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Holiday Gifts

Design

Uncommon New Designs: Pick a Place

December 23, 2011

Maybe it’s the recent popularity of the History Channel’s How the States Got Their Shapes, or maybe it’s the thrill that goes along with your city being featured on any sort of top cities list, but goods depicting geographical locations are definitely in style.

We’re loving state love, and our buyers were thrilled to find this gorgeous, handmade Heart Strings State Love Wall Art, now up in our community voting app.

For those who would rather wear their state love than hang it on the wall, results on the State Quarter Rings are coming soon.

But, the location love isn’t just home state pride. There’s a bundle of band new city love at UncommonGoods, too.

From Dave Marcoullier’s City Skyline Wooding Routings (now available for LA, San Francisco, and New York) to Patrick Chirico’s Brooklyn Bridge Pillow Cases, hometown love is warming our hearts.

Of course, we don’t want to exclude those who see home as where they rest their head. And, gifts for travelers are always in style.

Whether you’re a true rambler or a world traveler at heart, our new Hobo Charms and I Am…Pendants help you celebrate free spirit and whimsy.

Will your hometown always be close to your heart? Is wanderlust your guide? Or have you adopted a new place to call home?

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

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

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.

Gift Guides

How to Make a Gift Bag

December 2, 2011

I tend to procrastinate when it comes to gift wrapping. I purchase the gifts I want to give and stuff them under the bed or on a shelf in the closet until right before Christmas. Then, while I’m fantasizing about radiantly glazed holiday hams and sweetly spiced rivers of eggnog, I’m also faced with making a pile of presents bright and giftable.

Those odd shaped, extra-uncommon gifts pose a particular challenge. I suppose I could skip the fancy wrap and just stick bows on things that don’t pack up pretty. Or, I could put any asymmetrical or otherwise un-rectangular products in big boxes stuffed with lots of tissue paper, then wrap them. I go with option three–a fancy gift bag.

While the bow trick works in a pinch, it’s not nearly as fun to take off a bow as it is to find a surprise inside of pretty wrapping. I know this, because my husband is a huge supporter of “just stick a bow on it.” I do have to admit, it’s a step up from his other, “just hand her the thing in a crumpled-up shopping bag” approach.

The second tactic–put that hard to wrap gift in another box–seems like a viable option, but wrapping a box just right takes time and creates a lot of waste; you spend 20 minutes getting each crease perfect, only to see your lovely artwork ripped to shreds and tossed in the trash. It’s heartbreaking, really.

So, you can see why, for me, option three takes the customary yuletide fruitcake.

Not only are gift bags simple to use and reusable, they’re also easy to make. All you need is some heavy wrapping, construction, or scrapbooking paper and ribbon to create a sturdy, eco-friendly alternative to traditional wrapping. I picked pretty blue craft paper from the paper mezzanine at Pearl Paint here in New York. (Yes, that’s really what their paper department is called; it’s an entire sublevel–mezzanine, if you will– full of gorgeous papers for wrapping, crafting, and scrapbooking.) I wanted my bag to be festive, but not too Christmasy, so it could still be reused after the holidays. To fasten the paper, I used a Staple-less Stapler, but you could easily use a hole punch and stapler to create a similar effect.

First, make sure you have enough paper to cover the item you’d like to wrap. To wrap the Holiday Record Coasters, I placed the product in the middle of the top half of the paper, then folded the bottom up to completely cover the gift. It’s okay to make the bag a little bit bigger than you need it, just make sure the gift doesn’t stick out of the top.

Next, “staple” along the edges on both sides. The staple-less stapler will create interlocking flaps for a secure hold, but it also leaves a small hole where you punch. You’ll also want to punch once in the bottom left-hand and once on the bottom right-hand, just above the seam.

Threading the ribbon through the holes not only adds decoration, it also increase the bag’s sturdiness and create a handle. However, before threading the ribbon, make sure you have enough by measuring it against the length of the bag four times (once for each side, once for the handle, and once for extra ribbon to work with).

Start threading by inserting the ribbon in one of the bottom corners, just above the seam. Leave a few inches of ribbon, then pull the remaining ribbon up through the next hole in the side of the bag. Tie the two ends into a knot, and create a bow with the remaining ribbon from the short end. Using the long end, continue to thread up the side of the bag, looping around the outside edge of the paper.

When you come to the end of one side, leave enough ribbon to create a handle before continuing to thread down the opposite side.

Once you reach the end of the second side, pull the remaining ribbon up through the hole on the corner above the seam. Pull the leftover ribbon back though the final loop on that side, and tie it into a secure knot. This side won’t be as pretty as the bow on the opposite side, but the problem can be easily remedied by cutting off any excess ribbon and tying a new bow to cover up the knot.

The finished product uses no tape, glue, or staples (if you go the staple-less stapler route), can be used over and over again, and costs less than buying a pre-made gift bag. For an added touch, stuff the bag with leftover wrapping paper, folded into fans (or other origami shapes, if you’re feeling extra crafty), instead of using a new sheet of tissue paper.

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