Friday, January 21, 2011

The Topaz Horizon Gift Guide

Just before Christmas, readers were asking me advice on what gifts do I suggest or they were curious about gifts that I do give to my loved ones. Because I had such a busy schedule, I wasn't able to reply. I really wanted to write a good post because, my dear readers, I take gift-giving very seriously!

Now, this post isn't too late. After all, Valentine's Day is coming up. And lotsa birthdays, weddings and parties, too! So here's my ultra-long post on gift giving. But before that, I'll give you a peek at what Vince and I want.

For Valentine's Day, I don't have anything for Vince yet. But for his birthday, I got him a set of really cool toy lens for the Olympus E-PL1.

For me (ahem ahem), I'd love one (or both!) of these:
Baby giraffe ring holder 
Vince knows I love rings but he will get why this
particular animal--and not rabbits!--is so perfect for me.
Necklace with hand-stamped pendants
So charming and sweet and simple! And I love
hand-stamping. I made a pewter bowl and
hand-stamped it with our names. My necklace
would read Vince, Frances, Vito
Vince and I are very good gifters. I think regular readers know this fact! We have certain rules when it comes to giving gifts.

1. They must not be useful. 
By that we mean, they have to be fabulous! When our friends Mariel and Alvin got married, we didn't give them a rice cooker or a wall clock, we gave them a fondue set. Frivolous, I know, but fun!

We don't give socks or underwear or mouthwash. Gifts aren't supposed to be stuff your loved ones can buy for themselves.

2. If they must be useful, they must be OTT. 
That's Over The Top. This past Christmas, my sister-in-law Lizelle wanted a card holder to organize her many credit and discount cards. I searched far and wide till I found an exquisite card holder made of supple Italian cowhide. The awesome smell of leather was seeping through the gift wrapper! She loved it!

So if the newlyweds asked for cutlery, give them silver-plated heavy ones. If they asked for bedsheets, give them the high thread count. If your friend asked for a journal, give a Moleskine.

3. Add a little extra. 
Some people really know what they want so if you give them something else--no matter how fab--they might not appreciate it. My family-in-law is very specific. Vince's niece Elizabeth wanted a Sylvanian doll. Vince gave her a pair, and since Elizabeth is a musician, he added a little baby grand piano and vintage microphone for the dolls. Elizabeth was delighted!

So if your friend asked for a book, give the book and throw in personalized book plates. If she asked for a pen, have her name engraved on it. If she asked for a blender, add some fruits!

4. Personalize it.
And I don't just mean the engraving and monogramming part. My sister Jacqui, being 21, wants clothes. But I don't want to choose her clothes for her because young women that age don't like to be told what to wear! So I got gift certificates from Forever 21 and The Ramp so that she can shop for herself. It doesn't have to be GCs. Remember my new Kate Spade Sutton Place Marielly bag? Sutton Place is a New York suburb. I have a stylish friend who lives in New York City named Mariel. So I bought her that bag. She loves it!

So for your foodie friend, buy her a dinner at a nice restaurant. For your spa-holic sister, get her a massage session. For your movie buff brother, get him passes to a 3D theater.

Giving gifts is an exciting thing to do. I always enjoy the hunt for the perfect gift. I like making people happy! Gifts that are whimsical, frivolous, fun and entertaining are a joy to give and receive. Here are more suggestions for certain occasions that always befuddle people:

For a housewarming
Scented candles
Make sure the recipients aren't sensitive to scents!
Monogrammed throws
Choose neutral tones like white and cream.
Picture frames
A collection of simple ones looks nice. Or you can
get one fantastic piece in silver or enamel.

For the hostess of the party
Potted flowering plants or herbs
Do not give a bouquet because then she'll have to find
a vase and water them when she should be with her
guests. Potted plants will be enjoyed way after the
party's done. 
Guests usually volunteer to bring dessert but these
chocolate-covered strawberries are best because your
hostess won't have to bring out plates and spoons
and knives and wash up!
Wine decanter
A bottle of wine is a usual hostess gift, too. Why not
add a little extra? This graceful decanter set is love.

For a baby shower
Turtle night lamp
A night lamp is very useful--for parents getting up in
the middle of the night to change diapers and for
little ones who're afraid of the dark. Remember to
add whimsy to the usefulness! 
Baby bath robe
Again, very useful. So make sure the robe is the
softest you can find and personalize it with the
little cutie's name or initials or nickname.
Matching cuffs
Maybe not for the shower but for a new mommy to
a little girl. This will definitely be a prized set!  

Then there are truly some gifts that are useless. Figurines, for example! Try not to give those unless you are positively certain that the recipient collects them!


  1. those are awesome gift ideas! thanks for sharing!

  2. I'd love you as a partner for monito monita! your type of gift giving shows a lot of thoughtfulness and care for the receiver. Love that.

  3. Thanks for the great tips. :) As for me, it's the gift that counts, it's not the other way around. Because if you really thought about what you'll give, the gift will say it all. :)

    Have a great day!

  4. I shall try to faithfully abide these rules. Hehe.

  5. This is an awesome post! I am usually stumped when gift giving, heehee.

    :) Thanks for this, F!

  6. another enlightening tips for me this day Ms. Frances...there are times that I want to give the best but finances is tight so I resort to affordable personalized items that cost me not much but I labored them with love-spent hours designing..I usually order those personalized items from

    I love this guidelines and will be useful this coming Valentines:)

  7. Frances, I love the necklace with hand stamped pendants! Ohhh! I wish they sell it here in Manila! I can't order online because hubby banned me from owning a credit card (long story but i think you have an idea why! haha)

  8. Great post, Frances! I like your prerequisites for gift ideas. We're on the same page when it comes to giving something that's special. I wish more people valued gift-giving in this manner.

    I never really was for giving "token" gifts, just for the sake of giving them; it's a common Pinoy practice, I know, especially during Christmastime!

    I have a soft spot also for giftwrapping. Like, I invest in quality wrappers and toppers and ribbons; it's just so much nicer to open a great gift that's thoughtfully wrapped, isn't it?

  9. thank you for all your suggestions... would really have to follow your tips and ideas...

  10. I absolutely adore this post! I'm giving the boyfriend a pair of shoes for his birthday. What do you recommend for that "something extra"?

  11. It's always great ideas with you. Most of our friends/family love books so giving them as gifts isn't a hard thing to do. But you gave me an idea on how to make it more special!

  12. hi frances! i hope you don't mind me asking, but where did you get the toy lenses? and how much?

  13. Wow this is really helpful. Now I'm wondering what to get my man for his birthday next month:-|. Thanks Frances!

  14. Purplepomelo, haha, same here. It's the thought that went into coming up with the gift that counts! For example, I once got a plastic folder with the P20 price sticker still on it. I honestly did not know what to do! I said thanks of course but I could not for the life of me believe that this person thought very highly of me!

    Michelle, shoes! Make sure he gives you P5 in exchange. Malas daw magbigay ng sapatos sa boyfriend/girlfriend kasi iiwan ka raw niya. So if he gives you a bit of money for it, he "bought" the shoes from you :) Anyway, the perfect accompanying gift? A GC to a restaurant. So you can say, "And here's the perfect place to wear your new shoes!"

  15. Sunshiny, got it from eBay for $80 plus $30 shipping from Hong Kong. Here's the store:

  16. LOL Cute! I will do that! And that superstition is so Chinese! My Chinese friends tell me to do that! =)) Pero usually piso lang!

  17. From among the good tips, my favorite (and I always try to practice it) is your rule number 2. I like giving gifts that are useful but I make sure it's extra special. =) And yes to useless gifts like figurines, unless it's personalized.

    Nice post! =)

  18. Hi Frances,

    I hope you wouldn't mind sharing what website/store you purchased your Kate Spade Marielly bag from?

    Thank you so much.

  19. Candz, from the Kate Spade website! It's

  20. Hi Frances,

    Oh i checked that out but it wasn't on sale like you said... shucks must have missed it, super sayang! :(

    thanks very much!

  21. Love the rules, Frances. I especially love the baby stuff! They're not the usual baby shower presents but still very useful.

  22. Candz, yeah, a blog reader (thanks Eper!) alerted me to it so I snapped two bags asap!

    Chris!!! I mizzzz you!


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