Let’s take a crash course in holiday gifting.
Lesson one: Put down the credit card. We’re not saying you won’t need it. Just wait a hot minute.
Two: Look away from your device and that deceptive little phrase, “Place order.”
Three: Drop everything and listen to Julian Leaver and Sarah Kane, owner and lead planner of Julian Leaver Events, and two of Dallas’ most seasoned pros in the art of creating memorable experiences. Not only do they know something about fabulous events; they are obsessed with putting care and creativity into their gifts.
“We both love gifting,” says Kane. “I love the creativity of gifting and Julian loves the spirit of giving.”
Here are five strategies from team fab collab for not only finding the perfect gift but also enjoying the heck out of the process.
Up close and personal
It doesn’t take a lot of money to make a gift memorable, just some radar for the clues to the recipient’s inner “I wants” they’ve unknowingly dropped along the way.
“We all have so much access, things are delivered to the door almost immediately,” Kane says. “You want people to feel that this person really thought about me in the moment, that it wasn’t a one-off item.”
The pair recently gave a newlywed couple a housewarming gift of a personalized doormat and a beautiful filled outdoor planter. “We also loved the idea of the surprise situation,” Leaver says.
Kane gave her college-age brother personalized Styrofoam cups so that he could entertain friends. Might as well dress up that bro décor with some stylish beverage holders.
In the practice what-you-preach department, Leaver scored for Kane’s birthday. He knew his business partner had a bridal shoe crush on a pair of Loeffler Randall beauties they’d seen in lots of weddings they coordinated. He also knew she’d never buy them for herself. “So for her birthday, I bought her those shoes. They are the most beautiful shoes you’d never buy unless you’re a bride, impractical but they’re so beautiful.”
Pampered and primed
Kane returned the thoughtful touch for Leaver’s birthday with an element of pampering. “Sarah knows I never take time for myself, so for my birthday this year she gifted this fabulous mani-pedi from the Hiatus spa.”
For the types who have trouble even making an appointment for themselves for a gift service, Kane suggests gifting the giver back with the same item and making a date to enjoy it together. “If you’ve received it and never used it, think about having quality time together.”
Now that supply chain is a household word, Leaver and Kane offer the best advice for ignoring it: Think local. That’s what Kane did when she created a personalized couples’ gift for Leaver: “I bought hemstitched napkins locally, came up with a cute couple name and brought them to a local embroiderer. They were super personal with a quick turnaround time.”
Some of their favorite loco-for-local spots: Kate Weiser Chocolates at Trinity Groves, Read Between the Lines in Victory Park, JK Chocolates and Ellis Hill near Lovers and Inwood, All Good Things in Bishop Arts, Scardello in Oak Lawn, Talulah and Hess in Lakewood, St. Michael’s Women’s Exchange in Highland Park Village. And of course, your own favorite gift boutiques.
“We’re all so crazy busy that it’s great to support a local business and put dollars into the local economy,” Leaver says. “We don’t have to rely on backorders from Amazon when we all decide the day after Thanksgiving that Christmas is here.”
He also likes Box Fox when a local gift isn’t practical. The company creates customized gift boxes and does all the shopping, packaging and sending. “The beauty is that there’s less of a supply chain issue because whatever is on their site is available. It’s easy to send a fabulous gift.”
Oh, you shouldn’t have
That time when a neighbor showed up with homemade cookies, a co-worker whipped out a lovely gift bag at lunch or you just plain goofed and left someone off your list ... Relax, raid your scented candle stash and chances are you’ll find a winner. Kane and Leaver say this is the perfect gift to dress up or down. Give a small votive with a cash gift to your manicurist, child’s teacher or massage therapist, or go bigger with a combo of luxury candle, match striker (CB2 has a cloche they love) or upscale match boxes — and always include a handwritten note. “I think it’s everyone’s go-to gift,” Kane says. Their pick? Oodles of choices at home-grown Society shops in Bishop Arts and the Plaza at Preston Center.
The extra smile
More is more when it comes to thoughtful gifts — not in dollars, but in the care expressed. How about taking a male friend to lunch and surprising him with an appointment for a custom shirt fitting? Refreshing someone’s front yard planters or hanging a wreath on a door are also lovely ways to make the holiday special. And the ultimate holiday hack: Bringing over freshly baked cookies AND a batch of ready-to-bake frozen dough to whip up at strategic moments: “Best party trick ever, ‘Oh, I just decided to make cookies,’” Kane quips.