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gift giving

Gift Guides

Unforgettable Birthday Gifts For Everyone

July 2, 2015

Whether you’re just meeting a friend for the first time or you’ve known someone all your life, odds are they probably have a birthday. For as long as birthdays have existed – Claudia Severa sent the first documented birthday invitation around 100 AD – so too has the pressure to find the perfect gift. Yet birthdays themselves actually aren’t all that distinguished; just today, 15 million people will celebrate their special day. How could anyone hope to stand out?

Fear not! Since one of the world’s most celebrated birthday months is nearly upon us, we’ve put together a list of our favorite uncommon gifts that are sure to make the other 14,999,999 people jealous! From all of us here at UncommonGoods, we hope this year is a good one!

PicMonkey Collage

“I’m 21 This Year…Again!” (Beer, Wine, and Cocktail Gifts)

Whether a beer, wine, or cocktail connoisseur, these gifts are sure to quench those who have truly aged to perfection.

Birthday Wine Box | UncommonGoodsA bottle of wine is a nice gift, but it’s only a keepsake in the sense that the birthday boy or girl might keep it until their next dinner party–and then they’ll drink it already, for Pete’s sake! Gift that bottle in a Birthday Wine Box and they’ll have something special to actually keep. (And to stock with more wine once that gift bottle’s gone!)


Having trouble coming up with a gift for your beer-loving buddy? Drink outside the box with this Beer Caddy with Bottle Opener, made from reclaimed redwood beams – perfect for building your own six-pack!

 

 

Or, if liquor’s more their thing, bring some extra flare to their bar with a rock-solid embodiment of your appreciation. | Stone Drink Dispenser 


Don’t take a chance on a great birthday gift – but do with what cocktails you’ll serve for a little added spontaneity, surprise party or no. | Mixology Dice

 

Show the birthday guy or gal that they’re worth a bump up from the salt line and lime wedge standard. | Himalayan Salt Tequila Glasses

 

A clever take on the morning brunch favorite with the recipe built right in! | Bloody Mary Diagram Glassware

 

 

 

You might want to sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song a few extra times this year… | Major Scale Musical Wine Glasses

 

 

Go for a DIY take on a crisp and classic drink without the stress of gift wrapping elaborate distillery equipment. | Homemade Gin Kit and Tonic Making Kit

(Not sure if your giftee will toast to homemade tonic? See the kit put to our test in this gift lab.)

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If gin’s not their thing, help ease the aging process for your favorite whiskey lover while accelerating the aging process of their favorite whiskey – with a personalized touch. | Personalized Whiskey Barrel

Bubba Jones crafts handmade steins as toastworthy as their recipient. Cheers to another year! | Tankard Stein

 

Still thirsty for more? Check out more beer, wine, and cocktail gifts here >>

 

Bag o’ Laughs (Funny Gifts)

If they’re more of a comic than a cook, you’ll need to up your humor game and pack the laughs. Any of these ironic, side-splitting gifts are sure to deliver.

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Should I get them this book? –> Is it their birthday? –> Yes –> Do they like funny books? –> Yes –> You should get them this book. | Inconsequential Dilemmas

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Ironic and iconic, this cup is meant to imitate the original paper version, a symbol of the NYC morning rush. | Ceramic Greek Coffee Cup

 

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Elwood’s distinctive colorful charm is sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face, no matter what year you’re celebrating. | Elwood the Rainbow Unicorn Mug

 

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Judgmental Ned or any of his other overgrown avian pals are sure to be a big hit. | Ned – Ostrich Portrait

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These adorable and easy-to-care-for ducks come with cute boots, so you won’t have to worry about them waddling around and leaving a trail of frosting. Each is handmade, and has its own personality. | Spotted Wellies Garden Ducks

 

 

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Drop the big one on a coworker, or subtly tell your boss off on their special day. | F Bomb Paperweight

 

Searching for someone with an uncommon sense of humor? We’ve got plenty more laughs here >>

 

 

 

More Cake Please (Foodie gifts)

You’ll want to ensure that the foodie in your life has something new to whip up after the cake’s been devoured! Treat them to one of these cool culinary presents.

 

Crafted with wood from old European buildings and a natural beeswax glaze, this Reclaimed Wood Cookbook Stand is the perfect place for the birthday chef’s secret recipes.


Add a pinch of these Dessert and Baking Salts, each a scrumptiously curated flavor combination of sweet and salty. You might want to present this gift early, or you’ll wish you had come cake time!

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If they’re more into sour than salty, the Citrus Juicer is the way to go!

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Or, maybe spicy is their thing, and pre-made hot sauce falls short of their heat needs. | Make Your Own Hot Sauce Kit

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For the always-on-the-go BBQ lover, who’s sure to rule “Great Gift” when they take this case to court. | Portable Briefcase BBQ Grill

A robust gift for any coffee lover who loves to chill just as much as they love a hot cup of morning glory. | Coffee Cold Brew Gift Set

(Watch a member of our team whip up a batch of homemade cold brew in a very cool gift lab.)

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How many ounces is that? No one wants to break the flow of amazing cooking to check the metrics. Solution? A tasteful wrist piece for a cook that doubles as a measurement conversion tool. | Cooks Cuff

 

Want to see what else is cooking? Find more great foodie gifts here >>

 

 

More Exciting than Socks (Kid-Friendly Birthday)

Stop! Drop the socks and sweaters! Any of these kid-friendly gifts will elevate you to the coveted position of favorite aunt or uncle.

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Hard pressed to find something great for a sweet kid? Look no further! | Mini Ice Cream Sandwich Press Set

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Treat the birthday boy or girl like royalty. | Ring Jewel Ice Pop Mold

This cute and customizable octopus is a great piece for kids’ rooms, especially those who love adventure or all things ocean. | Personalized Eight Legged Sailor

 

 

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He shoots, he scores! Perfect for hot cocoa, cereal, or tomato soup for a fun twist on a tasty treat. | The Mug With a Hoop

 

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Inspire your favorite whiz kid with creative fun and scientific knowledge with this set of super geeky science blocks. Each side of each block presents a different fact. For science! | Super Nerdy ABC Blocks

 

Still looking? Find toys, games, and loads more cool stuff for kiddo here >>

 

For the Sporty Sort (Gifts For Sports Fans)

Score big this year with the MVB (most valuable birthday) with one of these gifts for sports lovers and outdoorsy types. Whether a baseball, golf, or hockey fan, the MVB is sure to cheer like you got them tickets behind home plate.

 

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Score as many points as possible with the birthd – wait, it’s golf, so you’ll want to score as few points, got it? Point is: they’ll love it! | Golfer’s BBQ Set

 

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It’s never the wrong time of year to crack open a cold one for their favorite team. These bottle openers are game used by the players who provide the drink-worthy moments. | Game Used Hockey Stick Bottle Opener

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The Snow Ski Wine Rack is perfect for a slope-shredder with a taste for wine. Just don’t try to strap on the skis after the rack has been relieved of its charge…

 

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Grounded in baseball pastimes, this home-run hitting pen is made from authentic wood and paint from your baseball fan’s favorite stadium. | Ballpark Seat Pen

 

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You can’t gift wrap an actual college stadium, but this is the next best thing! | College Football Stadium Art

 

Gooooooooaaaalll! See more gifts for sports fans here >>

 

Put a Bow on Top (Jewelry & Style Gifts)

For the friend who already thinks they have the greatest gift – their sense of style – one of these fashionable pieces will have them looking nicer than the box you wrapped it in.

 

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Commemorate a special month with this timeless piece that will make her feel like a birthday girl all year long. | Dots Calendar Necklace

 

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Cherish the little bits of luck in her life so far with this spirited yet deeply sentimental piece. | Pennies from Heaven Locket

 

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For someone inspired by the natural world, celebrate her birth and the Earth’s. | Story of the Earth Bracelets

 

22302_zoom1Whether she stars in a solo show or has a supporting cast of bright young talent, she’ll love this shining necklace handmade by Catherine Weitzman. | My Lucky Stars Necklace

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Your favorite yogi might wake up with a series of sun salutations, but they’ll enjoy wearing this reminder of the morning’s practice throughout the day. | Yoga Cuff

 

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Keep them feeling homeward bound, even when they’re miles away. | Custom Map Key Ring

 

For someone with an exquisitely elusive sense of style – check out even more jewelry options here >>

 

Make a*Birth* Day of It (Relaxation & Grooming Gifts)

Sometimes the best gift for a busy person is simply a moment of respite, but all of these relaxing amenities are sure to pair nicely.

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Roll out the yoga mat for a calming, age defying birthday. Roll it back up into this beautiful Hand Loomed Yoga Bag.

 

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The collection of aromatic teas soothe the senses, all the while benefiting longevity and aging skin. ~ And many more! | Green Herbal Tea Kit

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Rather than gift someone in need of relaxation another errand, bring the spa right to them! | Spa in a Bag

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Three blissful mini-vacations in one, the Sea Glass Scents Bath Gift Box offers waves of relaxation inspired by the sea.

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A Deluxe Shave Set is perfect for the man who prefers a bare face over a deluxe beard.

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Kind of like gifting good vibes in a box, this Meditation Box is customizable for a personal touch.

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Who’s to say a rugged man’s man wouldn’t enjoy some TLC? These salves, scrubs, and balms are designed for course hands and aching feet. | Working Man’s Hygiene Kit

 

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Made from reclaimed Saris, this luxurious Upcycled Cotton Sari Robe adds a dash of exoticism to their around-the-house wardrobe.

 

Explore many more ways to relax here >>

 

 

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.

The Uncommon Life

7 Curious Truths about Christmas Gift Giving

December 1, 2011

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, the Christmas shopping season is in full swing. Here at UncommonGoods, we like to celebrate the act of giving, but let’s face it – it’s also fun to receive. So I thought it would be fun to mine through some of the data we’ve collected from holidays past and see if any patterns emerge that indicate who gives the best gifts. That way, I’ll know who to be *extra* nice to when next Christmas rolls around…

Below are 7 interesting trends in Christmas gift giving.

(Note: Because we’re a privately held company, I’m not at liberty to divulge just how much data was involved in doing this analysis, but let’s just say it’s, like, a lot. There are also some cases below where I realize seeing the actual dollar figures would be nice, but again – it’s not something I’m really allowed to share. Sorry.)

1. Men procrastinate.

This first observation might seem fairly obvious to some people, but I think it’s interesting nonetheless to see it played out in the data. Women plan ahead; men procrastinate. Women consistently get their holiday shopping done earlier in the season – it’s not until about December 6th that men start to get their act together and their buying rate starts to surpass that of women. So if you want a well thought out gift, you’re more likely to get it from a woman than a man.

(Since we’re an internet retailer, we necessarily have shipping cutoffs somewhere between Dec. 21-23 – otherwise, I’d expect there’d be a big blue spike around 11pm on Christmas Eve.)

But even worse than men in terms of planning ahead are college kids. Splitting the data by age group, we can see that the older you are, the earlier in the season you get your shopping done.

Breaking it down, it looks like the 65+ age group has 60% of their shopping done by Dec. 4. It’s not until Dec. 10 that the 18-20 set get 60% of their shopping done – almost a full week behind their grandparents. I guess experience teaches you not to wait until the last second. Again, it may seem obvious, but if you’re expecting a gift chosen with a lot of forethought, it’s less likely to come from a teenager.

2. 1999 called… and it’s got a great gift for you.

People who are still on AOL are often mocked. But maybe they shouldn’t be. They do, after all, give us the best gifts.

We found that the average dollars spent on gifts was pretty flat across email providers, with the notable exception of AOL. AOL users spent on average 12.2% more than users of other email services.

So while a recent study by Hunch.com found that Gmail users are more attractive, better educated, and better dressers than AOL users, they are also apparently more likely to be cheapskates.

3. Real Americans live in California.

For a number of reasons – economic, social, environmental – we try our best at UncommonGoods to carry products that are made in the USA. We’re not perfect at it – sometimes a product that is really cool or innovative is only available from overseas manufacturers – but when we can, we try to support local artisans and producers. So who does this really appeal to?

I thought we’d find that America’s heartland – the Midwest, where “real” Americans live – would be buying our American-made items at a much faster clip. And I thought we’d find that those treehugging, Che-loving anarchists out on the West Coast could care less about the issue.

Not so. In fact, looking by region at the percentage of all orders that contain items made in the USA, we see the exact opposite.

It’s one of the most striking statistics that I came across in doing this analysis. At least amongst our customer base, people on the West Coast are 21% more likely than average to buy American-made, whereas in the Midwest people are 24% less likely than average to do so. That’s a huge difference.

So if you want something that supports artists and designers that reside right here in the good old U-S-of-A, expect it from a Californian.

4. Men have no imagination.

I hate to pile on men here (being a man myself, after all), but apparently men are a lot more likely to run out of good ideas and just buy someone a gift certificate.

In our data, men are 23% more likely to give a gift certificate than women are. I guess a more positive way of putting this is that men are more utilitarian, and more likely to give you the gift of options, guaranteeing that you’ll like what you get.
Still seems kind of lame to me. If you want a more personally meaningful gift, you’re more likely to get it from a woman.

5. The older you get, the more you care about other people.

OK, so we have this program at UncommonGoods called Better to Give, where we give $1 from each order to one of four non-profits that customers can choose from at checkout. It’s a cool program – it really reflects what UncommonGoods is all about and it’s one of the reasons I was really excited to work here in the first place.

The thing is, many of our customers don’t actually pick a non-profit to have us donate to. That’s always puzzled me – I mean, there is really no catch and no cost to customer, other than the maybe 15 seconds it takes to read the description of the program and make a selection. But still, a lot of people don’t do it.

What’s interesting though is that the level of participation in Better to Give goes up with age. It’s not because older people have more money – again, these donations come out of our pockets, not our customers’. It just seems like older people have more patience to read through a little text. Maybe they have longer attention spans.

It’s also interesting to look at the geographic breakdown of Better to Give participation. Amongst states, Vermont leads in participation, with customers there being 32% more likely than average to select a non-profit. Given the Vermonters that I know personally, that’s hardly a surprise – they all seem like do-gooder, save-the-world types. On the other side of the coin, New York and New Jersey ranked 49th and 48th in participation amongst states (at 17% and 9% less likely to participate than average, respectively) – I guess being jammed together with other people on the Q train every morning makes you kind of hate society a little bit. (For the curious, North Dakota was dead last in charitable giving, being 31% less likely than average to participate.)

So if you want to receive a gift with a conscience, look to old people. Preferably from Vermont.

6. We get it, New England, you’re better than the rest of us.

Another area that we here at UncommonGoods try to emphasize is eco-friendly product. Again, we’re not perfect here, but we try to offer things that are sustainably produced. And once again, it’s those goody-goodies from up North that tend to lead the pack here.


(The regions above are grouped according to census bureau definitions.)

New Englanders are 2.8% more likely than average to buy eco-friendly products. People from the West South Central region – which is Texas, Oklahoma, etc. – were the least likely to buy earth-friendly things, at 6.8% less likely than average. Which reminds me of my favorite quote from this guy on The Simpsons: “In Texas, we got rid of the environment, and everyone was a lot happier.”

Actually, that’s not quite fair. Texas was not on the bottom of the list of eco-friendly states. The bottom five were actually Arizona, Louisiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Texas was actually only #40 in eco-friendly purchases – not great, but they are being brought down by their regional neighbors.

And this time around, Vermont wasn’t quite at the top. The top five were actually Alaska, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Colorado – all outdoorsy-type states, which makes sense. These people care about the environment, probably because their environment is so beautiful.

Generally speaking though, if you want a gift that is good for Mother Earth as well, someone from New England is more likely to get it for you.

7. Generosity is a ten-letter word.

Lastly, perhaps the most surprising thing we found is that there seems to be a correlation between how much someone spends on a gift and how long their last name is.

I’m not exactly sure what to make of this. People with very short last names don’t spend much, whereas people with names 14 letters long spend 16% more than average. Maybe they’re more understanding of others, given how often they’ve had to correct people’s pronunciation of their names. Maybe they’re more compassionate because their names were made fun of as children. I’d love to hear other theories about this. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that, with an r-squared of 0.52, it’s not an insignificant correlation.

(And no, unless Malcolm X and U Thant were UncommonGoods customers, I don’t know who these people are who have one-letter last names. And yes, I know that U is a first name, but I’m having trouble coming up with other examples here.)

How to get a great gift

So, taking all this data together, we can form a picture of an ideal gift-giver: a woman with an AOL email address, 55 or older, who lives in California or New England and has a long, complicated last name. Does this sound like anyone you know? Then you’re in luck.

As for me, let’s see: my mom is definitely older than 55, lives on the California border, and we have a sort of complicated last name. I think she cancelled her AOL account in like 2001, but if I can just find her one of those old signup CD-ROMs, I’ll be all set…

Brian Hashemi is the Marketing Director at UncommonGoods