How do I give a tasteful gift of booze
December 17, 2007 4:43 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to spend about $50-75 on booze for my secretary. Any ideas?

So I'm an overworked lawyer (junior associate) who pretty much forgot it's December... and I need to get something nice, and quickly. Given the lousy weather and the fact that she's not on vacation next week like everyone else is, I figure wine would do the trick...

Any ideas on how I can flip $50-$75 into a meaningful present? One bottle of outstanding wine is fine if it's something she will recognize as high quality.. but I could get creative and put together a basket of three bottles of wine or two bottles plus some good liquor.

Any thoughts? (Yes, if you think I should be spending more, you can say so, just be nice about it.)
posted by Saucy Intruder to Food & Drink (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If she knows wine then she'll recognize the name Shafer. Barring that you can find some wines from Silver Oak in that price range that should do the job.

If she likes a particular kind of booze then it may be more inventive to go to BevMo (or any liquor store), pick up a bunch of small shot bottles in that variety and package them up nicely.
posted by quadog at 4:50 PM on December 17, 2007

Veuve Clicquot costs ~$39 bucks, maybe less, depending on where you buy it, and is fairly widely recognized as a pretty good champagne. Available at Trader Joes, possibly your local grocery or liquor store, and BevMo. You could get that and a decent fifth of some harder stuff.
posted by LionIndex at 4:53 PM on December 17, 2007

Are you set on wine? Is she a wine person?

If not, forgive me, I don't think wine is an ideal gift for an assistant (not that she wouldn't appreciate it, but unless you talk about wine at the office, it's the "I forgot to get you something" gift, you know?)

I think something almost universally exciting to lady assistants would be something like a gift certificate to a nice day spa in your area, or, depending on your climate, a fancy scarf or pashmina.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 4:55 PM on December 17, 2007

Champagne plus some chocolate truffles or even just some really nice chocolate bars (which I've seen being sold in upscale liquor stores recently) might make a nice basket. Makes it seem more like "Have a nice evening, on me!" and less like "Go get liquored up!"
posted by occhiblu at 4:56 PM on December 17, 2007

This is your personal secretary and you are busting out a $75 present for Christmas? I would like to suggest nicely that you are Dickensian in your generosity.
posted by found missing at 4:58 PM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hi - I'm a legal secretary, so maybe my perspective will be useful.

First of all (and this is absolutely the truth), I would much rather know I'm appreciated all year long than receive a gift at the holidays. I have one partner who doesn't show me any gratitude, never praises me, and only notices my mistakes, not the extra miles I go for him. Strangely, I like him anyway. I feel there's a core of goodness in there somewhere.

Anyway, last year he gave me a $500 gift certificate to Barney's, and while that was great, I have to say I was a little embarrassed. Apparently that's the only way he can show his gratitude. Of course, he's rich as the devil, so $500 to him is the equivalent of $25 to us regular joes.

My senior associates probably spend about $100 or less on me, but they're SENIOR. Most people are aware of the demands that junior associates face, and some of them aren't making much more than me. I would be pleased as punch to get one or two good bottles of wine from any of my attorneys. I wouldn't get liquor - it seems a little impersonal. Good champagne would be nice. A spa gift certificate would be a good idea too. It's pretty much fool-proof.

You sound like a nice guy/girl, and the fact that you're putting so much thought into this makes me think that you probably show your secretary appreciation year-round. That's the most important thing. Gifts are nice, but they shouldn't be expected.

Oh, one more thing - please don't give her a big candle. I speak for secretaries everywhere.
posted by Evangeline at 4:59 PM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: yes, she's a wine person. I like the chocolate idea, though.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 4:59 PM on December 17, 2007

If you're as overworked as you claim, she's overworked too. Some time at the spa with a good bottle of wine will combat this nicely.

Evangeline has it right. The shitty little gifts I got from a former (similar) employer meant nothing, but when they laughed at my jokes and remembered my birthday and closed the office for the day on my last day in the office, that's what I cared about.

Let her know that no matter what you say to her, or in whatever tone of voice, or in whatever email, you appreciate all her hard work.
posted by santojulieta at 5:04 PM on December 17, 2007

How about the wine and a massage gift certificate from a spa.
posted by 517 at 5:05 PM on December 17, 2007

preview, preview is my friend. I will use it in the future.
posted by 517 at 5:06 PM on December 17, 2007

Tribute is the best wine ever. Seriously.
posted by muscat at 5:28 PM on December 17, 2007

I had nothing to say until you said you like the chocolate idea.

I have given Jacques Torres chocolates as a gift and the recipients have always been pleased.

The chocolate is delicious and the presentation is tasteful. They have Winter Holiday selections, Chocolate Bars and more.
posted by mlis at 5:36 PM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

It's a little bit above your price range, and it certainly isn't wine so much as (loosely) wine related, but you might want to take a look at Woodford Reserve's Sonoma-Cutrer Finish. Bourbon finished in a used chardonnay barrel. Probably not the thing your secretary would buy on her own, but she might enjoy it. Plus it will last her longer than a bottle of wine. I hope.
posted by Doug at 5:47 PM on December 17, 2007

Find a boutique wine shop and see if they carry any "grower's Champagne". If she is a Champagne fan, she will appreciate the notion. If not, she will just get a really great, proprietary bottle of wine. You get the benefit of supporting a smaller producer/ smaller wine shop and, with luck, having prospective good taste. Look to spend between $50 and $100...
posted by priested at 5:49 PM on December 17, 2007

how about a $25 bottle of wine and a $50 gift certificate to a nice department store? make sure to give her a pretty card, and write, "i probably don't thank you enough for all the work you do, but i really do appreciate it. please treat yourself to something frivolous and wonderful. happy holidays, xx"
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:58 PM on December 17, 2007

This is sort of an abovethelaw question (and I defer to the legal assistant above), but my department just gave gifts to the assistants on our floor last week, and the consensus (firm-wide) was that cash is the way to go. Your firm may be different, so YMMV. First years gave $100 with the gift increasing by $25 per class year (this was via an official unofficial email circulated among the associates). I gave a bit extra over the stepped amount for my year, as I like my assistant, and I have pangs of lawyer guilt (assistants don't get a bonus from the firm where I work). This was in NYC.

But I'm definitely down for making sure that your assistant knows you appreciate him/her--but that goes for every day. Amirite?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:06 PM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

If I had $75 to spend on wine I would hop on over to Papapietro Perry and buy some Pinot. Insanely good.

My second choice would be some late harvest Zinfandel, because it's a fun winter gift. It's awesome, it's not something not a lot of people have tried and i've not met anyone who doesn't love it, even my dessert-wine hating self. Harvest Moon makes a nice one.
posted by fshgrl at 6:41 PM on December 17, 2007

ps, you could also go for a mulled wine set. That's another fun winter thing- you get some OK wine, a spice package (upscale liquor store or Wholefoods type place) and some fresh fruit (oranges, grapes etc) and stick it all in a basket.
posted by fshgrl at 6:43 PM on December 17, 2007

Port is delicious. Because it's sipped slowly in small quantities, it would last longer than regular wine, stretching out your appreciation, and perhaps hers.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:12 PM on December 17, 2007

For a meaningful wine gift, I look for personality traits in the person and try to find a wine whose characteristics matches it. Many wines are feminine others are masculine. Some are pensive and deep, others are hedonistic and slutty etc... Give me a little bit of basic presonality traits and I can coff up some suggestions. Then you can yam out a card that connects the wine to her.
posted by stratastar at 9:39 PM on December 17, 2007

also, let us know where you're located so I can see if these wines are available, as shipping seems to probably be out of the game at this late stage for Xmas...
posted by stratastar at 9:40 PM on December 17, 2007

Take her out on the town and maybe you can both benefit!
posted by Caper's Ghost at 5:14 AM on December 18, 2007

posted by chickaboo at 8:41 AM on December 18, 2007

Response by poster: Update: I've been informed she likes Grey Goose. Can you guys think of chocolate, other food, or companion liquor that will go well with it? ThanksMe!
posted by Saucy Intruder at 10:23 AM on December 18, 2007

Caviar would be the obvious choice (for good reason). Caviar, crackers, and vodka would be a very nice evening.

The other thing might be a bottle of nice vermouth (I've been really liking Noilly Pratt), some stuffed olives (pimento, blue cheese, jalepeno?), and maybe even a cocktail shaker? Martini in a basket.
posted by occhiblu at 11:25 AM on December 18, 2007

Or, a jar of nice olives, a jar of nice cocktail onions, and a few lemons, so she can garnish as she likes.
posted by occhiblu at 11:26 AM on December 18, 2007

If she likes Grey Goose, it's a vodka that goes for about $30 for a fifth. You could get her a nice cocktail shaker set, if she likes to make martinis or whatever, and that would get you more to what you want to spend.

If she does like martinis, throw a bottle of good olives in with that shaker set.

Not sure if this helps: I'm a vodka person myself and like it with cranberry juice. I don't know how she feels about flavored vodka, but I can wholeheartedly recommend Three Olives brand cherry flavored vodka. It's the best cherry one out there and it's awesome with Red Bull, or my personal favorite, Diet Coke. And it's not cheap (or chintzy) so it might not be a bad idea. I'm not sure how you feel about throwing a 4 pack of Red Bull with it, but...
posted by slyboots421 at 12:07 PM on December 18, 2007

I'm another victim of needing to preview first!!
posted by slyboots421 at 12:07 PM on December 18, 2007

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