7 Gifts I Gave in 2014: Ideas for Your 2015 Gift-Giving

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If you’ve ever read my posts around the holidays, you’ll know that I’m a fan of personalizing gifts.

I don’t mean just putting someone’s name on a gift, although that can work, too! What I truly mean is finding a gift that illustrates your relationship or shows that you really know that person. If you are giving a gift to someone who lives across the miles and are unsure what they already have because you don’t see them on a regular basis, these gift ideas might give you a bit of inspiration, too!

Here are 7 unique gifts I gave in 2014…

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1) Magic Photo Mugs from Printer Pix

Last year, we ordered these special photo mugs for our parents. They are black, but your designated photo appears when you fill the mug up with hot liquid!

We got a pretty sweet deal through Living Social last year {just $7 each plus $5 shipping!}, although I am sure you can find other deals online. I was a little worried about quality because they were so highly discounted. But they turned out fantastic! We used photos of Sophie and Shamrock and labeled these as gifts from them.

One word of caution – these take a long time to ship.

Here is our experience: Last year, when I bought them, it said that they would take approximately 21 days to arrive. For us, this meant the mugs would arrive a few days after Christmas. {I am not sure if that has changed now if the company has grown and they have more staff/better turnaround. Check the website before purchasing.}

Every year, we send a holiday box with gifts to Rob’s parents in Michigan. For these mugs, we put a note in the box that Shamrock and Sophie had something on the way that would arrive just after Christmas. When I ordered the mugs, I shipped them directly to his parents. We spend Christmas with my family in Green Bay every year, so I had my parents’ mugs shipped straight to their house. I informed them if a package arrived for each of them before Christmas not to open it. My intention was to wrap them upon our arrival.

All mugs arrived before Christmas…

the last one on Christmas Eve at my parents!

Rob’s dad called and said to him, “Why thank you, son. But I’m not quite sure why you got us black mugs.” HA! Rob told him to wait and just use them for their coffee the next morning. Sure enough, we got a lovely message filled with joy from Rob’s mom the next morning gushing about how much they were enjoying their coffee in their new mugs.

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2) Towels

Laugh all you want that I got this idea when I was cleaning! I really can’t stand how gross dish towels get over time and started thinking that I should buy a new batch every six months or so. But I just hate spending money on those sorts of things!

“If only someone would buy them for me,”

I daydreamed.

Then, the light bulb went on! I bet someone would appreciate that themselves…

However, I took it one step further… I had this idea to get my brother’s family all their very own soft, comfy, over-sized bath towel, each in their favorite color so that they could differentiate. {See how I personalized those?!} Who wants to buy more bath towels for their family of six? I certainly wouldn’t! I’ve been using the same bath towels for longer than I care to admit. But if you buy the really good quality ones, they do last a long time. You wouldn’t believe the sales on these this time of year, too. For the record, these gifts were from Sophie and Shamrock, too. 🙂

towelsBefore, I did this, I ran the idea past my mom to make sure it wasn’t too strange. She loved it and agreed with me that she hates buying dish cloths and towels, too. So that’s one gift got this year as well!

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3) Personalized Growler

There was a Groupon for Red Envelope last year of which we took advantage. Have you ever shopped there? There is a lot of unique stuff you can personalize; but it can be a bit spendy. This personalized growler was perfect for my dad!

growler1

You supply the last name, city, state and year. We used 2014 to indicate the year we gave the gift. You could use your recipient’s birth year or, if they brew their own beer, the year they started brewing!

Because it had to be personalized, this one took a while to arrive and was delayed a bit. Luckily, it arrived the evening of December 22nd, so I could run to Indeed Brewing and fill it up with some Stir Crazy Winter Ale for just $10. Luckily, Indeed fills growlers that are not their own. Not all breweries will do this! The beer just had to be consumed in approximately 4 days. Dad shared it with us on Christmas Eve.

Tip: Make sure to order any personalized items well in advance because they take longer!

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4) Something Very Personal to You

Last year on Black Friday, we pulled out our Christmas tree and other holiday decor. Then we got really motivated and cleaned out our basement storage! Well, Rob came across all of his baseball cards he collected as a child. There had to be at least 20 to 30 of those long old-school boxes! We wrapped two giant boxes filled with these for our teenage nephew who plays baseball.

Rob really couldn’t think of any need for them, nor did he want to go through them and determine any value. So he put my brother’s name on the box as well as Jake’s and it was one of the last gifts to be opened. Rob beamed when Jake exclaimed, “This is the best present I ever got!”

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5) Something from Your Travels

I remember when I was a kid and my dad come back from his annual summer fishing trip in Canada. He didn’t really bring back any gifts. {Well, I think he did get my mom a Canada sweatshirt once.} He was usually in the boonies fishing!  However, he usually did give us a Canadian dollar bill or coin upon his return.

As a kid, I loved this because it was so foreign to me.

I once read that you shouldn’t have to worry about getting gifts while on vacation and just enjoy yourself instead. You are not there to be stressed about what to bring back. I remember feeling that anxiety on my first trip to Paris. Since I read that advice, I’ve taken heed to it. Nobody expects anything.

However, when we were in Australia last year, we picked up a few small, affordable souvenirs, with no real idea of who exactly would get them. This included boomerang key chains, clip-on koalas, Vegemite, t-shirts, etc. I divvied these up as appropriately as I could after we returned. We also had four remaining 20-cent Australian coins with the platypus on the back. Perfect for the kids! All you need is something little.

australia_20_cents_1976

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6) Ornaments

While putting up the tree last year for the first time in a few years, Rob and I had a wonderful time reminiscing about each ornament as it went on the tree – the ornaments from our travels, from friends and from the past few Christmases with my family.

But what I love the most is seeing Rob’s face light up every time he pulls out an ornament from his childhood.

You see, every year, Rob’s mom bought him an ornament {oftentimes reflecting something going on that year or something he loved or was into that year} and marked the year on it with a Sharpie. When we moved into our house, Rob’s mom gave him all of these ornaments. These are some of our most precious possessions.

Last year, Rob’s mom sent him the first toy she ever got him. She suggested we put it in the tree each year. That bunny melts my heart!

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In fact, I wouldn’t have much of any holiday decor if it weren’t for my mom giving me her old artificial Christmas tree and Rob’s mom giving me so many decorations from Rob’s childhood. Combining that with a few of the things I’ve picked up over the years makes our house look festive.

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I decided that this was what I was going to do for my brother’s family. Each year, I will give them a special ornament. My mom and I have already been doing this on and off for the past few years or so. How much easier and more sentimental is it to have these ornaments when you move into your own home and set up your own tree than to have to buy everything from scratch?!

Here are some links for some great ideas in creating your own homemade ornaments:

Not crafty?

You could also buy one that is meaningful to you or relating to your gift recipient this year. Last year, for time’s sake, I bought some frame ornaments marked 2014. For our parents, I added a photo of us in Australia with a koala and  another one of Sham & Sophie.

The ones for my brother’s family were from the time they visited us and we dined at Burger Jones. At Burger Jones, they have these crazy pictures on the wall of people eating burgers. I’m not talking about pictures of people who came into this restaurant to eat burgers. No, these are stock photos on the wall!

When we were there, the kids were trying to recreate the photos of people taking big bites of their burgers or eyeing their fries longingly. My original plan was to frame these pictures for their own photo wall at home. However, I finally decided against that idea because the pictures are creepy enough at Burger Jones. Instead, I put them each in a 2014 frame ornament as a memory. A little less tacky, no?!

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7) Homemade Dog Treats

I had fully intended to make homemade dog treats for my brother’s dogs last year! But I ran out of time, so the poor dogs went without a thing. This past year, I have tried these two recipes with much success! Now, let’s hope time doesn’t escape me before our trip to Green Bay.

And our dogs always receive their December BarkBox wrapped up under the tree. For our last review and a discount, click here.

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There you have it – some unique gift ideas for this holiday. Also, it’s Cyber Monday, so today it’s even more important than ever to use eBates when doing your shopping – extra discounts, promo codes and cash back.

And for even more ideas, here are some of my past posts on holiday gift ideas:

Cheers~
Carrie

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6 responses »

  1. We had coffee mugs like that at the last restaurant I worked at – the logo of the restaurant would appear when the coffee was poured into the mug. Love all the ideas!

  2. Pingback: 5 Gifts I Gave in 2015: Ideas for your 2016 Gift-Giving | Season It Already!

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