The Language of Holiday Gift Giving

I love the holiday. I love the decorations, the lights, the decorated windows, the traditions, the baking (especially when it is not done by me), the snow, the news stories sharing amazing acts of holiday kindness, and the smiles of the children.


And as a person who helps brands and businesses position themselves for growth, get the attention of their customers and drive revenue, I often find myself in awe at the brilliance surrounding the gift-giving season. What do I mean - the incessant commercials declaring the amazing features and benefits of this year's must-have gifts, the sumptuous catalogues with photographs of gifts beyond my wildest imagination, the never ending stream of gift lists. These ideas come in all price ranges, colors, and sizes. Some are remakes of classic favorites. Others are the latest and greatest. Some are just fancy restatements of old ideas - dressed up in their holiday best.


But every year, and this year is no different, there are some leave me in awe, both personally or professionally. I mean, I read about these gift ideas, I study them. And let me be clear, I am not wasting untold hours shopping online, this is business research people. I find myself wondering what was in the mind of the curator, designer, marketer or manufacturer when he/she came up with some of these ideas. At what point, did the folks at Neiman's feel strongly that more than 1 person would wake up and say, "I (or my wife, sister/aunt/co-worker/crazy aunt) cannot go one more day without a Phython and Fur Monster Baguette." Note: Just for clarity, for those considering such a purchase, this is an almost $7,000 small handbag. And trust me, I am not judging. To each his own. If you can afford and want it, knock yourself out. Maybe, I just need some education. For instance, what sort of occasion calls for that unusual combination of Python and Fur Monster? And why a baguette - and not one that you put butter on?

Take a peak at this year's New York magazine Gifts Issue, subtitled "The Ultimate Catalogue: From a one cent book to a Greek island." The list provides a wide range of gifts from the sublime to the ridiculous, from the pragmatic to the preposterous. Coasters, key chains, scarves, perfume, candles, housewares, fancy foodstuffs, calendars, books - all excellent choices. But did you know that for the low price of $300, you (and the people you love) can get your very own "Matching Miley Tattoo" done by Miley's tattoo artist that says "Love Yer Brain." Even If I were partial to tattoos, the spelling error would be too much for me to bear.

Maybe you want to get a gift for the art lover who has everything. Consider the creativity of this next gift.. For $25,000, you can secure a plot (cemetery that is), with room for 3 headstones, within spiting distance the grave of the brilliant artist, Jean Michel Basquiat. At that point, maybe just consider buying someone a piece of his art.

Of course, technology of many kinds remains endlessly popular, from new gadgets, accessories, power sources, TVs, and apple i-anythings. But the "technology" gift that made me stop and applaud at its creativity this year, is "An Unhackable Computer" also known as a typewriter. Now that is clever. It surely is unhackable, and oh by the way, also time-consuming, inefficient, unable to save - the list goes on. But, I am sure the executives at Sony are wishing they had given these as holiday gifts LAST YEAR. Maybe this will catch on.

So what will be the runaway gift of the 2014 season. And of more interest to me, who will develop the most creative communication and positioning for a gift that people didn't know they needed and now can't live without it. Only time will tell. Happy holiday shopping!