THE ART OF GIFTING (Or How Not to Blow It This Holiday Season)
If giving is an art, do you consider yourself more DaVinci or Duchamp? Have the gifts you have given elicited responses similar to the faces that the Mona Lisa sees as people gaze at her? Or have your gifts often been misunderstood? The art of giving is simply defined as giving from the heart without any expectation of something in return. However, this is not entirely true. We expect exponential joy from the gifts we give. And, if you have ever got it right, you will know that this ‘something in return’ is the best ‘something’ you can have.
If this your first holiday season with the love of your life...or perhaps the second (except you feel nervous after last year nearly left you single – again), do not be afraid. Read on and let Tracy and Ivana guide you through the pine needle and (angrily) broken glass ornament filled obstacle course of gift-giving this season.
“I LOVE YOU SO MUCH...I’M HIDING IN YOUR BUSHES”
For those of you in a budding relationship and ready to impress, we shall share the story of Steve to illustrate how it is possible to go from memorable to creepy fast.
Steve fancied Tracy. For months he found reasons to ‘bump into her’, in order to learn more about her. Amongst other things, he discovered that she had a great smile, loved to laugh and that Steve’s father was Tracy’s dentist. Once Steve had gathered what he felt was enough ‘intel’ on the object of his desire, he drummed up all his courage at the water cooler and casually said, “I have something for you” and with that, he handed her a copy of her dental X-rays.
Steve learned a lot that day. Firstly, when someone says, “You shouldn’t have”, they may actually mean it. Secondly, he observed in Tracy a facial expression that he had never seen before or ever wanted to see again. Most importantly, he learned that gifting in a new relationship should be undertaken with extreme caution and be more “Romeo” and less “Hannibal”.
Lesson: Don’t be Steve, avoid deeply intimate or medical gifts at the beginning of any relationship.
WHEN A NEW IRON JUST WON’T DO
Complacency in an established relationship has been the undoing of many happy holidays. You know the age old story: wife says, “we need a new iron”. Husband takes this as a hint and buys one forgetting that she also had nonchalantly left a jewelry brochure next to the TV remote control. Husband excitedly presents his wife with the iron that he wrapped himself; wife cries.
So before eagerly splurging on that fancy steam mop your partner mentioned, ask yourself: is it for your partner or the house? If you realise that it is for the house, you are making progress. Well done!
Your next step is to do your due diligence. To spare your partner’s feelings and to ensure you do not spend the rest of the holiday alone, here are some tips on ‘getting it right’:
Ask their closest friend what your partner might like. If no friend is available, have a peek at your loved one’s wardrobe, paying special attention to the maker's labels, colour, cut, style and texture (e.g., brights or neutrals, silver VS gold). Find out their size - it shows that you pay attention and avoids the question “does my bum look big in this”. If you are at that stage of buying lingerie, all the above holds true, with the added caution: think more about them than you. Accessories, especially jewellery, should always be of the best quality, so don’t think you can get away with a quick trip to Accessorize or the Tie Rack.
- Consider their hobbies and interests. Do they enjoy experiences over material objects? Think about gifts that keep giving - perhaps a membership to a Museum if they love the arts or a floral subscription service if they love blooms. Sporting activities are great, if the person is actually sporty. And, before you book any flights in balloons or gliders, make sure they do not have a fear of heights and that the pilot/instructor is not too good looking, because enjoying a gift is one thing – enjoying it too much is another.
HAS ANY OF THIS SUNK IN?
So now that we have given you the basics to help you WOW your partner this festive season, it is time to put your new found knowledge to the test.
Your partner is partial to contemporary jewelry and loves a statement piece. Do you:
- Find out what the 20-something influencers are wearing and get whatever is trendy.
- Go on Amazon and purchase the first thing that pops up under "Today's Deals + Jewelry".
- Contact Tracy Trainor . She will help you choose something perfect from her modern collection of sculpted jewellery, or create something bespoke, unique...amazing!
- Choose A or B and live to regret it.
Your partner loves nothing more than driving in a vintage convertible with the top down. Do you:
- Renew their AAA Membership thinking Breakdown Recovery is a romantic gesture.
- Buy a fabulous Castanohel Long Road Trip scarf and a pair of Paula Rowan driving gloves.
- Get a new hairbrush, because...well, their car is a convertible.
- Choose A or C and find yourself moved into the garage.
Your partner loves cooking. Do you:
- Organise an ‘all expenses paid’ Food and Wine Tour of Tuscany.
- Buy a new set of pots and pans.
- Get a new digital meat thermometer to replace the one you put in the dishwasher.
- Choose B or C and never eat another home cooked meal.
Your partner loves perfume. Do you:
- Find an independent perfumer like Sarah Horowitz Parfums and book a "Create Your Own" experience for them.
- Play it safe and get another bottle of one they already have to add to the other five bottles that you forgot you had already bought.
- Buy a bottle of Justin Bieber’s “Girlfriend” that you saw in the bargain bin at the drugstore.
- Choose B or C and expect a deflated “Thank you” and a ‘headache’ on Christmas night.
BONUS IDEAS (BECAUSE EVERYTHING WE DO IS EXTRA)
- We love AMA Pure . Their cashmere is like clouds.
- Una Burke makes the coolest belts.
- Bena Clothing for handmade leather goods and small gift items made in London.
- For those who love a little bit of vintage kitsch consider Retrouvé London or Handsome Hobo Neckwear.
- Subscriptions to The Covent Gardener or Doesn’t Exist magazines for enthusiasts of arts, history, fashion, film, and culture.
- Check out Forbes’ annual list of the best Spa breaks, because who doesn’t love a little TLC?
- Is your other half a clothes horse? Think about booking a couture experience with Amanda Thompson or bespoke tailor experience found in Luxury London.
OUR GIFT TO YOU - A USEFUL BAROMETER FOR ALL GIFT GIVING OCCASIONS (KEEP HANDY)
This article was a collaboration between me and my friend, Ivana Nohel. Ivana is a Creative Director, illustrator, and product designer from London. Ivana is famous for her hand illustrated silk scarves, which are a favourite of the Queen’s. Her collection of luxury scarves and accessories can be found at www.castanohel.com where she and her business partner and stylist, Annie Castano, will happily guide you through your journey of finding the perfect accessory.