gift advice

Clothes for gifts?


I saw this great shirt on Eco Manifesto yesterday and decided that it would make a great gift for a guy. Which brings me to the question of do you buy clothes for gifts? I have two answers for this question – no and yes.

My great Aunt Clytie (who is sadly not with us any more) was renowned for buying clothes for me for my birthday. Amazingly she got my size right and more often than not she picked things that weren’t run of the mill, fad clothes. I still have quite a few of the items she bought me and today still get compliments on them – the gorgeous black lace shirt that I wear as a light overshirt, the white satin blouse with beautiful blue metallic flowers (have to see to understand). There was only a rare occasion when Clytie would get something that didn’t quite suit or was a bit “old” for me.

Buying clothes for gifts can be tricky. Style and taste is such a personal thing and it can all go pear shaped when trying to get it right:

Size - Buying the wrong size for starters can be insulting if you get the item too small or too big. Unfortunately even with so called “standard sizes” there can be a huge variance between brands and styles.

Colour – Choosing the right colour for someone else can be a bit of a dilemma even if you get white, because there are some people who honestly can’t wear it well. The same goes for other neutrals including grey, navy blue and brown.

Style – Unless you have impeccable taste and have watched every episode of Trinny and Susannah or been to fashion school you may be stepping on your gift recipient’s toes by buying them that funky short skirt or glittered gold top. People’s perceptions of their body image can vary with reality considerably, so they may not feel like they can show their “chunky thighs” in the skirt you thought would set off their best assets…

As a general rule I prefer not to recommend clothes for gifts. But! They say rules are meant to be broken and I have indeed bought clothes as gifts. So when is it ok to buy clothes for gifts?

My younger cousin Alison is worse than me at trying to control her wardrobe! She is very much up to date with current trends and styles and she wears what she knows suits her style and age and skin tones. By analysing what she wears and what colours she prefers I have been able to purchase clothes that I think she would like. But, I do one thing that I believe should be a rule when giving clothes as gifts - always include the receipt!

So, back to the question of do you buy clothes for gifts? My advice would be to think carefully about it and ask yourself if you are willing to include the receipt which ultimately shows how much you paid for the item? If not, I would recommend giving a gift voucher instead. If you are sending it interstate, ensure they actually have the shop in their city or town! This allows them to buy what they like, when they like in whatever colour and style they like. Hopefully a win-win situation!

Birthday gift

Something for a Mum who has everthing...


Sometimes finding a gift for someone you know well can be tough. Today's gift issue came from Bronwyn of Mackay:

"Tomorrow is my Mother-in-law's birthday and I haven't got a clue as to what to get her. She lives in a rented unit, so she doesn't have a great deal of space. She will be turning 61, so she is pretty well set up. My Mother-in-law is a diabetic, so food (and chocolate) is out of the question. She loves gardening, but doesn't have a garden." Bronwyn, Mackay.

There are a couple of options that come to mind and I bounced these off Bronwyn. Firstly, is the option of flowers. Most women love to receive flowers and birthdays, births, anniversaries, graduation and Christmas are great occasions to give them. Unfortunately, unless they are artificial, their shelf life is limited - but they are a lovely luxury that should be appreciated!

Another option is to give a mini DIY garden. I offer a small version through Hamperific called "Green thumb" that includes a hanging basket with some herbs, gardening gloves and a spade. The gift recipient can pot their plants up and have lovely fresh herbs close to hand. I suggested to Bronwyn she might like to go one step further and purchase two troughs and a selection of herbs for one of them and some pretty flowering plants for the other. Then her Mother-in-law can create her own mini garden to suit her location. And if she ever has to move she can take them with her.

Finally I enquired about the recipient's hobbies, one of which happens to be reading. It would be wonderful to purchase a great read for the recipient, but as once learnt with my uncle, you never always know if they have read the book! So, I suggested a gift voucher from a good quality bookshop. You could also purchase a gift voucher for one of the department stores where they often have the latest releases at discounted prices, but the selection doesn't seem to be as large as a bookshop.

Some people don't like to give gift vouchers as they say they aren't personal enough. In some cases I would agree, but not always. Personally I love gift vouchers because I can find something I like and this gift option suited Bronwyn as she knew she couldn't go wrong with a gift voucher from a bookshop. Team the voucher up with a great card and present with a huge smile!


16th birthday gift ideas

16th birthday, something for special memories?


Different cultures around the world celebrate different birthday milestones. In South America a girl's 15th birthday is usually a grand affair with plenty of tradition thrown in for good measure. Huge cakes that rival weddings, plenty of beautiful gifts and proud parents ready to see their daughter start their journey into "almost" adulthood.

In Australia we tend to make a fuss of the 18th, 21st and then each decade birthday with some traditional gifts such as keys, glasses and the right to vote being given.

Todays gift question came from Tanya* who asks:

"I have a 16 year old daughter, and want to give her a gift experience package for her birthday. What would be a really good gift experience present for her?"

It seems to me that Tanya has already thought long and hard about what to get her daughter for her birthday and has suggested an experience, which is a fantastic idea for a milestone birthday.

Red Balloon Days is an Australian company that specialises in gift experiences. Some potential ideas for a soon to be 16 year old might include:
*a horse riding trip
*hot air balloon ride with breakfast
*laser skirmish session with some friends

They offer plenty of choice and there is something for just about everyone's taste and budget.

Alternatively Tanya could also suggest taking her daughter and a couple of her closest friends out to a fancy restaurant to celebrate. Get them all to dress up in their formal dresses, hire a limo and meet them there. The experience suggests maturity and elegance that most 16 year old girls would love.

*Name changed for privacy

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