Paper Source Friends and Family Event

Notification of the Paper Source Friends and Family Sale appeared in my inbox this week. Having a store in my neighborhood makes this one of my go-to resources for wrapping, creative projects and little gift items – especially when I’m pushed for time – so I opened the email…

The offer is 20% off everything at Paper Source online – hooray! – which prompted me to take a look at what’s new. The weather has turned here in Chicago and it certainly feels more autumnal, so I was thinking deep earthy tones, leaves and woodland creatures, and of course Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Below are 10 of my favorite fall finds from the store, to inspire you for the season ahead.

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7 steps to becoming a great gift giver

Want to impress your friends, thrill your family, and wow your colleagues? Giving gifts that are thoughtful and ‘just right’ is sure to get you noticed. I’m going to share with you 7 steps to becoming a great gift giver.

1 – Start with the questions
You need to begin by gathering some information about your gift recipient. Start by answering these questions to determine a profile of the receiver:

– What does this person like? – Running, lattes, Elvis?

– What is their home like? – Do they have stacks of books around, are they a minimalist, does their kitchen support a huge range? (I always get such great insight from visiting people’s homes.)

– What is their life philosophy? – Are they an avid yoga student, is their life lived in the fast lane, are they a vegan?

2 – Check the milestones

Is this a special birthday? You then need to determine if you should acknowledge it. – Are they shouting about turning 30 or trying to pretend 40 is not around the corner?

3 – Put the gray cells to work

Next you want to brainstorm some ideas using the above information. I find a cup of tea in a coffee shop helps me to feel relaxed and creative. Browsing through magazines can be productive too. (Later I will share with you some of my go-to prompts for coming up with terrific gifts.)

4 – Determine the short list

Have a short list of places to shop based upon time available/your lifestyle. – Do you prefer to support your neighborhood stores, do you find it easier to get everything from one big store, or is online shopping the only thing you have time for? And then schedule some time to shop. We all have busy lifestyles these days so you do need to allow time to shop, otherwise this task becomes another stressor and you will end up fudging the gift in the end.

5 – Don’t forget a Plan B 

Start the process early enough to allow time in case your first foray does not bear fruit. This cannot be emphasized enough.

6 – It’s a wrap

You also need to factor in picking up gift wrap, so you really do the gift justice. Your style may be understated, but you don’t want to be running into your local drugstore late the night before and have no real choice. Also, if you’re not great at paper wrapping, know your limitations and use a gift bag. And don’t stop there. Adding a gift tag or enclosure card with a handwritten personalized note – perhaps something referring to the present – can really make the gift seem special. Carefully executed presentation sets the whole tone for how the gift will be received. (Much more on this topic later…)

7 – Timing is everything

Nothing is worse than a late gift, it just doesn’t make anyone think that they’re important to you. If you can’t deliver something on time yourself, think about having a gift delivered – always a nice option. There are also plenty of calendar reminder options to prompt you ahead of time, so you’re not caught out: Paperless Post and Minted are two sites that I like.

Over the coming weeks and months I look forward to sharing more ideas for taking the pain out of gift giving.




What makes a good gift giver?

What does Sofia Coppola think she’s exceptionally good at? Gift giving. I came across this statement while browsing a recent copy of Marie Claire. It made me contemplate what makes a good gift giver.

Sofia Coppola with highlights

Paying attention is at the core of being a good gift giver. Sound observation and listening skills are essential in determining what gift might best be appreciated by the recipient. What products does a person use? What do they covet?

Taking this one step further, a successful gift giver seeks to understand what makes a person tick. Tapping into someone’s inner workings gives yet more insight to work with. What do you know about their lifestyle, personality, values, aesthetic style, etc?

Using this information a good gift giver comes up with an idea, but then takes it from ordinary to special. If someone likes candles they don’t settle for just another candle (however beautiful and expensive it is). Instead they will pick out one bearing the recipient’s favorite scent or select a creative candle such as a fireplace candle, something that really speaks to the individual.

A consistently excellent gift giver really enjoys the search. They follow through on their ideas with tenacity, pursuing all avenues until they find that elusive special something.

Finally, an exceptional gift giver has the ability to bring a little magic. They have the desire to truly delight and constantly seek to exceed expectation with imaginative or meticulous presentation.

Watch out for the upcoming post on how to be a good gift giver.


Celebrating our 5th Anniversary

Presents Prose Politesse was established 5 years ago today, in 2012. And while I’ve not posted anywhere near consistently (mostly taking a long on-off sabbatical from blogging to have three children), gift giving and sending cards have remained my passion. I believe in the premise that giving is the key to a fulfilling life.

Throughout this time I’ve still been spending inordinate amounts of time seeking out the perfect presents, carefully selecting the right words to share, and developing my own brand of etiquette around giving. As you follow along you’ll come to realize that I like to do things ‘properly’ (one should always be gracious), but with a modern twist. – I take pleasure in sending written thank you notes, but I also love to be imaginative and embrace the new opportunities that the digital era offers. I believe there really is no one right way anymore. But this only makes navigating ‘correct’ manners more difficult. Whereas before you could mail a handwritten thank you card and know that you were fulfilling expectations and sharing your gratitude in the only acceptable format, nowadays you’re afflicted with indecision as to whether a formal note is over-the-top for that small token or if an e-card is just too casual.

As I continue to take pleasure in what amounts to not just a hobby but a way of life, I plan to share those ideas for gifts and to offer suggestions for the words that sometimes allude us. Along the way I will continue to evolve my own brand of politesse. I hope you will join me here and that I inspire you in your giving.