Seven steps to failsafe gifting
Buying gifts, even for people we think we know well can be a tricky, angst-ridden business. What if they already have one? What if they don’t like it? What if it doesn’t fit? This is why buying homeware can often be a good gifting solution. We consulted the experts to shed some light on how to elevate our homeware gifting game.
“When buying homeware for someone as a gift, it is important to consider their personal taste and style”, says Interiors and Props Stylist Laura Sawyer. “It’s easy to live vicariously through our purchases for others, but a gift is something to be enjoyed by the recipient as they will have to live with it in their home. It’s important to consider their own overall palette and look. The best thing to do is to firstly consider their interiors now, then ask yourself whether you’ve heard them talk about what they wish they could do with their homes. Perhaps they’ve also coveted items in your home?”
For example, if your friend lives among tones of grey with distressed furniture, don’t buy them a bright red shiny ornament. “If they are kind enough to keep it, it will stick out like a sore thumb”, says Sawyer. “If you want to add colour to their interiors, consider the colour tone of your gift – go for muted, burnt or dusky colours. Equally, if they prefer a brightly coloured interior, you can complement this with something more neutral, but don’t be too safe as they clearly like to have fun with their home.”
It has been said that candles are a cop-out gift but we strenuously disagree. “Fail safe interiors gifts have to be candles”, says Sawyer. “They will always be used and enjoyed.”
Consider the fragrances that your friend wears or already has at home, and go for a similar accent. For example, do they prefer musky scents or florals? Candles can also be a great way to encourage a friend out of their comfort zone with colours and patterns: “There are so many interesting brands out there with different branding and packaging”, adds Sawyer. “You can really have a lot of fun and still give the gift of luxury.”
When it comes to homeware, you can’t go wrong with timeless and quality as your safe words. “Look for timeless classics and don’t try to second-guess someone’s taste”, offers ELLE Decoration Contributing Editor Amy Bradford. “Even if you know someone loves things in electric blue, chances are everyone else is buying them things in electric blue and they don’t need any more!”
Kirsty Whyte, who knows a thing or two about predicting peoples’ taste as Product and Creative Director at Soho Home, adds: “I would recommend going for something that isn’t too statement; and more of a staple luxury. Like beautiful crystal coupes or a cashmere throw; what’s not to love?!”
“Try to find something that can live anywhere in their home, like a vase or bowl, rather than something that’s intended for a particular location”, says Bradford. “This makes the gift more versatile and less likely to end up in a cupboard.”
“It’s always tough as you never really know what a person already has” adds Whyte, which is why it makes extra sense to think versatile.
“It’s always better to buy objects that have a use rather than frivolous objects, and avoid anything gimmicky or poorly made”, says Bradford. “It’s much better to buy something small and well-crafted than a grand gesture that misses its mark.”
“Think about the kind of things they like doing best (such as cooking or gardening). And don’t buy someone an item they have lots of already (unless they’re a collector). Also, avoid items that are very visually-specific, such as artworks or strong patterns.”
“It’s worth bearing William Morris’s famous quote in mind – ‘Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’,” says Ben Spriggs, Editor of Elle Decoration. “Search out smaller producers and craftsmen who may be able to create something bespoke or more meaningful than your average off-the-shelf gift.”
You’ve painstakingly hunted for the perfect gift – don’t let yourself down at the last hurdle. “Ask for gift-wrapping when buying gifts,” suggests Ben. ” Failing that, invest in some gorgeous gift boxes yourself to keep in stock – homeware can come in strange shapes and sizes, which can make packaging them up tricky!” Think ahead to keep the surprise alive until the very last minute (after all, that coat-stand won’t disguise itself…).
For more tasteful homeware gifting inspiration head to Soho Home, interiors by Soho House