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‘Dishing It Up’ With Sharon Insul –

A bottle of wine wrapped in a colorful dishtowel makes a unique and useful gift.

Posted Tuesday July 8, 2014 4:34 pm

Pictured: A bottle of wine wrapped in a colorful dishtowel makes a unique and useful gift.

The difference between a hostess/host, house-warming or just-because gift has been a source of confusion for many; and is as diverse as caviar is to Spam.

When my Beverly Hills boutique was open, we became known and labeled as a mecca for gifts. Not just gifts, but ones that were creatively unique. As my clientele would say time and time again—no matter what the occasion, no one ever left without just the right gift, and wrapped to the nines, regardless of price.

Gift seekers came daily searching for statement gifts of all shapes, sizes, and for all occasions. Sometimes the quest was for that “little token” gift. Others came looking for the “magic gift fairy” to swoop down, and miraculously place a perfectly wrapped gift in their hands; without nary a smidgen of input—just a proclamation of being in need of a gift. Period. End of story.

Now I on the other hand would begin my 20-question format. Okay, so sometimes it was more than 20 questions. I was taught that if you don’t ask, you don’t get; and I needed info and didn’t have time to play guessing games, or psychically draw answers from the stars.

Please, take a sec … picture a busy boutique with lots of needing, and wanting going on, with just so many hours in a day to get the deed done. Now I know you’re asking? So what’s the big deal about buying a gift? Whether it cost a few or many dollars?

Well, it has to do with the four W’s —who, what, when and where. New acquaintance? old close friend? house warming? formal? informal? outdoor casual? And so on, and so on my query would go. Such as, do you really, I mean really care about the recipient? Or is this a duty/social-driven gift?

Since I am no longer the keeper of gifts—thank you very much—I am happily substituting a bottle of wine instead of a set of butter knives, hand-painted silk cocktail napkins, or a hand- carved salad set. If your gift is not on a personal level, than say no more . A bottle of wine, wrapped in one of those nifty over the counter bags, that come complete with a cord for tying, and a gift card as well— done.

Now let’s take the same wine bottle, but this one is for a good, close friend of many gatherings, and memorable moments. Piece of cake, except there is one question, formal or informal gathering? For informal, try fun kitchen towels, chef’s apron, or the printed food section from your newspaper. Yup, the newspaper. Why not? Whatever your choice, open fabric/paper flat, stand bottle in middle, and gather the material up around the bottle. Tie off with raffia, kitchen towel for a warm, and  fun housewarming gift.

Or, and this is where your imagination is supposed to be kicking in; it’s all in the presentation people, i.e. put some personal thought, and touch into the final wrapped gift.  For a more formal presentation, take that same bottle of wine, crisp clear cellophane, two colors of satin ribbon for tying around the neck of the bottle, and voila, a transformation from ho hum to ho ho.

Sharon Insul is the former owner of the popular Beverly Hills boutique Candle light and…

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