By Assunta Ng
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
If you are stressed over what to give to friends and family, why not have your own guidelines in gifting? This will be easier for you to decide what to give.
I have developed my own guidelines for gifting. One inspiration is from our intern Edison Wong, giving customized gifts.
Anything you give should reflect your values. It will make you feel better every time you spend money for special gifts. My goal is to support the Washington state economy, the Asian community, and the arts.
1.Made in Washington state
Our state is called the Evergreen state. We grow and harvest an abundance of apples, grapes, potatoes, onions, and cherries. No, don’t give onions or potatoes unless you are mad at someone or desire to play a joke on your friends.
Apples are good gifts. A box of apples symbolizes that you wish someone good health. Health implies hope and luck. I once heard someone say, “If you have health, you have everything.”
Our state grows close to 40 kinds of apples, including honeycrisp, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Granny, and Cameo. If you have time, give a variety of apples — it makes the gift look vibrant.
Although I don’t drink, I am aware that our state produces great wine, according to wine critics. Many local wine makers export Washington wine all over the world. Our wines have competed successfully with European wine — it’s awesome.
Washington state cherries also showcase delicious Rainier cherries. You can buy it packaged, dried, or mixed with chocolates with no added sugar at Seattle’s Pike Place Market.
Our state also offers many fine chocolate brands, including Fran’s, Almond Roca, and Seattle Chocolates. I give them as gifts anytime. Chocolate cheers us up. It puts a smile on my face everytime I eat one.
2. Gifts reflecting Asian cultures
I have yet to meet someone who detests food. My friends love to eat, especially Asian cuisine. Shop for easy-to-cook Asian cookbooks, woks, and sushi-making tools for friends who like to cook.
Alex Soong likes to buy baby chopsticks for friends who don’t know how to use chopsticks. What a sweet way to introduce Asian culture!
Whenever I have an opportunity, I buy Asian food products for my friends.
It can be an eye-opening experience for non-Asian friends. Asian snacks are popular. You can’t go wrong with treats from an Asian bakery. The Chinese barbecue meat and sushi plates go well with any potluck and holiday party.
Treat your friends to an Asian meal during the holidays, and introduce the history of many of those dishes, they will remember the meal forever.
3. Asian artists
Very few Asian artists are as successful as the late George Tsutakawa, a sculptor and painter. Many have to work two jobs to make ends meet. Asian art pieces are reasonably priced. It is a labor of love. Buying their artwork means the world to them. I promote them whenever I can. Many of those artists’ works can be found at the Wing Luke Asian Museum and Kinokuniya Bookstore. Check them out.
Being a publisher myself, I buy as many as 15 books a year. The Seattle Rotary Club invites as many as six to 10 mainstream authors to speak every year. I buy their books and give them to friends. I even attend other authors’ events so I can buy their books, even if the publishing companies have sent us the book before. It’s how I show my appreciation for the written word. Honestly, I have not finished reading all of the books I’ve bought over the years. Many are lying on my kitchen table and in my bedroom. I enjoy books — they spike up my creativity and make me laugh.
5. Support museums
I once confessed to my friend that I don’t know what gifts to give to male friends, except a nice tie. He suggested he appreciates having a local museum membership. I never thought about that. Along with that realm of thinking, anything you buy such as a concert or theater ticket would delight both genders.
Seattle is not New York or Washington, D.C., with world-renowned museums. But we do have our share of interesting and exciting exhibits, which often attract national and international visitors. What we can do is to buy memberships for our friends, who wouldn’t normally patronize our local treasures. You would be surprised how much they enjoy it and realize what they have missed. During the winter, you can’t do much in the way of outdoor activities. Museums to visit are a nice alternative.
6. Customized gifts
You can create your cool gifts, like Jordyn Garrett. He “made a mug for his friend that had an inside joke on it.”
Or you can order a bottle of wine with your friend’s name on it. I once received such a gift, a bottle of champagne. Yep, the champagne is long gone. Of course, I drank some even though I normally don’t drink alcohol. But I still saved the memorable gift.
In our family, we did away with the tradition of giving gifts a long time ago. I am picky. It’s hard to get me the right gift. I have everything I’ve ever wanted in life. What else can my family give me that would be special?
During the holiday, our family simply enjoys dining together and going to movies. I couldn’t ask for more.
Edison Wong contributed to this article.
Assunta can be reached at email@example.com.