
    This list really does go on and on.

    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...


    1. That's my Knot bag! Same colour and all!
      One of the loveliest gifts I got from my daughter was two pairs of black Wolford tights, one opaque velvet, the other a more shimmery surface, dressier. Fabulous way to spoil me with something I'd wear often, with joy. This is a slightly spendy example, but luxe-ing up any everyday item is a favourite approach for me.

    2. I have often relied on DVDs and scarves for the men in my life, and I'm going to try to branch out a little bit this year. Your lists are terrific!

    3. Mater: Ha! I wrote this post before you got that bag. Obvs. we both have great taste.

      Dora: Glad you enjoy! Have fun.