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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Gift Tips

There's nothing like the satisfaction of giving the perfect gift. The Society of American Florists has developed this convenient guide on how to give great gifts and when to give them.

How to Give the Perfect Gift

Prioritize special dates on your calendar. Stay on top of your gifting needs by checking your calendar at the beginning of every month. Better yet, solicit the help of your local florist. All you have to do is tell your florist the important dates you would like to be reminded of. He or she will contact you ahead of time with gift suggestions for the upcoming occasion, and can even make suggestions or remind you what kind of flowers you sent last time.

Take the time to find something that is perfectly suited to your recipient's interests, personality and style. These tips can get your thinking on the right track:

* Does he or she have a special hobby or interest? Add to an antique lover's collection with a vintage vase filled with flowers (a florist can create the perfect arrangement to complement the vase).

* Would he or she prefer a quiet and romantic celebration? Try tickets-for-two to a special event. Send a dinner invitation delivered to his or her door in a bouquet of flowers.

* Does he or she deserve some special pampering? Ask your florist to help you create a special spa kit in a basket with goodies like bath beads and oils on one side and a beautiful arrangement of flowers on the other.

Remember Special Days All Year Round

There are many occasions throughout the year when gifts are traditionally given and received, but don't forget those special days that celebrate personal milestones.

Anniversaries, birthdays and holidays are special occasions, but they're not the only times when giving a gift brightens the day. Celebrating a long friendship or shared accomplishment can renew and strengthen relationships with friends and family.

Don't let personal milestones go by uncelebrated. Be sure to note upcoming events like graduation, new baby, new home, new job, promotion or well-deserved retirement on your calendar. Be sure to add new occasions as they occur. Personal milestones such as a first recital, finishing an important work project, quitting smoking, losing weight or passing the bar exam deserve a gift of recognition. A personalized gift adds to the sense of accomplishment and increases the enjoyment of a job well done.

Americans Weigh In on Saying “I'm Sorry” and “Thank You”

For most Americans, it is harder to say, “Thank you” than “I'm sorry.” According to a February 2006 poll by International Communications Research, nearly two-thirds of respondents (65%) believe that saying “I'm sorry” is easy, while about the same number (67%) of Americans can remember a time when they were not properly thanked for a favor or act of kindness.

With the word “etiquette” defined as socially accepted behavior, Rebecca Cole, co-host of Discovery Channel's Surprise by Design and author of Flower Power, believes that expressing all kinds of emotions should be easy, especially for those who can't find the words.

“In the 21 st century, with so many different ways to communicate without even using words – email, voicemail, text messaging – it's amazing that people don't routinely acknowledge the kindness of others in one way or another,” said Cole. “A simple ‘thank you' or ‘I'm sorry' can go a long way. Better yet, sending flowers helps you convey any message with added sincerity.”

Deciphering the Etiquette Dilemma

According to the Society of American Florists, the national trade association for the floral industry, five of the most common reasons people send flowers are to say thank you, I'm sorry, congratulations, get well and express sympathy. Cole shares her secrets for sending these sentiments.

Thank You

According to Cole, ask your florist for an arrangement conveying a casual, hand-picked feeling, to say thank you with a very personal touch. In addition to a beautiful statement of thanks, the accompanying note card can say everything that is too hard to say in person.

I'm Sorry

Flowers are the traditional gift to get out of the doghouse because they easily make the statement, “I was wrong.” To apologize with sincerity, ask your florist for a nostalgic arrangement, using a blend of delicate warm and cool lavenders and pinks. Having opened the door to forgiveness, follow the delivery up with a phone call.


A bouquet of bold, contrasting colors is a fun-loving, playful way to say “Congratulations,” “Welcome home,” or “Great job.” You can even get creative with the container. For example, if a friend just got a new job, ask your florist to put the bouquet in a fun pencil holder or something that represents the occasion.


It's never easy comforting someone who has lost a loved one, but flowers can say what is often difficult to ex press in words. Flowers are usually sent to the funeral home to provide warmth and beauty to the service. If a service is not planned, grief experts recommend sending condolences to the bereaved person's home.

Get Well

Choose a serene color scheme of light shades of green, misty blues and other cool hues to provide a moment of calm and let someone who is ill know you're thinking of them. When sending flowers to a hospital, it's helpful to have the name of the hospital, the patient's name and room number ready for your florist. It's also good to know the hospital's flower policy. Your florist will know about the hospitals in your area.

More Floral Savvy

Studies show the power of flowers on our happiness and well-being and that people who give flowers are considered to be thoughtful and sophisticated. Here are quick tips from Rebecca Cole on showing your sophisticated side:

+ Send flowers to a hostess before you arrive for a party or event, and choose a color palette that will mix with her décor.
+ Do your best to tailor a gift to the recipient, whether it's her favorite flower, color or even matches her eyes.
+ “Just because” is the best reason to send flowers! Try sending flowers in the middle of an ordinary week for the ultimate impact.
+ Get to know your florist. Having someone who knows you and your tastes will make expressing any emotion much easier.