I have a strict “no crap” policy when it comes to gift giving—meaning if something isn’t going to add value or enjoyment to the giftee I consider it crap.
I think we all think like this, however around the holiday season, when you have so many gifts to purchase, it can be challenging to find gifts that are meaningful to every person on your list.
Since I make a living shopping for other people I thought you might enjoy a few tips on how to find the perfect gift for anyone on your list.

Find the Perfect Gift

Get out of your own head.  Remember, the gift is not for you so shop from the perspective of the person you are giving it to. Think about their personality, how they act, and how they want to be perceived.
Ask for help! A good sales person knows the ins and outs of what they sell and can help you determine what would be a good fit for the person on your list. When in doubt, remember to ask.
Personalize It. Consider personalizing what would otherwise be an ordinary gift. Personalize a bottle of wine with a customized label or send chocolate shaped like something they love.
Dress to Impress. Package your gift with thought. Sometimes the way you wrap a gift card can make it more fun and unique. Wrap a Crate & Barrel gift card in a cool measuring cup. Or tape money on the back of a photo in a great picture frame.
Be excited. If you’re not excited about the gift (not the fact you get to cross someone off the list) it’s not the right gift. I cannot tell you how import this one is!
Happy shopping!

The gift of an experience

Create memories: Present requires your presence

The Post and Courier
Friday, December 11, 2009
As you shop this holiday season, chances are you’re thinking of gifts that can be wrapped.
But your loved ones may be just as happy, or happier, to receive a gift that is an experience.
In fact, a study released earlier this year found that money spent on experiences can make a person happier than money spent on material items. Participants in the study conducted at San Francisco State University indicated that experiential purchases represented money better spent and brought more happiness.
Authors Ryan Howell and Graham Hill said part of the reason is experiences can create a sense of relatedness to others. With the social interaction inherent in most experiences, people are fulfilling their need for social bonding. Participants also indicated that experiences made them feel more alive.
While a material gift soon may lose its sheen, an experience could create memories that last a lifetime.
Here are some suggestions for the female friends and family members on your shopping list. Purchase an experience for her or for the two of you so you can make new memories together.
For the creative type



Jean Morgan (from left), Gia Greene, Elise Earhardt, Isbell Barnes, Ashley Utsey, Star Carr, Judy Bilton and Lane Irick paing “Blue Crab” at Bottles ‘n Brushes.

Bottles ‘n Brushes provides paint, a 16-by-20 canvas and a local artist to lead participants step-by-step in creating their own masterpieces. Wine and beer are for sale at the Mount Pleasant studio, or you can bring your own. Cost: $35 to $45 for two to three hours. For more info: 345-7365 or www.bottlesnbrushes.com.
Beginning to advanced potters can hone their pot-throwing skills during group classes at Fire & Earth Fine Pottery in West Ashley. Each class meets 7-9 p.m. once a week for eight weeks. Includes 25 pounds of clay, instruction on the wheel, and glazing and firing. Cost: $200. Private lessons are available. For more info: 766-2776 or www.fireandearthpottery.com.
For the nature lover



A woman stops to watch a dolphin and a white egret during a kayaking tour in Folly Creek with Coastal Expeditions.

A kayak tour can take paddlers into the habitats of dolphins, bald eagles, loggerhead sea turtles, manatees and alligators. Coastal Expeditions’ guided tours last from three hours to multiple days, and explore creeks, rivers, swamps, barrier islands, abandoned rice canals or the Morris Island lighthouse. Cost: $58 for half-day tour, $88 for full day. For more info: 884-7684 or www.coastalexpeditions.com.
Coastal Expeditions also provides a ferry to the beautiful and serene Bull’s Island, a great place to explore and have a picnic. The island is part of the 64,000-acre Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Cost: $30 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under. For a family of five or more, one child rides for free.
Get more out of the out of doors by hiking with a professional naturalist. Nature Adventure Outfitters offers several guided hikes in the Francis Marion National Forest. The trails range from one to five miles and include swamps, wetlands, Native American ruins, a plantation and plenty of flora and fauna. For most trails, the cost is $30 for ages 14 and up, $20 for 13 and under. Info: 568-3222 or www.natureadventuresoutfitters.com. Note: Nature Adventure Outfitters also offers guided kayaking and canoeing trips and holds several multiple-day women’s retreats each year in North Carolina and South Carolina. Last year, the retreats cost $595.
For the foodie



A cooking class at Charleston Cooks! teaches participants how to make spinach ravioli.

If she’s a Betty Crocker or wishes she could be, consider a cooking class. Charleston Cooks! offers both demonstration and participation classes. Upcoming themes include: Taste of the Lowcountry, Fresh Ideas for Dinner, Kitchen Fundamentals 1: From Stocks to Soup to Sauce, Essential Knife Skills Workshop, Cozy Comfort Foods and Chili Festival. Cost: starts at $25. For more info: 722-1212 or www.mavericksouthernkitchens.com.
If she loves to eat (or drink), she may be interested in one of the many experiences possible during the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival, which takes place March 4-7. New events this year include a Wadmalaw Farm-to-Table Excursion presented by JMC Charleston,
which includes visits to the Charleston Tea Plantation, Irvin-House Vineyards and Thackery Farms. Another choice is the Lowcountry Gospel Brunch held in Marion Square. Cost: varies. The Farm-to-Table excursion is $200, the Lowcountry Brunch is $60 and Grand Weekend Passes are $420 or $695. For more info: charlestonwineandfood.com.
For the girly girl



A client receives a massage at Studio Bliss Spa and boutique in West Ashley.

Treat her to a massage, the ultimate indulgence. The Simple Bliss Massage at Studio Bliss Spa and Boutique uses a combination of techniques, deep-penetration lotions and oils, and promises to whisk away the aches and worries of everyday life. The West Ashley day spa also offers a Double Bliss Massage, complete with a fireplace, aromatic candles, music and wine or champagne. Cost: Varies depending on the length and type of massage. A 30-minute Simple Bliss Massage is $50. A 60-minute Double Bliss Massage is $150. For more info: 637-4478 or studioblissspa.com.
Style-conscious women may appreciate some help with their wardrobes. Charleston Style Concierge offers various packages that can include a personalized style assessment and wardrobe plan, closet edits to figure out which clothes work for the individual, personal shopping trips, styling sessions and even unlimited style assistant through e-mail. For more info including cost: 323-2466 or www.charlestonstyleconcierge.com.
For Sporty Spice



Gail McManus holds a cobia she caught while fishing near Beaufort on a chartered guide trip with Capt. John Irwin of The Charleston Angler.

Help her reel in a big one with a fishing charter. The Charleston Angler offers fly-fishing and light tackle charters complete with rods, reels, bait, tackle and all required safety equipment. Depending on the season, the guides may target redfish, sea trout, flounder, Spanish mackerel, tarpon, sharks, spadefish or jacks. Cost: starts at $400 for four hours and up to two people on a flats boat or $500 for four hours and up to four people on a bay boat. For more info: 571-3899 or www.thecharlestonangler.com.
The Medical University of South Carolina offers a triathlon training program for all fitness levels. The six-week program shows participants skills for cycling, running and swimming and how to transition between events; provides nutrition tips; and includes entry in the indoor Wellness Center MUSCMAN Triathlon Sprint Event and a T-shirt. Wellness Center members and nonmembers welcome. Fee includes temporary gym membership. For more info including costs: 792-4141 or www.musc.edu/hsc.

Reach Kristen Hankla at khankla@postandcourier.com.

1.    Give your Mom the gift of time. Let her invest in herself by creating a block of time to spend editing her closet. A closet edit  is therapeutic and will help your Mom feel more confident and less stressed. Start by eliminating your Mom’s distractions for at least three hours. Next, give her the tools she needs to enjoy her closet edit such as candles, a glass (or bottle depending on the size of the closet) of wine, pad to take notes about the wardrobe pieces she needs, and a full length mirror. Your Mom will emerge from the closet a new woman with an organized and true sense of personal style. 


2.    Help your Mom create a look book After her closet edit, she will have a renewed sense of new and different outfits to choose from. Take a picture of each outfit (don’t forget to add accessories) to help your Mom get dressed quickly and easily each morning. Create a book for her to keep in her closet that has pictures of at least twenty outfits she can easily throw on each morning. The next time she is running late she can reference the look book for an outfit she knows looks great and makes her feel confident.


3.    Create a relaxation day for your Mom. Purchase her favorite style magazines and create a style library she can read while relaxing on the beach or at the spa. She can jump start her style simply by getting inspiration from magazines. It doesn’t take a lot of money to invest in your personal style, just good information so you can tweak what you already have.


4.    Show your Mom how she has inspired you to become a confident and successful woman. Make a list of all the ways her actions have influenced who you are and the impact you make on the world. Include this list in the card you give her. It will have more meaning than the saying Hallmark thought of.


5.    Purchase a gift certificate to her favorite boutique and schedule a time for her to have some fun  shopping. Encourage your Mom to bring the notes she made during her closet edit with her. Her notes will direct her to wardrobe pieces or accessories that will help her develop a versatile wardrobe that works lifestyle.


Let Charleston Style Concierge create the perfect gift for your Mom with one of our style services. Contact us at 843.323.2466 for great ideas of how to personalize a style experience for your Mom. Gift Certificates are available.

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