Gift Giving

Ginger Reeder on gift giving.
Ginger Reeder, Dallas
Photograph by Darren Braun

NAME: Ginger Reeder | AGE: 50 | HOMETOWN: Dallas | QUALIFICATIONS: As a vice president for Neiman Marcus, scours the globe annually for over-the-top “fantasy” gifts to showcase in The Christmas Book / This year tracked down such items as a $25,000 customized cupcake car, a $12,000 chandelier made from plastic bottles, and the world’s fastest electric motorcycle

• A good gift, large or small, makes you think, “This person gets me.” That’s why even a handwritten note with a flower left at the appropriate time can be great. It’s the essence of gift giving.

• Pay attention and shop all year long. I preach this but never practice it. It’s a week before Christmas and I’m going, “Oh, my God, what am I going to get my sister?” But six months earlier we were on the phone and she said, “I really love Iron Chef ,” so I should have gotten her a set of Iron Chef knives. I’m a last-minute, FedEx-the-gift, hope-I-got-it-right kind of person.

• The Internet is your best friend. If you can chat online with a retailer, do it, because they’ve seen all the merchandise, they’ve talked to all the vendors, and they can tell you, “Yes, that’s an itchy sweater.”

• You can’t go wrong with food, especially if you don’t know the person well or if it’s someone who lives outside Texas. There is still intrigue and mystery about this state. So send a Texas apple pie or a Texas smoked beef tenderloin or some Texas wine or vodka. Of course, my old standby is Neiman Marcus chocolate chip cookies. Who doesn’t like a chocolate chip cookie?

• My mother is one of those annoying people—I say it with affection—who says, “Oh, I don’t need anything.” But who doesn’t need a massage or a manicure? I try to think of something she wouldn’t buy for herself.

• It’s harder to shop for women than for men. I hate to generalize, but women are out there in the trenches, shopping. They’ve seen everything. Whereas men are just happy to get a present. Such simple creatures.

• Presentation is important. I have a friend who picks a theme for his wrapping every Christmas, and it’s always unusual. I love the gift as much before it’s opened as when it’s open.

• Regifting is one of those ugly truths I don’t want to know about, though I do like the idea that a gift can end up in the right hands. So if it works, I’m for it. But don’t ever tell me, “Oh, I got that from somebody else.”

• If I had to pick a gift for myself from The Christmas Book , it would be one that I scouted during my second year on the job. I worked with a librarian at SMU to make a list of the best great American novels from the past ninety years—everything from The Great Gatsby and As I Lay Dying to Catch-22 and Charlotte’s Web —and then worked with a rare-book company to find a first edition of each. So if somebody is looking for something for me this year . . .

• I don’t care how you celebrate the holidays: You should evoke the wonder a child has when receiving gifts. You don’t have to give up the Barbie Dream House just because you’re no longer ten. You just up the fantasy.

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