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Archive for the ‘Econsiderate gifts’ Category

I’ve been making earrings as a hobby for about a year now, and this week I built an online store using eCrater and also put one pair of earrings up for auction on eBay — the red roses at left, packaged in a red velvet bag for Valentine’s gift-giving.  (Because I’ve been a journalist too long to do something without a time peg… )  And the earrings sold for full price in less than a day!!  I am so pleased.  Surprised, even.  Wow!  It’s such a great feeling that somebody looked at my work and judged it worthy of the price — and in this case, quite probably, worthy of giving to their loved one.

Mind you I do think they make a nice Valentine’s gift. They’re small and not over-expensive, but heartfelt and unique.  Of course I pointed this out in my eBay copy. 🙂 I guess it worked. Here’s a couple of my other earrings:

The roses are made from polymer clay; I shape them and then bake them with the earring parts molded in. They’re very sturdy and I can make any color in the rainbow.  The colors are actually a large part of the appeal for me; I love mixing and blending, and I also am such a rose enthusiast that I really enjoy making the little buds and petals.

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Now that my parents’ birthday celebrations are safely past, I can add two more Econsiderate gift ideas to the list: address stickers with a personal image or emblem, and plants.

dad-hummingbird

In our family’s most recent Annual Easter Egg Decorating Contest (we have rules, categories and ribbons), my Dad painted this great Picasso-like image of a hummingbird.  I took a pic and flattened it in Photoshop, as the original was distorted by being painted on, er, a egg.  Superior Labels let me upload the image easily and had a good range of formats and typefaces; the address labels came out just as pictured, and shipped fast. Cost was $20 for a roll (I think the quantity was 300 labels), plus $3.75 shipping and handling.  Easy peasy, and my parents (said they) really liked them.  If it’s as I hope, these will give the folks a little smile every time they mail out an envelope — plus, as with the best Econsiderate gifts, it’s both small and consumable, so won’t junk up their house forever. If they really do like them, Superior makes reordering easy.

Burpee photo used by permission.

Burpee photo used by permission.

Now, the other idea turned out better in conception than in execution, for me, at least: I ordered seeds of a somewhat hard-to-find plant and planned to raise them to give to my Mom. The first part went fine: Burpee sells seeds of these lovely double petunias for $4.95; they have many other gorgeous flowers, tasty veggies, gourmet herbs, etc. Many gardening centers will give away plastic growers’ pots, and in fact I already had some old four-pack pots to raise them in. And Mom is an avid, accomplished gardener, so adding baby plants to her menagerie isn’t a burden. All fine. Except I do tend toward the sepia-toned thumb, and the seedlings did not actually sprout. But even full-grown plants are a bargain (viewed in terms of pennies per drachm of beauty, how can you beat six violas for $2.99?) and I found a big lush pot of lavender double petunias to give her instead. She loved ’em.

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If you’re crafty, this could make a lovely gift, and right now it’s 50% off.  To change the appearance, you could possibly dye the leather dark brown (though I’d call Tandy first to make sure this leather accepts dye, and whether it’d need to be sealed).*  Once I got the kit in my hands and could see how the watch case and buckle attach to the band, I’d be tempted to prowl antique stores for a unique and interesting case.
watchband

Image copyright Tandy Leather Co.

It’s pretty as is, but a dark brown leather with silver case and buckle would be pretty too.

* Update, Aug. 9: This just in!  I’ve now done a Tandy Leather kit and I can confidently say that the tooling leather in their kits can be dyed dark brown.  You will want to seal it, though.  So after you buy the watch kit, which is $7 now that it’s not on sale anymore, then you’d need to buy dye and clear sealant … and if you aren’t up to leather carving yet and just want to stamp it, you’ll need at least one stamp … and perhaps a mallet if you don’t already have one (hammers won’t do) … so by then you’re up to like $30 or $40.  So much for an inexpensive gift 🙂

The good news, though, if you do decide you want to personalize a watch band this way — or if you use the kit as is — is that I found many beautiful new watch faces in all sorts of metals and styles at Artbeads.com, for about $6 or so each, with free shipping.

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For some years now, I’ve been making a study of a type of gift-giving for which I will now coin a word: Econsiderate.* Basically, these are consumable or small gifts. This came about because my parents moved into a smaller house and I began to think about an aspect I’m sure they wish I had focused on years ago: Not cluttering up their house with junk.

So I sought gifts that were:

  • Edible or consumable
  • Virtual
  • Or at least very small or not requiring extra display or storage space.

Any consumable or virtual gift not only relieves the giftee of having to find a place to keep the item, it also gives them an easy out if they don’t actually like it — it’s supposed to vanish anyway!

But if they like it, you have a hit on your hands for years to come, because they will keep running out and you can keep getting them more.

It’s a bonus if the gift also:

  • Is a luxury that they enjoy but don’t normally treat themselves to
  • Is handmade by you, which not only multiplies its sentimental meaning but also often makes it cheaper 🙂

WARNING: Handmade gifts run the risk of toppling over into the Pottery-Class-Ashtray-Made-For-Nonsmoking-Parent category. Since they might feel bad getting rid of it, make double sure any handmade item you give is either consumable or takes up little to no space.

So here are some of the gifts I’ve given or seen exchanged in recent years that fit the bill:

Edible

  • Kerbey Lane gingerbread pancake mix
  • Grinder filled with gourmet peppercorns, which introduced the pepper-loving giftee to the difference fresh-ground makes
  • Jar of Mom’s special secret steak rub, with recipe included on tag (Materials cost: $5)
  • Jalapeno peanut butter, combining two of my father-in-law’s great loves (He actually likes it and asked for more!)
  • Huckleberries shipped from Wyoming (a relative of mine is addicted)
  • The classic bottle of wine, customizable to almost any price level
  • Yankee Candles, which are expensive ($2-$25 and up) but particularly loved by a certain giftee I know
  • Bath goods, especially if unusually nice, such as Lush Bath Bombs, $3-$16

Virtual

  • Domain name, registered for 1 to 5 years
  • Netflix subscription
  • Subscription to a sports Web site offering inside info on a favorite team
  • Variations on the Web subscription: Cooking sites, news sites, etc. that offer premium content for a fee
  • Magazine subscription; again, ideally something that’s a special treat (The Economist, or a hobby magazine?)
  • The wide world of gift certificates, of course: Spas, nice restaurants, movie tickets, iTunes cards, zoo tickets for kids…
  • Food delivery, for sick or otherwise homebound folks (new parents?), from services such as Eat Out In

WARNING: I don’t hold with the homemade “Coupon for 1 night Babysitting” or “3 Long Backrubs” on the principle that nobody I know ever really redeems these. However, if you think your giftee will actually cash them in without feeling awkward, go right on ahead. In fact, here are some borders you can print and copy for free.

Small, or at least not requiring new dedicated display space

  • DVDs/CDs
  • Books
  • Cross-stitched bookmark (materials cost: $3)
  • Homemade placemats, in a fabric they particularly love (materials cost: $15)
  • Handmade rose earrings, can be made to match an outfit (materials cost: $1)

I’ll add more ideas to this category as they come to me, and I welcome any ideas others might have.

* E because many of these gifts are virtual; eco because, often, these gifts come with less packaging, shipping and eventual disposal waste; econ, because they concentrate on meaning rather than expense; and considerate, which is the main goal.

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