Monday 23 November 2015

Novel and Unique Christmas Gift Ideas

Co-workers often laugh at how early I get my Christmas shopping done, but a bit of Late October planning and early November purchasing helps me to have a little spending money come December. And yes, I'll also confess that I have a "Christmas spreadsheet"! Ultimately, I love giving presents to people that I care about. Even on a slightly tighter budget this year, it gives me a lot of joy to choose things that might bring some happiness to peoples' days. On a selfish level, I love to shop around for gifts, especially online, because it means I can distract myself from more onerous tasks like housework and lesson planning! 

Here are some novel gift ideas that I have either given in the past, or would purchase for the special people in my life...

For those who like to look and feel good...

Make a personalised beauty hamper:

There are so many beauty gift sets on the market for all budgets, but if you really want to ensure that your recipient will love all of the products in the a set, it is worth making your own. This also allows you to be in control of your budget. Wicker baskets or even tastefully decorated old shoe boxes could be used to store some of your friend or family member's favourite products, or some they would really like to try. 

You could even create a 'lucky dip' for a group of friends by filling a box full of small beauty items, wrapped up nicely, and asking them to 'dig deep'!

A chic bag

Zara Combined Clutch: £15.99
An item that is useful and will be treasured for years to come is an accessory like a smart, classy bag. Obviously, you'd have to know their tastes well enough before choosing what sort of bag to pick, however a black handbag is always going to be a safe bet as it will go with any outfit. One tip for deciding on a bag is to 'stalk' their Facebook photos and look at the types of bags/ outfits they tend to wear most. Alternatively, a clutch or dainty style might be the type of bag they wouldn't splash out on for themselves, but they would really appreciate having something like this for special occasions.

A unique fragrance:
Fragrance is a very personal gift and one I personally love to receive. It can be daunting to choose a scent for someone else, but one way to make this more of a unique and exciting present is to get them something which might be completely new to them, and therefore the gift becomes at the very least an opportunity to try something completely different and perhaps a talking point! Some interesting picks are Escentric Molecules' Molecule 01 which is a unisex fragrance that smells different on everyone due to the chemistry of the formula.The Fragrance Library produce really unique scents which can be layered to make bespoke perfumes. These are quite affordable and available online or in some Boots stores in the UK. Finally, on the more expensive end of the spectrum, 4160 Tuesdays make some unique scents with quirky names. I'd love to try them some day because they sound really different and fun.
Left to right: Molecule 01; The Library of Fragrance (various); What I did on my Holidays
Click on the links below the images to know more about these fragrances and how they might make a unique Christmas present.

For those that like food...

A food box subscription:
I've been subscribed to Degustabox for some time now and I love receiving a box of full size food items to try out each month. It costs £12.99 a month and you easily get your money's worth- in fact, the items you receive usually add up to more than you pay out. 

Alternatively, I've also made my partner his own 'Degustabox' for a gift by handpicking items that I know he loves. If you did this, you could also source some harder to find items that they may like to try and possibly wouldn't buy themselves.

Novelty kitchen tools:
These fun items make good stocking fillers for anyone who spends any time in the kitchen.

Clockwise from top: Guitar spatula (£9.99 from Amazon)R2-D2 Kitchen timer (£13.00 from Debenhams);
Pizza Peddler (£15.95 from Amazon)

For those who like to think...

A historic keepsake of their place of birth:
When my Nan was alive I bought her a book from Francis Frith of own home town, Tonbridge in Kent. It was lovely for her to see old photos of the place she spent much of her life in and fascinating to see how the town has changed. This website also do prints which would make a nice framed gift.

For those that are older, this sort of present is a way to give them some nostalgia; whilst this would also please anyone interested in local history.

Something to challenge their brain!
I bought this quiz book, Think You Know it All by Daniel Smith, for a close family friend last year. He is a man of simple tastes, but has a very active and curious mind. This book is a fun way for someone who loves a challenge to test their brain power and it would also be good for some after dinner quizzing.

Fun self-expression journals:
There are lots of books now on the market which encourage the reader to record their thoughts in creative, sometimes silly ways. Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith is a well-known one which I believe now has a whole series. It's certainly worth perusing Amazon or your local book shop for these sorts of gifts. I came across The Secret Me: A Questionnaire Journal by Shane Windham which is suggested to be a fun little book in which you record your answer to a whole range of random questions. It says that this is not recommended for children (I guess there might be some cheeky content!), but for someone who likes to express themselves on paper this could be an interesting gift. It could also be fun to share answers with a partner!

For those that are most special...

Personalised items:
I got a lot of items personalised in some way last year and I continue to think it is such a lovely gift idea. Some of the personalised gifts I have been bought in the past have also been some of my most treasured.

Last year, I got this photo printed onto a make-up bag for my mum. It was taken when she visited me and we spent an afternoon looking around some shops. The bag was a functional gift, but the image was a memory. I got it printed by Next online. They do a range of items from calendars to mugs and you can choose any photo to have printed on it.

Snapfish  also offer a similar service and I used them last year to get a story book printed for my partner's mum who loves her cat. When we were cat-sitting, I took lots of photos and made them into a story with words outlining her cat's adventures when she came to stay with us! This gift went down really well and it was so much fun to make.

Something to look forward to:
Especially great for those who have everything they need, or those that have had a rough year. Vouchers may feel like gifts with less thought behind them, but there are ways of making them the most amazing present to receive.

Give them alongside a 'symbolic' gift to act as a clue:
For example, a small item of band merchandise might contain tickets to a live concert inside; a nice shopping holdall might have some retail vouchers inside; a box of 'London' souvenir fudge might house tickets to see a show- you get the idea!

Give them small value vouchers in envelopes with 'promises' written on the outside:
I've heard of people giving 'promise jars', and this is a similar idea, but with the added bonus of some money to spend! The envelopes may read: "Let's go on a shopping trip together" or "You can choose which movie we go and see". The vouchers inside should correspond with the 'promise'. 

What are your favourite types of gifts to receive?
What unique ideas do you have to make someone's Christmas?
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