I have a friend with a knack for giving the perfect gift. She is thoughtful and insightful, tucking away in her memory comments people make throughout the year. Then, when December rolls around, she unearths the gift ideas and accomplishes what so many of us struggle to do - purchase presents that wow their recipients regardless of cost or size.
This friend, Lauren, sends cards "just because," and even those somehow always feature a funny picture or phrase sure to spur a shared memory. Her personalized notes always make me feel like a million bucks.
Lauren is my gift opposite. While she pays attention to the off-hand suggestions people make throughout the year, I simply forget. Then I'm left to rack my brain trying to remember whether it was a new hockey stick or ski boots my fiance said he wanted.
The thought of finding the perfect gift for family members has caused me so much stress through the years that I tend to just put it off until the last minute. I've spent many years and a lot of money waiting in line at the post office to make sure my generic gifts make it to their destinations on time.
This year I have vowed to be different. This will be the year my mom opens my gift and exclaims her satisfaction with legitimate excitement. My brother and fiance will let me dictate what trails we ski Christmas morning. And my dad and sister won't return any gifts from me this year.
So, I have been paying attention to the little comments people make. When a product advertisement grabs my eye, I tear out the page and hang onto it for safekeeping.
When Scott Stanford, At Home in Steamboat Springs magazine's sales and marketing director, suggested we include a gift guide in this issue, I had my doubts. Who would be picking the products? What kinds of articles would the writers need to research to round out the section? Would the ads be useful and interesting to our readers?
Then Scott put it in perspective. He reminisced about getting the Sears catalog when he was a boy and flipping through its pages, dreaming about what he would get during the holiday season. I remember getting those same catalogs - a day almost as exciting as Christmas morning. My siblings and I would tear through the pages, compiling lengthy Christmas wish lists.
While I can't remember how often Santa would leaves us gifts straight from the pages of the catalogs, I do remember how much fun we had together talking about all the things we'd seen inside.
At Home's gift guide is small by comparison (18 pages), but it's designed like a catalog with those memories in mind. I hope it brings some excitement to your holiday planning - or at least ignites your inner Lauren.
Happy holidays, and let there be snow!
- Allison Miriani