It’s *that* time of year again…

The air is nippy…houses are brightly adorned with twinkling lights…people are driving with trees on their roofs…local stores are packed…the little ones are really making sure they’ve been good…

Yep…it must be the holidays.

Which means it’s also time for holiday parties, gift exchanges and those “oh shit!” last minute gifts.  Or the predicament I have…the hard-to-shop-for-because-they-have-everything people.

So what do you do?  Besides standing in the middle of the aisle at the store having a panic attack or buying gift cards, that is.

Have no fear, your personal shopper is here with a few pieces of advice…and I’ll even help you along the way.

Number one:  PUT THE GIFT CARD DOWN!!  Walk away…just walk away.  Yes!  Put it down and walk away!!  Good job.

Number two:  Take a deep breath.  It’s not as stressful as your making it to be.

Number three:  Let’s find our way to the housewares department (or the nearest store that sells kitchen goodies).

Last Minute Gifting/Gift Exchanges

For those gift exchanges or “oh shit!” last minute gifts, nothing is better than something simple and useful.  Think of what you can never have enough of.  Kitchen stuff.  Yes, towels, dish rags, pot holders, oven mitts, corkscrews, solid-colored service pieces…things like that.

And no, I’m not saying you need to spend a lot.  Just spend enough to make it thoughtful while not sending your budget skyrocketing.

Gotten your fill of kitchen stuff?  Okay, good.  What’s next on your list?

Host/Hostess Gifts

Want to make the host/hostess gift super special?  Treat your hard working host/hostess to something truly spectacular. My favorite thing to do for host/hostess gifts is find a bottle of wine I’ve truly enjoyed and share it.

Need suggestions?  Okay, let’s get out of the department store and get over to the grocery store, wine shop or even the liquor store.

Here’s my suggestions for gifting wines:

Argyle Brut

This sparkler from Oregon is one of the more prominent ones when it comes to sparkling wines up here.  And it’s well worth the $20-$25 price tag.  This is one of my consistent favorites.  Plus, who doesn’t love sparkling wine????

You have a problem paying that?  *grumbles* Okay, let’s look at another sparkling wine then…

Cristalino Cava

No, this is NOT Cristal.  Yes, that is the right price.  Yes, I’m telling you to get a $10 bottle.  No, this is not one of those “you get what you pay for” deals.  This is actually more along the lines of “Damn, this is some good stuff.  And at $10 a bottle (less if it’s on sale), I can drink like a king for a long time!”  This sparkler comes from Spain, and is a consistently ranked as one of the best values.

…now, neither one of these are TRUE champagnes, as they don’t come from the Champagne region, but…you just saw the price tag for the French Champagne, didn’t you?  Remember, you’re on a budget here.  Don’t get me wrong, French Champagne is great, but the price tag makes my checkbook say “Ouch!” (now, if there’s other French sparkling wines available, usually called Crémants, go for it!)

Now that you’ve…ummm, let’s save some of the Cristalino for other shoppers, okay?  Now, let’s think about those who prefer still wine over sparkling wine (if there is such a person…).  Let’s stay away from varietals, since every person’s palate is different, okay?  So that means we’re looking at blends.

Yes.  Blends.

Ah, here we go.

Maryhill Winemaker’s White

42% Viognier, 25% Semillon, 18% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Chardonnay.  Good.  A good balance.  Oh, sorry.  This is a blend of 4 different grapes, all of which have similar characteristics…think tropical fruits…pineapple, guava, etc., etc., with a little bit of lemon zest & honeysuckle.  It’s an easy drinking wine that won’t pound you over the head with…well…anything, really.

Not a white fan?  Okay, here’s a red you might like…

Desert Wind Ruah

I call this my “Peanut Butter & Jelly” wine.  Yes, I pair wine with PB&J’s.  Don’t judge.  You do weird stuff like that, don’t you?

Anyway, this is a Bordeaux-inspired blend.  This is primarily a Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc blend.  Taste?  Think blackberries fresh off the vine…not super sweet, not super tart…a good, hearty balance of both.

What was that you say?  You need hard alcohol?  As a gift?

My advice on that?  If you’re giving hard alcohol as a gift, don’t be a cheapskate.

My favorite hard alcohols:

TequilaMilagro Silver.  Hands down.  No questions asked.  If you’re feeling rich, you can get Patrón, but if you want to keep your spending in check, get the Milagro.

Scotch/Whiskey – So there’s a few ways to go here…best advice, don’t be a cheapskate.

If you get Jack Daniels, get the Gentleman Jack to gift.

…don’t ask me about Scotch for two reasons:

A) I have not drank a lot of Scotch

B) I’m more of a Bourbon/American Whiskey fan.

Vodka

Mmmm…vodka.

Don’t care what you get, again, don’t be a cheapskate.  I’m a vodka whore and will make friends with whatever bottle you give me.  OH, I’m sorry.  You weren’t buying it for me?  Hmph.  Okay.

Pinnacle.  Not cheap, not expensive, but a damn good bottle of vodka.  And there’s a variety of flavors, if you want to go that route.  I recommend the Whipped or the Cherry Lemonade flavors.  Blueberry is good too.  So is the Cotton Candy.

Now, if you do give alcohol as a gift, remember…it’s even more fun if you give something to go with it.  Mixers, glasses, food products.  Whatever you do…don’t get cheap cheese-food-like-products or last weeks stale bread.  😉

And for those hard-to-shop-for people?  Umm…you’re guess is as good as mine.

Merry Christmas and may you all have a prosperous New Year!!

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