The Art of the Gift- A Guide

The month of May always brings an onslaught of gift giving necessities with Mother’s Day, graduations and June brides. In our family, we even have several May birthdays compounded with Mother’s Day. I always refer to the second week in May, lovingly, of course, as “Hell Week”.

Here are some suggestions I have come across in my online search for mothers, grads, brides and birthdays.




Whether High School or College, I think The Every Girl’s Guide to Life by Maria Menounos is an exceptional gift. Her book is brimming with small the details that we have tried to instill in our daughters, but in that un-nagging, not bitchy, cool-big-sister sort of way.

She is not only a beautiful girl on the outside, but she lives her life from a unique, calm, beautiful center and her inner beauty is just as stunning.

Her advice, tips and ideas are brilliant and savvy for a young woman getting ready to conquer her world.




Since my first home is Texas, I will give a shout out to the King Ranch Saddle Shop for the perfect Texas Grad guy gift. They have an array of gorgeous, quality leather goods in a variety of price ranges. Their luggage is stunning, yet very practical. This would be an awesome gift for a Texas student going out a state. Classic and understated; proud to be a Texan.



If you are not a Texan, first of all, my apologies. Second, I will throw a little support to my island home, Martha’s Vineyard. Vineyard Vines has an amazing on-line catalog with great gift ideas that make shopping a breeze. They have a huge selection of collegiate  ties and tote bags, so your student can fashionably show support for their favorite school or alma mater.



Sure, couples make it so easy by registering for all of the things they think they are going to need. But, when there is that special couple and you want to give that special gift, one word: Tiffany’s.

When Larkin and I registered, we were that typical couple in ‘la la love land’ …clueless. Of course, I was 22 and did not really have a sense yet, as to what my home decor style was going to be. I just knew I wouldn’t be able to tack up posters on the wall anymore.

From one of my husband’s business associates, we received a tall, gorgeous crystal vase. At the time, I couldn’t possibly imagine where I would put it or how I would use it. Did crystal even match papasan chairs?!

Today, I love what that crystal vase represents and I cherish it. When I arrange flowers for that vase, I remember how far we have come. It strikes me that somehow, the person who purchased this vase for us, could foresee that we would eventually make our way. We would be the people who would come to use that gorgeous crystal vase. It seems to say, I believed in you.

Tiffany’s online has a great selection of various price point crystal vases and bowls. Their customer service is just as impeccable as if you had walked through their revolving door, under the Tiffany blue awning. You will find that special gift that tells that special couple: I believe in you.

Mother’s Day

If you are shopping for your mom, be thankful to have a mother to shop for. I have several loved ones in my life who no longer have that blessed opportunity.

Flowers: easy and always my personal favorite because I LOVE flowers. My kids know to have them sent in paper, because for me, arranging them is the gift. I always use 1800Flowers because they have gorgeous variety, they have wonderful customer service and they always kick back a coupon for future purchases.

You can even set up a calendar, inputting dates and addresses so you’ll never miss an occasion again. Here is the DIY tip of the day:  If you have a forgetful significant other, simply go to their website, set up your birthday/anniversary info and add his email address. He will receive a reminder in due fashion with ideas and suggestions. Crisis averted. You’re welcome.


When my daughter, Jordan, became of self-sufficient gift giving age, she always sought out gifts that had a dual, social activist benefit. (Sometimes, I do miss the whole “glittered pasta glued to crap” years.)

Coming from a Catholic school upbringing, which instills social justice, she became adept in finding organizations that would match gifts or donate a portion of purchased items, back to impoverished or struggling communities. Almost all of my gifts from her, come with a card stating that someone, in some far away land is receiving a bag of rice to feed a family. Or, the start-up money to plant a new crop. So my next suggestion is inspired from her. I always say your kids are your biggest educators.

Heart of Haiti is a “Trade, Not Aid” initiative launched by artist and social entrepreneur, Willa Shalit, The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and Macy’s. Already, Heart of Haiti has led to employment of 750 artists in Haiti, providing financial benefits for an estimated 8,500 people in the country.

Each item is a one-of-a-kind design and handmade by a Haitian master artisan from raw materials such as recycled oil drums, wrought iron, papier-mâché and stone. The collection features more than 40 home decor items including quilts, metalwork, ceramics, jewelry and paintings and is made almost entirely from recycled and sustainable items such as old cement bags, cardboard, oil drums and local gommier wood.  Heart of Haiti products are available exclusively online at Macy’ Most items range from $25-$60.


There is an art to finding, purchasing, wrapping and delivering a beautiful gift. If you have a “go to” arsenal, you will never be caught off guard in finding the right gift. But, more than “right”, it should always be meaningful. “The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.”  ~Pierre Corneille, Le Menteur

The added bonus of the above suggestions is that they can all be purchased from home, lying in bed in your pajamas. Just as I am doing right now, prepping for “Hell Week”. I think even Pierre would appreciate my “manner”.


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