When Gift & Home Today invited me to write about gift and home décor from a consumer’s point of view, I jumped at the chance. As a longtime resident of the northern suburbs of Chicago and an avid shopper, I have been doing research for years in gift and home décor shops in the area. One of my favorite shops is Perennials, located in Evanston, IL (owned by Patty O'Neill). It is my source for elegant gifts that are not available in other stores.
Every year, when shopping for holiday gifts for my in-laws, I find myself heading toward Perennials’ green-and-white-striped awning on Evanston’s Central Street. This year, Perennials featured a Victorian Christmas theme in its windows. A tree was decorated with vintage ornaments, including white balls imprinted with Victorian street scenes and a small, antique book titled “Christmas Memories.”
What a perfect Christmas gift. Unfortunately, I had already bought most of my Christmas presents, and couldn’t think of anyone to buy the wooden sled for. I tend to shop at Perennials for gifts and not for myself. However, I am kicking myself now for having passed it by!
While scanning the elegant displays, I was thinking: where is the one really amazing gift? I know it’s here. Every trip to Perennials has yielded a new discovery of an elegant gift item I can’t find anywhere else.
When I first visited Perennials about a dozen years ago, I thought it was just another gift store – lots of flower arrangements, gift soaps and pastel notecards. A fun place to explore with your female friends. But I slowly realized that the buyer truly had exquisite taste. The following items won me over:
1. Robin’s-egg-blue notecards displaying one large script initial in white. Robin’s-egg blue has been synonymous with wealth and good taste ever since Tiffany’s began using it as their signature color. These notecards were just the right shade of robin’s egg blue, with a white border. I still berate myself for not using the cards with initial “B” as thank-you notes after my wedding! To use these would make me feel wealthy and possessed of the most exquisite taste.
2. Stunning, heirloom-quality photo albums and frames. Fortunately, I came to Perennials when I was shopping for wedding photo albums. I had looked everywhere for the perfect albums and frames: Marshall Field’s, The Yellow Bird, The Hallmark Store, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and online at sendaframe.com. At Perennials, I found a selection of picture frames covered in ivory jacquard fabric, and photo albums in ivory silk shantung with a raised diamond pattern. (see picture of the ones I chose!) I love diamond patterns: on quilted jackets, Chanel purses, you name it! These albums and frames had just the look of understated elegance I was searching for.
3. A collection of fine gift soaps and lotions, beautifully displayed. I have found many hostess gifts on these shelves: lavender-scented soaps from the Provencal region of France, exquisite seashell-shaped soaps, and a whole shelf of LaSource products in elegant turquoise packaging, featuring the clean scent of ocean breezes.
Perennials is the place to buy gifts when you want to make a good impression. This is why I often refer to it as the “mother-in-law store.” Their gift-wrapping service is as elegant as their gift items. You can choose between red toile wrapping paper or a blue floral pattern, tied with ribbon and accented with a single rosebud. For important gifts, you can’t go wrong by shopping at Perennials
Louise Burton is a writer, editor and avid shopper who lives in Wilmette, IL. She currently writes web content and designs websites, uniting her interests in both writing and design. She has written for a host of e-newsletters about marketing trends and techniques. One of her passions is good design, wherever it can be found: on the Web, at art fairs, or in home furnishings. She is constantly on the lookout for the finest products available in gift and home décor.