How to Grin and Bear Gift

Author: Hal Rubenstein, Global Style Director

Updated since first published on November 12, 2015

The temperature remains in the mid-thirties in New York City, head out to the mall and you can feel the frost on your breath. As far as retail is concerned, it’s already holly jolly time. Then how come you don’t look very merry? Is it because you would rather have an MRI than shop for presents? When I tell friends that buying gifts is my favorite holiday activity, that searching for that perfect gift for someone to cherish should enrich the spirit and spark the soul. Lucky for you, I’m here to help. So sit down, exhale and open your eyes: what you need is a new approach and an attitude adjustment.

1. SHOPPING AT THE LAST MINUTE DOESN'T HELP – especially when you can buy gifts all year long and put them away. The key to great gift buying lies in your powers of observation and ability to listen. People are remarking on what they like all the time – when they window shop, look at an online shopping site or look at a magazine. So don’t wait until December 17th to prick up your ears.

2. DO NOT GO SHOPPING FOR EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST AT ONCE – you won’t save time. You’ll buy nothing. Instead, make a list of recipients and write it down on your tablet, your smartphone or even better on a pad with a pencil (Surely they are somewhere around the house). Carry that pad with you at all times until you have wrapped every gift.

3. TUNE INTO APPEARANCES, HABITS, MANNERS AND CONVERSATIONS – starting yesterday. Clock when they talk about the last play or song they downloaded. Do they talk about movies, Italian food, sex, football? Is anything pierced? Steal a smartphone shot of the inside of their home. Note their shoes, bags, scarves, colors of sweaters. You’ll be amazed at the info you will gather in no time.


4. DO NOT KEEP WHAT YOU HEARD IN YOUR HEAD – write it down. It only takes a few minutes to note down what you heard next to their names on that pad. Take the pad with you whenever you shop.


5. UNLESS YOU KNOW SIZES AND WHERE THEY SHOP –  buying clothing has its risks. Accessories are a smarter, safer way to go. But no gift is as sure to get a more effusive, "I can't believe I can put it on and take off, I'm never taking it off"reaction than jewelry. Virtually no one outgrows his or her childlike love of sparkle.

6. TAKE THE GUESSWORK OUT OF JEWELRY –  If you don’t already know ring and neck sizes, dip into someone’s jewelry box, borrow a few things and head for the jeweler. Note the color metal and stones they favor. For bracelets, gently take hold of your loved ones wrist while strolling, and try to remember how much of your hand went round.

7. FOR THE RECORD, PEOPLE APPRECIATE BIRTHSTONES –  you do know their birthday, don’t you? If you don’t, you may need more help than this column can offer. And a casual stroll past jewelry store window couldn’t hurt. I have never met anyone sane who doesn't thrill to diamonds.

8. BUYING WHAT PEOPLE NEED IS NICE – but buying what each one of them desires is so much better!

9. NO NEED TO SHOP FOR THE CROWN JEWELS – unless one of your loved ones rules a small country. In fact, don’t buy something so fancy it’s bound to be saved for holidays and anniversaries. The reason Gabriel & Co. is so proud of its collection of fine jewelry everyday is because no gift exceeds the joy one witnesses when someone incorporates it into their signature daily look. Every time they look in the mirror, there will be that flicker of memory that recalls the moment they received it.

10. NO NEED TO GET DRESSED, BRAVE TRAFFIC OR FIND A PLACE TO PARK – shop online. Soon as you settle on a budget, browse the website and start shopping. Write down the style numbers of items you like - On that pad remember? - and search the site for the jeweler that carries them, or call us – so we can locate and ensure you get the pieces you want.

11. DO NOT GO BROKE – buy without regret, so you can smile as much as they do. Remember, the great thing about fine jewelry is that it sparkles at any price.

12. ONE FINAL NOTE – These tips work for: Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Graduations, Bar Mitzvah, Weddings, and just because it’s Tuesday and you want someone to know you love them. You can use this process whenever you need to buys gifts throughout the year. You’re welcome!