Some gifts fall into the love-it-later category
Have you ever said “thank you” through clenched teeth? The gift in that nicely wrapped box was so not what you wanted: comfy clothes instead of designer duds, or a kitchen gadget instead of a shiny piece of jewelry.
Sometimes, though, the best gifts are the ones you use, and, frankly, most of us probably wear hoodies more than haute couture.
With a closet full of beautiful boots and gravity-defying heels, flat-foot, furry Uggs weren't at the top of celebrity stylist-designer Rachel Zoe's shopping list. They were OK for other people — she might even have suggested them — but she didn't see them fitting into her closet until someone gave her a pair.
“Once you put them on, you can't go back,” Zoe says. “In my house, it's now the family at-home shoe. I wear them all the time. My son has 10 pairs and my husband has 10 pairs.”
Bradford Shellhammer, founder of Fab.com, which sells unusual items like canvas carryalls screen-printed with images of designer handbags, says gifts fit into three categories: the things everyone knows you want, the bad surprises and the amazing things that make you wonder, “How did I live without it?”
A. Mitra Morgan, founder and chief curator of decorative home-goods website Joss & Main, can't imagine her busy life without the wallet-phone case wristlet her mother gave her last year.
Morgan has almost unlimited access to the pretty things on so many gift lists. Her mother, however, thought her daily necessities were too scattered. She didn't know it at the time, Morgan admits, but mom was right.
Morgan received another love-it-later gift, this one from her husband. He gave her flat-bottomed pizza scissors.
“Coming from my husband, this was at the level of receiving a vacuum. I thought, ‘Really, this is what we've come to?'” Morgan says. “But it's awesome!”
Christine Frietchen, a shopping expert who is advising TJ Maxx and Marshall's this year on their gift-giving programs, says a gift is something you wouldn't get for yourself. And the best way to know you've given a successful gift, she says, is if the receiver becomes an evangelist for it.
Adam Glassman, creative director at O, The Oprah magazine, was never at risk of buying the Patagonia fleece sweatpants his brother got for him a few years ago. “Never in my life did I think I'd need sweatpants, but I live in them,” he gushes. “When I come home from work, they are my go-to item. I wear them more than any other clothes in my closet.”
The only gift he might treasure more is the Eddie Bauer silk long johns his other brother gave him, something else he didn't think he needed or wanted.
“Where was the Tom Ford, the Gucci?” Glassman says with a laugh.
But after a few winters of layering the long johns under his more fashionable pieces, he's now buying them as gifts for other people.
Shellhammer says friends and family can't ask for the items offered on Fab.com because the website sells things people don't know exist. Items such as a shower curtain with a map of Paris (what enthusiastic traveler wouldn't want one?) or a pug T-shirt for your favorite dog lover. (Shellhammer predicts the Mountain Pug Tee will be a top seller this season. The entire shirt becomes the face of a pug, wrinkles, jowls and all.)
And Shellhammer says it's OK to be playful and show a little sense of humor when giving a gift. You'd be surprised how many positive comments the website has received about a hedgehog dish brush, he says. “It just gives you that crack of a smile.”
Brian Berger says the Yumaki toothbrush his business partner gave him is a present he'll always remember — and appreciate. And, it's something he uses every day.
His partner was trying to make a point as he and Berger recently launched a men's undergarment and socks business called Mack Weldon that also is courting customers with the idea of “elevated basics,” Berger explains.
Some other gift ideas from the experts:
• Kitchen knives.
• Comfortable earbuds.
• Colorful tights and leggings.
• Berry bowls.
• Miniature flashlights that fit in pockets and purses.
• Pretty soaps.
• Personalized tote bags.
A lot of people do skimp on themselves, especially in a season where they are spending so much money, so an upgrade of something mundane to luxurious — or at least more fun — can be a very thoughtful gift, says gift adviser Frietchen.
“Have you ever had a really nice hairdryer, a really good dryer? You think a hairdryer is a hairdryer until you have a good one in your hand. It can change your life,” Frietchen says.
Samantha Critchell is an Associated Press fashion writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- LaBar: Future of Rusev in WWE critical
- Steelers’ defense unfazed by noise, believes in potential
- Starkey: NHL playoffs suddenly sublime
- Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto works to smooth path for business ties with Cuba
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Padres, May 29, 2015
- Dormont man missing since Wednesday found dead at Station Square
- Overhaul possible for West Mifflin’s Century III Mall
- Greensburg train station earns honor from Pittsburgh foundation
- Weak first-quarter economic report anticipated
- Trib Cup: Greensburg Central Catholic celebrates WPIAL title
- Gorman: Team Dugan gets gold, like a champ