Sunday, May 8, 2011

This Little Light of Mine...

Gifts aren't always a celebration of happy times, but can go a long way to help people feel a little better when things are rough. When my friend was diagnosed with cancer, I wanted to find a personal gift to give her a sense of strength and hope. The solution ended up having two parts that tied together well.

Gift solution part 1: A glassybaby -- a beautiful, strong, hand-blown votive candle holder made in Washington in a small company founded by a woman who had her own battle with cancer. A percentage of the company's profits go to help cancer patients with their living expenses. But charity aside, these really are a lovely, substantial little work of art. was a good gift, but there were stories behind it. I wasn't going to be there when my friend opened the gift, but I wanted to tell her all about the glassybaby company, and why I chose the purple color, and my memories of traveling in the Northwest with her, and my hopes for her good health.

Which brings us to gift solution part 2: custom gift wrap. This was the fun, personal part of the gift. I typed up a letter explaining the stories behind the glassybaby and used it as gift wrap -- a legal-size page fit the box perfectly.

Here was my friend's response to the gift:

The UPS guy just knocked on my door, and my purple beacon of hope is now sitting between me and my monitor as I do cancer research on the internet. It couldn't have arrived at a more perfect moment. The light and hope are needed and appreciated!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sometimes You Just Get Lucky

One of my favorite people has a deal worked out with her friends: if someone repeats a story she's told before, the other person discreetly taps her fingers to let the story-teller know that she has unknowingly launched a repeat performance and is thereby advised to keep things brief. Kind of cute, kind of funny, but not anything gift-worthy...until we found this.

Yes, it's a hand-cranked finger-tapper (or, as the catalog prefers to call it, a "Wooden Hand Automaton"). There is no way anyone could have sought out this particular oddity on a gift-buying quest...but there it was, in the Signals catalog, on sale for $11.96.

Lesson learned: it's worth the tiny bit of effort it takes to peruse random catalogs or stores specializing in miscellanea with a completely open mind.

We put the gift in a box and labeled it as a "Rapping Rosewood Redundancy Reminder." The giftee loved it...and the best part is that she will get to share the fun of it with her fellow finger-tappers the next time they get together.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Heart Act to Follow

Whether or not you are celebrating Valentine’s Day with a sweetie, there is some gift-giving gold to be found amongst the pink and red –- especially if you are patient and forward-thinking. If you think outside of the (heart-shaped) box, you'll find lots of fun ways to buy now, give later.

  • Wrapping paper or gift bags with heart / love designs can be a festive way to package gifts for engagement parties, wedding showers, Sweet Sixteen events and anniversary celebrations any time of year.

  • Use gift wrap or gift items with Cupid designs for baby showers, Mother’s Day or weddings.

  • Heart-shaped candy boxes are a lovely way to present romantic gifts – especially if they contain something besides assorted chocolates and are given any time after February. Buy one on sale after February 14 and get rid of the candy (By the way, there are ways to do this that don't involve eating it yourself. Display it on a pretty plate and put it in the staff lounge someplace where people work hard, for example.). Then save the box and wait a while to fill it with something special for someone you love. Bonus points if you personalize the box somehow: a collage of photos? Words spelling out how you really feel? Inside jokes? Hints about the contents of the box?

  • A simple heart-shaped plate or bowl can be used later on to present small tokens of appreciation for teachers, volunteers, employees, retirees…or save it for a surprise breakfast in bed for someone a little closer.

  • You never know when you will encounter someone who might appreciate a surprise heart-shaped treat of pancakes or a PB&J sandwich or homemade cookies out of season. In the year to come, you might know someone who is fighting an illness, or a kid who survived a tough test, a friend who is feeling a little sad or one who did something remarkably generous. Stock up now on the tools you'll need to surprise the people you care about with a lovely, loving treat later.

    Love is forever -- not just for Valentine’s Day!