2010 gift guides: tips from a gifting pro!

by Grace Bonney

This fall when was finishing up my first round of D*S consulting sessions I had the pleasure of working with Simone LeBlanc. Among other creative services, Simone offers a professional gifting service that just about knocked my socks off. I’d never really thought about professional gift-buying, but when I saw what Simone had done for clients and what she planned to do next I knew she was going to be a hit. I’ve always thought of myself as a decent gift buyer (AC taught me to always think like the person you’re buying for), but her creative ideas for giving someone something that would really be special and mean the most to them were too good not to share. So I invited her to join us and share her professional gift-buying tips! Whether you’re starting your last minute shopping or just want to find that last perfect gift, Simone’s ideas will help you make sure your gifts are special.

Because shopping days are limited you can always try online expedited shipping or- our favorite- hop in a car, bus or subway and see what amazing things you can find in your local shops (she’s got suggestions for both). Happy Holidays and thanks to Simone for sharing these ideas with us! xo, grace

CLICK HERE for Simone’s Top 7 Gifting Ideas (with multiple examples for each) after the jump!

There is a multitude of ways that you can personalize the mundane and make the ordinary extraordinary with your gift-giving this holiday. Let’s bring in the new form of luxe this season, shall we? I’m all for finding luxury in the personal touches — gifts that are customized in just the right way for your special someone. I came up with some simple, thoughtful ideas that can make an impact without putting put a hole in your precious pocketbook. Lucky us, these gifts can be just as fun to prepare as they are to receive! –Simone

Image above: via Leontine Linens

1. Monogram, monogram, monogram: the monogram is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s a guaranteed conversation starter when placed in a spot that’s easily visible or when added to an unseen part of a garment, and it becomes a secret message between the two of you.

– For the sartorial in your life, add an instant upgrade to any piece by adding those three special letters: first, middle and last initial. I like to mix it up by using something unexpected — a date of significance, a nickname or a word that means something to each of you.

– The monogram of course works great on the chest or hem of a button-down and looks pretty cool on a v-neck t-shirt. I love to add it to the top of brightly patterned socks, and yes — it works wonders on boxers or cotton panties, too.

**Just make sure that if you’re getting it embroidered on a knit (a t-shirt, for example), that they back the fabric with something so the threads won’t tear it!

-Visit any local shop that embroiders sporting goods or an upscale drycleaner. They should have a variety of fonts to choose from. If in the LA area, check out monnogrammit.

** Feeling flush? For a possible upgrade to this idea, you can monogram a set of comfy pajamas and slippers:
Marni for her,
Brooks Brothers for him.

2. For the collector — get that set started: I can safely say that I err on the side of quality over quantity, but there is nothing quite like a well-crafted starter collection of objects that will be appreciated. I like to think outside the box on this one. What would they really want but not get for themselves? Since this is the type of item that you can always be on the lookout for, it’s a great way to get your gift way ahead of time, too!

A couple of past ideas that were a hit in my book:

o the well crafted knife collection: Laguiole knives
o sets of brightly patterned socks: Hansel and Basel socks for her, Paul Smith socks for him
o selected notebooks: Panama ‘Notes’ from Smythson

Image via This Organized Neatly

3. For the foodie — bring in the spice: Nothing induces memory like scents and flavors. For the foodie in your life, create a customized spice set by gathering favorite spices and herbs based on a theme:

o Your lives together: memories of dishes you cooked, restaurants you love or foods you tasted while traveling together.
o Multiples of a favorite: Himalayan sea salt, smoked salt rubs and salts from Camargue, for example.
o Visual feast: colors that simply look gorgeous together, and exotic flavors that will inspire you to try out new dishes.
o rename spices for personal meaning:
o cinnamon becomes: you + me, sunday morning
o oregano becomes: because you’re Italian
o cayenne becomes: in small doses

** Feeling flush? For a possible upgrade to this idea, you can add on a custom display cabinet or box to hold the new collection.

Image via KC and Sara

-Weck has some adorable jars for spices and Whole Spice has a broad selection of organic and exotic flavors. You can of course take a trip to your local grocer for some great options, too!

** Feeling flush? For a possible upgrade to this idea, you can add on personal or group cooking lessons.

4. For the lovingly narcissistic — you ought to be in pictures: Many of us may balk at the idea of a few hours devoted to us and a camera for personal reasons, but the gift of a photoshoot — personal, private and planned just for the individual — is something that goes a long way. There are a ton of photographers available for a range of budgets and styles. Pick a spot that’s comfortable, pull some outfits together that are natural and let it happen. I like to present this gift with some images of the photographers work (or you can show options for a few).

Image via Tumblr Photography XOX

** Feeling flush? For a possible upgrade to this idea, bring in someone to take care of hair and makeup, or a personal stylist.

5. For the homebody — get your game on: Games are a great addition to any party and can certainly add some cozy down-home flavor to a simple night for two. Do a customized game box geared just for your special someone. Include vintage playing cards, an old game found on eBay that they may have loved as a kid. The original Trivial Pursuit? Yes, please! You can also include a book of how-tos on different card games, a pocket-sized dictionary for scrabble fanatics or an antique hourglass for the charades fan.

Vintage Circular Playing Cards (How adorable are these??) and Game Compendium has info on old timey and modern games:

** Feeling flush? For a possible upgrade to this idea, bring in a custom, handmade family board game from Geoffrey Parker.

6. For the romantic — engraving is the way to go: Engraving is a guaranteed hit — it’s that extra step that strengthens the connection between two people. The beauty is that your special words can really be added to anything — add formality to a thrift store watch. Go heritage and give a set of mix-and-match antique flatware with your engraving added at the base of each piece. String a skeleton key from the hardware shop onto a ribbon, engrave it and turn it into a personal message of l-o-v-e.

Image via Grannies Kitchen, Flickr

** A local trophy shop is a quick and easy way to get an engraving done. Stop by a local vintage or estate jeweler for engraving as well. If they don’t do it, they’ll know someone who does.

** Feeling flush? For a possible upgrade to this idea, gift a rare and collectible watch, pocket watch or piece of jewelry.

7. For the reader — read on . . . : Give a strong and simple message volumes by gifting a book that has meaning to you. Include a custom bookplate and slip a note inside as to why the book is significant, describe your favorite part of the book or a memory you have related to reading it. If you’ve got that DIY bug, cover the books in a paper or fabric that signifies that it’s from you.

The Oddest Owl on Etsy has a wide selection of bookplates. Their mix-and-match set is a great option, too — pick and choose!

**Feeling flush? For a possible upgrade to this idea, give a first edition that has significance. Call Harvey at Mystery Pier books, and tell him I sent you!

Happy gifting!!

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