Val's View: My 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

Posted on 29 November 2021

Is it better to give than receive? Personally, I get satisfaction from both. Even if you have someone in your life who says they don’t want anything, you can still spark joy for both of you with a heartfelt gift. It’s the thought that counts right?

We have all gotten things that felt awkward or unnecessary, but the distinction between a gift borne from guilt and something truly thoughtful is that small attention to detail that can bring you closer to the recipient. I like to give and receive small, unexpected gestures all year long, but the holidays are a truly special time to show gratitude through presents.

Pleasure Versus Treasure

I am at a place where experience has more value than objects. Don’t get me wrong- I’m not a minimalist, I just love the feeling I get from discovering and acquiring knowledge of the unknown.

It is not about the value of a gift, it's about what feeling it evokes. You can get along with less, but treating yourself and others is OK too. Just remember that you can’t take it with you, although the Egyptian pharaohs tried.

That reminds me of an impromptu visit I recently had to the Boca Museum of Art. The main exhibition featured artifacts from the ancient Incan culture of Machu Picchu. It was fascinating and delightful, and I picked up a Christmas ornament and a bookmark from the gift shop. Lo and behold, I ended up at a dear friend's house afterward and it happened to be her birthday, so I gave her both presents, which she loved. 

Choosing the Unusual

Val wearing the Zebra Denim Jacket Printed Knit Tunic by Valentina


From registering a star to making a personalized keepsake book with Storyworth, the possibilities are endless! There are tiny pies you can send through the mail, surprise butterfly explosion boxes (don’t worry, they are just wind-up toys), and framed “happy place” coordinates. I sponsored a child through Feed the Children- it's more affordable than going for that daily latte at Starbucks and a sponsorship in a loved one's name would make a great gift. If a unique wardrobe addition is what you're after, check out the edgy Zebra Denim Jacket Printed Knit Tunic made by Valentina.


Style and Consideration

Val wearing the Tiered Angel Dress by Look Mode

Have a friend with wanderlust? Curate a travel wardrobe lookbook for them at their favorite store or buy a bag and fill it with weekend getaway staples for a ready-to-go vacay.

I recently went to the drugstore and picked out some nice travel-sized body products for my boss since I knew she was taking a mini holiday. She was thrilled and the whole gift was under $30 with the carrying case.

For another friend, I went to Michael’s and made my own angel-themed basket that was not only less costly than the usual pre-made gift basket, but enjoyable to make. I enclosed the Tiered Angel Dress by Look Mode, which was the perfect complement to a homemade card.

I know time can be a factor with gift-giving but you can always pick up little things here and there to have at the ready. The point is to know your audience. My friends and I sometimes even skip the gift and treat each other to a nice lunch. Once you take the pressure off, it becomes more enjoyable to give.

Go Big or Go Home?

That was my gift-giving motto for so long.

My husband is a gadget guy and I don't want to tell you how many failures I’ve had trying to choose the perfect present for him. Gizmos like glasses that play music (or whatever the technology of the moment is) are designed to break or become obsolete before you know it. There are a few cool tech gifts that have been hits with him, like a monocular which is lightweight and attaches to a phone in lieu of a telephoto lens, making it perfect for adventures outdoors.

Also, the Poliglu Translator, which can translate 36 languages at your fingertips and is wonderful for international travel. If you are looking for a fun device for young kids or grandkids, what about levitating soccer balls? That will distract them from their screens for a bit!

My son is twenty-one and is pretty easy to shop for- he's way lower maintenance than I am. Still, I like culture over couture, but if I get something a tad too extravagant, I certainly won’t make a fuss. In fact, I may just re-gift it without thinking twice, a practice which is much more acceptable these days.

Tee Party

Val wearing the Sunny Day UPF50+ Sun Shirt by IBKUL


Know someone with an athletic streak? Set up a golf game followed by a high tea complete with crumpets and jam. Just don’t forget to wear your Sunny Day UPF50+ Sun Shirt and Solid UPF50+ Faux Wrap Skort, both by IBKUL. You won’t only stay cool and dry, you may also turn some heads at the clubhouse.


Take the Cake

Of course, if sports isn’t really in your friend’s wheelhouse, you can always skip the golf and just have the sweets. Why not bake them a cake? You can even customize it to make them feel like a kid again.

My best friend makes her boyfriend his favorite chocolate chip cake every year. He says it brings him back to his mom's kitchen with every bite.

Prepare someone a special meal and use the fancy dishes and linens. Speaking of, I am obsessed with bowls and baskets, and I love giving them to others. They are affordable and easy to find in secondhand shops and add a thoughtful touch.

The big takeaway here is that it doesn’t almost matter what the gesture is, as long as it’s done with kindness.

Wardrobe Spruces

Val wearing the Evita Layered Chiffon Trim Knit Top by Jess and Jane


Anthony’s has such wonderful clothing choices so while you're buying presents for friends, don’t forget to pick up something stylish for yourself. The Evita Layered Chiffon Trim Knit Top by Jess and Jane is breezy and ideal for our Florida version of winter. It's also the perfect length to wear over another one of Jess and Jane’s stellar items, the Mineral Wash Legging in the color Marine.

When selecting clothes for another person, you needn’t be extraordinary or grand, just keep their unique personality in mind. Sometimes just demonstrating that you thought of them makes your loved one feel special and cared for. 

I hope this has gotten your wheels turning on ideas for presents (besides just your presence, of course)! Tell me in the comments below about your all-time favorite gift that you received or gave someone else. I hope you have a great holiday season and happy gifting!   

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1 comment

  • Marcie: December 21, 2021

    Dear Val,
    Thank you for sharing your insights and tips on gift giving and receiving. Your reflections are heartfelt and sincere, as you share straight from your heart your ideas and kind opinions. Look forward to reading your column and looking over the current lovely styles available through Anthony’s. May God bless you and your family with blessed holidays, peace in your hearts and good health.

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