Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Kiss for Every Year

Here's a simple and sentimental gift to help someone enjoy sweet memories when they celebrate a special birthday or anniversary: a Kiss for every year.

This gift is easy and inexpensive, but a very nice gesture. Here's how it works:

1. Count out one Hershey's Kiss for every year being celebrated -- plus one to grow on. For someone turning 80 years old, for example, count out 81 Kisses.

2. Using a Sharpie pen, label the bottom of each Kiss with a year in the celebrant's life. If the couple was married in 1960, label the first Kiss "1960," the second "1961," etc...on up through the current year.

3. Mix up the labeled Kisses and put them in a pretty (reusable) jar, box or vase. If the Kisses don't fill the container, use mylar, tinsel or Easter grass to fill things up and add to the sparkle.

After I put together a collection of Kisses for my grandfather's 85th birthday, he made a point of reading the year on each piece of candy before he ate it -- and remembered something special from that year in his life.



Friday, January 8, 2010

Be Prepared Part II: Monthly Files

Being organized is all relative -- I am generally under the comfortable illusion that I'm pretty on top of things, but to be honest a lot of my organization consists of knowing which thing is in what pile of papers...or in what room. I get by.

I did, however, set up a very easy, very effective organization system for gifting a few years ago -- it took me just a few minutes and cost about two bucks. My kind of project!

This is all you have to do:
  1. If you have a file drawer with space to spare (and promise that you can access it regularly without hurting yourself), add 12 file folders, labeled January-December. If file space is nonexistent, buy one of those accordion folders with a slot for each month.

  2. Check the file at the beginning of each month to remind yourself of how organized you are, with the bonus possibility of taking care of some birthday cards or gift ideas while you're at it.
So simple!

This new system works in three ways:
  1. Say you are shopping for a birthday card for your friend with a February birthday and in the process happen to find a perfect card for your aunt with a birthday in May. Just buy the dang May card and file it away in -- you guessed it -- the May folder. This will save you aggravation in the spring (when that perfect card is completely sold out). When you check your May file at the beginning of the month, you'll be delighted to discover that you stashed away something great (and forgot about it, which is likely for most of us).

  2. The files can be used as gift idea reminders. If your sister-in-law mentions that she collects heart-shaped jewelry or you learn that your nephew adores the University of Texas, just jot down a note and slip it into her/his birthday month file...then luxuriate in the knowledge that you are free to let these little factoids go for now. Ahh.

  3. If you buy a gift in advance for someone whose birthday (or wedding or bat mitzvah or whatever) is not in the immediate future, store the gift on your gift shelf (see below) and pop a reminder note in the appropriate month file.

It's not about being super-organized...it's more about accepting the fact that you're likely to forget things unless you have a place (besides your brain, which is busy enough at the moment) to remember them.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Be Prepared: the Gift Shelf

Here's a handy tip for anyone who will be giving a gift in the next 12 months: the gift shelf.

It can technically be a drawer or a cupboard, but the point of the gift shelf is to (a) keep a stash of ready-to-give presents for use as needed and (b) have a designated place for presents you have pre-purchased for someone specific.

This is a place to store:
  • Potential gifts you bought on sale - Go for that buy-one-get-two-free deal if the item is potentially giftable!

  • Presents you bought while on vacation - Please: no straight souvenirs (gold-plated buffalo chip, anyone?) or "My friend went to blah blah and all I got was this lousy tee shirt" shirts! But if you find some great indigenous arts and crafts, it's cool to stock up. Go for usable items (scarves, bowls, serving utensils, jewelry, etc.) as opposed to objets d'art (unless you are sure your giftee will love the statuette or other chotchke, it will inevitably fall into the dust catcher category). On the other hand, if your friend collects pencil sharpeners or snow globes or sugar spoons from around the world, go for it -- and keep your goods on your gift shelf.

  • Presents you purchased in advance for someone specific - I hid my husband's birthday present so well from him (and myself) last year that he didn't get the gift until three weeks after his birthday...really should have used the gift shelf...

  • Regiftable items - Gifts you received but don't want or need...bear in mind that it's a good idea to put a Post-It note on the item to remind you who gave it to you in the first place.
What's on my gift shelf? Bottles of wine, cute kitchen towels, knit scarves, Chico bags, books, makeup bags, traveler coffee mugs, Bananagrams, vases, CDs, candles, garden chimes and some crystal bells. There is no guarantee that any of these will be appropriate gifts for my next gift-giving opportunity, but my shelf is a good place to start if I am looking for a birthday present or hostess gift.

The truth is, there is no denying that Christmas or Hanukkah will come around again...and chances are very good that you will still be on speaking terms with your friends and family members when their birthdays roll around (which they will). The gift shelf will help you get a head start on great gifts!


Friday, January 1, 2010

Re-Gift Tags -- Giving Holiday Cards a New Purpose

Happy new year to you! I don't do resolutions, but have pledged to continue to post SB Gift Girl ideas and tips regularly throughout the new year, so please check in often (and tell your friends!).

A fresh new year means out with the old and in with the new. At the moment, our recycling bins runneth over...but before you pitch the lovely holiday cards your friends and associates spent 44 cents a pop to mail to you, think ahead to Hanukkah or Christmas 2010 -- those colorful cards can easily be repurposed for use as gift tags for next year's holiday gifts.
Making gift tags is easy -- use scissors (cut out a shape traced using a small glass as a template) or pony up for a special die cut punch at a crafts shop (about $15 at Michael's Arts & Crafts). Cut a small hole and add ribbon or twine as a tie. Ta dah!

Re-gift tags make a nice giftlet for friends in the first few weeks of December, or can be used yourself to label holiday gifts for friends and family. Christmas or Hanukkah might seem a like long way away now, but they are on the calendar for 2010 (I checked), so it can't hurt to do a little pre-planning. If you do it now, you'll be thanking yourself (and me) come next December.
If you're not motivated to create gift tags but want to repurpose your 2009 holiday cards, SB Gift Girl will gladly and gratefully recycle them on your behalf. Please send your old cards to SB Gift Girl (e-mail SBGiftGirl@gmail.com and I will send you my address).

Here's to a perfect 2010!