Clever ideas and solutions are all around! When it comes to gift giving, party planning, or styling projects, the art of being clever is possible for everyone. Don’t allow trending themes or classic standards to intimidate you. Follow CLEVER, a blog by Opal & Ruby Gift Emporium, to discover how planning, attention to detail, and presentation are the keys to successful gifting, hosting, and styling.
Time to break out the ol’ calendar or planner! Most likely, all important birthdays, holidays, and celebrations are marked. Of course, you know how to use a calendar, but, to ensure you have time to be clever in your gift giving, etc., we suggest adding shopping trips, shipping reminders, and other time sensitive agenda items to the week(s) leading up to the event or celebration.
Things to consider...
If your gift needs to be purchased online, or shipped to the recipient, make sure you allow the time on your calendar. We suggest picking a day one to two weeks before the birthday or celebration to note that shopping and shipping need to be completed. When shopping online, some websites will wrap gifts and ship directly to your intended recipient. YAY! Schedule shopping and shipping on the same day and choose a shipping option that puts the gift on their front porch on their big day. If a shop is unable to wrap and ship, and you must wrap and then ship the gift yourself, add a few more days for two rounds of shipping. If you are able to shop local and in-person, you’re not only supporting a small business, but you’re able to tap into a personal resource. Shopkeepers enjoy finding clever gift options for their customers, and are ready with suggestions. Most likely, they will also offer gift wrapping. Consider that option instant gratification! But, do plan a shopping date!
To-do lists are in your best interest when planning an event. With that party date circled on your calendar, backtrack to dates that keep you prepared:
Save the Dates/Invitations - Whether the event is casual or formal, communication is key. Give attendees time to plan to attend. If the event is local, send a save the date 3-4 months before the event, and an invitation 5-6 weeks before the event. If it is a destination event, give guests at least 8-12 months notice. For a more casual or intimate event, such as a dinner party, communicate with the invited guests as soon as possible. No formal invitation is necessary, but, a charming invite sets the tone for a party they won’t want to miss!
Menu/Decoration Planning - If you are using a professional caterer and/or party planner, start contacting companies ASAP to inquire about availability. They will be able to lead you through themes, rentals, seasonal options, and they’ll be able to put a timeline to your event planning. Should you plan and cater your own event, you have the ability to put your own personal touches to the event! You’ll want to consider weather and seasonal offerings when thinking of venues and food. In both cases, create a budget for the event. Intimate or elaborate, all clever events require a plan of action. Check our blog often for recipes and how-to’s for gatherings!
Whether you’re styling your home or yourself, it’s important to note if there are specific dates new decor or clothing must be purchased. Hosting a party at your home, and looking for new pillows or rugs? Attending a formal event that requires a new dress and accessories? Give yourself ample time to find items that check the box. You might have to schedule out of town shopping sprees, or find something online that will require shipping, and sometimes exchanges.
When buying a gift or planning a party, one can ask the questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? The old standards. But the magic is in the details. And it starts with thoughtfulness and mindfulness.
"It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving." - Mother Teresa
You're creating a memory or an experience for your friends and loved ones. Consider what is meaningful to them. People are always telling us what they want, need, or expect, you just have to listen. Take note of favorite colors, treats, and quirks. Notice how they react to gifts they receive, speak of the last dinner party they attended, and take note of the type of gifts they gift to others. Study up on The 5 Love Languages to truly understand yourself and others as a givers/recipients. Tangible gifts are great, but a personal note, the gift of time, and service to others are sometimes just as moving.
When party planning, take into consideration dietary restrictions and beliefs. You want to make every effort to be accommodating and welcoming if you are hosting. Communicate with your guests in some form of invitation. From a phone call or e-mail to a traditional printed invite, make it personal and let it reflect the mood and tone of the event. Let the decorations and table settings reflect your vision for the party: fun, casual, themed, quaint, lavish, elegant, etc.
"They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel." - Carl W. Buehner
There are two sides to that quote: you can make them feel loved, admired, and considered with your thoughtfulness, OR, a lack of mindfulness and thoughtfulness can make them feel like a second thought. Think of gifts you've received or events you have attended that set the bar. Then, think of events or gifts that made you roll your eyes. The ones you wish could be recreated over and over again were done with great intention. Try to create that for someone.
It's also important to be mindful of your budget and your means. We'd love to give the moon, but sometimes we're gifting on a Moon Pie budget.
Again, small shop owners are available to assist you on your journey to mindful giving. Be ready to describe the recipient and have a budget in mind.
Presentation requires great attention. Gift wrapping, invitations, accessories, and table decor, for instance, are the first things seen. They are elements of significance and help create excitement and anticipation.
Last summer, we experienced Afternoon Tea at The Ritz London, an exceptional hotel setting for the most charming British tradition. Selections of tea, sandwiches, scones, and pastries were served at The Palm Court. The Ritz is very upfront with their expectations of their guests. You are to be prompt and you must follow their dress code. Upon arrival at The Ritz, you are greeted by courteous doormen. The doors open and you are immediately swept away by the elegance of the lobby. You truly understand the dress code as you approach The Palm Court. The ornate furniture and the delicate china deserve something better than denim. Guests are seated, and like clockwork, tea service begins. The tables were adorned with crisp linens, the menus were designed with elegant fonts and printed on quality paper, the staff was sharp both in appearance and tea knowledge, and floral arrangements were fresh and fragrant. Afternoon Tea at The Ritz is a true experience. It is an indulgence. Practically every hotel in London offers tea service. Some more of an investment than others. But The Ritz is on the list of standards. As inexperienced Americans, our table was not accustomed to proper British tea etiquette. But, that was alright. We were empowered try different flavors so your experience could be maximized.
We don't remember everything we ate or drank, but we remember that everything was fresh and delicious. We might not have loved everything we tasted, but we understood that what was offered was of highest quality. We might not remember the names of the doormen, but we felt significant and catered to when we entered the hotel. The Ritz's attention to detail has created a loyal following and many additions to bucket lists worldwide. Their presentation of afternoon tea is memorable and special.
Take inspiration from your experiences when gifting and hosting. Wrap gifts with great care, take time to be creative, choose an exceptional time to present a gift or host an event. Not because you have to, but because you want to. Do it because there is someone or something to celebrate.
Opal & Ruby