The holidays are here -- a time to give and get. We asked some seasoned shoppers: What are your gifting tips?
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On gift-giving: "I think there's two avenues here. One is the ubiquitous device that you can use and the other one... I'm always a big fan of giving experiences rather than actual physical goods. Experiences are harder to quantify in tangibility, but if you really hit that sweet spot, it can really go a long way."
One idea: "There's this guy who runs a pizza tour company [in New York], it's called Scott's Pizza Tour. You can do a walking tour to visit four pizzerias and he walks you through the entire history of pizza… It's educational, it's delicious and there's not anyone out there who doesn't like pizza."
Tips for online shopping: "Pay attention to shipping dates and cut-offs and build a buffer from there. The last thing you want to do is show up to someone's house on Christmas morning with a note that says 'your present will be coming.' … every website has them, but very aware and pay attention."
On a favorite gift he has received: "I got this gift multiple times and it was okay… the gloves that you can use for touchscreens. I started getting them a year ago and I feel like I get a pair every year but that's great, because gloves are something that you lose easily."
On online shopping: "If someone is a parent, they probably have a 529b savings plan for college and I buy everything through Upromise online. It's my homepage on my home computer, they always offer deals, free shipping or get extra discounts… the best part is that I get a percent of what I spend back that goes into my kids' college fund."
On fool-proof gifts: "If I'm going to someone's house... what I always bring is See's Candies from the West Coast, because I'm from California and I love See's. Typically what I do is have a big shipment so I have it for the holidays to bring to people's houses, to my kids' teachers or people in the neighborhood. It's nice because it's not something that they could get here locally… it makes it kind of special."
On getting delivered gifts wrapped: "Getting the gift you ship wrapped is always a hard decision, because you have to decide whether opening the package is gift-wrapping enough. … For the little kids get the gift wrapped, for older ones, you'll learn that people stop caring."
On her wishlist: "Nest Protect. Yes, a smoke detector. Love the design -- finally a thoughtful, beautiful solution and no more random beeps in the middle of the night. I also have my eye on a pair of Carolina Amato leather and cashmere fingerless gloves. Absolutely perfect. But truth is, anything cashmere is a winner." On fool-proof gifts: "Depends on the person. My husband and I make homemade eggnog every year and we have a stable of favorite wines we love to gift. But if that's not appropriate, then a food basket from Williams-Sonoma or Whole Foods can fit the bill. For something simpler, I often turn to vanilla-scented candles, a selection of sea salt, a great olive oil or peppermint bark."
On buying gifts for kids and teens: "Kids and teens love receiving gift cards but I go out of my way not to give them. It's impersonal and lacks both surprise and meaning. I simply rely on Google, my teenagers and sites like Wanelo for great ideas. Subscriptions to Spotify and Xbox Live are great ideas for kids that don't need more stuff but will love access to the best and latest digital experiences."
"Like many in our industry, I have little time to visit my favorite stores. But I truly enjoy giving creatively designed, high-quality and uncommon gifts. I'm a huge fan of sites that showcase undiscovered items and can curate great gifts for me. Even better if they send unique ideas to my inbox. With two young kids at home, shopping online late at night has become a staple of my holiday routine. Some of my current favorites are: Dot & Bo, The Grommett, Fab, YoYo and Uncommon Goods."
On her wishlist: "This is kind of random, but I want an oyster plate. They have these indentations and they're painted beautiful colors and patterns and I have started collecting them. If there's something you particularly love or collect, it makes it really easy for people to buy you gifts."
On a favorite gift she has received: "Last Christmas, my nephew was four and my sister-in-law had this great idea to have him tell the story of Christmas. Of course, it's a wacky story -- it doesn't make any sense and there are multiple animals involved, but she wrote it down verbatim and made it into a children's book and had him illustrate the pages and she went to one of those make-your-own book sites, like Shutterfly. ... It was great, because it was something that he made and we had a great time reading it out loud -- we were laughing and crying. It's something we'll have forever."
On gifting activities: "Every year you get older more people get added to your list of gifts to buy. At first it's your core family, then it's your spouse's family and the kids and friends… I think what everybody really wants over the holidays is to spend time together, so what I'd like to do this year is kind of go old school … and decorate gingerbread houses, but as adults. I think a ready-made gingerbread house is 15 bucks -- something that doesn't cost very much, but it's two hours out of your day and you have a really good time and then you're completely off the hook for all those people."
On his wishlist: "I love innovative technology and am generally an early adopter, but have been hesitant to give up my old school, classic Moleskine notebooks to capture thoughts, ideas, and inspirations. That said, I recently saw the Pencil from FiftyThree (http://www.fiftythree.com/pencil) and am really captivated by the idea of taking notes on my iPad with the traditional feel of a writing instrument. Plus, it just looks cool and definitely has marketer cred. Hoping my wife is reading this. Hint, hint."
On giving: "The gift of a donation to a charity is always something I appreciate, and truly embraces the spirit of the season. If I know that someone has a particular philanthropic passion, I like to make a contribution in their honor, or more broadly donate to a global cause like the fight against cancer."
On gifts for kids: "As the father of an 8-year-old boy, I really appreciate gifts that educate and stimulate his brain ... It's nice just to have simple gifts that we can play together as a family. Classic board games seem to transcend generations, and I love to see my capitalist son go for total domination in Monopoly. Legos are a great creative tool for him to express himself, and I'm continually amazed by the projects he dreams up."