Sarah Quon, Marketing Manager at Banana Republic
Every year, Sarah travels from San Francisco back home to Chicago for the holidays. But she doesn't check items off her shopping list until after the plane touches down in the Windy City. A tradition for this "procrastinator at heart," Sarah waits until the last minute to buy gifts, spending the two days before Christmas hunting for the perfect, most thoughtful gifts her family will adore.
As a self-proclaimed procrastinator, what’s your strategy for putting together a great gift at the last minute?
"For me, a great gift is something that's thoughtful, but also useful. I'm all about actual usage," she says.
Sarah is most likely to gift a staple piece that she can envision the person wearing over and over again. That's not to say she's opposed to accessories or accents — she just has to know her recipient will love and use them.
She does this by keeping a mental list over the course of the year — remembering jewelry her sisters gushed over, bottles of wine her friends enjoyed at a party or gifts that tied back to a special memory or experience.
Given your short time frame for finding the perfect gift, who are the most challenging people on your list and what’s your game plan for them?
"I'm really close with my two younger sisters. My youngest sister, Kasey, is the fashionista, and she always wants me to surprise her with something that's a bit more fashion-forward. She gives me a lot of leeway — she'll say, 'Whatever you would want for yourself, get it for me.'"
"But my middle sister, Rachel, is super prescriptive. She's very picky, so I have to narrow down my options and take her direction."
Though Rachel usually tells her exactly what she wants, Sarah thinks Athleta's Reflective Be Free Tight would be a thoughtful, welcome surprise this year.
Rachel plays professional soccer and runs most nights and mornings. "Athleta leggings are awesome. They hug you in the right places, they fit really well, and they have great longevity." And the reflective grid pattern on this particular pair will keep Rachel visible during darker hours.
For her fashionista sister Kasey, Sarah has her eye on Banana Republic's Ruffle-Front Blouse this year. "It's a classic white blouse, but the ruffle adds a little touch of fun."
What are some great go-to gifts in a time crunch?
Working at a fashion company, clothing comes to Sarah's mind first. Everyone can always use a great button-up or sweater — pieces that, per Sarah's eye, are both fashionable and evergreen.
"And pajamas are always fun to gift ," Sarah says. "Old Navy has great PJ options. I would gift their Patterned Waffle-Knit Leggings to both of my sisters. I might buy them for myself, too. We usually don't like getting the same clothes, but nobody sees your PJs, so it's OK if we're matching."
But her all-time favorite go-to gift is Banana Republic's Winter candle, sold exclusively in stores every holiday season.
"It's the perfect gift, or add-on," she explains. "Say you buy a sweater and pair it with the Winter candle — it feels a little bit more like a gift, more thoughtful."
"And this candle smells amazing. I stock up every year and buy five for myself. I also give it to my roommates so they'll use it, too, because I like the smell so much," she laughs. “Every person I've given it to, it makes them really happy. And that makes me happy."
Sarah’s other holiday picks
Sarah's mom is allergic to wool, which can make it challenging for her to find fashionable clothing that's warm enough for Chicago winters. Sarah's holiday solution? Gap's Cashmere Turtle-Neck Sweater, for a stylish look that's soft, warm and wool-free.
"My dad's not really a shopper, so he loves when we stock up on clothes for him for Christmas," Sarah says. This year, Sarah is looking at the Banana Republic Slim-Fit Non-Iron Gray Tri-Gingham Shirt ("This is a classic shirt, but the gray pattern is a fun update to his current wardrobe," Sarah says); Gap's 1969 Straight Fit Jeans; and Banana Republic's Ribbed Extra-Fine Merino Wool Beanie to help brave the Chicago winter chill.
And for Sarah's cousin Joey, a college sophomore? Old Navy's Men's Plaid Wool-Blend Jacket. "The red buffalo plaid is classic, but also really trendy. I can just imagine him wearing this every week."