Thursday, April 23, 2009

Rare Gifts, Bought or Made

I enjoy procuring quirky gifts for others. This, of course, means I enjoy receiving quirky gifts. I like to find unusual things, though it's best to reserve that habit for people you know well. I remember a particularly puzzled expression on my piano teacher's face once, when I gave her a bundle of vintage sheet music tied with pretty ribbon and fresh herbs. It was a great gift: I think she just had a LOT of old sheet music that she would've like to rid her closets of, without more be sentimentally presented to her.

But I stand by the creativity, if not the discretion.

Here are some nifty ideas for those of you needing to buy gifts for loved ones in the coming months. They're fantastic for a couple reasons: one, they're unusual; and two, they're
great inspiration. That is to say, if you had the time, ability, and will, you could make these yourselves for much less moolah. And with the economy falling into the cracks of Mount Doom shrieking "my Preciousss!" and money as scarce as hen's teeth, well, I thought you might appreciate it.
Idea #1: Reclaimed Pottery Necklace

These adorable jewelry items are colorful and creative, while being homey and reminiscent. Buy them at Uncommon Goods, and you'll spend
$68 plus S/H. Save your broken dishes, teach yourself a bit about working with wire, and buy a cheap jewelry kit at Wal-Mart, and you're the bee's knees.

And who doesn't want to be the bee's knees?

And that way, you have a reminder of a favorite family heirloom, or just a chipped yard sale find that you like to pretend is a family heirloom.
Did heirloom used to mean looms passed down to heirs? Where does that word come from? I'm too lazy to check wikipedia to find out.

Idea #2: Necktie Wallet

If you're sufficiently crafty, this wouldn't be a difficult project: fashion a wallet from an old necktie. I love this idea, because it makes a wallet a part of a man's ensemble, uses the ubiquitous and timeless necktie as an additional accessory, and would be super cute carried by a chic metro businesswoman. The other great aspect of a necktie wallet? Use a special tie for a loved one. If a passed family member had a favorite tie, it would be a great way to continue to use it. Also, use ties with an alma mater's logo - say, University of Kentucky - or of a favorite brand, like a John Deere tie or a Tony Stewart racing tie. What a fantastic Father's Day gift it would be! Just practice on a yard sale tie first to get your technique down first.

Idea #3: Culinary Garden Kit

Let's consider: An inexpensive tin from a craft store like Hobby Lobby or Michael's; tiny canisters from the same; a few wooden plant markers; seeds; and designing an insert card and cover. This would be a great craft to do in bulk with older kids for Mother's Day gifts, or birthday gifts. I haven't priced these items, so buying the supplies might not be that cost effective vs. buying the finished product. But I bet some of you creative folks could think of inexpensive ways of accomplishing the same end goal.

The question to weigh is simple: which do you have, time, or money? A great prof in college discussed this point in class. You often have either time or money to spend. If you have less money, you spend more time, in things like crafting gifts, food preparation, travel, etc. If you have more money, you can afford to spend less time. But you'll spend one or the other. Now is a good season in North American life to practice spending time!

These three items are available for both sets of readers: for those of you with ample bank accounts and little time on your hands, you can follow the links above and purchase these online. For those of you with scant resources but time and ingenuity, you can have fun crafting gifts like these in the coming days.

I particularly enjoy the fact that all three items include elements that are nearly timeless: old china dishes, men's wear, and seeds. What a way to stay connected to femininity and masculinty as its been expressed over centuries...


Anonymous said...

I love your description of the current state of the economy - although it's all "too true, too true" up here in Michigan.

Heirloom, according to The American Heritage Dictionary, is from the Middle English, heir (heir) + lome (implement). I'm glad you asked that - otherwise, I would never have looked it up.

Maybe you and Eth could start a cottage industry making similar jewelry (with dishes from yard sales) and selling it at more reasonable prices.

Love you, Mom

Bob said...

My only comment is....ALWAYS go to Hobby Lobby first! (Support your relatives' jobs!!) ha ha ha OH, I was on TV last week, Hobby Lobby owner Steve Green announced all full-time employees would get a minimum of $10 per hour (didn't include me, of course) Channel 13 sent a news crew in and was videotaping random acts of framing, and I was the framer. No, I didn't see me, we missed it. Ed forgot to set the DVR.

Treehouse Chef said...

I love giving and receiving unique gifts also. Unfortunately I am not that good with making things. However, my husband can make anything. He made me a doll for christmas one year that looked like him. I cherish it!