Ten Minutes With Mary Terry // Gift-Giving Guru

By Erin Jennings

Mary Terry co-owns gift and home furnishing shops up, down and across Winslow Way. From unique home accents at Dana’s Showhouse and Furnish Bainbridge to distinct wearable art at Danger, Mary is an expert on selecting gifts that receive rave reviews. We thought she’d be the best person to ask about how to make sure this season is the most wonderful time of the year.

What gift giving trends are you noticing?

Home things continue to be a hot item. People aren’t buying figurines though. The item has to be functional—not a dust collector. It’s really great if it serves two or more purposes. Vases are a wonderful example of functional art.

Thinking beyond a bottle of wine, what makes a great hostess gift?

Who wouldn’t want a pair of beeswax taper candles? It’s a lovely gift and maybe not something you’d buy for yourself.

I’m pretty sure my kids’ teachers already have a collection of “World’s Greatest Teacher” mugs. What’s a better idea?

Bake them some cookies. They are working full time, so give them something they don’t have time to do. But don’t just throw the cookies on a flimsy paper plate. Dress it up with nice ribbon. The presentation should be part of the gift.

Say your cousin has a new wife you’ve never met, and you draw her name in the family gift exchange. What do you buy?

A nice set of stationery is always fabulous. Because every once in awhile, you still have to write a handwritten note.

Speaking of notes, what are your thoughts on saying “thank you” via email? Is traditional mail required?

Snail-mail. I also think it’s perfectly fine to give your thanks in person. But emailing a thank you note for a gift is tacky. A handwritten note is so gracious and is lovely to see in a stack of mail.

Finish this sentence: “I know the holidays have hit Bainbridge Island when…”

People are still shopping and happy at 6 p.m.

What’s the best gift you’ve received?

Art made by my grown children.

Are you a “rip off the paper” gift opener, or a “savor the moment” opener?

A little of both. I don’t keep the wrapping paper, but I keep the ribbon. I can always repurpose it.

Re-gifting. Yes or no?

If you find someone who would appreciate the gift a whole lot more than you, it’s okay to re-gift it.

Tips on stretching your gift budget?

A branch from a berried tree tied together with cedar and fir is a stunning gift.

How can we avoid holiday stress?

Entertaining should be easy. I’m a Martha Stewart fan, but she’s made it where everything has to be perfect. Some people feel like if they can’t reach her level of perfection, they shouldn’t even try. Remember, the most important part of the party is the people.

“‘Tis better to give than to receive.” Thoughts?

I think it’s all about the hunt and finding that perfect gift.

Ten Minutes With Mary Terry // Gift-Giving Guru