November 24, 2008

The HoGGIEs - Birthday Edition

It's my birthday! It has been a great two days (we celebrated as a family last night - and I was delighted to get a Wii!) and I'm looking forward to the coming year even more than I have on birthdays past. Thanks so much to family and friends for making this one special.

It's time now for the next installment of The HoGGIEs, The One Ping Only 2008 Holiday Gift-Giving Ideas Extravaganza. I'm sure most of you are familiar with Crate & Barrel, but I wonder if you know about CB2, Crate and Barrel's little sister of an online store. I'm not entirely sure that the aesthetic of CB2 differs from that of Crate and Barrel all that much, but CB2 is a little more affordable and it's where all of this week's gifts can be found.

I think that one of things people have a hard time with each holiday season is selecting gifts for friends who aren't people they've known "forever." You know them pretty well and you want to delight them with a something special, but you feel like you have to walk fine lines between too impersonal and overly personal or too practical and too silly, and sometimes an additional line between too expensive and too inexpensive. It can be difficult, to be sure.

To offer some ideas on how to approach this dilemma, I've selected gifts from CB2 that were all inspired by some of my fabulous bloggy friends, most of whom I've never met in person. Hopefully, they'll let us know in the comments if what I pick is something they'd actually like to receive and how they'd feel if a friend actually gave it to them this year. Not that these are the gifts they're really going to be getting from me! (Sorry, they're not, ladies. You're my Guinea HoGGIEs in this experiment, so please be honest in your assessments.) Let's take a look at the online Holiday Catalog and see, in no particular order, what I found.

First up is PsychMamma! Over the course of the last six months or so, she and I have gotten to know each other and have had some great discussions. She's a kind, caring and very aware person and she shares a lot of herself in her blog. Among the things I've learned about her: Her daughter has many allergies, so she need to be careful about the things she brings into the house; she is very eco-conscious; and she has a fine appreciation of the simple, beautiful things in life.

As soon as I saw these in the catalog, I immediately thought of PsychMamma:

Your first thought may be "Towels? Are you kidding? It's a holiday gift, not a wedding gift!" There are two key reasons why I think these would make a great, if unusual, gift for her.

First, they are Bamboo Bath Towels, a blend of 65% bamboo and 35% combed Egyptian cotton. According to the catalog, bamboo yarn absorbs faster than cotton, is softer than cotton, and is naturally antibacterial. Not to mention bamboo is grown in a pesticide-free environment. Eco-friendly, anyone?

Second, the color is gorgeous and is a perfect match to the morpho butterfly she has on her blog banner, and I know she loves that picture. So while they're practical, they're beautiful and I think she'd appreciate the thought behind them.

One of the keys to giving a gift like this is the presentation. Sticking them in a box and wrapping it up (or letting the store do it, if they're even still doing that now) isn't going to cut it; do that and it will seem like a wedding gift! I'd roll them carefully, tie each one individually with a ribbon in a contrasting color, arrange them in a gift bag and place a silk or paper butterfly on top to make sure that connection is there visually.

The lessons to take away here are:
  • Think about aspects of the person that stand out to you and work with those.
  • Don't limit yourself to traditional gift items; be creative.
  • How you present the gift makes a difference.
Go forth and gift!