Friday, December 21, 2012

Last Minute Gift Ideas for the Holidays

Here it is, five days before Christmas! How many more presents do you need to buy? Yikes! The stores are open but you probably aren’t looking forward to aimlessly wandering around, when you have so many other things to do.

I like to keep my shopping streamlined and focused. I usually have a pretty good idea of what I want to buy, but if I need inspiration, I have some tried and true strategies that rarely let me down. 

I also like to give gifts that can be used or used up, aren’t overly packaged or too exotic, and are great for kids, men or women, so I usually end up buying a lot of food gifts.

Here are my best time-saving tips that you will find handy.

1. Shop locally. You are out of luck if you need something shipped affordably in time for the holiday, so shop for things you can hand over in person. However, I love to shop online, many sites have gift wrap which makes my life easier! Next year, plan ahead if you like to go that route.

If you have time, go to a boutique street you haven’t shopped on before. It will be crowded this time of year, but you may find just the thing for that special person. Look for card shops that also sell gifts and general merchandise stores. Take note of a store you like – that might be your go-to spot for next year’s last minute gifts, too!

2. Food gifts. Go to an upscale grocery store, such as New Seasons Market in the Portland area, or stores like Whole Foods especially if you’re not used to shopping there. This is my favorite gift-shopping trick of all time, not just when I’m time crunched. Not only is grocery shopping in a new place inspiring and fun, you’ll find a lot of wonderful food items that come with beautiful packaging that can stand on its own. Save yourself some time, just add a card. Plus, grocery stores are usually open early and late, even on Christmas when other stores are closed.

Check out the end caps the ends of the aisles. I especially target the oils and vinegars aisle, the cheese counter, the wine section and the cookies/candies area. Besides just being pretty, many of these foods come in containers nice enough to reuse as a vase or bin. I especially look for vintage style seasonal treats like handmade candy canes that make great decorations, too.

3. Artisan coffee or tea. Or gourmet cocoa. Moonstruck Chocolate Company not only makes beautiful and tasty chocolates, their cocoa is wonderful. Create your own gift set with some nice mugs, too. Again… check out an upscale grocery store or visit a local coffee roaster shop.

With coffee, most people these days have their own grinders and whole bean coffee lasts longer. But if you’re in doubt about what kind of coffeepot the recipient has, err on the side of a medium to fine grind.

4. DIY “Dinner kit” baskets. Buy the shelf-stable parts of a meal according to a particular theme and assemble in a reusable basket or box. You can add a gift certificate for a grocery store near your loved ones’ house, they can pick up some fresh vegetables and protein and dinner is ready on a busy night.

Pick a cuisine theme and provide a recipe for an extra touch. For example, an Italian theme would be upscale spaghetti noodles that you wouldn’t  buy regularly, a beautifully packaged pasta sauce, a soup mix for a first course and biscotti or other Italian cookie for dessert. For an Asian or Thai theme: noodles, toasted sesame oil, fish sauce, coconut milk, canned exotic vegetables or flavor mixes. Thai Kitchen not only has wonderful products, their robust website has some tasty recipes as well.

5. Champagne, sparkling wine or cider! If you’re on a budget, even a $10 or $20 bottle of sparkling wine is a very nice gift this time of year. $50 buys an amazing bottle that people rarely buy for themselves. Another tip: on New Year’s Day, make Mimosas (sparkling wine and orange juice) with the leftovers for breakfast.  If you still have leftovers and it goes flat, use for cooking as you would any other white wine.

6. Candles and holiday decor. OK, I had to throw at least one non-food item in. And, conveniently, nice ones are often available at a lot of upscale grocery stores. It’s hard to go wrong with white or red candles like these from Pottery Barn. Bonus… the 2013 trend color Emerald is also seasonal for this year’s holidays!

Double bonus, holiday decorations are already on sale in many places.

7. Luxurious and easy-care bedding. Costco sells our Jennifer Adams Home Slumber Sheets products, and these sheets make a great gift item. Single flat sheets make great bedspreads, and a whole set is an affordable luxury for anyone. Check out the schedule here for your last minute Costco trip or go online for next year!

Until next time!
-Elaine Bothe

Photos courtesy of Argyle Winery, Thai Kitchen, Pottery Barn and Moonstruck Chocolate Co. All these sites ship, consider them for next year!

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posted by Jennifer Adams Design Group Blog @ 10:49 AM 


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