29 Nov 2018

Not Your Traditional Gift Guide

Not Your Traditional Gift Guide on vickiarcher.com


The gift guides are about to start hitting our inboxes.

There is a timetable that rolls out without fail; after Thanksgiving comes the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales and once they are done the gift guides start arriving thick and fast. It was once mail catalogues and much browsing; now it’s a brief look and a click if you fancy.

Don’t misunderstand I absolutely love creating gift guides for you here at vickiarcher.com. Truthfully, we put so much time into them it’s probably not the best use of time but I don’t care. I have never been one to work on a practical schedule.

My gift guides from years past have mostly been themed; think colour, subject or simply, “what she wants“.

This year is going to be different.

We are working on gift guides with very strict guidelines.

I have recently become focused on the practical, which means I want things I can actually use.

The purely decorative and useless have become uninteresting to me – I’m not talking feel good experiences, like flowers or candles – but pieces we buy, put to one side and wonder why we even have them in the first place. Now when shopping I am trying to consider if it is something I really need, will it enhance our lives or simply make it cluttered.

This year our gift guides are going to be full of ideas we can use, our friends can enjoy and our families find helpful.

They are going to be only what we already have and are happy to recommend or what we are desperate to try and hopefully will receive.

They may even include experiences; some of the most memorable gifts I have enjoyed are not necessarily forever. One year I was given a tour of “Downton Abbey” as a fan of the TV series, I absolutely adored that. Another year, many moons ago, I was given a book of vouchers from one of my daughters with treats we would share together; a thoughtful and sentimental gift I still remember. Spending time together is the best gift of all.

Yes, I know this is a challenge and one person’s practical is another’s impractical. So forgive me if my idea of a necessity isn’t yours.

Gift guides do save our time and I have found some to be extremely useful.

Can you recall a gift you thought was perfect? A gift you will always hold close to your heart? These are the best kind of all. I would love to hear and hopefully share with all of you.

Writing this has me wandering down “gift” memory lane. xv

image, burberry christmas 2013

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Taste of France

I received a membership to the Metropolitan Museum of Art when I lived in NYC. It allowed me to visit whenever I wanted. Sometimes I’d just visit one gallery, but actually look at every one of the ancient Greek urns that 99.9% of visitors hurried past on their way to more “important” things. No pressure to see everything. Also invites to openings of new exhibits.
Another great gift was a check with a sticker in the “Pay to” line that said “Your favorite charity.”
Everything I’ve gotten that was handmade by the giver has been cherished.


Brilliant gifts… and also ones to keep on giving… thank you.
You have given me some great ideas for this year.. :)

Nelly S Nassif

Dear Vicki,
I love your blog, you’ve covered in it in a very sweet way all the things that matters in life. You’ve evolved and went through life changes and grew with every challenge you came across.
I would like to thank you for reaching out through your wonderful blog to enhance people’s lives. Talking about more useful gifts, I would love to give you a small token for appreciation as a gift. I’m an Artist, please, if you wish to send me a photo of any picture you took that filled your heart with Happiness when you look at it, I will be happy to paint it for you, small enough that you can display anywhere in your home.
Merry Christmas Beautiful lady.
Nelly Spiro


Thank you Nelly… I m so touched and will email you tomorrow.
Yours is a gift I will truly treasure.. :)


My Dayghter gave me an early Christmas gift this year.
Secretly she had got all my recipes which were in a drawer on pieces of paper or ripped out from magazines and she photocopied everyone of them and put them together in a sleeved Folder for me. She included a few family photos of us eating some of the food from the real family favorites. It was truly the most thoughtful gift ever and something I had been saying I must do for years but one of those things you just never get around to doing!! I have a truly wonderful thoughtful Daughter!


How absolutely wonderful Teena!
She is one very creative daughter you have and so, so thoughtful… I love this :)


One of MY FAVORITES GIFTS was from my youngest SON.The card stated THE GIFT was HIS PRESENCE and he would take me to the POUND to pick out a NEW CAT since ours had passed!!!
Theodore my cat is one of my MOST BELOVED GIFTS!!!!!!
Plus, that time spent with the SECOND BORN!!!!PRICELESS!


The gift that I remember the most and still have is a little table. It was in the back of a magazine that was sitting out. I had thought of ordering it but the shipping made me hesitate. Fast forward three/four months to Christmas. When all gifts were opened my son in law went out to the garage and brought in one last gift. For me? He had seen that picture and copied it. As the grinch, my heart grew three sizes bigger that day. It wasn’t the table, it was the thoughtfulness. A young man that worked so many hours still found the time to build a table. I still have that table, even though it is not my style anymore.
Gifts are not about the money spent but the thought that goes into it. I watch people shop, filling up their carts and wonder how much of that will be returned. Needless waste! One very special gift is enough to warm the heart.


Yes so true and what a beautiful thought, Joanna.. the gift is almost irrelevant in relation to the thoughtfulness and generosity of spirit behind the gesture..


We have become such a consumer and throw-away culture, how about gifts that are sustainability-wise? Think about bee savings kits, orangutan adoption, and so on. If you are stuck for ideas, go to websites such as ECO AGE and SUSTAINABLE GIFTS. It is a good feeling to give something worthwhile and sustainable.


Years ago, when my son was in high school, for Christmas he bought us a cord of oak wood for our fireplace, then carried it all, stacked it and topped it with a big red bow. It has been one of our all time favorite gifts: so unexpected and such a thoughtful gift.


Good morning Vicki! I agree with you. Gift giving and receiving these days is focused more on something that is special but practical. I don’t know if it’s a trend or just mature wisdom, but to have less yet to own things of good quality and that are practical, that’s the way to go!


I love this and the unique thoughtfulness it shows. So refreshing especially these days in America when it seems so much focus right now is ridding ourselves of a cancer.

Off the top of my head, I’ve given donations to animal shelters in the name of my friends/their beloved dog who had recently died… (they got her from there)… a French comedian friend who was obsessed with all things American and whose dream was to one day move to the USA and become famous here – my first gift to him was a big photo book called American Cool which was a compilation of famous Americans throughout the years, many of them artists/performers/stars, all Cool. I wrote him a thoughtful note of encouragement. That was four years ago, he still isn’t here. Alas. I’ve since bought books directly from comedians and have them signed, for him, when the opportunity presents itself (comedians are prolific writers).

There are others but this would get too long. This year I think one main theme will be buying various friends a Moka espresso maker because Bialetti may go out of business. Everyone deserves a Moka espresso pot and Bialetti deserves to stay in business!

Lovely thread…


One year I got the most special gift. My 10-year old handed me an envelope that contained pieces of colored paper tied up with a ribbon. On each paper she had written a service that she would perform for me – a massage, doing the dishes for one whole day, etc. It was a humble gift given by a generous spirit; something I will always cherish.


Three years ago my son took me out for a lovely Christmas Eve dinner at a fabulous restaurant in Dallas. He told me to not look at prices and to order anything and everything we wanted. We shared a lovely bottle of wine and a beautiful meal together in a beautiful setting. It was his first year out of law school and he finally had a nice income. His father and I had worked hard to send him to both college and law school. We both worked extra hoping to be able for him to start out debt-free. Fortunately, with God’s help, we were able to do that. Our son also worked hard during both of those degrees. He told me that evening how much he appreciated what his dad and I had done for him, helping him to start his career debt-free. It was a wonderful evening of gratitude on both our parts. I will never forget it. Time together is always the best.


Just reading these posts it is clear that the simple things done with thought and love are the best presents we can receive. It goes back to acts of kindness Vicki which you have had a thread on and this kindness is wrapped in Christmas paper with a big bow and a gift tag of love.
I’ve really enjoyed reading these.

Carol Anne Makely

one year my hubby gave me a bottle of Chanel no 5… I had not asked for it, I asked why ? He did not know just thought I might like it (I think a perfume counter lady must have had a hand in it, lol) I remember going into my bedroom and spraying a bit on… surprize ! Well best gift ever, I still use it today ! Hoping I might get a new bottle this christmas, a red bottle… fingers crossed


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