Holiday gift list overhaul

Departments - Retail Revival | Store improvement tips from the Garden Lady

Make your garden center the go-to gift store for all kinds of plant people by suggesting different kinds of presents this year.

November 5, 2021

Terrarium packages can give loved ones a therapeutic way to regain some sense of the control they’ve lost during the pandemic.
PHOTO © amixstudio I ADOBE STOCK

In 2017, I wrote that IGCs should take a new look at our practice of making “Gifts for Gardeners” lists every December. My thought then was that most people today don’t define themselves as gardeners, even though they are, indeed, gardening. Although we love the great alliteration of that “Gifts for Gardeners” title, today it’s like saying “Gifts for No One You Know.” It occurs to me four years later that while this is still true, the return to the garden we’ve seen during the pandemic, the increase in remote working and the houseplant revival offer us new perspectives for holiday gift lists. So here are some ideas for you to run with in your newsletters, blogs and social media this December.

Gifts for those with pandemic exhaustion

Do you know someone who’s drained by the past two years? You’re right … who doesn’t? But for those who are particularly weary of being so out of control, the perfect gift is the ingredients to build a terrarium. Give a container, small or large, the rocks and soil, and a group of small plants. Add furniture or ornaments such as a tiny bridge, a bench or animal figures. A garden under glass is the perfect little world over which the recipient of this gift has total influence.

Gifts for remote workers

Are your kids or friends still working from home? Give them the ingredients for an outdoor office. Perhaps a comfortable chair and a table that can hold a cell phone, beverage and laptop. Add an outdoor umbrella for shade so they can see their screen. But most importantly, give a gift certificate to the garden center so that they can buy plants that are interesting to focus on when they look away from the computer. They need colorful flowers, plants that will move in a breeze and blooms that will attract hummingbirds.

Gifts for those who attend virtual meetings

Sure, when someone is in a meeting, they can always use a virtual background. But think of how great it would be to give them a collection of blooming orchids or other tropical plants to place nearby during the next Zoom gathering. Give the gift of bragging rights during a company assembly so the recipient can say, “Yes, they’re real! I’m growing them.”

Gift cards and showy plants with unique foliage can make great gifts for many people in the workforce who are still working remotely. Plus, indoor and tropical plants can help brighten up their living spaces.
PHOTO © Farknot Architect | ADOBE STOCK

Gifts for new vegetable growers

So many people turned to growing edibles in the past two years. Encourage them to continue expanding their horizons with the gift of unusual seeds, attractive plant supports for pole beans or cucumbers, or soaker hoses with timers that make watering easy.

Don’t forget to tell gift-givers that your garden center would be happy to assemble a gift basket of the best organic problem-solvers as well.

Gifts for the bread-baker or cocktail enthusiast

I’m sure you can think of people who became mixologists or sourdough experts during the pandemic. They would love some fresh herbs. So put together a basket or pot that contains seeds for basil, thyme and nasturtiums. Then, add some small pots of rosemary, thyme and sage, along with some recipes you’ve printed for the latest, fresh herb-based cocktails or loaves of bread. (Note: Basil cocktails are especially hot right now!)

Bundle up baskets of edibles and herbs to create a handy, go-to cocktail kit for a host or hostess looking to curate the perfect holiday party.

Gifts for the grouchy

Picture that person who has been feeling just a tad cranky lately. They need aromatherapy! Paperwhite narcissus bulbs in a bowl of pebbles, a budded winter jasmine or seeds to grow alyssum would be ideal for those who need soothing.

Gifts for the college freshman

Is someone on your gift list coming home after their first semester of college? Give them some greenery to take back to the dorm. A snake plant (Sansevieria) or ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) along with a colorful plastic watering can and a package of fertilizer are perfect for greening up their living space. And it just might be the start of a life-long passion for indoor plants.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. The unique plants and products at your IGC will enhance the lives of all sorts of people, be they gardeners or not, so be sure to convey that this season.

C.L. Fornari is a speaker, writer and radio/podcast host who has worked at Hyannis Country Garden, an IGC on Cape Cod, for more than 20 years. She has her audiences convinced that C.L. stands for “Compost Lover.” Learn more at