It’s the thought that counts.
This wonderful cliche is mentioned all the time, but I think maybe we sometimes forget what it means. Now, before I go on I want to clarify that this post is about gift-giving to our close friends and family. Scenarios excluded in this are: gifts to people you just met (buy them a drink), gifts to people you don’t particularly care for (buy them a drink anyway…for karma), gifts for people celebrating their birthday casually and intend on getting drunk and losing your gift anyway (hilarious card, hilarious hat, + buy them a drink).
Giving a gift usually makes us feel good. This is when the stars have aligned: you found THE perfect thing, you KNOW they will love it, and you get to WATCH it go down. But sometimes, we find ourselves at the final hour, running from store to store freaking out because we can’t quiet put their finger on what to get. And it seems that our selective memories get the best of us and we repeat this behavior every year. What’s up with that? It’s a terrible feeling and we sometimes end up with something that we are almost ashamed to give. Here are some simple things to keep in mind to try and avoid this scenario…
1. Time travel. (Mentally.) Go back through the last few times you and your friend hung out and think of things they talked about or pointed out. Maybe they were REALLY into that fancy large-format beer they drank all night. If you want get even better at this- keep a notepad doc in your phone going with a list of things people mention. I do this and gift giving has been really flawless since. A great gift should show that you know your friend, or at least are listening closely to them when you’re hanging.
2. Go through your pictures. It is pretty incredible that we always have a decent camera on us at all times. Chances are, you have a few great photos of you and your friend in your phone. Possibly even artful photos of places you went together recently. Get those suckers printed! You can pick your favorite one and frame it for under $20 and slip the rest of the prints in the card. The printed photo is such a hard thing to come by- they will be full of nostalgia just holding them in their hands.
3. Make something with your hands. This one is obviously the one I encourage the most. But, I get that not everyone has the time, nor the nack for it. That’s fine. In that case, I like to reach out to local stores where someone is making things by hand and support them! Now, these things will obviously cost a little more- so make sure that you choose wisely and try to keep the aesthetic simple. I would steer clear of loud jewelry or colorful home decor, and try to stay in the realm of “timeless”. If you want to buy artwork, keeping to black & white/monochromatic prints is advised because it is easier to incorporate it into any pre-existing scheme. Baking a batch of cookies is also never a bad idea. Or melting some chocolate and drizzling it on Ritz crackers. Oh…you never tried that? You should. Right now.
4. Give an experience. Buy a 6 pack of good beer and go shoot the shit on a dock somewhere. Tell them you appreciate their friendship over sundaes. Bring them to a vineyard/brewery and take a tour. baseball game. lunch. six flags. bike ride. hike. batting cage. Think outside the box- gifts don’t have to be things, and as we get older we start to lose precious free time… get together and hang out.
Some gifts I warmly received or proudly gave:
clockwise from top left:
1) My brothers and I got together and did a photoshoot for my dad’s birthday. We used a bookshelf as a tripod and it only cost us $20 for the big frame.
2) Denver Street Soap – affordable, handmade decadence. The mint chocolate cookie bar is like showering with mint chip ice cream. They use a mixture of organic palm, olive, and coconut oils saponified with sodium hydroxide to make a basic three oil soap. denverstreetsoap.com
3) The White Weathered Barn in Greenport NY has some really incredible handmade jewelry. The owner Rena makes most of the stores goods by hand, and some of her friends contribute to the collection. I have my eyes on that little crab claw necklace.
4) Cards Against Humanity – is an open-source (adult) game available for printing online! I printed the game on neon card stock and put it in mason jars. Great gift to bring to a casual party where you know everyone very well.
5) Also from the White Weathered Barn in Greenport- stamped spreaders. They do custom stamping too…possibilities are endless. This is a pretty baller party favor idea too…
6 & 8) Madison Fender makes really beautiful pen/ink drawings printed on professional stock paper. The simple clean line designs look elegant in a bold black frame. Also pictured, gifted geodes and a copy of The Little Prince my grandma gave me on my 9th birthday. (E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for pricing and to view more designs, ranging $30-50)
7) This bracelet was lovingly made for me from a fork. Re-purposing at its finest.
One last thing. If you’re going to get someone a card, I think you should write a little note in there. Even if you just crack a joke, or write one sentence it sure beats signing off on whatever came written in the card to begin with. If you are gifting a book- write a little note on the back of the front cover with a date. You don’t always need a card, but if you’re going to go for it- do it right and make it personal.