Author:
• Wednesday, March 04th, 2009

One of the easiest ways to get your loved one a GREAT gift is to listen and pay attention to things that they pick out or point to when you are together (or mention when you are apart).  For example, if you and your significant other are shopping on a leisurely Saturday afternoon, and he/she spots the coolest sweatshirt/belt/bag but cannot justify buying it themselves, try to remember what it is… BETTER if you can sneak away and jot down the store, brand, description, etc., BEST if you can make it back to the store later that day or week and buy it to keep for the next gift-giving occasion.  There is such a thing as stockpiling gifts as the year goes along – that way what he/she wants does not end of out of stock or no longer available, you always have a last-minute gift (for example, if you end up in the dog house), and you are generally never without at least a starting place for a planned gift-giving occasion. 

Snupy says:  An even sneakier tactic is to get your significant other to “try it on just for fun” and then you’ll even know the right size!

Author:
• Monday, February 23rd, 2009

So, I’m stuck in an argument with Snupersista.  She called me with breathless excitement after her Valentine’s Day weekend rendevouz with a suitor… and this was the conversation:

Her: And I told him not to get me anything but he did! He got me this package of body washes and bath oils! I mean, I had to ship it home because I couldn’t carry it on the plane, but that’s okay.

Me: Well, that’s really not okay.  First, body washes and bath oils (or any soap-related gift) are only appropriate when you don’t know what else to get a person because you know nothing about them… it is the LEAST personal gift you can buy.  Yes, everyone likes and can use body wash/soap, because… wait for it… IT IS A GENERIC GIFT.  Second, out of all of the options for a cute, small gift, he went with something that you had to spend time, energy, and money on getting home?  Sorry, not cool – that took less than no thought on his part.

Was I harsh?  Maybe a little.  And Snupersista is mad at me.  But seriously, body wash for someone who you know well enough to plan a plane-trip-away Valentine’s Day weekend?  No No No No No.

Snupy says:  It is so easy to take one or two known traits about a person and convert that to a small, simple (and easy-to-travel with) gift.  For example, Snupersista loves music and wine.  A burned CD of new music to listen to, or an itunes gift card with a list of suggested downloads is an inexpensive, small token of affection.  A wine guide or mini wine journal for a wine lover is sweet and thoughtful. 

Snupy also says:  It doesn’t always have to be about mush and gush or even require too much time.  Snupersista also spends a lot of time in her car traveling from place to place and can never do without a fountain soda – easy breezy is a fast food joint (e.g., McDonald’s) gift card.  Pair that with some fun crazy straws!  And I’ve never seen this girl go a day without chocolate – this could have even been picked up at the airport upon landing at the Valentine’s weekend destination. 

Author:
• Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Lawyers – they are a funny breed of people (I can say this since I am one, when I am not giftgal of course).  Most of us are, how do you say, anal retentive control freaks.  This “special” quality extends to everything we do, including receiving a gift. 

If your girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband/child/parent is a lawyer and you want to get them an “occupationally-themed” gift – albeit for a birthday, graduation, anniversary, promotion – my best advice to you is to ASK them what they want or need before you buy something.  Furthermore, ask them for suggestions well in advance of said gift-giving occasion.  They will, and I promise you this, tell you exactly what they want in a timely and organized fashion – do not deviate from your special instructions.

Some people will think “well, that takes the fun and surprise out of it!”  You, my friend, are not listening – lawyers do not like fun or surprise.  But, if you want to throw a personal touch to the gift, go with a small “add on.”  For example, if they asked for a specific planner, buy a nice pen to go with.  If they asked for a business card holder, go with a small matching desktop accessory.  If they asked for a copy of Black’s Law Dictionary, get them a nice eye-glass case [yes, there was a small inference made here]. 

When in doubt, don’t engrave, and include a gift receipt.  And you can ALWAYS give cash to the lawyer still in debt from law school, or give to a charity for the lawyer who has had a long and successful career.

Snupy says:  Generally, lawyers can laugh at themselves.  Lawyer jokes can be corny, but they are funny nonetheless.  Check out books like “The Official Lawyer’s Handbook”  by White, which includes articles such as “Partnership – you can make it if you know what to kiss, and whose.” 

Snupy also says:  Most lawyers like to be organized.  While daily calendars are electronic these days, this desktop accessory is kind of a neat and environmentally-friendly gift: http://www.cocoaliving.com/products

Snupy says, speaking of which:  Applications for the electronic device of choice (iphone, blackberry, etc. ) are also fun, so long as it is easily downloadable.  See http://www.apple.com/iphone/appstore/.  (Blackberry is a little behind the times, but says that they will have an “applications storefront” by March, 2009.)  Or you can give a gift certificate and allow your recipient to pick out those applications they want or need the most.

Snupy suggests:  The book “One L” by Scott Turrow for any law school student – a MUST. 

Author:
• Friday, February 13th, 2009

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow.  How many people have not yet gotten their gifts and are panicking?  Yep – thought so.  Well, there are ways to FAKE the fact that you have forgotten/gotten lazy/just don’t care… they are applicable to almost all holidays/birthdays, but in light of the looming holiday that tends to land people in the proverbial “doghouse,” here is my Valentine’s Day gift to you.

1.  The internet is a beautiful thing, my friends.  Use it.  You can purchase and download gift certificates from most places these days, instantaneously.  You can print information up on a romantic trip/weekend that you intend to take her/him on, but didn’t book it yet because you wanted to “check with their schedule.” 

2.  Use your lunch hour and go buy your cards.  Fill your cards out at your desk before you go home for the evening.  Do NOT plan on trying to get 5 minutes of alone time on the morning of, to express your feelings.  She/he will never know that you waited to the day before.  Slip at least one card some place she is sure to find it first thing in the morning – by the bathroom sink, in her underwear drawer, etc.

3.  Schedule something today for an event in the future – buy tickets to an upcoming show, make reservations at a favorite restaurant for a future date, or order something that has a long “turn around time” but will be worth the wait – then when you don’t have an actual gift on the day, there is still something that your recipient has to look forward to.  Print some information out on the future event and slip it into a card.

4.  Go with the basics and profess that you’re old fashioned – flowers, candy, lingerie, boxers – these items are everywhere today.  Pick something up during your lunch hour or on your way home.  Old fashioned items, when done right, are classy.  Make sure to have the store wrap the gift for you.

5.  Gift the unwrappable – wake him/her up with breakfast in bed, do the chores, give a massage (and mean it), buy/rent/watch a chick flick or horror film (whatever your sweet desires), and generally make the day about your sweetheart.

Snupy says:  Take the time to write something meaningful in your card or cards – signing just your name does not count.  If you can’t think of anything meaningful to write, buy a card that doesn’t come with a lot of mushy words, and buy one that does – and “borrow” the gist of the mushy card  for your relatively blank/simple one.  [Obviously, toss the mushy card when you are done.]  Yes, that is cheating, but it is better than not expressing the right sentiments if it captures what you feel inside.  (Snupersista told me about this trick – she’s wicked snuper).

Author:
• Sunday, February 08th, 2009

So, my Snuperguy and I are on our way back from a visit with friends that live in another city.  We actually stayed with two different couples for one night each.  Usually, we bring a small gift with us to our hosts, but our destination required a flight to get there, and with today’s packing restrictions, it was more difficult to bring something along.  Also, we had never been to either friends’ houses, and didn’t know their tastes and decorating schemes.

While a note is usually sufficient to say “thanks for having us,” these couples went above and beyond to make us feel like extra special guests – cooking us breakfast and dinner, driving us around to see the sights, etc.  Since we slept on their sheets and used their towels, we know that while we are neat guests, there is always a minimal amount of necessary clearning to be done when we (or any overnight guest) leaves.  We wanted to send something a little bit “more” than a note.

The first couple’s apartment was modern – very clean, earthy, and well – just stunning.  They are an engaged couple so I’ve got tons of options including a very simple, extra pick off of their registry.  We also noticed that the focal point of their apartment was a very impressive open kitchen – and after they chefed up a superb breakfast, I know that they love to cook.  Noting the focal points of your hosts’ house gives you great insight into where to focus your gift.  If your host has a pimped-out entertainment system or is clearly a “vidiot,” those are also great areas on which to focus your gift ideas. 

The second couple that we stayed with were hip young parents – they have a 3 year old and a 4 month old… and they are TIRED.  They talked to us about how they rarely get out anymore (but they love love their kids so they don’t care), and they are slightly sleep-deprived.  This information again is great to help us figure out a gift that they will like and appreciate.  Since we know that they don’t get an opportunity to go out, maybe a gift certificate to a local kid-friendly restaurant would be great.  On the flip side, maybe some coupons to the local take-out joint would also be appreciated.  A bucket of microwave popcorn and movies is always fun for folks that, by nature of their children, stay at home often.  If you live nearby, a free night of baby-sitting would probably be the most appreciated gift : ).  If we decide on anything for the home, we’ll know enough to consider the fact that they have young kids and it won’t be Waterford crystal… but rather something that is fun and non-breakable.

In the end, sometimes a thank-you gift sends a little stronger of a message like “we really appreciated your hosting us and MAN, were you the hostesses with the mosteses…”

Snupy says:  For the cooks with the fabulous kitchen, a hot new cookbook with some fancy herbs and/or spices is great (see www.williams-sonoma.com).  Most cooks also love fine and flavored olive oil (see www.oliviersandco.com) which is something different and yummy. 

Snupy also says: 

For the family with young kids, they might enjoy a combo package that includes something fun to do with the kids (remember Shrinky-Dinks?) and then something fun to do once the kids go to bed (set them up with a DVD season of a sitcom that they haven’t seen yet and a gift certificate to the local pizza joint). 

 

Author:
• Monday, February 02nd, 2009

Does this ever happen to you…?  We just called my Snuperguy’s sister to say “hello” and she asked us if we were calling to wish our nephew a happy birthday… Ummmm – oops!  We completely and entirely forgot about it.  The problem was that our nephew turned 2 years old, so it is not a date ingrained in our brains just yet.  At the same time, it is a very important birthday NOT to forget.  Our poor nephew was down one gift and many wishes for a happy day!

Our Remedy:  A Perpetual Calendar.  The perpetual calendar reminds us about all of the important dates and events that happen an annual basis and that which we would never want to forget.

There are pretty paper perpetual calendars (say that five times fast) out there that are fabulous AND functional – check out a few of my favorite picks at:  http://www.galison.com/Perpetual-Calendars-C76.aspx

You also can create one on your own, modeled after something like this: http://www.realsimple.com/realsimple/web/pdf/0406/birthday.pdf

The key is to keep these perpetual reminders someplace that you are sure to see them – posting them in the bathroom or on the fridge is a great way to never miss an important date.

Some of the more technically-inclined folks can track them using computer calendars – make the events repetitive, annually and put a 5 day reminder/warning on them so that you can get your gifts and/or cards out in advance. 

Take the time to plug the information in once and you’ll be set, well, perpetually!

Snupy says:  The paper perpetual calendars also make a great and unique gift idea!  Add note cards, gift wrap, or other gift-giving supplies – something everyone is sure to need, use, and love.

Author:
• Friday, January 23rd, 2009

About 8 years ago, my then-boyfriend (now-husband), we’ll call him Snuperguy, gave me a battery charger for Valentine’s Day.  He said it was for my walkman which, at the time, was eating up AA batteries.  It was thoughtful, I guess. 

For my birthday that same year, he bought me an alarm clock from a drugstore because the one I was using was on the verge of allowing me to sleep in to eternity : ).  Again, probably thoughtful, but NOT the gift that I wanted to tell all my friends and family about.  Especially when I got him tickets to see a great band.  Grrr.

So, that following Valentine’s Day, I made my Snuperguy a book.  The book, which I made from a small notebook using markers and magazine cutouts, had pages and pages of “Approved” and “Not Approved” vendors, with pictures and names/phone numbers of my favorite stores, salons, flower shops, etc.  I politely explained to him the difference between what I considered a gift (comfy and cute pjs) and what I could buy myself and did not want from my significant other (gym equipment).  Home Depot (while a fabulous store) is a Not Approved vendor.  The local spa is an Approved vendor.  I listed gifts that cost money, and those that don’t – giving me a foot rub or cooking me dinner is thoughtful and appreciated just as much as a new purse.  I also listed my size and preferences at various stores. 

My Snuperguy loved it.  He is no longer “freaked out” by gift-giving holidays.  Now, he has a reference manual.  It has been 7 years since I made that book… and I’m very happy to say that he’s an expert gift-giver now.  This past Christmas, I even uttered the words “this is so thoughtful!  how did you ever come up with this idea!”… but I knew – he referenced the book!

Snupy says:  Every month, InStyle Magazine lists the “hottest trends” – if your significant other is into such trends, you can use the maganize for great gift ideas – they print the vendor, website or store phone number, and price on the items that they highlight. 

Snupy also says:  For your environmentally conscious friend, Kleen Kanteen makes BPA-free, reusable bottles for water, juices, and even wine in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors – great for men, women, and kids… See http://www.kleankanteen.com/.

Author:
• Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

We often hear that when it comes to real estate, “location, location, location” is key to making the most out of your purchase.  Likewise, when it comes to gift-giving, “presentation, presentation, presentation” can make any gift shine.

Taking the time to take the price tag off, to tuck the gift receipt in, and make the overall package look “pretty” is simple.  If you are low on time or wrapping know-how, most stores will do it FOR you at the time of your purchase.  If you are buying your gift on-line, you can usually pay an extra $4-5 dollars so that your gift arrives in a gift box (yes, it really is so much nicer than just the brown, corrugated shipping box).  If you are confident and capable to wrap yourself, every Target, Walgreens, or CVS has the inexpensive tools you need to dress up your gift with a little pizazz – a gift bag with some tissue and ribbon, some wrapping paper with stickers – it is so easy and tells your gift recipient that you thought about them in advance and took the time to make their gift look nice JUST FOR THEM.  

If you don’t believe me, try a mini-experiment:  for Valentine’s Day, wrap one gift very nicely and one just shoved in the bag the store gave to you… the wrapped one will get the extra “awwww!” no matter what is inside.

Author:
• Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Think before you gift.

If you are shipping a gift, think about who you are sending it to, where you are sending it to, and when you are sending it.  The answers to these questions will help to determine HOW you ship said perfect present.  For example, if you are sending it to someone who you know will not home during the day to sign for the package, send it by a service that doesn’t require a person to be present to receive the package – for example, the United States Postal Service, no signature required, works well if you know the package will be safe if left behind because USPS has a key to otherwise “unmanned” buildings.

If you are sending flowers to a person at work, don’t send the beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers to them on Friday afternoon… they will feel obligated to carry those flowers home with them for the weekend and will not numberswiki.com

get to enjoy the attention that flowers bring when sitting on their desk.  Although the special occasion might be on a Friday, your recipient will not mind getting such a delight a few days early… as they will get to enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds (the admiration of co-workers) much, much longer.

Always, always ask for a gift receipt – the person should know where they can return the gift to if it doesn’t fit physically or with their tastes – and shouldn’t have to take less than the full value of the gift because you didn’t include a receipt.  Almost every store these days can print a gift receipt [ask for one before getting rung up] and you really should insist.

The above may be common sense to most, but to the rest of you – a few extra moments of thought goes a long way to making your gift memorable for the right reasons!

Author:
• Saturday, October 04th, 2008

There are so many occasions to give a gift – leading to an equal number of occasions to give the wrong gift.  Gift-giving (and gift-related holidays) give many people the jitters, and force folks to buy the first thing they see online, the last thing that they can grab walking out of the store, or the generic (anybody could receive but nobody likes) gift.  Most of the time, those gifts “miss the mark.”

Yet with a few quick tricks, you can maximize the effectiveness of your gift while minimizing both the time and energy that you spend searching, shopping, wrapping and shipping.  I am here to teach you those tricks.  I am here to help you “hit the mark.”  And when you do, you will know – because you’ve given the polite thank-you, and hopefully, you’ve given the real, genuine thank-you… YOU know that there IS a difference.

Let’s get you the real thing.