A Go-To Gifting Guide for the Holidays

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By Cindy Edwards

The holidays are quickly approaching and many of us will flock to stores to pick out the perfect gift for all those special people in our lives.  I took a mini-trip around Savannah to check out the fabulous array of gift-giving possibilities in my area. My focus was inexpensive, clever gifts that could be given to neighbors, teachers or hostesses.

I started at Byrd Cookie Company, and owner Stephanie Lindley greeted me. Lindley is the great-granddaughter of founder Benjamin Tillman and has recently returned to the company. While cookies are a big focus at Byrd, Lindley has brought in new items and has a wide variety of gifts, including a big selection of Paula Deen’s fabulous products and books. When I asked her how it felt to be back at her family business as CEO she said, “The first day, after being away for 11 years, was like coming back to school: excited and nervous.”

My journey continued at Sweet Tea, a Savannah gift shop located in a neighborhood known as Sandfly. This store feels new and different each time that I visit. It’s cozy, yet it is filled with gorgeous items that anyone would love. I sat down with owner Lisa McCaslin, who has a clever knack for making anything look extraordinary. McCaslin believes that “presentation can make all the difference.”  She manages to make a simple soap look spectacular with mere ribbon and cellophane!

Here are a few gift-giving ideas from two of Savannah’s most charming merchants:

Hostess Gifts

McCaslin says a hostess gift is an opportunity to show your appreciation for being included at an event. She advises, “People are busier than ever, and a hostess gift is a wonderful way to say thank you for taking the energy, time and thought for including me at their party.”

I met with Byrd’s vice president, India King, to discuss the “perfect” hostess gift. King, the consummate hostess, recommends simple gifts that do not require the hostess to stop and “tend to the gift.”  For example, King’s favorite hostess gift is a vintage tin, hand-packed with Byrd’s signature scotch oatmeal cookies.
Scotch Oatmeal Cookies in tin $19.95

A host or hostess would love the smart cocktail shaker from Byrd filled with a savory cocktail snack.

Savory Cocktail Shaker $14.95

Both King and McCaslin agree that a hostess gift does not have to be expensive: It just needs to be a thoughtful gesture on the part of the guest. Luckily, it is easy to turn a small, simple gift into a spectacular one. McCaslin showed me a fabulous miniature butter dish that she recommends for a hostess gift.  She suggests filling it with a chocolate truffle, small soap or candle.  Wrapped with cellophane and a pretty ribbon, it makes a lovely, inexpensive gift that is also practical.  McCaslin advises, “Whatever the budget may be, the presentation will make your selection extra special.”

An array of inexpensive gifts from Sweet Tea, which are versatile, clever and fun.

Here are more hostess gift ideas:
• A Sample of Paula’s Favorite Sauces
• Paula’s Kitchen Classics Gift Tower
• Everyday Honeys Gift Set

Neighborhood Gifts

It is always fun to prepare a little special something for neighbors.  It does not need to be fancy or expensive.  With our busy lives, King recommends purchasing raw, refrigerated cookie dough and keeping it on hand for a semi-homemade gift. It could become an easy baking project for your children.  Whether packaging cookies in a cute bag with ribbon or on a silver tray with cellophane, you will have a personal gift to present from your family.

Try some of these sweet packaging ideas.

Teacher Gifts

It is nice to help your children come up with something special for their teachers during the holidays because they learn early about showing appreciation for the important people and role models in their lives.  At Sweet Tea I found the perfect old-fashioned Christmas ball that opens to hold a trinket.  Place a sweet treat, a gift card, or just a special letter inside and brighten up any teacher’s day. This type of holiday ornament is only $5.

Some other gifts perfect for teachers might be:
• A 2012 Calendar
• A Magazine Subscription
• A Cookbook Holder

No matter your budget, with some smart shopping and clever presentation, you will be able to find wonderful gifts for all the people on your list.

Wishing you all the joy and happiness that Christmas brings!
As always, thank you for reading.

Properly yours,

Cindy Edwards embodies everything pretty, perky and proper about the South. She's a wife, mother, volunteer and freelance writer. Cindy volunteers enough hours to exhaust most by serving on the Board of Trustees for the Telfair Museums, the Savannah Book Festival Board of Directors and the University of Georgia Honors Advisory Board. She has also served on the Boards of the March of Dimes and Young Life Savannah. Cindy has been married to her college sweetheart, Dr. Joe Edwards III, for 25 years and is the proud mother of two sons: Joe IV, a senior at the University of Georgia, and Jack, a freshman at Ole Miss. No matter how busy, Cindy always makes time for a competitive game of bridge.
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Reader Comments:


Great gift ideas!! Keep them coming.

By Jamie on January 02, 2012


Yet again, Cindy, you have given your readers an article full of useful information. I still have a couple of small gifts to buy, and you've helped guide my ideas in the correct direction. Thanks and Merry Christmas!

By Viki Curtis on December 21, 2011


Love you gift ideas. I enjoy shopping in Rome in the local stores. You really can find wonderful gifts for a reasonable price. Merry Christmas!

By Jeanne sparks on December 20, 2011


Great post! Now I know where to get all of my gifts this holiday season! Love reading your blog!

By Donna Eichholz on December 15, 2011


Love the tour of Savannah!! We're so lucky to have such great gift shop right in our backyard! I love reading your column while I'm away at college! It makes me feel like I'm right at home! Happy Holidays!

By Caroline Eichholz on December 15, 2011


Hello Linda, Thanks for your comment. Maybe you should come visit Savannah and brings some friends?!?! If not, you can always go online and shop these Savannah stores. Merry Christmas, Cindy

By Cindy Edwards on December 15, 2011


With the Holidays upon us, what wonderful ideas for gifts! As usual, your blog has perfect timing! Thank you for making my life so much easier with all of your helpful posts!

By Marci Viers on December 15, 2011


Great suggestions! Wish I lived near Savannah!

By Linda Parton on December 15, 2011


Great article and love all of your posts. I grew up in Savannah and remember those great Byrd cookies. Glad the business has remained in the family. Always looking for great and unique gift ideas. Thanks again Cindy for doing such a great job.

By TRACEY on December 14, 2011


Cindy, thanks for a great blog! We met years ago at the Ritz Carlton for Georgia-Florida weekend and I think you are perfect for advising on etiquette and manners. I hope everyone enjoys this blog with the assurance you practice what you preach. I taught my little son, age 6, table manners from one of your pieces. Thanks for the tips!

By Stacy Pandya on December 13, 2011


Cindy, I love your blog! You are perfect for writing an etiquette blog! Thanks for great tips. Stacy Pandya,

By Anonymous on December 13, 2011


Great post. I love giving little gifts of appreciation, especially around the holidays. These are great ideas!

By Amy on December 13, 2011


Wonderful gift ideas - very thoughtful and not breaking the budget. We're heading down to Sweet Tea today to see if we can get some last-minute holiday gifts!

By Winslet on December 13, 2011


Thanks for the wonderful gift ideas. I enjoy making ornaments and baking Paula's oatmeal cookies for Christmas gifts. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

By Anne on December 13, 2011


Cindy, as usual your ideas are spot on! It is so important to give a hostess gift I agree, a lot goes into throwing a party, shower or dinner. Thanks for the great ideas and keep up the good work!!!! Have a wonderful holiday season smile

By Ashley Ocampo on December 13, 2011


Thanks for the great ideas... And I agree, presentation is half the gift! My favorite for someone like an aunt or sister-in-law that likes to cook , is a special cookbook adorned with a bottle of old-fashioned Watkins flavoring. Always a hit. Look forward to the next one.

By Michelle on December 13, 2011


Cindy As always, a great article. I never have enough ideas for gift giving especially hostess gifts. Thanks for your help....again. Carolyn

By Carolyn Nowell on December 12, 2011


Thanks for all the gift suggestions and the reminder that a gift doesn't have to be expensive to be pretty. You're right. The presentation can make the gift. Your attention to the local businesses in Savannah is wonderful. Keep up all the great blogs!!

By Sandra on December 12, 2011


Cindy,I came up with the neatest idea last Christmas.When I burn Paula's candles down I take the little handle off then I put them in the dishwasher they come out looking great.Sometimes you might have to do it twice but no more than that.After that all I have to decide is what to make to put in them then I give them as a gift.Maybe little soaps or some kind of candy that I've made.It works really good for the Spiced Pecans I make.The jar is air tight so It'll keep for awhile.Have a Blessed Day.Mary

By MARY2711 on December 12, 2011


Great Ideas! I love your blog and look forward to what is next.

By Lenora Buckley on December 11, 2011

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hi! wink i was wondering if you could share the recipe for the chiken/grape salad-the one that is pictured on the croissant above? thanks! wink sandra
Sandra Neuheimer-Huller in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 19, 2014 at 10:37 am

Where do I buy these magazines
in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 8:22 am

TAMMY L LEVAN in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 4:31 am

Hi Bubbles, You have some great tips. Can't wait to read your other blogs! Please give Aunt Peggy a big hug from me and here is one for you! (((HUGS))) See you in May!
Jaci Pardun in 10 Quick Household Tips on April 18, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Paula, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who makes Easter Baskets for their adult children and mail them across the United States. My Daughter lives in Long Beach, CA and I not only sent her a basket but her husband and my granddaughter Reese. We also buy special Russel Stover Bunnies for each child too. My husband has the list in his phone... Sara .. Cookies 'n Crème.... Sidney and Stephen.. Peanut Butter Etc. It one of my favorite things to do for my kids.. no matter how old they get. And passing it along to my Grandchildren. It's even more special to me knowing we share a family tradition. Blessings and Happy Easter!!
Sharon Cason-Card in A Basketful of Traditions on April 18, 2014 at 11:03 pm