Gift Ideas

I feel the urge to steal all your ideas put together a thoughtful post about good gifts to give to friends.  My thought here is to compile a list of gifts for kind of the acquaintance friends- the people you know but not super well, so maybe you aren’t getting them a new piece for their collection they’ve had since childhood.  Stuff for teachers and neighbors.  But not another scented candle, mug, or set of lotions!  (As a former teacher, please don’t get them that stuff! I haven’t taught in seven years and I am still working through my supply.)

So I would like to know some of the most thoughtful and creative gifts you have given or received and I will compile them all here for us.  So that we will be known as the BEST GIFT GIVERS OF ALL TIME!  Here are my offerings:

Cupcake kit– Bake a dozen plain cupcakes in pretty cupcakes.  Package them up with a container of frosting and a few different jars of sprinkles.  To up the gift, add in the new cupcake pan that you baked the cupcakes in.

Towel wrapped around homemade bread– My mom gave this one for Christmas one year.  She baked all the bread in her bread maker and wrapped them up in new Christmas towels and tied a ribbon around them.  My suggestion is to mix the bread in a bread maker, but bake it in the oven. It makes the bread look fancier when it isn’t in that square bread maker shape.  If you don’t have a bread maker, you can buy the bread mixes from the grocery store and they aren’t particularly difficult to mix by hand.  (Or I see bread makers super cheap at Goodwill all the time.)

Glass storage container filled with candy– I got this one for Christmas this year and was struck by it.  So simple! So practical! Such a good gift that I will USE!  My friend gave me a Pampered Chef tupperware like glass container and had filled it up with Christmas Hershey’s Kisses.  Matt and Elizabeth devoured the candy that night and I have used that storage container so many times since then.

A bottle of wine and good chocolates– A friend of mine got this one.  She said that it was all in the presentation, but when I asked her about the best “generic” gift she had ever received, she immediately thought about this one.  She said she got a bottle of better cheap wine (something that cost under $8 or so), tied with a pretty ribbon.  And a fancy chocolate bar was also tied to the ribbon.

A mini picnic- fancy cheese, bread, grapes in a pretty basket– The basket would be the main part of this gift, but you could pick something decorative or something more practical, like a little cooler.  (A month or two from now would be a great time to stock up on the back to school sales of lunchboxes and such.)  I use those mini, “six-pack” cooler bags all the time and there are some really pretty ones out there.  Grab one of those and stock it up with some nice cheese, bread, and grapes and deliver an afternoon snack to a friend.

Fancy glasses and a drink mix– When I was teaching, one of my not-a-candle gifts was a set of hurricane glasses and a container full of straws.  I thought it was very creative.  (Know your audience though, it is a little weird to give stuff for drinking to your kid’s second grade teacher, but I was totally cool with it.)  I would suggest pairing some glasses with a drink mix, instead of (or in addition to) the straws.  If you do decide to go with straws, let me suggest the paper straws, they are much fancier than the regular plastic straws.  You could even through in a pack of those fancy little drink umbrellas.

A selection of fancy foods– We got this one from one of Matt’s coworkers last Christmas.  They had gone to a fancy store (I’m trying to remember and I think it was a store with the word Market in it that I have only been to once) and picked out a supply of none perishable things like cheese, spreads, nuts, crackers, and chips.  The one that sticks out in my mind was an artichoke bruschetta spread because it was so good.  I went out and bought french bread, sliced it up, and spread that stuff all over it for Christmas eve.  So good.  (In my googling of this spread, I believe it may have been World Market that the stuff came from.)  But it was really fun to have all the fancy little things to try.  It was even just packaged in the brown shopping bag with handles from the store (maybe with a ribbon tied on the handle?) and honestly that went with the theme.

Now, what have you got to add?  I’m thinking in the $10-$30 range and for gifts that are good for pretty much anyone.  (But creative suggestions outside of those parameters are certainly welcome.)  I’m also looking for something practical and useful, so your recipient doesn’t think “great, but now what am I going to do with this?”  What comes to mind when you think of the best “regular” gift you have ever gotten?