People who know me well, know that I love to give gifts when I feel like it, and not for an occasion. I’m not sure if it’s a part of my Chinese/Taiwanese upbringing, but I especially love sharing food or other small things. It is further encouraged when it is reciprocated. My roommate is a regular recipient of many red bean, hot pink, and/or funky things that I encounter, but for the occasions where I have to gift, I often save things that I get from shopping trips and vacations. I then add it to a stockpile for that person. E.g. P’s birthday present was years in the making.
As much as I like to gift, I am not a big fan of presents because I am particular. Luckily, with age, dinners often replace presents and those who gift has been hitting the mark without prompt. If I had to make a wishlist, what would be on my list, or what would I gift if I didn’t have a stockpile?
Image source: respective manufacturers and major retailers.
1) Clarisonic facial cleansing brush It is like Sonicare for your face! This brush makes a difference with consistent use (and you really need to use it for a few weeks to notice the difference) and the right cleanser for your skin. I have the PLUS model, which comes with a body brush head and universal charging cradle (international-compatible), which the cheaper Mia doesn’t have. A minimal price difference if you think about the cost per use. You can adjust the speed and timing of the brush. Sephora has good bundle deals (with other branded skincare products) around the holiday season that can be combined with the annual mid-November Friends and Family 20% event. There are also men-friendly colors.
2) Zingerman’s My UMich alum roommate introduced me to this gourmet food heaven a few years ago. If I ever visit Ann Arbor, MI, Zingerman’s (deli, bakehouse, roadhouse, AND creamery) is on my must-visit list. I love everything from their catalog. It is rare for a drawing-only catalog/website to be so education and salivating, but it is. I recommend the gelato, Il Mongetto tomato sauce, and the Spanish Dark Drinking Cocoa. The Reuben Sandwich kit looks equally appetizing. Some items are cheaper on Amazon, in bulk.
Anything from Whimsy and Spice is a close runner-up.
3) Acqua di Parma Colonia. Classic, intoxicating unisex scent. Absolutely love.
4) Birchbox. Perfect for the product junkie who wants to discover and try new skincare, makeup, and haircare products in generous, to-try sizes. Priced at $10/month or $110/year. My December Birchbox had Blow Up Volumizing Spray (2 thumbs up!), Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint, Serge Lutens L’Eau, and Stila Lip Glaze in Kitten.
5) Tinto Fino wine clubs. I am fortunate to have a great Spanish wine shop steps away. I love almost everything I’ve gotten from there. Their free wine tastings on the weekends are also very helpful.
6) Charbonnel et Walker chocolates. I like the Marc de champagne truffles and rose/violet creams. While it is cheaper in the UK, you can find them at Saks, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, etc. Pretty packaging.
7) Sprüngli Luxemburgerli. As I mentioned before, these relatives of the macaron are only available in Switzerland, which makes it an even more meaningful gift. If you are traveling through the major cities via rail, it is hard to avoid. I prefer Luxemburgerli over macarons. Sprüngli’s truffle chocolates are also worth your while (and this is coming from someone who is not a fan of chocolate).
8) Savon de Marseille. Because you always need hand soap. Wouldn’t you rather it be pretty and French?
9) Antonio Ben Chimol leather wrap bracelet. The best leather wrap bracelet I have ever seen, with a magnetic closure. I had one in tan leather, from Copenhagen and lost it in a cab. I still need to replace it.
11) Fresh Citron de Vigne scent. Crisp and refreshing, like bubbly champagne. It was on my wishlist for a while and unexpectedly got the parfum/body wash/lotion as a birthday gift.
12) Hermes Clic H enamel bracelet. You’ve been brainwashed to expect the ubiquitous turquoise blue box, but great things also come in orange boxes. A classic statement piece. At least they don’t have price hikes, like Chanel, right?
14) Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Rose. My favorite lip treatment with SPF15 and a tint of color.
16) Flickr subscription. My upload site of choice. Unlimited storage for photos and videos, high res, reliable, privacy options, and access to original files.
17) Mast Brothers chocolate bars. Previously mentioned here and here. Not the cheapest chocolate on the block, but it sure is the best quality. I also love supporting local businesses. My mother loves dark chocolate so I gifted a bunch of these. The Fleur de Sel is one of my favorites. The packaging is irresistible. Purchase directly to avoid exorbitant overcharging (UES Eli’s, I’m looking at you).
18) Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner. This is an award-winning eyeliner for a reason. I use BB’s Ultra Fine Eyeliner brush to apply. I rarely use any other eyeliner; even my tomboy bff uses it. Smooth, tight application and smudge-free. As long as you cap it tightly, it will last a while. We do think that the black is a little too harsh. I like and have used sepia, caviar, and black plum.
19) Shiseido eyelash curler. I extolled the virtues of the Shu Uemura eyelash curler only a few years ago. There was an opportunity to try Shiseido’s eyelash curler and I ended up loving it 1000x more. It fits the shape of my eye better AND replacement pads are also readily available. Shu is harder to buy now since they’ve exited from U.S. retail, save for e-commerce. I also read that Shu purposely doesn’t sell replacement pads because they insist that the hardware needs to be replaced periodically since it changes shape over time. I believe that from experience and will be replacing my Shiseido curler soon.
20) Ork Posters. Select your city. While I like most of Ork’s cities, I will admit I’m not a huge fan of the Manhattan print and opted for Jim Datz’s interpretation (which is 25% off through 12/31/10) instead. And if you’re like me, gifting a framed print is also more useful than an unframed one, as long as you know the recipient’s color scheme. It takes me years to get around to locating a frame, etc. In the same vein, I also love Bold and Noble’s UK and Ireland and Famille Summerbelle paper cut city maps.
21) Clare Vivier. Let’s see, I only mentioned CV four times on my blog. This is a perfect gift for anyone who loves basic, logo-less, quality leather products that are locally made and have a certain je nais se quoi. I love La Trop, the messenger bag, clutches, and am on the look out for the new Sac Bretelle. Prices have gone up since my first Trop. CV’s been getting more buzz and is selling to Steven Alan, Theory, and Japan (‘nough said).
22) MAC makeup brushes. 90% of my brushes are from MAC. I was going to buy a MAC holiday brush set a few years ago and a makeup artist friend steered me clear of them, saying that MAC doesn’t use the best quality of hair for the travel sets. Needless to say, she was right. Don’t write off any brand’s makeup brush until you’ve done your research and tried the full-size version! I use 187, 188, 195, 217, and 242 the most. Good brushes make a huge difference.