Jameson: Gift ideas for holiday celebrations


I hate to break this to you, but it's almost Thanksgiving -- the kick-off for six weeks during which we must go everywhere bearing gifts.

Unless we forget to, and trigger an attack of gift panic, characterized by palpitations, uncontrollable sweating and fast breathing. Symptoms come on suddenly when you don't bring a gift but were supposed to.

This weekend I actually started looking ahead, which was unusual for me. I normally don't see much beyond the end of my own short-changed nose. Just ask my mother. What got me thinking ahead was looking back and asking what in holiday seasons past had brought me more stress than joy?

High on the list, after guilt from eating a pound of chocolates in two days -- I am positively helpless before nuts and chews -- was gift panic, that I-am-not-fit-for-society feeling that strikes (along with symptoms described above) when you pull up to a party, and remember, "Oh (fill in your expletive of choice), I don't have a hostess gift."

If you're lucky this hits you moments before it's too late. You dash to a store, a scrambling, over-dressed fool, then wrap a non-thoughtful gift on your backseat.

Gift panic also hits, say, when you're on the way to your hair appointment during the last two weeks of December and realize you haven't brought a wrapped something for your stylist. (Mine definitely deserves a gift for what she can do with my hair, which is as unruly as a juvenile detention center.)

I have actually rescheduled hair appointments to avoid this awkward circumstance. And, I admit, that's pathetic.

So this week, I got to thinking, which sounds a lot like loose change tumbling in the dryer: What if I got a bunch of grab-and-go gifts right now? Then I could actually move through the season with aplomb and grace. (Stop laughing. We all have dreams.)

Which brings me to this column's actual point, which I will get to if you wait long enough.

As long as I am thinking up the perfect, thoughtful, one-size-fits-all gift for hostesses, teachers, hairdressers, dog groomers, colleagues, neighbors and that special addictions counselor in your life, why not let me do the thinking for both of us? I'll take the hit, and we'll keep the collective brain damage to a minimum.

I'll start with these four words: BUY NOW IN BULK. Pick one signature gift, get a bunch, wrap them, and put them in a festive pile by the door to grab as you go.

Then, when the night comes -- and it will -- when you're running late for a holiday party, and you can't find your sparkly chandelier earrings, or the holiday stilettos your daughter, who could be from age 4 to 24 (It doesn't end), has borrowed, and you're trying to get your eyelashes on so fast you look as if you've already had too much party punch, at least the hostess gift will be in hand.

Here are a few of my favorite things:

Potted amaryllis bulbs. Though it seems weird to show up with a gift that looks like a large onion in a pot of dirt, amaryllises put on a spectacular show all winter. Bring them to your host at Thanksgiving, and by Christmas they will be well on their way to producing huge, firework-like blossoms that will last through Valentine's Day. Plus, anyone can grow them. Even I have. Though they come in many colors, for holiday gifts, I like Monaco amaryllis, cherry red with a white center. I buy them through Colorblends.com, a bulb wholesaler. You can get six Monaco bulbs for $59. tinyurl.com/mwqxgrv.

Cocktail napkins. I use my cotton cocktail napkins from Hen House Linens (www.henhouselinens.com) weekly. When guests come over, it's nice to hand them a drink with a crisp cloth cocktail napkin, instead of one that turns into a soggy paper wad, like the used Kleenex from a teenage girl stood up for prom. Hen House sells 10-inch-quare napkins in sets of six for $30, but if you enter MarniHoliday as a promotion code between now and Dec. 24, you can get 25 percent off (so the cost is $22.50) on the following holiday patterns: Chevron Holiday, Devine Scarlet, Linked Up Ivy, Grand Fleur Gold and Garden Gate Licorices. Go to tinyurl.com/kzgwn85.

Home fragrance. I am snooty about fragrance. I love a nicely scented home, but cheap air fresheners or candles can be cloying. Plus, anything that smells like vanilla makes me run for an air-sickness bag. But I have found that Thymes gets the notes just right.

During the holidays, my home fragrance of choice is Frasier Fir. Votive candles are $12.50 each, and a larger Frasier Fir Candle is $28. But if you shop online at www.thymes.com or call 1-800-366-4071 and use promotion code MarniHoliday, you will receive 25 percent off the larger candle now through Dec. 24.

Cheese knife or coffee spoons. I am a fan of small, usable hostess gifts that don't hog a lot of space, yet are delightful touches in a home. A well-crafted cheese knife or a set of demitasse spoons suits the occasion. The Maxfield Demitasse Spoons from Pottery Barn are good looking.

tinyurl.com/lrc3xbg. A set of four is $24.

Sure, you can grab a bottle of wine or a box of truffles, but I prefer non-fattening, non-alcoholic gifts so I won't contribute to anyone doing anything regrettable. Now go and start the season right.

Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of "House of Havoc" and "The House Always Wins" (Da Capo Press). Contact her through www.marnijameson.com.

Marni Jameson

Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press)
Last modified: November 14, 2014
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published without permissions. Links are encouraged.