Halloween is over, Thanksgiving is right around the corner, Black Friday through Cyber Monday Madness is about to ensue…. It can only mean one thing: Christmas is coming. To get you prepared, I’ve pulled together my 2017 gift guide with some unexpected and highly personal gifts sure to please everyone on your list, at every price point. It’s time to get shopping!
Luxury Gifts For Her
Let’s get this one out of the way, shall we? Unless you’re planning a family ski trip or some other extravagant vacation over the holidays, it’s nice to be surprised with something beautiful and thoughtful on Christmas morning. Here are a few things to consider moving up to the top of your own Dear Santa letter.
One-of-a-Kind Botanical Art
Botanical Art was born out of a medical necessity to accurately identify the herbs and plants early healers needed to make medicine. They were scientifically accurate and required an understanding of plant science and the ability to depict minute details in plants and how they change during their life cycle. The oldest surviving botanical illustration – a copy of Dioscorides‘s De Materia Medica – is more than 1500 years old.
As advancements were made in medicine and printing technology, botanical illustrations became optional and therefore more artistic in nature, eventually becoming one of the most beloved forms of fine art in the world. Today’s botanical artwork ranges from dramatically modern to staunchly, delicately classical and every style and genre in between.
Alice Debo, an industrial designer by trade, who also happens to be my beautiful and talented cousin, is making her mark in the world of botanical art with pen-and-ink illustrations, large-scale watercolored pieces, and works of acrylic on glass mounted on stained wood. Most recently, Alice was commissioned for a solo exhibition at Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland, Oregon in September and October of 2018. Her work is truly stunning.
My husband and I have recently commissioned three pieces for our bedroom from Alice and I’m already seeing choice locations around our home for more in the future.
If you’re looking for a gift that is truly one-of-a-kind, an original botanical illustration or painting by Alice Debo is that.
Prices range from $75-$200 for Ink only, $150-$850 for Watercolor and Ink, and $200-$1500 for Acrylic on Glass, Wood Mounted. Exact pricing is dependent upon scale and materials.
See more of Alice’s work on Instagram at @aliceddrawings. All artwork is original and one-of-a-kind, so stock and quantities are limited. For a complete catalogue or to inquire about commissions, you can email Alice directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leather Handbag from Haerfest
For the woman who loves both form and function equally, who not buy her something that mirrors her best qualities?
A good handbag is like a good woman: Sensible, beautiful, reliable, and well-constructed. And by these measures alone, Haerfest bags make the grade and then some.
Tim Joo and Dan Joo, the brothers behind the brand, come from well-decorated design and engineering backgrounds, respectively, and were recently chosen among the country’s best designer-entrepreneurs to participate in the highly-coveted CFDA’s Incubator Program. Past participants in the program have included Prabal Gurung and the designers behind Public School. The brothers have won both recognition and financial support from the upper echelon of fashion’s most discriminating design and business minds, including winning first place in and funding from Design Entrepreneurs, NYC, a program established by The Fashion Institute of Technology and New York City Economic Development Corp. Haerfest has been flagged as a brand to watch by Vogue Magazine, the New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar, and others.
All that aside, I love these bags. They are understated and classy; no in-your-face labels or superfluous design elements. Each and every detail is both functional and beautiful, and made with the modern, busy woman in mind. The straps on the compact-but-roomy Jo Saddle cross body bag can be removed so that the bag can easily covert to a smart, stylish clutch for weekend lunches or evenings. Similarly thoughtful are the straps on the Eva tote which are crafted in a loop with gold brass studs at one end so that the bag can be carried over the shoulder or on the elbow.
Try the modern backpack for a young professional, the Agnes Satchel for the busy traveler, or the Ray Tall Tote for the files-and-laptop carrying woman in your life, all of which are available in rich, gorgeous fall colors.
Shopping for your husband or another special man in your life? Check out the twill and leather duffel bag, the oh-so-cool and slightly distressed Bifold Wallet, a supple leather laptop or iPad sleeve, or the professionally polished without being stuffy shopper bag for his laptop, wallet, and everything else he needs for his on-the-go lifestyle. (You can save 15% right now with code TREAT15.)
A Reformation Dress
Reformation dresses are a cult favorite among L.A. “It-Girls”. And with good reason.
A few weeks ago, after having read about their Reformation dresses for years, I finally stopped by their Melrose store to see what all the fuss was about. I didn’t go home with a dress that day, but sure enough, I couldn’t get the dresses out of my mind. Last week, I finally pulled the trigger and took the plunge.
I’m glad I did, too. They’re made with good-quality, low-maintenance viscose which hangs well on the body and perfect for wearing alone in warmer weather and with layers (under, like a fitted turtleneck and tights, or over), making it a great year-round dress. They’re fine enough to dress up, but relaxed enough to dress down and they’re not overly precious, so I can wear this dress without worrying about ruining it with a stain or snag. And the cuts really are as flattering as I’ve heard they are.
Try the Mollie dress or the Carina (the dress I purchased) for short-sleeved options, and the Tessa dress or the Milan dress (that green!) for beautiful long-sleeved options. You’ll be the chicest, most stylish woman at the company Christmas party this year.
Gifts Under $100
Society 6 Artwork
The right piece of art makes a great gift for everyone on your list. If an original work of art is outside the range for what you’re looking to spend, consider Society6 as an alternative.
Shopping for a college student with a drab dorm room? A teenager wanting to express herself? A family who are always arguing over stolen or misplaced phone chargers? In-laws with a new beach or lake house? Society6 has something for all of them.
And that’s not all. If a piece for your loved ones walls or tabletops isn’t appropriate, you can purchase the same works of art on over 40 consumer goods. A unique set of notecards is always useful to have on hand. For beach lovers or busy families with a pool a set of beach towels makes a thoughtful and memorable gift. A book of standout stickers which would make great gift tags and useful labels for common household items like phone chargers, laptops, books, toothbrushes and more. Laptop sleeves,iPhone cases, backpacks…the list goes on and on and it’s all available at Society6.
Modern Friendship Bracelet
For our tenth wedding anniversary, I bought my husband a pair of silver hammered cufflinks engraved with the latitude and longitude coordinates of the church where we got married married. Only a few years later, that’s a fairly popular engraving, but at the time, Etsy was the first place I was seeing this done, and the idea has opened up a whole new world of engraving opportunities.
I love these customized his and hers bracelets, especially the leather one, with an engravable brass plate. They’d make a great gift for couples or for you and a bestie, engraved with a favorite saying, beloved scripture reference, an important date, or your initials. New parents would appreciate their baby’s birthdate or name, too. The possibilities for personalization are only as limited as your imagination, and even if your imagination is limited, the craftsman at Etsy are full of great ideas and suggestions.
My friends are really great gift givers. So many of my favorite household items were given to me by my friends!
This personalized notepad was given to me last Christmas by my talented friend, Jenny. I have come to rely on it for multiple uses, including sending official-looking notes to school teachers and friends, as well as for birthday gifts throughout the year. In place of a card that has a good chance of getting lost, I tape a note to the gift and circle the name of the family member it’s from.
Contact Jenny through her Etsy store with the names of your loved ones family members and she’ll email you the graphic, which you can take to your local printer. Notepads cost between $25 and $35 depending on paper stock, size, and your printer. (My pad is 7-1/14″ square.)
Custom Illustrated Portraits
How adorable are these customized illustrated portraits from Tiny Buffalo Designs Company?
Send in a family portrait or pull pull photos of your favorite people off their Facebook accounts and give your loved ones the gift of a darling portrait. If you’d prefer to give them something with a holiday flavor, the company also makes Illustrated tree ornaments .
(*Note: The company will be accepting new orders mid-November.)
Nothing makes me feel like a failing parent more than when my entire family is enjoying a rare moment of downtime together in the same house and we’re all on our respective devices, secluded inside our own little cyber worlds.
Thankfully, my youngest son LOVES to play games (it’s truly his love language) and can be fairly insistent about getting his game-time fix. But since some members of my family appreciate this more than others, having games that appeal to the less game-loving enthusiasts in the family helps bring us all together. Give a family you love the gift of quality time together by gifting a fabulous and interesting game or puzzle everyone can play and enjoy.
At the top of my list? Scary Bingo, the Trick Question Game, Colorku, a Japanese-style logic puzzle, Aristotle’s Number Puzzle to keep young and old minds fresh, Family Charades to liven up a family’s night in, and the Hand Painted Bocce Ball Set.
A Spa & Wellness Gift Card
SpaWeek.com is recognized as the nation’s most respected spa marketing and gifting company, connecting the wellness-conscious with thousands of spas across the country.
With a gift card from SpaWeek.com, your loved ones can choose what treatments they want, including cosmetic ones (botox anyone?) and where they want to have them, whether that’s close to home or on their upcoming trip out of town.
Gifts Under $30
Honestly, who doesn’t need a Tile? Just yesterday, my phone went missing for several hours, making me late to my kids’ Halloween parade at their school. If I’d had a Tile on my keys, I could have pressed the tile and signaled my phone to sound from the dining room where it sat, curiously, on the floor beneath my camera bag and tote.
Anyone who has wasted hours of time, anxiously looking for their keys, wallet, phone, or glasses will appreciate the gift of a Tile, and right now, you can purchase an 8-pack of Tile Mates for only $130 (just over $16 per Tile.)
I love these personalized mugs from Uncommon Goods. They’re personal, clever, charming, and useful, which are pretty fantastic qualities in a holiday gift!
Over the years, I’ve collected coffee mugs – first unconsciously, then consciously – from various fun trips we’ve taken, so that the pristine set of white mugs we received as wedding gifts 14 years ago are the absolute last mugs my husband or I reach for. There’s just something about a mug with sentimental value that makes my morning coffee ritual a little better, which gets my day started off on a little bit better note than it would otherwise. What better gift can you give someone than that?!
Hand-Blown Glass Tree Ornaments
I discovered the alluring beauty of hand-blown glass tree ornaments a few years ago while combining through Etsy for unique gifts and I’ve bought them for friends every year since.
They are beautiful, unusual, and unless you live in a quaint coastal beach town somewhere, they’re pretty much impossible to find anywhere but Etsy. And at a cost of $15-$30, depending on size and complexity, they’re a steal.
I have ordered from DBRGlassworks and Paradise Art Glass, but Local Art Glass PDX in Portland, Oregon is probably my favorite. Still, there are several talented glass blowers selling their work on Etsy, so look around.
Tip: Be sure to contact sellers about shipping multiple ornaments together and allow at least two weeks for shipping to be safe.
Family Fun Bucket List
The Family Fun Bucket List is a kit filled with small birchwood, tongue-depresser-like sticks with activity prompts for making family memories. Suggestions include making a huge sidewalk-chalk drawing, learning a few constellations and picking a night to stargaze and find them, and teaching your kids a family recipe. When you’ve checked something off your bucket list, write the date on the back of the stick.
This would make a great gift, especially for a family with young children who are just beginning to form family traditions.
There’s also a Date Night Bucket List kit with some good ideas for couples (many of which you could also do together as a family.)
Family History Journal
My kids love to hear stories from my childhood and my husband’s. For as little interest as they seem to have in my life now, as an adult, I’m always amazed by how curious they are about me and my life as a child. Even the most mundane stories – boring and pedestrian stories I hardly consider to be actual stories – are entertaining to my kids.
Conversations with my Father and Mother is “A keepsake journal for celebrating a lifetime of stories”. There are 70 pages of questions that range from historical and factual, like a family tree for both mom and dad, to personal and humorous. The book includes questions like “Who was your first crush?”, “What did you think your kids would be like?”, “What’s something you wish you would have asked your parents, but never did?”
I just purchased copies for my dad and brother (who read my blog, so SORRY for the spoiler!), as well as my own family, because $13 ($28 for Father and Mother versions) seems like an awfully small sum of money to pay for a treasure like this. This is a fabulous gift to present to grandparents at the next family gathering and a great way to keep a record that will benefit future generations in any family.
Finding holiday gifts that are truly unique and special is not easy! Hopefully I’ve saved you hours of time and taken some of the guesswork out of your holiday shopping list this year! Because the holidays are right around the corner and nobody wants to spend the week before Christmas scrambling for gifts at the mall.
Thanks for reading,