Gift-Giving When You Don’t Know What to Give

Gift-Giving When You Don’t Know What to Give

I like buying presents.  Truly, I am one of those people who actually likes to give more than receive.  It’s not even a non-selfish thing.  I LOVE buying presents.  It’s fun and you get to make someone else happy and let them know you’re important to you.  What can be better than that?  Plus, it usually means you get to go shopping.  Which is always a good thing.  And it’s GUILT-FREE shopping because you’re not spending the money on yourself.  So it doesn’t actually count as spending!  Woo!

But some people have everything.  And you think “Ugh, what can I get this person who has everything and doesn’t need another mug/vase/notebook/photo frame?”  It’s quite the conundrum.

Never fear, I am here to help you.  After many years researching (ie shopping) I have found that the best things to get people are the things are actually kind of mundane.  But they’re the things that we all need and use from time to time and often don’t have, right when we need them.  There’s also lots of stuff we need but can’t be bothered buying for ourselves because we’d rather buy shoes or cupcakes or something.

So, here are some handy ideas for the next time you’re stumped for a gift.
Put some thought into it and a little bit of heart too.

  • Greeting Cards – Nearly everybody needs these at some time or another.  Buy a selection of birthday, thank you, thinking-of-you etc cards and bundle them up in a nice box or basket.  You can get really nice cards for $1 or $2 or, better still, make some yourself.  It will save the recipient time and money, which is never a bad thing.  Remember to buy cards for each gender as well, or more uni-sex ones if you can find them.
  • Wrapping paper – Same deal as greeting cards.  Find some inexpensive sheets of paper and bundle them up in a pretty package with some accompanying ribbons, stickers, or other trim so they can gussy up their gifts.  Wrapping paper is always the thing you forget to buy when you have to give someone a gift.  Save them the trouble.  Again, it’s a good idea to go with designs that will suit any gender.  Stripes are good, as are spots and geometric shapes.
  • Tea Towels – Yes, it sounds dull, but how often do any of us treat ourselves to a nice new tea-towel?  I don’t know about you, but I have a drawer full of grotty old tea-towels that really should be made into dusters now.  I never get myself new ones.  In fact, I “save” any really pretty ones I have because I don’t want to get them dirty.  Duh.  But if I had more decent ones, maybe I would use the ones I have.  Buy a set of pretty-but-practical towels in cheerful colours or in tones that match the gift recipient’s kitchen.  You can tie them up with a ribbon and pop a wooden spoon or other utensil in as well, just to add to the theme.
  • Cruelty-Free – OK, stay with me on this one.  Finding cruelty-free products can be tricky.  If you’re someone who, like me, will NOT use products you know are tested on animals or brands you just aren’t sure about because they never display it on their packaging, having a trusty list to go buy is VERY handy.  Do some research, look at websites such as Choose Cruelty Free (Australia) or PETA and compile a list of suitable brands (write them in a nice notebook or type them up and laminate in a purse-sized format) for a vegan or animal-loving friend.  Add a couple of items from the companies you’ve listed.  If your intended recipient isn’t in to makeup or hair, you can do the same sort of concept with cleaning products, skin care etc.  It’s a thoughtful, helpful gift that will save them time in the shops, especially if they’re new to the whole cruelty-free world.  It will show that you validate and support their beliefs and that you care about them enough to take the time to make a truly unique and heartfelt gift.
  • Donate on Their Behalf – I know some people think this is a crappy gift, but it really can be a nice thought if you choose your charity wisely.  Some people really want to give, but don’t have the funds to do so.  You can purchase gift  donations to everything from charities that support women’s rights, to organisations that provide sporting goods to children in poorer countries.  Give the gift of clean water or employment opportunities, educational supplies, mosquito nets, livestock or just a good old cash donation.  Make your gift count.  What do you give someone who has everything?  You give them a gift that will help someone who has next to nothing.
  • Recipe & Baked Goods – So you make the world’s best brownies? (well, I think mine are pretty good as it happens…) and your friend loves them?  Whip up a batch and while you’re at it, type up the recipe and have it laminated. The recipient gets the yummy goodies AND your secret recipe, which is pretty awesome.  Present the goods in a nice container and it’s win-win all round.
  • Mix CD – Now, I have talked about my fondness and sentimentality over the good old mix tape, so it’s no secret I love this somewhat daggy gift.  There is nothing more personal than sharing your favourite music with someone.  It’s like letting them in to the inner sanctum of your life.  Maybe.  But this can be a really neat gift.  I actually made one for my brother a couple of years ago, with a bunch of songs that we loved as kids, mostly one-hit wonders that don’t get played much nowadays.  He thought it was the best gift ever.  Bringing back memories is as important as making new ones.  It’s important to make the song-list one that the recipient would like, not just a selection of tunes you’re crazy about.  Make it personal to them – maybe songs from the year they were born or the year they graduated high school.  You get extra points for giving it a cool, handmade cover.  Make it old school, baby!

So, there you are.  Just a few suggestions that might help you out next time in you’re in a quandary about what to get someone.  I think the secret is always to make the gift very personal, very individual to the person you’re giving it to. Make it look like you put some thought into it – not just grabbed the first thing you saw on the sales rack or next to the counter when you were buying your groceries.  It’s not hard to do and doesn’t need to be expensive.  You can buy a box of chocolates for someone, but arranging them in a pretty jar tied with ribbon and a lovely handmade tag makes it special.  It’s all in the presentation, people!

Now, go buy me something! And make it awesome! (Kidding).

Have a lovely week everybody 🙂

Cleaning is a “sometimes” activity, right?

Cleaning is a “sometimes” activity, right?

I was supposed to be cleaning my house today.  It has become quite feral due to me being a.) unwell this week, b.) out a lot this week and c.) just plain lazy and too prone to distraction (every week).  I want to be a good little house-wife, I do.  Even if nobody sees the house except for me and the occasional property manager when I am due for rent inspection.  But I fail miserably every week at making any kind of serious attempt at actually making my house spotless and tidy.  I just don’t have that gene.  The tidy gene.  It doesn’t bother me most of the time, but just lately I have felt that I am failing at being a grown-up.  I don’t do my dishes every night.  I don’t fold my laundry when it comes off the line.  I don’t even put it away.  I am slack.  There is no other way to say it.

But it just feels as though there are more important things to be doing.  Like today, for instance.  I was determined to get the place looking spick and span so I would have tomorrow free to craft or do something else that is constructive and meaningful (unlike cleaning, which is not).  I had just put a load of washing into the machine when my friend GK phoned to see if I was up for a catch-up and coffee outing.  I didn’t take much convincing, despite the little voice in the back of my mind yelling “What about the hoovering?! The bathroom needs scrubbing! You haven’t done any dishes in three days!!!”  So out for coffee we went.  When GK surprised me by asking if I wanted to go op-shopping and show her the good places to get a bargain (she NEVER goes op-shopping) I was powerless to say anything other than “Yes!”  So not only did I once more ignore the cleaning that needed to be done, I also ignored the fact that I have just had a large dental bill to pay and that I shouldn’t be recklessly spending my money. Sigh.  Definitely failing at being an adult.  A responsible one anyway.

So off we trotted to a row of op-shops that I frequent, um, frequently.  GK was hunting for some new jeans and I needed a plain black, long-sleeved top.  I also desperately needed some new beads.  Honestly.  Scout’s honour!  Well, I didn’t need them.  Need is a strong word.  Wanted is probably a better term.  So I rummaged around and found a couple of necklaces with some nice glass beads on them for less than $5.00 (plus I found the black long sleeve top I was needing and that was only $3.50!).  GK got two pairs of awesome jeans which made her happy and even luckier still, they were the right length (she’s short like me – everything needs taking up) and I snagged a great pair of black pants for work and another striped top (I have a thing for stripes…).  I really like the necklaces I got…

…these spotty blue glass beads are unusual and pretty…

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…and this purple/grape-coloured necklace has lots of different shaped beads on it in various sizes and shades…

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I have made a few pieces of jewellery this week as I had some orders to get done and I can’t concentrate on anything until I get them done and dusted.  First up, a blue and brown necklace which was requested by a lady at work who had bought a similar piece from me before.  She asked me to replicate it – I didn’t have enough of the same coloured beads so I substituted where I was able to and I think it turned out ok…

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…I also made one in a similar style but using red beads instead of blue…

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…I made this pink and green one for my buddy CW who I am visiting tomorrow.  She’s been having a crummy time of things lately and I wanted to give her a little treat to cheer her up.  She had bought a pair of earrings from me before that had these same colours in them and had mentioned she would like a matching necklace one day.  It’s taken me nearly 6 months to make it for her but finally I got it done…

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…I also made this pretty (well, I think it’s pretty) pastel necklace using some of the wooden beads I bought at the last craft show

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…and this bracelet which I’m not convinced about…it was getting late and I think my colour-matching was a bit off…


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…I’ve also been doodling and working on some card designs.  I draw some funny little birdcages but didn’t get as far as actually making a card with them (yet)…

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Tomorrow, I have promised myself, I will finish tidying up and make my house clean and neat and fit for human habitation, or maybe even real life visitors!  I will leave a little window of time in which I can craft and create or maybe spend a couple of hours organising my craft room.  Or, more realistically, I will spend half an hour hoovering, get distracted by some beads or ribbon, paper or paints and give up on the whole idea of tidying up.  I am nothing if not consistent 🙂

Hope you have a wonderful day (dishes be damned!) x

Mini Market Madness

Mini Market Madness

Well, the day had finally arrived for my Mini Market Day…all my hard work and staying-up-late-nights and stressing over would I have enough and would I have enough room and what if people don’t like it and what if everything sucks and I humiliate myself… Because I am nothing if not slightly paranoid and dumb.

My lovely Mum helped me set everything up last night because I was having an attacks of the-I-don’t-know-what-to-do-first dilemmas and basically just walking around in circles bemoaning the fact I am very disorganised and a bit mental.  It actually didn’t take long and this morning we were ready so early that we sat about twiddling our thumbs for an hour or so before everyone was due to arrive.

Once I had set everything out and it was all pretty and well presented, I realised I actually had quite a bit of stuff… I had worked hard, by crikey!  All those hours of work had paid off and I had some nice pieces on display.  I was quite proud of myself for getting it all done.  I think in the end I had made 100 cards, 21 bracelets, 15 necklaces, 100 pairs of earrings plus pretty peg sets, brooches, rings and goodness knows what else.  Not bad for one little chickadee on her own in the midst of a separation, move to a new home and starting a new job.  I’m allowed a little bit of patting myself on the back (for once).

I had about 25 people come during the day and it was really relaxed and happy and people were taking their time and having a chat and a bite to eat.  I wasn’t stressed or freaking out and I think everyone enjoyed themselves and were happy with what they bought.  I hope so anyway.

The weather was perfect – I couldn’t have asked for a better day.  Blue skies, a little bit of cloud and a lovely breeze that stopped it getting stuffy in my house and allowed people to look at things we’d set up outside without getting too hot.

My Mum made me some pretty bunting to hang up in the courtyard and some lovely little paper birdhouses for decoration…

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We made far too much food (as always).  Brownies and cupcakes (complete with cupcake toppers I made yesterday), coconut ice, apricot bites, caramelised onion tarts and shortbread.  My friends brought some scones and muffins too.  So much food left over!  Luckily, I think there is a morning tea on at work tomorrow so guess who will be bringing in a few plates to share?

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The brownies could have been a disaster.  I forgot to put the baking powder in them and have to yank them back out of the oven and mix in some in.  I didn’t think it would work but they actually came out really nice – fudgey and gooey and yum.  It’s probably a good thing I’m not supposed to eat chocolate…otherwise I would have polished them all off.  The coconut ice was supposed to be the traditional pink and white…except I was half way through making them when I realised I didn’t have any pink or red food colouring. So they’re green.  Which is interesting…  

I had four or five tables of stuff which diminished as the day went on.  My Mum made a basket full of Christmas Angels and little scented decorations for the “tree” (also made by her – painted twigs in a pot) which will now be my Christmas Tree, post-market.

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We scattered my cards around and used everything we could think of to display the earrings and other jewellery.  Here’s a tip – tea boxes (the ones with sections in them) make excellent display cases for earrings on cards.  Thanks Pinterest for that idea! My new business/earring cards came this week, just in time for my last 50 or so pairs of earrings and they look great and fit perfectly in the tea box and other “holders”.  Ramekins and small teacups also worked really well (I was running out of ideas by then!)

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All in all, a lovely stress-free day.  No tantrums from me, happy customers and gorgeous weather.  All the hard work paid off and I now have Christmas money and can maybe even afford to get my hair cut finally and get my car
serviced before the really hot weather starts.

Hope your weekend has been fun and rewarding, especially if you have your own crafty business.  Have a great week 🙂

Antidotes and Sofas

Antidotes and Sofas

Yesterday I spent a lovely day with my Mum who has finally bitten the bullet and decided to get herself some new furniture.  First, we went to IKEA, home of all things awesome and scandinavian/swedish-designed.  I love me some IKEA, I have to admit.  I was restrained and only bought a couple of little bits and pieces while Mum stocked up on some storage items and um, a lint roller.  We tried several couches on for size, measured cabinets, oohed and aahed over some pretty lamps and photo frames and basically just spent a lot of time wandering around.  We decided not to purchase any of the furniture – Mum needed to think more carefully and measure up at home a bit more before she actually bought anything.  But we’ll probably buy the pieces she likes, online, this weekend.  Yay for new stuff!  I should point out that my Mum NEVER has new stuff – she’s always had to make do with 2nd hand things and pieces mysteriously brought home by my Dad.  It’s time she had some new things.  She does, however, want to go retro-chic with her craft room so I foresee many forays into op-shops and 2nd-hand furniture places in my near future.

Afterwards we stopped in at a gorgeous gift shop in Mount Hawthorn.  Antidote is wall-to-wall fabulousness with everything from cute hand made dolls to beautiful ceramic plates, lovely soaps and decorating items.  We’d never been there before so we stayed quite awhile just looking at everything and wishing we were rich (ha ha).  I found some cute little boxes filled with mother-of-pearl buttons (Mum nabbed those immediately) and so many ideas for future presents for family and friends.  Mum decided to get me a voucher for my upcoming birthday so I can look forward to spending that!

I loved these trinket/cake stands:

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And these beautiful wrapped soaps (I like anything with birds on…):

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Look at this amazing dresser!  Isn’t it, well, amazing?! Just right for lots of bright textiles, toys and knick-knacks:

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I loved this sign too…although I’m not what you would call adventurous.  I like to go to places I HAVE been before so I know what I’m getting into!  Maybe I should change that this year…:

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The little tag on this item says it all : general eclectic…I’m thinking that’s what I should call all my stuff:

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Lots of lovely washi tape and baker’s twine and yummy crafty supplies made of brown kraft paper (my favourite):

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Beautiful little vintage-esque bottles of all shapes and sizes.  Just right for a single bloom or just as a decorative piece:

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So, if you’re ever out in Mount Hawthorn, near Perth in Western Australia, check out ANTIDOTE on Scarborough Beach Road.  It’s lovely!

Oh and Happy Australia Day to all my Aussie readers & friends!  Hope you have a great day celebrating the beautiful country we live in…