How to Give Great Gifts

by Samantha Plotner

Your best friend could smell
like Beyoncé… Think about it.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” The holiday season is officially here, which means between papers and exams you also need to think about who you will be getting gifts for this year. Think about what the people on your list like−everything from a favorite brand to the TV show they’re obsessed with. Or, play on inside jokes. You can find something that relates to almost anything somewhere in the city, or on the Internet.

Puzzled? It’s hard to go wrong if you get someone something that they want but would never buy for themselves. Another variation is buying them a fancier version of something they use regularly. Does your mom burn through candles? Buy her an extra nice one. Your best friend an aspiring bartender? Get her a quality cocktail shaker. Also in this category are simple extravagances like cashmere socks or fancy coffee.

Also, remember: when on your gift search pressure can be your worst enemy. Take the time to browse at a few different stores if you can. Sometimes just browsing can lead you to the perfect gift. Also don’t buy into the idea that you need to spend a lot of money to make a good gift. A $15 gift with thought always beats something you bought for $100 in a panic (…maybe not always, but you get the idea).

Where to Look:

Strand: Generally books are a pretty easy gift, and Strand is the place to find them. However it also is a great place to find other small gifts. Check out the section on the first floor behind the stairs that’s full of greeting cards, cute office supplies, and other potential stocking stuffers.

Or maybe you’re shopping
for a Tina Fey fan?

Sephora: When in doubt, spoil people. Makeup can be a hard sell but it can be prove a great gift if you know someone’s taste. But stick to products like eye shadow that aren’t as dependent on skin tone. No one wants foundation that’s the wrong shade. Nice lotion is also a pretty safe bet. Join the rewards program and you could nab a gift for yourself too.

BookMarc: Have a fashion lover on your list? Head down to this fashion bookstore on Bleeker Street that is owned by designer Marc Jacobs. This store is filled with lower cost ($5-$50) items from key chains to bags stamped with the Marc Jacobs logo. Looking for something more high brow? Nearly the entire block is filled with assorted Marc Jacobs boutiques.

NBC Store: If you have a hardcore TV fan on your list this store is a must. This store has merchandise from the whole NBC family of networks which includes NBC, Bravo, and USA.

Henri Bendel: This Fifth Avenue classic is a high end store, but look carefully and you’ll find things within a student budget (such as the $15 travel candles and $30 bangle bracelets). The staff also treats you like royalty and will wrap your gift beautifully, even if all you’re buying is the $15 candle.

Sur La Table or Williams and Sonoma: Either store offers great options for the foodie in your life. Sur La Table also offers a wide assortment of gadgets and tools. Williams and Sonoma offers more high end recipe starters like braising sauces and spices.

Paper Source: This craft store is always an easy place to find the perfect card but it can also prove a place to find quirky small gifts. Superman aprons, “shit list” post it notes, and craft kits are just a few of the things you’ll find.

Samantha Plotner is a senior at Barnard and Senior Editor of The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of Hip Hop n More and Just Jared.

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