Unique Gift Ideas: Susan Hook Interview

Susan Hook, head of public relations for the gifting company RedEnvelope.

Each year, we strive to come up with unique gift ideas for family and friends. As much as we'd like to surround the tree with mounds of packages, Susan Hook, the "gift guru" of RedEnvelope, says this season, presents are about quality: do-it-yourself touches, gifts with charitable associations, and a true focus on a recipient's special interests and hobbies, especially if you want to give a gift certificate.

LoveToKnow Christmas asked Hook to dig into her bag of goodies and share a few ideas for holiday gift-giving.

Unique Gift Ideas: Susan Hook Interview

What trends are popular in gift-giving this year?

DIY gifts are big this year, such as RedEnvelope's keepsake box and rockng horse snow globe. The giver would order the gift and actually assemble photos in the album or put the baby handprints in the frame for grandparents. It is taking it one step closer to personalizing a gift than simply having something monogrammed.

Gifts that give back are also a big trend again this year. Most companies will offer a product selection where a portion of the proceeds goes to a charity. In the same vein, there are many "green" gifts that will plant a tree for each product sold.

Some people consider gift certificates to be too impersonal. Others appreciate gift certificates as a unique gift idea for shopping for themselves. How can giving a gift certificate be a special event?

The most important thing is to really consider the person's interests when selecting the gift certificate. It is also nice to give a gift certificate from a place that would be considered a splurge for the recipient - somewhere they would love but wouldn't normally go.

I always like to give gift certificates with a small, related gift. For example, if the gift certificate is for a special bottle of wine, include a beautiful set of crystal wine stoppers. This way they still have something fun to open to help enhance the experience.

Plan Ahead for Enjoyable Shopping

What tips do you have for stress-free holiday shopping?

I can't emphasize enough the importance of planning ahead. Right now is an excellent time to begin to organize your holiday shopping. Create your list early and keep it with you any time you are out. That way, you will always have relevant information such as sizes and preferences. If you don't to buy that early, at least jot down notes and ideas.

I am also a big fan of going to brick and mortar stores for compiling ideas, but then placing all the orders online. You can do the research a couple weeks ahead of time and then just set aside one night to take care of all of the ordering.

RedEnvelope offers a service called "shop now, ship later" that allows buyers to purchase gifts early but not have them shipped out until closer to the holidays. This also guarantees that the hot items won't be sold out, as they often are later in the season.

Many people, regardless of their financial situation, seem to pull out all the stops shopping during the holidays. Why do you think this celebration is so important?

I think that the holidays are one of the few times that people can still take the time out to spend quality time with friends and family. This excitement tends to manifest itself in overspending on gifts.

I feel that it truly is the thought that makes the biggest impact on people so people should focus more on that aspect that the price. The trends I mentioned earlier all support this. Companies are making it easier and easier to give gifts that mean something more than just an expensive item.

What gifts do you like to give and receive?

I am a tricky one to shop for since I work for a gifting company - ask my husband! I tend to like things that are very unique that I have never seen before, making it almost like a treasure hunt. I also love sentimental or commemorative gifts. My mother often gives me pieces of my late grandmother's jewelry as gifts because we were very close. That is the best kind of gift - one that makes you feel special and loved every time you use it.

Other Holiday Gift Ideas

~Tracey L. Kelley

Unique Gift Ideas: Susan Hook Interview