Secrets of Gracious Holiday Giving

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A great gift, given in a way that tells the recipient how much he or she is valued, respected and wished well, is the essence of the holiday spirit. Decades ago, when the rhythm of life seemed more sedate, gift-givers probably had more time to invest in considering a gift and shopping for it. Today’s hectic pace, however, can make gift giving a challenge, even for the most dedicated giver.

You can recapture the grace and thoughtfulness of a bygone era this holiday season with a few tips from the gift experts at Swiss Colony:

* Food is a classic holiday gift. It can be personal (such as the recipient’s favorite holiday cookies), or broad enough in appeal to satisfy a group with varying tastes (such as a box of chocolates for a family or office mates). “People love food gifts at the holidays because they’re timely, seasonal and can be shared with family and friends,” says Becky Henke, vice president of Swiss Colony’s food division. “Classic holiday goodies and nostalgic treats are appreciated because of the thought and the gift itself.”

* A gift is a warm and touching way to say “thank you.” The holidays are a time for celebration, but also to express gratitude – to those you love and also to those with whom you enjoy a professional relationship, whether it’s the babysitter or a client. Thank-you gifts should be planned in advance to allow yourself plenty of time to find just the right, thoughtful gift. Tailor your thank-you gift according to the relationship you share with the recipient. Something homemade might delight your child’s teacher, while a business colleague would appreciate something light-hearted and surefire, like Melting Snowman cookies.

* Play the thoughtful host and ensure your guest room is well stocked for the holidays. In addition to all the necessities, don’t overlook the niceties, which should include a modest yet cherished token that guests can enjoy while they visit, or take with them when they depart. Decades ago, Grandma might have set a decorative tin, filled with homemade cookies, in the guest room for visitors to enjoy throughout their stay. Modern hosts might present some indulgent butter toffee for guests to savor.

* Be a helpful guest. Grandma would never have thought of arriving at a party empty handed during the holidays. You can improve upon that classic thoughtfulness by sending food gifts ahead of time, rather than bombarding your host with armloads of stuff when you walk through the door. A dramatic red velvet cake will be warmly welcomed as a kind treat for your hosts and their family to enjoy while they prepare for their party. And they’ll anticipate your visit all the more as they enjoy the fruits of your thoughtfulness.

* Teach children the joys of giving. Involve children in your holiday gift-giving preparations, from writing the shopping list to wrapping and presenting presents. Encourage them to remember by name those who deserve special thanks at the holidays, from neighbors and babysitters to grandparents and teachers. Teaching children about giving reminds them there’s more to the holidays than just getting presents themselves.

“A food gift is welcome any time of the year, but never more so than during the holidays,” Henke says. “Not only does the gift itself delight with its flavor and sense of indulgence, the timeless thoughtfulness of gracious giving will leave the recipient with warm memories long after the holidays are over for another year.”

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