5 tips from an expert shopper


I love to shop.

Sometimes, I go to Nordstrom just to inhale the comforting scent of retail.

This is both a blessing and a curse, as my credit card bill reveals.

On the positive side, I’m so experienced at not just the act of shopping, but also the act of placing virtual items into my shopping cart and the act of obsessing over things I want to buy that I’ve become an expert at shopping — the same way Stephen Hawking is an expert at quantum mechanics.

Here are five of my tips for shopping for a middle-aged woman.

Over 50, women need more sentiment than stuff. I realize that I seem to be contradicting myself here, but I would rather buy my own pair of boots than have a friend or boyfriend choose them. If the friend wants to give me money to buy them, that’s fabulous — but what I really crave is a loving note or card.

A written card with heartfelt sentiment is just about the most beautiful thing a woman can receive — and it costs nothing.

Very few material things are going to make me squeal with glee at this point in my life — since if I want something bad enough, I buy it for myself.

However … if my boyfriend writes a note that says, “You are the sunshine of my life, and I know this will make you happy,” and he encloses a gift card for my favorite store — that is a fabulous gift.

Because he knows I love to shop.

One of my dearest friends gave me the gift of a painting of a dozen delicate dragonflies, because we both like dragonflies and what they represent — transition and rebirth. Thus, she gave me sentiment in addition to a lovely piece of art.

Pay attention. If a woman doesn’t shop for herself much — and is, therefore, the opposite of me — the rule still applies.

Pay attention to what this woman wears and what she does for fun — and give her more of that. This is no time to give Dolphins tickets to a woman who’s a ballet fan.

I’d like to say I’m all for new experiences, but at age 61, if I don’t like it already, I’m probably not going to like it. Especially when it comes to Dolphins games.

I knew my marriage was over when my ex-husband asked our daughter if she thought I’d want a gift card from Brooks Brothers. No offense to Brooks Brothers, but I have never — nor will I ever — wear anything from Brooks Brothers. That’s not me.

Either he wasn’t paying attention, or this was a passive-aggressive fashion attack on his part.

Hmmmm. Come to think of it, my ex-husband likes Brooks Brothers. Maybe he was simply projecting his fashion style onto me.

Either way, this ho-ho-ho faux pas was about as well-received as the “purse desk” he once gave his first wife.

It was a purse that folded out into a lap desk. I’m not kidding. He thought it was cool.

Trust me, men — a purse that transforms into another object is no woman’s idea of a romantic gift. Unless there’s a ticket to Paris inside.

Give what you know your friend already likes.

My friend, Ellen, knows I like the “Falling in Love” fragrance by Philosophy, so she gifted me with a bottle of a lotion in that scent. Every time I wear it, which is almost every day, I have a loving thought about my wonderful childhood friend. She paid attention to what she knows I like.

Buy experiences, not stuff. I’m taking my five daughters and my two grandsons to Disney World in a couple of weeks. Their Disney passes and that trip are what they’re getting for Christmas. We go to Disney a few times a year, and we all value that experience of being together and having fun more than stuff.

If you’re staying home, make your holiday a fun and memorable experience by doing a theme.

One year, my family did “I’ll Be Gnome for Christmas,” with — you guessed it — gnome-themed gifts. I hid gnomes all over the house, and my adult children had to find the gnome that was chosen especially for them.

Another year, we did “Merry Kris-mas” — a Kardashian theme. I have grown daughters, what can I say, they like the Kardashians.

One of them was in on the joke ahead of time and dressed as Kim, and I dressed as Kris Jenner, since Kris and I are the ultimate Mom-agers.

If you buy stuff, make it creative. For example, Anthony’s sells a practical, lightweight, one-size-fits-all sweater by Avalin for $49.95. A sweater is about the most basic gift imaginable — but this sweater can become a fantastic, special gift if you throw in a fun note.

Here’s what you do: Wrap up the Avalin sweater (get it in turquoise) and enclose a note that says: “You’ll look as cool as the Inlet Breeze cocktail (Tito’s vodka with cranberry and grapefruit juices) in this sweater. Put it on, and let’s set a date for cocktail night at Square Grouper in Jupiter.”

Sentiment over stuff — it will touch her heart every time.



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