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Letter To Satin Ribbon

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May 23, 2016

Dear Single and Double Faced Ribbon,

It is with heavy heart that I advise I will not be using you in my bow-dacious bows.

Your silky sheen will no longer adorn my baskets or gift wrapping.  I’ve not mastered your use despite your simplicity and beauty.  I’ve given you my best efforts and countless hours all  for years for naught.

I’m not a quitter but I’ve discovered the versatility and ease of use of wired ribbons which were previously only available in limited colors, fabrics and patterns and always costly.  With time all things change and the selections are vast and pricing much improved.  Perhaps supply and demand has created this solution because maybe people than I have called it quits with you.

When I’m not using wired ribbons, I find my go-to choices are vibrant grosgrains.

Wishing you all the best in the pile of no-longer-trendy gift embellishments.


Tammy at Gifts To Go


Procrastination: Friend or Foe?

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Came across an interesting tweet this afternoon which posed the question whether procrastination furthers or hinders creativity.

The original tweet is

As a student and as an employee, I admitted to being a procrastinator, explaining it away as doing my best work under pressure. Now as a business owner, I  do the more interesting tasks before I focus on the less intriguing.   But, I assign and meet deadlines for the undesirable tasks because they must be done in order to keep the business g(r)owing.

The tweet struck another chord, though, as I now describe myself as a ‘ponderer’ or ‘muller over’ when it working on new custom basket designs.  Gifts made for actual persons and orders are easy for me; the creativity stems from a conversation, in person or through email, with the customer.  Even with just a snippet on information, I’m able to focus on the recipient and reason for the order.  I’ve been told that my creations show great insight into the gift giver, the recipient and the purpose behind the gift.

My problem arises when as a result of wanting to grow the custom gift basket line, I need to fill up our shop with custom gifts for shoppers to both browse on the shelves and purchase not because they ordered it but because once seeing it they realize it fills a need in their world to put smiles on someone special’s face.

When I don’t know who is going to purchase it nor who is going to receive it, I spend too much time and energy trying to gather and display items, struggling over which container to select, the color and fabric for the bow, how it should be wrapped and on and on.  I strive for stunning and practical selection of items to include and a presentation that wows but expend lots of effor to  work, re-work, do and re-do every step of a basket design when there is no person or story attached to it.

Would appreciate your help in creating these stories, givers and recipients so I can fill the shop with delightful gift options by answering the following few questions that will prompt my creativity and gift problem solving.  Thanking you in advance.

The Gift of Writing Spaces

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The Gift of Writing Spaces

Summers in the Valley of the Sun (metro Phoenix) mean slower sales and less foot traffic for retail establishments.  Our winter visitors have left us  and our residents manage their days around the heat and in accordance with available air conditioning. Most tasks are accomplished in the early morning when it’s the coolest and nearly everyone is indoors during the 4pm – 6pm time slot when it is often the hottest.

This is the season I then clean up, re-organize and evaluate the winter season in terms of processes and products.  It  is also the time I gear up for the next winter season by selecting new products for the shop and for our custom gift baskets.  I also determine what additional equipment we need. As an aside, this year I anticipate we’ll be added a ribbon printer and another portable register.

I’m also ramping up our online presence (social media, website and blog) to be more responsive to our current and future shoppers and shippers.  This effort includes participating in a 20 part Everyday Inspiration Challenge from the WordPress folks.

Today’s challenge is to write about our favorite writing space; I have two.  I am most productive at the kitchen counter perched on a bar stool with an afghan under me (I’m just 5’4″ and like to peer down the laptop).  My alternate space is a handy pull out writing desk tray that husband Scott added to our gift shop register table a few years back.  I use that particular space nearly all day but generally for gift shop immediate tasks such as getting online orders, answering emails, working in QuickBooks, tracking and  crunching sales numbers and for placing supplier orders.

The kitchen counter space is my preferred writing space because it is generally free from distractions.  I keep either the television news or music on at a low volume for some constant level of background noise but never really focus on it.  The fact that I am out of the shop and post office also reduces distractions as I can’t glance at a post office trash can that needs emptying or a gift shop shelf that needs dusting or re-stocking.  It’s just me and my afghan booster seat, the laptop and my phone for time-blocking each writing task. Again, as an aside, that time-blocking thing doesn’t generally work as planned but it does stop me from wandering down different rabbit holes – especially when I’m doing anything in Facebook!

We will be given a follow-up task in a few days regarding our writing space(s); I look forward to seeing what that challenge holds.  Until then, happy gifting and happy writing!







Gift Giving Quote for the Day and Beyond

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We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” ~Winston Churchill

If you’ve visited Gifts To Go you know I intend to make a living helping people give; by helping them find the exact right sentiment to express what they want to say about a particular human situation.   I then help them prep the gift for presentation with wrappings, bows and bags and all the things that agitated The Grinch.

Sometimes the gift-giver can put the exact sentiment into words and we just look for a something to express the feeling.  Many times the giver arrives looking for a something that will give them words to express the sentiment once they’ve uncovered the item that calls to them.

Neither approach is unusual.  Our lives are not defined by the one gift or even the something that represents the sentiment.  Our lives are defined by the series of interactions we’ve had with other individuals.  A single gift will never significantly alter the recipient’s response to a set of human interactions whether that’s during a lifetime or a short relationship.

This approach is especially relevant as we enter summer graduation and wedding season. Those events are generally the kick offs in a life long game of gift-giving. As you ponder your upcoming gift challenges, I wish you good choices but also acceptance of what you select and no regrets in terms of your budget or (lack of) timeliness.  After all, as we say, gifts are all about putting smiles of faces and I’m sure that’s what yours will do.


If you’re ever in our neighborhood, please stop in to introduce yourself.  We’re at 11340 W Bell Road, Suite 128, Surprise, AZ and can be reached at 602 403 0646.  And if you’re looking for a gift basket please check out the Gallery on our site.

All Things Are Difficult Until They Are Easy

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All Things Are Difficult Until They Are Easy

Occasionally when I walk through the quiet shop early in the morning a product strikes me in an unexpected way as though I’m looking at it for the first time.  Sometimes it is seared onto my brain for days.

Today the above Vintage Dictionary Art wall hanging figuratively jumped off the shelf at me.  It re-surfaced in my thinking several times throughout the day.  A quick Google search credits this statement to Thomas Fuller, a British clergyman and writer in the 1600’s.

I found myself thinking about the statement. And thinking back in time.  And then way back. Then daydreaming about what if.

I’m sure it used to be difficult to stand, crawl, walk, speak and except for a rough few years with an RA flare up, I don’t think twice about any of those actions.  It used to be difficult to back a vehicle into a parking space or garage; now I’m proud to say I’m pretty darn good at and no longer break into a sweat.  It used to be difficult to make cream puffs as good as Grandma Patterson could.  I haven’t made them in years and don’t like to eat wheat or large amounts of sugar but gosh they sound pretty tasty at this moment.  I may need to whip (and whip and whip) up a batch to see if I still have the touch.

So, the statement is obviously accurate and maybe even simplistic.  It even conjures up that other goodie ‘practice makes perfect’.  I started thinking about those things that frustrated me because they were too challenging.  What if I hadn’t given up on playing the guitar?  What if I had continued to ice skate? What if I’d mastered public speaking?  kept jogging?

Would my life be any different?  Would guitar playing eventually have been easy and if so would I have a comfortable hobby to be appreciated by friends and family or would I have landed a radically different profession?

I’ll continue to ponder Mr. Fuller’s statement for some time I suspect.   Hopefully with an enduring commitment to be patient with myself as I learn new things.  More importantly I choose to commit to be more patient and helpful as I’m teaching others new skills because despite the fact those tasks are now easy for me, there was a time they were difficult.  And, besides perhaps those persons play guitar at family gatherings.

Yes, I Call Gifts To Go Home

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Yes, I Call Gifts To Go Home

Today a frequent shopper/shipper asked me if I felt that I spent my life at the shop.

Yes, I spend six days each week working at the little gift shop and post office that we’re growing.  While that might sound overwhelming to some, I have always enjoyed my work and now that I’m nurturing this growing retail infant, I rarely see it as work.  I see it as coaching, championing, feeding, housekeeping and assessing.  Sometimes I see it as frustrating or trying but that happens when you nurture something.

However, I am not without some sense  of the trendy concept of work-life balance.  The members of my family living in Arizona reside in the same house that I do; I look forward to seeing them every night and every morning and if possible anytime throughout the day.

In terms of family representing the concept of home,  my mom helped me get this gift shop post office started and I often look at the post office space and see her, talk to her and spend a few moments being grateful that I was her daughter and that even though I was reluctant to start a gift shop she prodded me along the way.

My husband drives many miles each day to go to a job where he then drives throughout the state.  One of the primary reasons he does this is so that we have health insurance.  He works with me every Saturday, does my banking, delivers gift baskets and picks up my supplies throughout the state. He hangs my flags, fixes my signs and much more.

My brother is my straightforward, fully honest gift basket design evaluator.  If he likes it, it’s good.  If he doesn’t like it, it needs to be scrapped and he doesn’t waste any time letting me know that.

I am humbled to have them all and chances are I spend more time with my family than most who proclaim  ‘work-life balance’  success.  Clearly our heart-strings are shorter than those of many families I know.

Yet, I often need to prodded.  I tend to be the frog put into a cold pot of water that stays in the pot for far too long as the temperature of the water increases.  Perhaps the day will come when I’m the frog in the gift shop water that I haven’t noticed is growing warmer and warmer.  Until that time, I’ll be loving my job at Gifts To Go and  grateful to my family for helping me ‘live’ here.

Why Do People Give Gifts?

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I spend my days creating and growing a gift shop to delight, surprise and make my guests (shoppers and shippers) smile as they leave regardless of their arrival countenance.

So naturally I frequently consider the reasons people give gifts. When I introduce myself in a networking group I describe my activities as solving the ‘S’, ‘M’ or ‘G’ ( Sad, Mad or Glad) events in our lives.  So let’s see if we can compile a list of reasons humankind seeks to give a gift.

Here goes and please feel free to add:

  1.  To celebrate – a birthday, anniversary, new home, new baby, new car, first time vehicle license, a new pet, holiday such as Valentine’s Day, Easter, Hannukkah or Christmas.
  2. To cheer, empathize or express hope – a negative medical diagnosis, the loss of a loved one, loss of a pet, loss of a job, house fire, natural disaster or divorce.
  3. To apologize – for harsh words, misunderstanding, jumping to conclusions.
  4. To ease anxiety or fear over the unknown.

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  5. To demonstrate random thoughts of another person –these are gifts that are most likely to be a the total surprise.
  6. To ease feelings of homesickness – think of care packages for college students or friends or family who moved away.
  7. To express love to a new beau, spouse, sibling, child, parent or Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Grandparent’s Day.
  8. To demonstate pride in someone’s achievements such as Eagle Scout, graduation, First Communion, job promotion.
  9. To express gratitude or thankfulness for assitance with a project or task or to a favorite coach, mentor or teacher.
  10. To demonstrate faith in one’s ability to achieve a goal or persevere through a difficult situation.