A Gift Guide for Any Occasion

*this image is not mine but hopefully Crumbl won't care :)

The #1 thing that I learned from my last boss was how to be better at gifting.  I have never met someone more thoughtful when it comes to giving gifts. He would send gifts for holidays, sympathy, birthdays, congratulations, and sometimes for no reason at all.

Gifting was his thing, and since I was his assistant, it became my thing too. I was the one that often had to select the gift to send, and over the three years I worked for him, I was on the receiving end of many great gifts myself.  

If you ever read The Five Love Languages, you may remember that Receiving Gifts is one of the five. When it comes to our marriage, Brian and I both had this at the bottom of our own personal love language ranking. As a romantic gesture, it's not often the way we choose to show our love. But I think giving a gift can show so much thoughtfulness and attention, so I have tried to personally improve in this area for all of my relationships.

Recently, Brian asked me to send a gift to our commercial realtor since he had been doing a lot of work for us, and I put together a shared note on my iPhone so we could keep a running list of gift ideas. In our real estate business, we work with architects, realtors, bankers, accountants, tenants and others that help us throughout the year. I figured it would be helpful to have this running list, which got me thinking of sharing it on the blog in case it's helpful for anyone else.

Below are my top gift suggestions followed by links to specific things I recommend as gifts based on my personal experience.

My Top Gift Suggestions:

1. A thoughtful, personal, hand-written card will be more meaningful than anything you can buy. I like to keep cards, envelopes, and stamps on hand at all times at home and at work.

2. Keep a note on your phone whenever someone mentions something they like, want, or need that could potentially trigger a gift idea. You'd be surprised by how often you can get an idea out of a random conversation you would never remember if not for writing it down. For example, several months ago during a  conversation with another Chief of Staff at Duke, she made a remark about how much she loves almond croissants. I knew I would never remember this, so I jotted it down in my phone should there ever be an opportunity to surprise her with an almond croissant from a local bakery (maybe on her birthday or if we have a morning meeting together). 

On my 30th birthday, one of my co-workers went by Dunkin Donuts in the afternoon and brought me an iced coffee because she knew I loved them. It was such a simple surprise that made my day and I have not forgotten it! In my college days of driving the beer cart and now as an executive assistant, one of my strengths has always been remembering what people like (e.g. how they take their coffee, what beer they drink, etc.). If you have a bad memory, write these things down!

3. Give Unexpectedly. Use any reason or no reason at all to give a gift.  It can be as simple as "this made me think of you..."

Lower Cost (But Still Amazing!) Gifts

1. A Crumbl Cookie - they come in a cute box and have lots of locations. Also a pun on "Crumbl" makes for cute tags (e.g. "My life would Crumbl without you!" or "Our class would Crumbl without you!" for a teacher gift).

2. You can email or text someone a $10 Starbucks drink gift card; "Drink's on me today!"

3. Ham 'N Goody's Lemon Cookies - My family is obsessed with these famous Lemon Cookies from a Knoxville cafe and they do direct shipping. The almond cakes are good, too.

Best Food/Drink Delivery Options (typically $50-100 price range)

1. Caroline's Cakes  - The seasonal options are great but the classic caramel will always be my fave.

2. Cheryl's Cookies - I think these are a great option if you think kids will share in eating the gift!

3. Dorothy Lane Killer Brownies - I've never had these but I have sent them and they were well-received.

4. Georgetown Cupcakes - One of my boss's go-to options.

5. Garret Popcorn - The first gift my boss ever sent me was a huge tub of popcorn with a Chicago skyline on the tin  since he was from Chicago. I thought it would never get eaten...but then my family devoured it in handfuls, lol!

6. Veuve Cliqoute champagne is the go-to for a very good, mid-range price point champagne gift.

Local to Raleigh, NC/ Triangle Area Food Gifts ($50-100)

1. Charcuterie Board from Raleigh Cheesy.

2. Donovan's Dish Dish to Door Meal Delivery if you want to send a local meal.

3. Ice Cream Sandwiches from Roses Meats & Sweets in Downtown Durham. Stock a Styrofoam cooler with these in each unique flavor for a sweet treat ($7/each). This was a birthday gift from a friend this year and I absolutely loved it! So creative and memorable!

4. Slice Pies in Raleigh will deliver or you can do local pickup.

5. Gift card to your favorite local restaurant is an easy choice.

6. Angus Barn Chocolate Pie or Cheese Crock & Crackers from their Country Store.

Sympathy Gifts ($50-100)

1. Flowers are my top choice for a classic "thinking of you" option

2. Spoonful of Comfort 

Other Gifts for Other Reasons (including higher price points)

1. I think luggage is always a great gift. A high-end leather bag or canvas LLBean tote (monogrammed) will always be put to good use.

2. Yeti cooler

3. Luxurious blanket or throw such as this wool blanket, or one from their favorite sports team (most teams have a "frosty fleece" logo blanket that I love).

4. A gift set from Farmhouse Pottery collection 

5.  Your favorite board game (I recommend Shut the Box or Deluxe Scrabble for nice wooden sets)

6. An advent calendar (such as a "wine a day" in December) during the holidays

7. For kids 8 & under - Young, Wild and Friedman themed-sensory box is always a good choice!

Homemade Gifts

*Pretty packaging can be key. Stock up on pie boxes, cookie boxes, ribbons, and tags.

1. The Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Rolls w/ instructions for baking make for perfect holiday gifts to give friends/neighbors.

2. A "movie night" theme gift with either movie tickets or a streaming gift card or pizza gift card, popcorn, candy, etc

Hopefully this list will be helpful to you if you ever need a gift idea! And if you have anything to add, please comment below because I am always on the lookout for a good gift suggestion!