Oh, You Shouldn’t Have
Anyone can buy a gift card, the equivalent of “I have no idea what you want but care enough that you should get something.” But to find the holy grail of giving, the “perfect gift,” the one that makes eyes widen and maybe even tear up, is an art unto itself. Sometimes it’s easy (“Thank God she has a wish list!”). Other times it’s enough to keep you awake late into the night on fruitless Internet search after search. Fortunately, there are a whole host of companies that have zeroed in on the fact that we don’t want to give just any gift, we want to give the gift. Something personal. Something that speaks to the heart.
Here are six ideas that show the special woman in your life that you don’t just know her — you know her really well. And at $50 or less, you can say a lot without spending a lot.
[Editor's note: The original version of this article was published May 2014.]
Canvas Wall Art
Instead of the same-old picture frame, how about turning your favorite family portrait or vacation memory into a canvas print destined to be a stunning visual centerpiece?
Select your favorite image and then use Picanova's photo-editing software to add effects, such as black and white, sepia or pop art (think Andy Warhol). Select the edge type you'd like — white, black, mirrored, stretched or folders. For a few more dollars, split the image across three or four canvases for a dramatic, artistic effect. Canvas print prices start at $36.
A similar service, CanvasPop, allows you to turn Facebook or Instagram pictures into high-quality canvas prints (even if the quality of your cell phone pic isn't that great). Prices start at $30.
Create a Cookbook
Everyone loves mom’s meatballs. But no one has ever written down the recipe… until you, and until now. Sites like Cookbook Create and TasteBook allow you to upload family favorites and create customized cookbooks. Create one featuring all the traditional holiday meals, a “starter cookbook” for the newlywed or newly graduated or a “Best Of” filled with all your family members’ favorite foods. You pick all the recipes so each book is completely unique, and you can add your own photos, choose a title and dedication page and select your cover style.
It takes a bit of work on your part, but the results are guaranteed to be delicious. A 50-page Tastebook retails for $34.95. Cookbooks on Cookbook Create start at $35.
Photo courtesy CookbookCreate.com
Stationery and Home Décor
To paraphrase Queen Bey: If you like it then you should have put her name on it… and fortunately Milo Gift Shop lets you do just that. Put her initials, full name or just M-O-M on everything Milo has to offer: sticky note cubes, desk blotters, iPad covers, luggage tags stationery and wall calendars.
Or, design your own melamine plate or platter using favorite photos, designs and insignias. The “online designer” application allows you to add a personalized image and message. You can even choose the font and layout. Prices range from $28 for a box of personalized stationery to $46 for a 14x10-inch platter.
She loves pastel nails in the spring and always goes race-car red during the winter months. She cares about how her hands look and loves the thrill a fresh mani-pedi gives her. So, why not give a monthly boost to her beauty routine with a Nailette subscription?
You pick her skin tone (light, medium, dark) and her style (simple and subtle, sophisticated and classy, bold and edgy or “I like to mix it up.”) The Nailette sends her three mini bottles of polish from OPI, Essie or Orly (enough for 8-12 applications per bottle) featuring the season’s hottest colors. A three-month subscription costs $40.47 and shipping is free.
Photo courtesy Nailette.com
In a world of black umbrellas, there’s a lot of room for mix-ups. But not when she has her own monogrammed rain-dodger. The ZouBaby Umbrella is made of clear plastic with a monogrammed embroidered rim. For $30 choose from black or pink edging and 11 different thread colors.
ZouBaby also offers a monogrammed cotton canvas tote bag ($40), monogrammed iPad case (you can even use her Greek sorority letters) ($40) and, if you’re okay with spending a few more bucks monogrammed black wellies that will surely keep her feet warm and dry for years to come ($98).
Add her initials to a 14-karat gold or sterling silver necklace, ring or earrings. Robyn Rhodes’ monogrammed collection includes the JoAnn ($49), a monogrammed initial ring available in antique silver, rose gold, gold or sterling silver. Or get your entire name engraved on an “ID Me” Bracelet ($49).
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