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Gift Guides

Top 10 Valentine’s Day Gifts for Guys

January 18, 2012

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and while chocolates and flowers are nice, we know that some fellas would probably prefer valentines that can’t be devoured and won’t wilt in a few days. These great gifts for guys are uncommon ways to show the special man in your life just how lovable he is.

Custom Map Cufflinks
If there’s a place close to his heart, you can help him wear it on his sleeve. Whether it’s the place you first met, a landmark where you shared a romantic moment, or another special location, these custom map cufflinks are an elegant gift with a personal touch.

Titanium Multi-tool Collar Stays
Perfect for the dashing gentleman, who isn’t afraid to use his hands, Titanium Multi-tool Collar Stays each feature a half-phillips screwdriver, a slotted screwdriver, a thread cutter, and a bottle opener. Thanks to these sleek little gadgets, your Mr. Fix-it doesn’t have to sacrifice style.

Ball Park Color Top Pens
Maybe you’ve had a great times at a ballgames together, or maybe he’s just a huge fan of a certain team. Either way, this gift is sure to be a home run. Made from the wood from salvaged stadium seats, these pens are officially licensed Major League Baseball collectibles. Each also includes a certificate of authenticity.

The Buck Stops Here Money Clip
Cash might not be a traditional Valentine’s Day gift, but a stylish way to stash that cash is definitely acceptable. Featuring a vintage 1984 twenty-cent commemorative stamp, this money clip tells him that your search for your one-and-only is over. The buck has stopped, and your relationship is right on the money.

Seven Deadly Sins Shot Glasses
Maybe he’s a bad boy, and you’re okay with that. Giving him this set of seven sinfully delightful shot glasses tells him that you like his wild side.

Cast Iron Tool Bottle Openers
Although they look and feel like the real deal, these cast iron tools are actually hand-forged bottle openers. If your guy is handy with a hammer, ready with a wrench, or prepared with pliers, let him know you appreciate his DIY home repairs and can-do attitude with a tool he can use as he kicks back and relaxes while enjoying a bottle of his favorite beverage.

Wood Tie
He has everything you look for in a partner. A sense of humor, great style, and he isn’t afraid to be a little different. Sure, silk ties are nice, but a wood tie is a way to show him that you really do like his uncommon look.

Fire Hose Wallet
Made from retired fire hoses, these sturdy wallets are a clever way to show your guy that he’s your hero.

Frog Prince Paperweight
You knew that one day your prince would come. Now that he has, you can thank him for giving you your very own storybook ending with this pewter paperweight. Of course, your Prince Charming wears many hats–so why shouldn’t he have fun changing the crown on his?

Pick Punch
You could give him a gift card…OR you could give him a device to help him actually use the leftover plastic when he’s spent the gift cards he got for Christmas. The Pick Punch® cuts functional guitar picks from credit cards, gift cards, and similar sheets of thin plastic, so it’s a great way to show your Valentine that he rocks.



Looking for more gift ideas for the ones you love? Check out our Top 10 Gifts for Husbands, Gifts for Boyfriends, Gifts for Wives, and Gifts for Girlfriends.

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: A Paw Print is Forever

January 11, 2012

The first time I saw the Paw Prints Keepsake Frame, I knew I needed to have it! The only problem? I have 5 cats! How am I to choose the lucky kitty that gets their paw print hung on the Wall of Fame?!

Background Research:

Meet my 5 wunderkitties, in order from oldest to youngest:

Fatty
What a docile, wonderful orange blob of a cat. He appeared outside my house on the night of my 16th birthday and never left (best present EVER)!

Pixie

Our neurotic sweetheart, and the only female in the bunch. Joined the household when I moved back home after freshman year of college.

Lynard & Skynard

Brothers! My best friend and I brought them home to foster in the beginning of the summer of 2007. I am still “fostering” them, haha.

And last, but certainly not least…..Buddy!

I adopted Buddy last April from the Animal Care & Control Center in Brooklyn. He is absolutely insane, but that is why he is awesome.

I have to pay homage to Harley. Harley was my first cat, joined the family when I was 11 years old. He passed away 3 years ago, but he’ll always be the king of our jungle.

How does one choose which paw to take a print of? Well, it was actually easy to choose.

Hypothesis:

Fatty is the oldest of the bunch, and the most cooperative. My thoughts are that he will be the easiest to get a steady paw print from. Getting the paw print and putting together this frame might require some extra time to get just right since a live animal is involved in the process, but it will be well worth the memory that is being created.

Experiment:

This project looks easy, but looks are very deceiving. When opening the dough package, it subsequently stuck to the inside of the package it came in and it took a good 5 minutes to get all of it out of the package, along with out from under my fingernails.

The rolling pin that this product came with is a tiny cylindrical piece of wood that you cannot even grip, and the dough gets stuck on when you try to use it. I had to use my mom’s good cooking rolling pin instead.

Getting this dough into the right shape and having the right consistency was not fun. It took about 20 minutes to get it to the right shape and size, and to get any air bubbles out. I was not satisfied with the first (second or third) prints that I took, so I needed to roll the dough out again and… and AGAIN.

Finally, on the fourth attempt, I got the golden paw print! My Fatty was not as happy as I was at this point, but after some smooshy hairy kisses, he was fine.

Conclusion:

The end result, in my opinion, is certainly worth the effort and work that has to be put in to obtain the paw print.

I will treasure this print for the rest of my life and always have it hanging on my wall. I will certainly be getting the rest of my kitties’ paw prints at some point in the future and more of these frames to put them in!

The Paw Prints Keepsake Frame is $30.

Gift Guides

Tip: Use Socks to Disguise Your Christmas Gifts

December 21, 2011

When I was a kid, my brothers and I would love to try to guess what our folks got us for Christmas. With so many mysterious treasures under the tree, taunting us, we couldn’t help but lift, shake, and squeeze them in hopes of guessing their contents. Okay, the truth is, we still do it.

Cassie, Luke, and Beau, 1993
Much to our dismay, my mom is an expert at making sure that her gift selections stay under wraps until Christmas. She has put rocks in boxes to throw off the weight, stashed tiny gifts in giant boxes, wrapped notes explaining that the gifts were actually somewhere else (e.g. “Look in the closet for your real gift”), among many other tricks. One of the sneakiest ways she’s gotten me, and yes, I’ve been fooled by this more than once, was the good ol’ sock trick–with new socks, of course.

The sock trick is an easy way to disguise an easily guessable gift. It’s also a way to get away with giving kids socks for Christmas. You’ll just need a few pairs of socks, wrapping paper, tape, and ribbon.

First, figure out how many pairs of socks it will take to cover your gift. The 100 Shapes Stencil Book is pretty small, just over 7 x 7 inches and about 1/2 an inch thick, so I used four pairs of socks to make my gift package extra cushy.

Wrap the socks around the gift, making sure that the “padding” covers both sides. If you keep the pairs together, you’ll get a little extra cushion.

Once the gift is hidden in socks, you can continue wrapping as usual. I start by placing the gift on the paper, then cutting off the amount I’ll need. I tend to stick to a simple wrapping technique. I fold the sides of the paper over the gift, tape, and fold the ends up toward the middle before taping again. I also finish it off with a simple a bow.

If you’re looking to get fancy with your wrapping technique, you can get some tips from a pro by checking out our How to Wrap a Gift Box and How to Tie a Gift Bow videos.

When you’re finished, the present will be nice and squishy, so the recipient will probably think they’re getting a sweater, decorative holiday towels, or something else less fun than the awesome gift you really picked out for them. And they get some bonus socks.

What’s your favorite way to disguise a gift? Have you ever been tricked by a sneaky gifter? We’d love to hear how! Share your sneaking gifting stories in the comments below.

Gift Guides

5 Tips for Giving Gift Cards

December 20, 2011

(image courtesy of Presents; Ev0luti0nary)

I love getting gift cards but giving one sometimes feels like a last minute and impersonal gesture. But with some savvy, gift cards have the potential to be a thoughtful and memorable gift. Here are some ways to give a gift card that will make it look like a well-planned present.

Give an experience Think outside of the mall. Most businesses give gift cards nowadays so pick some place original. Try a new restaurant, wine store, housecleaning service, indoor rock climbing- get creative. It might be nice to take a break from shopping after the holiday season.

Pick a pretty card It might be an obvious notion that a gift card should be given inside another card but which card makes a difference. Take the time to find something more personal. Stay away from a mass-made card and choose a handmade design.

Add some candy Everything is sweeter with candy on top. Giving sweets with your gift card will give your friends something they can enjoy right away without spending too much more.

Include a list of potential gifts Before purchasing a gift card, take a look around the store or website and take note of the items that you thought your loved one might like. Seeing your picks will let them know you were thinking about them and could make their shopping a little easier.

Make a shopping date You just gave the gift of shopping so make it a special time. Plan on a shopping outing to spend holiday gift cards or celebrate a night at home with movies, popcorn and your favorite online shopping sites.

Gift Guides

How To Tie a Gift Bow

December 14, 2011

You’ve finished your holiday shopping; now it’s time to wrap up all the gifts. But don’t worry! Here are a few tips to turn a basic gift box and ribbon into a present fit to be placed under any tree:

Think you’ve mastered the bow tie? Here are a few more tips to refine your technique:

1. Pick The Right Ribbon

The width of the ribbon will depend on the size of the box. On smaller boxes I would use widths ranging from .25”-.5”. For medium boxes .5”-1”, and for larger boxes 1”-1.5”.

2. Vary The Texture

Textures range from satin, grosgrain, organdy, and some even have flowers on them. It depends on the look that you are going for.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Mess Up

There’s so much you can do with ribbon. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

If you aren’t satisfied with your bow, you can start over using the same ribbon. Just make sure to line up the ribbon but the placement when doing the ribbon over must be precise. Meaning, you have to make sure you’re tying the ribbon in the same exact spots or you will see creases in the ribbon. If you think you cut the wrong length, start with a fresh piece of ribbon. It’s not like you’ll have to throw out a crumpled sheet of wrapping paper!

Got a gift wrapping question? Just ask in the comments below.

Gift Guides

No Time To Wrap? We Offer Gift Boxing!

December 13, 2011

We know it can be hard enough to find time to shop, let alone get all of those gifts wrapped. But don’t worry! Our talented gift boxing team can get your order gift-ready and include your personalized gift message. You can add gift boxes during the checkout process online, or ask a representative to box your items when ordering by phone (1.888.365.0056) for an additional $4.95 per box.

Gift Guides

Uncommon Gifts for the Whole Office

December 12, 2011

You work so hard all year and just when it’s almost time to check out for a much anticipated holiday vacation, you are tasked with the toughest job in 2011- finding a gift perfect for the entire team. Let’s face it. Some of the previous company gifts have been epic fails- the embarrassing umbrella with the company logo, the creepily life-like wooden duck sculpture, the tin of unidentifiable cookies.

This year will be different because  UncommonGoods offers a collection of office-appropriate gifts nice enough that recipients will want to take them home or spruce up their work space.

A quirky Face Mug is a great reminder for your team that everyone deserves a cookie break and a chuckle at their desk or after a long day. However, we can not be held responsible for the guy in the next cube who talks with his mouth full.

Stories of vacations in lands far away can now be documented with the  Scratch Map, a beautiful visual for the avid travelers and those dreaming of an escape.

Desktop clutter is a dangerous pandemic that leads to over a million work-related paper cuts a year.  But it can be stopped in its tracks with the Unzippered Glass Zipper Bag, the functional and stylishly designed alternative candy jar that is perfect for housing office supplies or a stash of sweets.

If your office leans more to the sentimental side, remind your office-mates to stay true to themselves with a Be Yourself Paperweight. If your office is not so sentimental, might we suggest something not as easily thrown.

Some single-items orders totaling over $1000 may be eligible for a discount.  Our customer service representatives are available 24/7 and are happy to discuss pricing and options for your order.  Corporate Sales can be contacted by calling 1-888-365-0056, or by e-mailing corporateorders@uncommongoods.com.

Gift Guides

How to Ask for Cash (or Gift Certificates) for Christmas

December 8, 2011

We’ve all been there. December 26: The carpet beneath the unlit tree is bare (except for those fallen, dried-out pine needles), the last of the holiday feast is confined to tinfoil in the fridge, and you’re stuck with an over-sized sweater, tube socks, and a pre-packaged Christmas cookie gift box. You’re wondering if you should have just asked for cash.

If you’re saving up for something special, have a store you’d love to shop from, or just know that your friends and family don’t really get your taste, the answer is yes. It’s okay to ask for cash, or gift certificates, as long as you do it with class and follow a few etiquette guidelines.

According to the Emily Post Etipedia, it’s fine to tell your family members and close friends that you want cash for your wedding. We figure the same goes for holiday gifts. If your mom asks what you want, and you really want cash or a gift certificate, tell her how you feel. This also helps word-of-mouth bloom. If your mom knows you want cash, and your grandma asks your mom what you want, then your grandma knows you want cash.

However, there are gift-givers who might not feel comfortable with this idea, or think that they aren’t giving a “real” gift unless it’s wrapped in shiny paper. You know your friends and family best, so it’s your call whether to outright ask for money. For those folks who usually give traditional gifts, you may need to drop extra hints to let them know that you’d actually prefer the dough.

Gift etiquette expert Sherri Athay suggests spreading the word subtly in her advice to CNN Living. For example, if your old-fashioned aunt asks what you want for Christmas, you could say, “Oh, I’ve been saving up for…” or “I love anything from [your favorite store].” This will help her feel better about giving you cash or a certificate to the store in question.

While asking outright is fine when it comes to your parents, best friend, or another close relation, and dropping hints isn’t an etiquette no-no in most other situations, remember that no one is required to give you what you want and it really is the thought that counts. If you do end up with another “Happy Holidays” mug or a DVD of a movie you just watched on Netflix last week, you can always save it for a re-gift next year.

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