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Unique Gift Ideas

When I was a kid my mom did a great job of making sure there were lots and lots of packages under our tree-despite not spending a ton of money.  Once of my favorite toys of all times was remote controlled cars. So, the car was one package, and the batteries were wrapped separately—oh the anticipation when you opened a big pack of batteries and knew there was something coming that required them!!  Because we didn’t eat sugar cereal in our house, my sister and I each got a box of our favorite sugar cereal wrapped up—always a huge favorite and one that kept on giving as we always spent the next morning in bed eating our Christmas cereal.

This year (and last) most of us intend to tighten santa’s belt and get creative. Here are some ideas, some are free/inexpensive and some are more extravagant but still honor the holiday spirit and the fact that most of us adults in the city don’t want or have room for more “stuff”.

Consumables: always a nice option that doesn’t take up space!

Give the gift of flowers-not just a boring bouquet, give your loved ones a flower/plant subscription.  You’ll get credit when you tell them its coming and every time they receive a new arrangement.  Plow and Hearth allows you to choose 3/6/12 month subscriptions and be flexible with what you want to send.  Prices range from $100-$370.

Fruit of the Month—not just for businesses!!  If you’ve never been the recipient of these awesome gifts, you should try it.  I, um, I mean Santa, buys it for me and my daughter every year.  I never have to worry about running out of fresh fruit to send with school lunches or for snacks and the quality really it exceptional. Again, you can customize how much you want and the duration as well as what fruits you prefer.  Harry and David is my favorite for this.

Every gets stressed over the holidays, one nice way to give a gift and a break is to send a gourmet treat to friends/family members.  I did this for my sister and bro-in law one year and it was a HUGE hit. I sent them a brunch basket with bagels and lox and all the trimmings as well as an international cheese tray.  Not only did they not have to prepare breakfast one day, they invited friends by and put out the cheese tray .  It provides a chance to entertain and share your home with friends without having to worry about what to serve OR, to stay in bed and skip preparing a meal entirely!  Dean & Deluca, although expensive, is the absolute best at this sort of thing. They also have very unique specialty food gifts—I recommend the artisan salts.

Keeping the spirit of the season.

Instead of “stuff” or even fancy food/flowers, this gift is a great one for families, especially with children.  You can choose and purchase a farm animal for an impoverished family to supply protein, milk, and income, chickens, goats etc. If you aren’t interested in the animal type of gifts, you can sponsor the digging and stocking of a fish pond, and fishing lessons. You can help plant trees, provide seeds, provide education so that people all over the world can become self sufficient and enjoy a fraction of the bounty we enjoy every day. The best charity for this that I found is World Vision.

For this and all charitable gifts, please make sure that you know who you are giving your money to and check them out on Charity Navigator.  This site review the financials and efforts of charitable organizations and rates them so you know how efficient their fundraising is as well as how much of your donations actually make it to the end source.

Near and dear to me heart, the Garfield Park Conservatory is still in need of your support to re-build this historic institution that was near destroyed by hail this summer.  A local artist has created beautiful decorative bowls from the shards of glass that rained down from the ceilings. It’s a beautiful handmade, one of a kind sculptural creation, a piece of Chicago’s history and it supports a wonderful cause. What more could you want? On sale in the gift shop of the conservatory at $100, it’s the perfect excuse to come check out the holiday display and enjoy the greenery.

Purely for fun.

This is THE coolest thing.  A real flying fish and shark.  Remote controlled, no wires, they actually fly around your house.  For under $50 I think this is an awesome gift that everyone will get a kick out of. Check out the video to see them in action.

For the teckie, I’m sure everyone knows that all the cool accessories, covers, speakers, keyboards etc. are to be had at Brookstone.

For more traditional, put in a box and wrap it gifts, check out Signals. They have some very unique gifts, something for everyone of all ages that you won’t find in your average store.

And last but not least, give the gift of time together.  Another favorite gift of my family is homemade coupons—coupons for things like taking your turn to walk the dog or do the dishes, or babysit. Or, take a half day off and go to lunch together. It’s better than just saying, “oh, we’ve should do that”. It’s both a promise and an excuse to stop all the other distractions and focus on what you’ve committed to doing together.  The expensive version of the homemade coupon are tickets to events together. The Nutcracker is a holiday favorite of course but you can get creative too.  Fleurotica, the fashion show where all the fashions are made from plants and flowers comes up in March. You can buy tickets now and give them with a bouquet for a gift now and later.

My tree!

My first wrapped gift of the season--I love wrapping gifts as much as giving them!!