Finding the perfect gift for those special people on your list can be as stressful as scoring a parking space at your local mall. That’s why we spoke to a few tastemakers for their unique tips on how to shop strategically and thoughtfully. "Gifting is a way to communicate, and connect on a deeper level,” says gifting expert Simone LeBlanc, whose eponymous company creates specialty gift boxes. "Think about the backstory of your gift, and find something that has a personal meaning.” With that in mind, check out a few more hints from the pros and then get ready to fill your cart!
Instead of buying the first gift you see on sale, "start a Pinterest board and begin collecting ideas for your loved ones. Create a unique board for each individual," says N.Y.C. accessories designer Joey Wolffer. Consider pinning items for a few days and then see what strikes you the most before dragging it into the shopping cart.
Seek a Second Opinion
Don't be afraid to crowdsource. Ask mutual friends and family for their opinions if you’re totally stumped by someone on your list. "You’ll usually hit the mark this way. If you give with heart and intention, it will resonate. People feel that," says LeBlanc.
Present with Panache
Another way to really demonstrate a personal touch? You can make a gift feel really thoughtful through the wrapping, suggests LeBlanc. Think about accessorizing the wrap beyond the typical ribbon, "I love using some local foliage, like pine and berries as a topper. It feels really special and elevates the present," says LeBlanc.
Deconstruct Your Gift
Instead of delivering one big gift, consider giving ingredients to a delicious family recipe. LeBlanc recommends compiling food ingredients into a beautiful ceramic bowl; you can even include a bottle of wine and a beautiful bundle of dried herbs.
Give an "Experience"
Instead of giving another sweater, consider something outside the box. "Invest in an experience, like a wine tasting or a flower arranging class, for you and your loved ones,” says N.Y.C fashion designer Rebecca Taylor. The best gift she ever received, she says, was “a surprise day off from my husband. He planned a day full of fun activities for me and the family." If you know someone who may need some relaxation, you can also create a pampering kit: Fill a box with bath salts, hand cream and some chocolates (LeBlanc creates a stunning version called the Jane Box, $150; simoneleblanc.com.)
Start Early for Next Year
To lessen the stress in 2016, think about creating a gifting closet. "I'll buy personal items for loved ones when I travel throughout the year, and will save them until the holidays," says Wolffer.