There’s nothing like the satisfaction of giving the perfect gift. These articles reveal how to give great gifts and when to give them.

How to be the Savviest, Most Sophisticated Gift Giver of All Time

At one time or another, most everyone has experienced the near indescribable joy of receiving flowers. But how much do we really know about sending great floral gifts? According to recent research by The Michael Cohen Group, both women and men want to know more about buying flowers with confidence.

To deliver abundant floral know-how, the Society of American Florists (SAF) teamed up with floral and interior designer Rebecca Cole, author of Flower Power and co-host of Discovery Channel’s Surprise by Design. Together, they developed the Flower Fundamentals, helping people to become the savviest, most sophisticated floral gift givers they can be.

“It’s easy to become a connoisseur of flowers and plants,” Cole said. “And, like knowing about fine wines or great foods, knowing even the basics about flowers will help people feel more self-assured throughout their lives, from gift-giving to weddings to entertaining.”


Introducing The Hip Giver’s Guide

SAF and Cole created The Hip Giver’s Guide, a month-by-month resource to flowers that are in style, a library of flower and plant varieties, holiday tips and advice, fresh floral research and much, much more. The Hip Giver’s Guide is ideal for those who want tips on how to choose a local florist, read up on popular varieties of flowers, get design ideas and more.

gift and flowers. selective focus. holideys and events. happy.

What Hip Givers Know

The Michael Cohen Group research reveals just how much people love to give and receive flowers. Ninety-two percent of women can remember the last time they received flowers, and 97 percent of men and women recall the last time they gave a floral gift.

The hundreds of women and men surveyed described a gift of flowers as unlike any other because flowers create lasting memories and make people – both givers and receivers – feel cared about and special. The fleeting nature of flowers also encourages people to appreciate flowers when they are beautiful and vibrant.

“With a gift of flowers, you know that someone is thinking of you right now, this very minute,” Cole said. “It’s the memory of the gift and the emotions that last forever.”

What Hip Givers Said

  • 88% say flowers can change your mood for the better
  • 99% agree that a person who gives flowers is thoughtful
  • 89% believe that someone who gives flowers is sophisticated
  • 83% would like to receive flowers when they are not expecting them

What Hip Givers Don’t Know

While the majority of floral gifts are purchased from a local florist shop, the top five things gift givers don’t know about their neighborhood florist include:

  • They are design professionals with the artistic ability to create different looks to suit different occasions
  • Many local shops offer several convenient means of ordering, including phone lines and Web sites accessible 24 hours a day
  • Shop owners are connected with thousands of other local florists across the country and internationally, and can ensure your customized arrangement is sent on time to just about anywhere
  • Even the smallest of community florists has access to a wide variety of fresh flowers and plants on a daily basis
  • Local florists offer a variety of customer service extras, including how-to workshops, rewards programs, reminder services and more.

“Let your florist be your personal gift consultant,” Cole said. “Tap into their knowledge to learn more about flowers, or let them simply make you look good. It’s up to you.”

Track Important Dates to Give Flowers

Prioritize special dates on your calendar. Stay on top of your gifting needs by checking your calendar at the beginning of every month. Better yet, solicit the help of your local florist. All you have to do is tell your florist the important dates you would like to be reminded of. He or she will contact you ahead of time with gift suggestions for the upcoming occasion, and can even make suggestions or remind you what kind of flowers you sent last time.

Take the time to find something that is perfectly suited to your recipient’s interests, personality and style. These tips can get your thinking on the right track:

  • Does he or she have a special hobby or interest? Add to an antique lover’s collection with a vintage vase filled with flowers (a florist can create the perfect arrangement to complement the vase).
  • Would he or she prefer a quiet and romantic celebration? Try tickets-for-two to a special event. Send a dinner invitation delivered to his or her door in a bouquet of flowers.
  • Does he or she deserve some special pampering? Ask your florist to help you create a special spa kit in a basket with goodies like bath beads and oils on one side and a beautiful arrangement of flowers on the other.

Remember Special Days All Year Round

There are many occasions throughout the year when gifts are traditionally given and received, but don’t forget those special days that celebrate personal milestones.

Anniversaries, birthdays and holidays are special occasions, but they’re not the only times when giving a gift brightens the day. Celebrating a long friendship or shared accomplishment can renew and strengthen relationships with friends and family.

Don’t let personal milestones go by uncelebrated. Be sure to note upcoming events like graduation, new baby, new home, new job, promotion or well-deserved retirement on your calendar. Be sure to add new occasions as they occur. Personal milestones such as a first recital, finishing an important work project, quitting smoking, losing weight or passing the bar exam deserve a gift of recognition. A personalized gift adds to the sense of accomplishment and increases the enjoyment of a job well done.

When You Send Flowers, Think F.R.E.S.H.

When it comes to floral gifts, consumers rely most frequently on their local florists, according to recent research conducted by The Michael Cohen Group (January 2005). The reasons abound, including the scope of florists‘ professional experience, product quality and convenience.

Rebecca Cole, professional floral designer and co-host of Discovery Channel’s Surprise by Design, recommends thinking F.R.E.S.H. whether you’re sending flowers across the country or around the corner.

Find your florist, one that you connect with and who will be your florist for every occasion. If you don’t already have a florist, ask a friend or family for names of florists they know and trust. Visit the Florist Directory.

Research the different kinds of flowers available. Knowing the names of flowers is easier than you think and is a lot like learning about fine wines or gemstones. Click here for a floral library.

Evoke emotion. While 88 percent of people agree that a gift of flowers changes your mood for the better, evoke an even stronger emotion by sending your friend’s favorite flowers or colors. Your florist will be able to help you achieve your desired feeling. And, make the gift extraordinary by crafting a card message that has special meaning.

Send a surprise! Most people say “just because” is the best reason to receive flowers. Gifts have the biggest impact when they are unexpected.

Have confidence knowing you sent a great gift. Flowers fit everyone. Ninety-two percent of women can remember the last time they got flowers and 97 percent of women and men can remember the last time they gave someone flowers. And, those surveyed describe flower givers as “thoughtful and sophisticated” people.

Sunflowers and lemons with dusty miller

Americans Weigh In on Saying “I’m Sorry” and “Thank You”

For most Americans, it is harder to say, “Thank you” than “I’m sorry.” According to a February 2006 poll by International Communications Research, nearly two-thirds of respondents (65%) believe that saying “I’m sorry” is easy, while about the same number (67%) of Americans can remember a time when they were not properly thanked for a favor or act of kindness.

With the word “etiquette” defined as socially accepted behavior, Rebecca Cole, co-host of Discovery Channel’s Surprise by Design and author of Flower Power, believes that expressing all kinds of emotions should be easy, especially for those who can’t find the words.

“In the 21st century, with so many different ways to communicate without even using words – email, voicemail, text messaging – it’s amazing that people don’t routinely acknowledge the kindness of others in one way or another,” said Cole. “A simple ‘thank you’ or ‘I’m sorry’ can go a long way. Better yet, sending flowers helps you convey any message with added sincerity.”

Deciphering the Etiquette Dilemma

According to the Society of American Florists, the national trade association for the floral industry, five of the most common reasons people send flowers are to say thank you, I’m sorry, congratulations, get well and express sympathy. Cole shares her secrets for sending these sentiments.

Thank You

According to Cole, ask your florist for an arrangement conveying a casual, hand-picked feeling, to say thank you with a very personal touch. In addition to a beautiful statement of thanks, the accompanying note card can say everything that is too hard to say in person.

I’m Sorry

Flowers are the traditional gift to get out of the doghouse because they easily make the statement, “I was wrong.” To apologize with sincerity, ask your florist for a nostalgic arrangement, using a blend of delicate warm and cool lavenders and pinks. Having opened the door to forgiveness, follow the delivery up with a phone call.


A bouquet of bold, contrasting colors is a fun-loving, playful way to say “Congratulations,” “Welcome home,” or “Great job.” You can even get creative with the container. For example, if a friend just got a new job, ask your florist to put the bouquet in a fun pencil holder or something that represents the occasion.


It’s never easy comforting someone who has lost a loved one, but flowers can say what is often difficult to ex press in words. Flowers are usually sent to the funeral home to provide warmth and beauty to the service. If a service is not planned, grief experts recommend sending condolences to the bereaved person’s home.

Get Well

Choose a serene color scheme of light shades of green, misty blues and other cool hues to provide a moment of calm and let someone who is ill know you’re thinking of them. When sending flowers to a hospital, it’s helpful to have the name of the hospital, the patient’s name and room number ready for your florist. It’s also good to know the hospital’s flower policy. Your florist will know about the hospitals in your area.

More Floral Savvy

Studies show the power of flowers on our happiness and well-being and that people who give flowers are considered to be thoughtful and sophisticated. Here are quick tips from Rebecca Cole on showing your sophisticated side:

  • Send flowers to a hostess before you arrive for a party or event, and choose a color palette that will mix with her décor.
  • Do your best to tailor a gift to the recipient, whether it’s her favorite flower, color or even matches her eyes.
  • “Just because” is the best reason to send flowers! Try sending flowers in the middle of an ordinary week for the ultimate impact.
  • Get to know your florist. Having someone who knows you and your tastes will make expressing any emotion much easier.

“My tips are for people who want to let their friends and family know how much they appreciate them being part of their lives,” said Cole, “and for those who just want to be looked upon as thoughtful and sophisticated.”

Originally created for The Society of American Florists

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