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The Voice of the Black Community

Life and Religion

Gift-giving is not just for holiday season
Consultant's advice: The time's always right
Published Thursday, November 8, 2012 8:03 am
by Michaela L. Duckett

The holiday shopping season will be in full swing in a couple of weeks as shoppers flood the malls in search of the perfect gifts for the special people in their lives. One local entrepreneur believes that gift giving should not be relegated to one time of year, but should occur all year long.

Simone McDowell (left) shows off merchandise at the Charlotte's Day of Style event she hosted at The Boulevard in Southend. McDowell writes a blog on gift-giving in addition to providing gift consultations and personal shopping services.

“I’ve always loved giving and receiving gifts,” says Simone McDowell, who launched the blog HoneeBee Gifts in 2008. “I just like seeing someone’s face when they get a good gift. I like the excitement when they are unwrapping it.”

McDowell, a public relations and marketing professional, says her passion for gifting began when she was a child.

“I always had such a fun holiday season with my family,” she says. ‘I feel like you should have that feeling all year round. It shouldn’t just be during the holidays.”

McDowell says the best gift she ever received was a car for her 16th birthday. She points out that it was not a new car. It was her mother’s old car. She says even though it was a “hand-me-down” she was excited to have her own set of wheels nonetheless.
Another gift that tops her list of favorites was being treated to a concert and trip out of town by one of her girlfriends.

“We just picked a city and just went on a road trip,” she says. “That was pretty fun.”

On McDowell’s website HoneeBee Gifts, she provides tips on finding the perfect gift at various price points for a variety of occasions. She also teaches about gift-giving etiquette, highlights local businesses and even shares stories about the lavish gifts celebrities bestow upon their loved ones.

Since launching her website four years ago, McDowell has focused on building her brand beyond the blog.

“I’ve really just tried to put myself out there,” she says. “I’ve really started to hunker down and get specific about where I want this to go.”

These days it is an understatement to simply call her a blogger; she is evolving HoneeBee Gifts into a business. She offers personal shopping and one-on-one gift consultations. She is also a regular contributor to a number of regional publications, including SouthPark and Charlotte Style magazines. Her gift-giving ideas are also regularly featured in segments on WCNC-TV (channel 36).

Earlier this year, McDowell was booked for a speaking engagement at the Southern Women’s Show, in which she showcased creative gift concepts inspired by items found on the actual showroom floor. She says when she came up with the idea for the showcase and proposed it to organizers of the event, they said it had never been done before but were excited to give it a try.

“That was a great thing,” she says. “I was excited about it… I wouldn’t have thought a year ago that I would have been doing this.”

Secret of the perfect gift
McDowell says gift giving is mostly a matter of knowing the person you are giving the gift to. Even if you don’t know them very well, you can still find out things by observing them. What do they talk about? What do they enjoy? What do they aspire to be?

Gifting tips
1. Be honest: “Re-gifting is fine as long as you are not trying to keep it a secret,” says McDowell. “Don’t try to pull off this gift as the best gift ever. Maybe tell the person if you had two of the same item… Or just come clean and say, ‘It’s not right for me, but I was thinking it might be right for you.’”

2. Pay attention: “It’s just a matter of knowing the person,” she says. “Maybe they have hinted about something they wanted. Or maybe they are going on a trip and you can get them something that can accompany that trip. Or if you know that they have 5,000 pictures on their desk, maybe get them a fun funky picture frame. Just be aware of your surroundings and take notice of what your friends, family or co-workers like and enjoy, and think about that when it’s time to get gifts.”

3. Keep a gift closet: “If you see something that you think would be perfect for someone, but maybe you don’t want to give it as a just because gift, you may want to hold until a holiday, buy it and put it in your gift closet,” McDowell says. “Because if you try to go back to that same store later, they are not going to have it, you are going to get mad and be frustrated and then comes the last-minute gift that you don’t really want.”

For more tips and ideas, check out McDowell’s blog  at HoneeBeeGifts.blogspot.com or follow @HoneeBeeGifts on Twitter.


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