With Thanksgiving lurking a mere 2 weeks in the distance, the inevitable holiday gift buying frenzy that follows is not far away. After a very busy summer stocked to the rafters with wedding preparations for many of my friends me, we have decided to forgo our annual gift exchange in favor of a good meal with good company. But for those who are not lucky enough to call for a gift stalemate, there are many glorious options in every price rage this season. Some websites, like J.Crew, have user friendly gift guides organized by price tag for those who really want to make this painless. But if you enjoy the thrill of the hunt as I do (even when the ultimate treasure will be turned over to another), there are some fabulous ideas I've collected from my vast array of fashion and style reading in all this free time I have on my manicured hands.
I always shop for gifts that I myself would love to receive. While this does not always work (a few years ago, I gave my friend Eileen a fashion forward powder blue vinyl clutch that she has never taken off the floor of her closet, and that created a tiff about whether or not I really did know her after our 15 years friendship) it is usually the best guide to scoring the perfect finds for others. Never underestimate the joy of the gift card. If you know where a friend or relative shops, eats, or gets their manicures, you absolutely cannot go wrong with a gift card. It's like giving them a glorious day of shopping or pampering for free! (Please get over any apprehension about placing an obvious dollar amount on the card, because, despite what you may think, when someone returns your misguided gift using the fancy 'gift receipt' that intentionally has no price, the second the cashier rings the return, the exact price appears and the mystery is aborted.)
If you insist on tangible items, think broadly about something the recipient is likely to desire, yet never anticipated to buy for themselves. (If you're getting something for me, there are few things I am unlikely to buy for myself if I have the funds, though my mother has mastered this art quite well.) Anything you can personalize is an instantly thoughtful gift. Think of beautiful stationary, a monogrammed cashmere sweater, a customizable beer pitcher and glass combo, or a set of Ridel wine glasses bearing an initial. If your recipient entertains, a stylish set of Jonathan Adler playing cards is super chic, as is a chess set which manages to serve aesthetic as well as useful purposes. As my francophile friend Rebecca would agree, gifts bearing French influence have a certain sophistication. Try a gift set from L'Occitane, or a sumptuous Diptyque candle which will burn for 60 hours and actually permeates the entire room. For a newly wed couple or a relative, a beautiful crystal ornament is timeless.
Even on a limited budget you can be thoughtful and fashionable in your gift giving (just as you can be in your personal style).