This is not what I thought I’d do on my complaining site, but I forgot my password and my antidepressants have really helped since I last wrote.
I don’t want to complain tonight; I want to reflect on some pretty great gifts I’ve given. I guess I’m pretending to throw some advice and ideas out there for people who might be stuck on what to give their boyfriend/girlfriend for Christmas or whatever other holiday you may celebrate! However, I anticipate that maybe 1 other person will read this again besides myself. Oh well.
Personally, I’m listing things that are either fairly simple and pretty generic, or specific and expensive/hard to do. Things here are only those that I’ve done in the past, so it’s a limited list. Take it or leave it.
Category 1: Things to do
I personally prefer doing things with somebody as a gift rather than buying or making something. It tends to be an experience that you remember, and then the other person doesn’t have to focus on “paying you back,” but instead they try to enjoy their time with you. Win-win.
1. Brewery Tours
This is something I did with my boyfriend one year, and we had an amazing experience. If you’re somebody who likes to drink or taste-test things, this might be for you. First of all, try using websites to find different coupons or deals for tours like these. You’ll be surprised how cheap things get near holidays, and it’s nice to save some money. Second, try to figure out what kind of tour you want to do. (I know, right? There are different kinds!!)
There’s the classic beer tours, some that focus on spirits, some that worry about wine, and more. Thankfully, I found one that combined a distilling company, a brewery, and ended it with a wine-chocolate shop!
I went through Crush Beer & Wine Tours because they had a tour in my area, Rochester NY. We went and they did Black Button Distilling, The Genesee Brew House, and Chocolate & Vines. (Our tour was this one.)
2. Go to a Concert
Now, this can get a little touchy depending on your person. If you’re somebody who likes to listen to country but they’re more of a punk rock person, you might want to reconsider. However, if you have the same taste in music or you at least tolerate what they like, you might be able to do this one!
We have gone to a few concerts in the past, but my favorite was when we went to Canada for a concert! Getting to travel for the day to a new place was a pretty fun experience. Plus, it gave me an excuse to break out my passport. (Also, yes, it was a Green Day concern. All the rage.)
Another fun concert we did was over the summer, and it was more of a series. Our ratio station hosts a kind of festival where they bring ~9 different bands to a stage. It starts with local growing bands, and ends with some bigger names. Of note, I loved getting to hear some music from local band Mainland, who has some fun alternative music. This was a cool way to spend a day because we were able to listen to a variety of artists who may or may not have hit with us, and that was okay.
3. Attend a Sporting Event
If you’re like me, this is NOT something at the top of your list. For me, I’m not too crazy about any sporting teams to want to spend money to see them play. However, my father and grandmother are. The issue is, neither of them like the same football team.
My dad is a huge Vikings fan. When you ask him, “Why the Vikings?,” he’ll gladly let you know “I like the colors.” Great reason, right? But it stuck and now he’s known in our small town for enjoying them. Grandma Graham, on the other hand, is a huge Steelers fan. To be truthful, I’m still not quite sure why.
Anyway, one year my siblings and I were able to find tickets to a game in Pittsburgh, which isn’t too far from where we live, and the Vikings were playing the Steelers. Badda bing, badda boom, we bought tickets for Grandma and Dad. Thankfully, there were no hard feelings when the Steelers won, but it was nice to be able to give them that experience together as mother and son, in addition to grandma and dad.
Now, this is NOT something I have done yet with my boyfriend, but it IS this year’s present. We are going to go see Hamilton in Chicago because we’re cool. It’ll be a fun time because we’re going to make a whole trip out of it! I’ll have to post here about how it goes. Long story short, he has wanted to see it for a while and I have wanted to take him, but I only recently gathered the courage (and money) to do so. Fingers crossed it goes well!
Category 2: Homemade
First of all, you can NEVER go wrong with homemade things.
“But I’m not creative, I’m not good at making stuff, It’s really hard.”
1. Doesn’t matter if you’re creative – use PINTEREST.
2. Even if it’s ugly, they’ll love it. If they don’t, they might not be worth it. (Plus, ugly things tend to be funny, and they’ll remember it.)
3. Don’t pick the hard projects!!
I always try and think of what I have on hand at home or what I’m willing to go buy before I even search for an idea. Picking up a plain photo frame is easy and cheap, whereas having to go buy a whole bunch of glitter, glue, paints, etc. might be more of a challenge.
1. Photo Frame
This is something I did recently for one of my best friends for her birthday. She just moved into a new house and wanted to decorate, but didn’t have too much to do so. When visiting, we went as a group to go hiking nearby and make a day of it. While on the hike, I decided to start gathering some things. I ended up stealing a bunch of flowers, ferns, small rocks, etc. while on the hike. She definitely noticed and was confused, but didn’t bother me about it.
Over the course of the next 5 months or so, I had time to press the flowers, find a cheap frame, and begin the process. I printed out pictures of us from that day and chose a few to display in a frame from the dollar store. Next, I placed them on a white sheet of paper and glued them in place, framing them with the pressed plants. The last thing I was going to do was glue the small rocks to the base of the frame with a hot glue gun. However, my gun was out of glue and I decided it might look tacky, so I opted out.
I gave it to her for her birthday and she had forgotten about me grabbing plants on our hike, so I got to reveal to her why I had done so. This is one of my proudest gifts because I thought of it WAY in advance of when I was going to give it to her, and I didn’t spoil it!
This one is a bit harder, to be honest, and kind of expensive. But, if done right, the product is nice and keeps quite well.
I made my boyfriend coasters one summer when he was away because I thought it would be fun! He loved them so much that the following year, we made a bunch together to give to our family members, and they were a hit. The link I used was this one, and it breaks it down for you pretty easily with plenty of picture ideas on the site. In my opinion, using pictures is very nice too.
[The ones we made for some of my family included photographs of my recently deceased uncle. They don’t have to be used as coasters; keeping them as display pieces is nice as well.]
CAUTION: You must follow the directions to a T when mixing the Envirotex.
3. Explosion Box
This one was really hard for me because I’m not great at getting things to line up right. If you are, then this one might be for you.
Explosion boxes are cool because you can put whatever you want in them! Want to commemorate your time spent at the movies together? Use each flap for a ticket and write a description on the other side of the day. Want to turn it into a sentimental gift? Use pictures from your relationship and things that you’ve done. A proposal? Put a ring in the middle. It’s really what you make of it. I like this demonstration video.
Category 3: Sentimental
You’ll notice that the sentimental category here is stuff I’ve just bought online. It seems, cheap at first, but I’m going to give specific examples I’ve done instead of generic ones you can make your own.
The first present I ever purchased for somebody with my own hard-earned money was this one. I wanted to get my first boyfriend a really cool present that meant a lot, so I began a search on EBay and Amazon to find box sets of the Spiderman TV Series that ran when he was a kid. Long story short, he really loved the show when he was little, and watching episodes when he was older made him nostalgic.
2. Karen Filipelli’s Salt & Vinegar Herr’s Chips
While this title is misleading, I promise my explanation won’t be. My boyfriend’s cat absolutely LOVED this dragonfly toy he had gotten her when she was little. But, as toys often do, it got worn-out, faded, and honestly kind of icky. He decided to go back online and buy a new one, but he ended up waiting almost 6 MONTHS for it because it was on backorder through Amazon, and even then they still decided to say, “Sorry. We can’t get this item right now. Here’s a refund.”
He’s not the kind of person to get mad, but I knew he was disappointed. I took it upon myself to try and figure out who makes the toy, and see if I could find a direct website to purchase it at. About an hour’s worth of searching later, I found out that you can buy it in a bulk toy set with a few other things for about the same price as the dragonfly by itself.
I bought the pack, it arrived at his house, and I was greeted with a text saying “WHERE DID YOU FIND IT???” Needless to say, he didn’t care about how much it cost, but he did care that I put in the time and effort to find something he really wanted. It’s what Jim did for Karen when she wanted Herr’s Salt and Vinegar chips, (which are bomb af, btw.) They spent an afternoon searching to no avail, until Jim went to the source and discovered where he could get them, which was pretty easy in the end.
3. Something they Need
While this might not be as cute as the other sentimental items, it still counts! My mom is a respiratory therapist, so she wears scrubs to work. Over the years she accumulated a bunch of cute scrubs with different patterns from Christmas-themed to Fourth of July. However, her employer changed their policy and made each unit wear a plain color instead. My mom got grey scrubs. Because of this change, she had no reason to keep her current cute scrubs and gave them away. About 3 years later, she ended up leaving that employer for a new one with different policies (and nicer co-workers, thank goodness.)
Now, my mom works someplace that doesn’t force the respiratory therapists to wear grey, but she doesn’t have any of her old scrubs. My solution? She’s going on a shopping spree with me for Christmas to get new scrubs.
It isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but when I told my mom I wanted to do this for her, she actually seemed excited about it. Most of the time when we want to buy her something, she just gets all weird and says she doesn’t need anything; just a clean house. (Now I get out of cleaning!) But on a serious note, I do think she appreciates that I was listening to her and I decided to do something nice for her. She knows that I care and want to do something nice for her that she’ll actually appreciate (and use,) and that’s what counts.
That is the end of my gift-giving idea list. If anybody does read this and has other nice gift ideas to add or mention a problem with somebody I listed, feel free to leave a comment. Otherwise, I’ll enjoy looking at this in a year when I more to add.
PS Here’s a picture of my cat with her seasonal Christmas collar on. Isn’t she the best?