Friday, December 17, 2010

Shopping for those PERFECT GIFTS...

...can be a complete CHALLENGE sometimes.

For some people on your "list" you can walk in a store, or hit that one website, and you find it--the one item they will immediately fall in love with. With others, it can be the hardest few weeks--as you search and search and can't quite put together that "perfect" gift.

So here are a few of our favorite places, or "go-to" gifts, websites, and stores that always seem to help us create the most amazing gift for that fabulous person on your list!

As the holidays are approaching, listen to the comments that your friends (and those who you will be buying gifts for) are saying. Is there something that they've always wanted, but never gotten. Or are they out of their favorite __________. Or perhaps it's those perfect flair paper mate pens that they love that keep disappearing.... Those of us who teach know how amazing these writing instruments truly are! A four pack, or the fabulous 16 pack, is the perfect gift-an item you know they love and will use, every day!
Pay attention to what they point out when you are shopping with them. What catches their eye in a store window, and what they longingly stop and look at 3 times, finally try on, but decide that they can't afford right now.
These are those items that will become the perfect gift.

One way to think about buying gifts is what would you like to find "under the tree." Especially when shopping for your close girlfriends, sisters, or your mom, think about what is on your list and that may lead you to the perfect item. If there is a purse you've been lusting after or an amazing necklace you've been dying to own...maybe they would love it, or there may be an item similar that would be perfect...and perhaps then you can purchase that one item for yourself as well. I can never seem to keep my holiday shopping solely for others...there are always those few items that seem to end up in my "shopping cart" that are for Me....but who doesn't do that, right??!!

Another rule I always keep in mind while shopping is to think of things that people wouldn't necessarily spend their $ on. There are always those fun, unique items that people love, but often think twice about before they buy--saying, "do I REALLY need this?" And in most cases, they decide it's not necessary. Holidays (& other special occasions involving gift-giving) are the time to buy and give those items. Maybe it's one of those purse hangers (pictured above) that you've seen others with, have always secretly wanted, but never gone out and bought for yourself. Give one to all your girlfriends or fill your sisters' stockings with one--they're fun and so practical! Or maybe it's that hand-warmer mug that is so unique and yet "functional." Fill it with a coffee shop gift card and/or her favorite tea, and it's perfect! Maybe she's finally got her own new place and you can help add to her holiday decorating by finding her a fun ornament for her Christmas tree or a holiday "centerpiece" for her new coffee table. When searching for these unique gifts, check out The Afternoon, at the Mall of America, the Bibelot or Patina (both with several locations)--these stores are filled, from corner to corner, with fun, unique and interesting items-perfect for the gift-giving season! (ALL three of these stores have items available ONLINE as well!)

I find that whenever I can give someone a one of a kind item, or something designed/created by a local artist, they love it even more. Knowing that no one will have this same item makes it even that much more special. In the Twin Cities, we are SO lucky to have so many fabulous local designers and artists--in all areas. The possibilities for unique gifts are just have to FIND them! I LOVE LOVE LOVE searching on ETSY for handmade, and often local gifts. Etsy now even makes it EASIER to find MORE items that fit what you're looking for....the Taste Test. You begin by choosing whether you are shopping for a guy or a gal, and then they show you 6 pictures. Out of those 6 you choose the one you love the best-or click on the button that says "I don't like any, show me more"--this continues for a few screens until you finish-and end up with pages of items including and related to those that you picked-how FUN!! I could do this forever! SO...using what you know about the person you are shopping for, you can find a gift that is completely unique and "just right" for them!

Also, check out the local boutiques in your neighborhood. I ALWAYS seem to find fun and fabulous gifts--they may be a little more higher priced, as many boutiques carry the local designers, but it's so worth it--especially knowing you are often purchasing one-of-a-kind pieces and supporting local designers/artists! I love St. Paul and all of the local shops along Grand Ave...Picky Girl and Karma are two of my favorites. PRIMP is a new store to the neighborhood, on Selby & Dale--with fabulous items all under $100--check it out!!

Another way to create that perfect gift is to make it personal. Whether it's finding that initial charm necklace or monogrammed ring they've always wanted, or it's putting together a collage of pictures in a frame... things that have memories are always more meaningful and fun to give. Creating a scrapbook of a trip you went on together, or a "shadow box" with black and white photos from when you were younger and now your older, much more polished selves is an amazing way to show how much someone means to you. All you need are the right pictures and a little "craft time" and you've got it made! There are also so many ways to use programs right on your computer, such as iPhoto, where you can design and create a book (with words and YOUR pictures) in minutes--for only $25--and it'll last forever. Or, find an item that shows their love for their city or a place they have traveled. These city-themed totes are super fun and, of course, eco-friendly! You can choose from almost 30 locations and several styles. These are perfect to carry rolled up in your purse for those unexpected, yet frequent, stops at Target!

When you just can't seem to find that one item that is perfect, go with plan B: a GIFT CARD. Even though it doesn't seem as personal, if you give a gift card to their favorite store, you know they will use it to buy something they love. Sometimes, as with shopping at any time of year, there just isn't anything in stores that you love. With a gift card, you can "save" it for that one item you finally splurge on--and how fun is it to use!! LOVE it. Gift cards to places for a service are also fun to get--a manicure & pedicure or a massage are things that many people don't like to spend $$ on, but when it's paid for, it's so much more fun! So even though a gift card may not seem as exciting of a gift, it can often be one of the best items to receive. I just love loading my wallet up after the holidays with all my gift cards-waiting to find the perfect item or time to use each one!!

Whatever it may be that you end up giving to each of your siblings, friends, co-workers, parents, and others on your list....remember it's more about the time spent together and celebrating the season. Don't let the shopping and creating of that "perfect" gift stress you out...and keep in mind that it's not about how much $$ you spend, but the thought that you've put into the gift and the time shared when exchanging those gifts. (Even if it does involve having to wear an "ugly Christmas sweater"!!!)

CELEBRATE, have FUN, and of course, LOOK GOOD, as all Fashionistas always do!!

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