A Gift Guide Now That It’s Too Late To Do Anything About It

Well, I may have finally knocked out all the gift buying… at 11pm last night. (Nuts… not true. I realized while typing I have an uncle left to get a gift for.)

In classic fashion, I went much too overboard with the kids. Not because I’m spoiling them… more from disorganization. I had a majority of the gift purchasing done before I put pen to paper to add up the gifts to ensure parity (or close enough to parity. Don’t want anyone feeling shorted, you know.) and found out one kid had 4 more presents than the others. I am, just this second, realizing what I COULD have done is put up 4 presents for that kid’s birthday in a few months… but instead I bought more for the other two kids. (I mean… the gifts were already wrapped and under the tree, right? Any kid would have realized presents disappeared, right? Had I not already wrapped them it would have been a more viable option.) It’s a full on present explosion under tree because of this. But damn it, they’re good kids and if there was EVER a year for a by god serious present-explosion-Christmas it is this one.

Anyway- they are fairly easy to shop for, the children. It’s adult gifts I struggle with. And so I just wanted to share a few of the more unusual gift ideas for adults I hit on from this year in hopes it helps you… for birthdays or something. Because it’s probably too late for any of this stuff for Christmas itself.

Gift giving predominantly falls into two categories: things the other person loves and things you personally love and want to share. These almost all fall in that latter category.

Turkish Blankets

Turkish blanket… but not the exact ones I buy. This picture gives a better impression of size and look than the pictures on the Etsy shop where I buy mine though.

So, this one is THOUROUGHLY vetted by me. I bought one of these for the foot of my bed (Very Big Leboski “It really ties the room together” type thing) and intended it to be pretty much solely aesthetic. BUT I LOVE THIS THING! It is the perfect light-weight throw: it isn’t scratchy, breathes nicely but not too much, has a nice weight, and is 100% cotton but doesn’t shrink to oblivion in the wash. I personally think they look awesome too. And the colors! From subtle and neutral to crazy in your face color combinations- fun for the whole family! I have come to find out they are a bit of a Boho chic trend as well, though that was news to me… I always think I invent everything.

Occasionally fabrics sits weird on my skin and I get uncomfortably itchy (is that just me? Yes? See a doctor, you say? Huh.) but my Turkish blanket always feels comfortable and non-irritating. After that first one I got for our bedroom I got rid of just about all our previous throws in the blanket box in the living room and replaced them with these. They’re so much larger than standard throws too.

Here is the exact color and pattern I got for our bedroom. Visually I like the patterns more than the solid ones

Price range from the Etsy shop I buy mine from are $28-$48 dollars… and they ship from legitimate Turkey! Hell of a deal and the shop sometimes runs discounts. I’ve given these as a house warming gift this year and got one for a special person for Christmas. What I really should do is stock up next time they have a buy 3 get 1 free deal and have some on hand for gifts. Which is a thing I used to do that shocks my currently disorganized soul no end!

Here is the link or you can search for it at Turkish Dowry Etsy Shop.

They also sell turkish towels and kitchen towels, but I can’t personally vouch for those.

One other thing. mail is SLOW between the US and Canada, but the one I sent as a housewarming gift to a friend in Canada this year got there SO much faster than if I had shipped it from Texas. But, from this vendor, there is no option for gift messages, so just fyi if you ship direct you’ll have to give a heads up to the recipient.

These are, I think, my favorite purchase this year- so please let that be the legitimate high praise it is because I have been buying a LOT online in 2020.

Ancestry.com add on with a Newspaper.com Subscription

So I LOVE Ancestry.com, it’s awesome for building a family tree and ethnicity discovery… and if you’re adopted it’d help find your birth parents! (That legitimately happened to a friend of mine.) But the REAL magic happens when you have both an Ancestry.com US Discovery Account (an add on that costs $19 per month- death records and draft records are especially fascinating) and a Newspaper.com account as you’ll get articles and yearbook photos of your relatives and ancestors that show up as hints on your Ancestry.com account!

What a weird image for a Christmas Gift Guide, don’t I know it! But look at what I was able to learn about an ancestor!

It is FASCINATING and costs about $44.95 for 6 months. Here is the link to Newspapers.com

Garden Tools

SO many people took up gardening this year or expanded their current gardening- which is great because it makes gift giving SUPER easy. Plants! Seeds! Good gloves! Good tools! The list is endless or those 4 things.

My very favorite tool is a really, really good pitchfork- I use that so much more for digging holes or digging up plants or preparing a bed… the list is endless or those three things. The pitchforks at Lowes are especially worthless… a good one is worth it’s weight in gold.

Here is a really nice one, but is slightly different from the one I loved that broke on me this year (after MANY years of use, it wasn’t a lemon or anything)… but that company went out of business so I can’t link to the exact one.

Now that is a Pitchfork!

Here is the (unvetted) one in the picture above.

Cost is $98. I know, but like… dress up as Poseidon for Halloween and you’ll spread the cost over gardening AND costuming, should you buy it for yourself. Or American Gothic…the ideas are endless or those two things!

Planted Pot with Toscano Kale and Violas/Pansies

So I love plants, as the main purpose of this blog shows. But plants make great gifts even for people who aren’t as obsessive at it as I am, too! I have given two gifts this year of a pot filled with kale and pansies/violas and it’s a hill I’m willing to die on that it is a good gift for everyone. Don’t know what to get your aunt and uncle? Pot with kale and violas. Vegetarian friend? You best believe it’s a pot with kale and violas! (Did you know violas were edible? Bitchin’)

This falls into the: give something you love category because my very favorite pot on the patio right now is… kale and pansies.

The color of those pansies, amiright?!

Yes, this involves living in a climate where you can leave these pots outside over the winter (Kale is zone 7-9 and pansies are 6-9) Just google a hardiness zone map to verify. And you have to buy a pot and potting soil somewhere. Then buy the plants. Then like… grow it on for a month or so, ideally… but after all that you’re all set! Oh right, and timing is crucial because these are cold season plants so only good for gifts from about April to February in my neck of the woods.


Watching Antique Roadshow one day (as hip young people do) my husband and I saw an episode with both a thousand year old middle eastern oil lamp that was worth $50 (what.) and a pre-columbian 18′ dugout canoe worth only $700 (WHAT?!). It was at that moment I realized antiquities were much more accessible than I had ever previously realized.

As gifts I have gotten musket balls from a revolutionary war battlefield as well as bullets from a Civil War battlefield. A Roman coin from 34 AD too. And just bought an Egyptian Scarab from 600 BC… all for under $20 ea. ISN’T THIS LEGITIMATELY INSANE!

Here is the inch long Lapis scarab I just got for my Mom for Christmas this year. I’m about 97% sure she won’t see this. If not… just act surprised.

Here is the thing- VET your sources! Theres a lot of fake stuff on Ebay and at auction houses… and you don’t want to like, promote grave robbing or anything. (Or modern day grave robbing? The Egyptian scarab is from England and has been in a vetted collection for over 100 years… but we all know the English were real iffy on this stuff back then so the morals are muddy.) A vendor or auction house that will issue a certificate is always good. As for the American battle relics- there are private properties next to many of the protected battlegrounds that have a lot of musket balls and bullets they sell- ensure you’re purchasing from those and get a certificate saying as such. No links to any of these: just know on Ebay there is an Antiquities category you can search in.

Roman glass, Roman coins, arrowheads, musket balls… they’re all good options here. Also these, which I find fascinating.

This crazy looking thing is a piece of WW1 trench art and is a vase made from a brass artillery shell. Some of these were made by soldiers during the war but most were made by local citizens after the battles to sell. I find them interesting, either way. Real on the nose to imagine this filled with an arrangement of red poppies, you know?

Antique Bottle Glass Earrings

Earrings are a good default gift for female friends, coworkers, relatives… as long as they have pierced ears. These particular ones are interesting because the lady who makes them uses glass found in a nearby woods to her (100 year old homestead landfill or burn pile). And they’re on Amazon!

These are made from Mason Jars from the 1900s!

Here is the link to these

They come in turquoise, cobalt blue, pink, red, green, white… and all come in a cute box with a little card explaining “the history of the glass” with what kind of glass they are made from and the age of the glass. I can see these being very cute bridesmaid or group gifts as well as there are so many colors to choose from.

These particular earrings are 2″ long and incredibly lightweight.

Cost is $18

T-Shirt with an Art Print

On FineArtAmerica.com you buy apparel with prints from artists. You get to pick the print, size, style and color of shirt… custom made shirts, is what I’m saying. Can’t you just picture how chic an art shirt like that would be with a black blazer and some boyfriend jeans? Or with a pair of shorts and call it a day like I intend to do with mine, most likely.

Here is a T-shirt I just ordered:

We own this actual painting!!! Like the honest to god original oil painting we bought directly from the artist! That I now can have a t-shirt with this painting on it thrills me no end.

The women’s t-shirts are $22 and can be found here.

It’s a site that is a little hard to navigate, but if you find the artist you want it’ll take you to all the art prints. Then toggle down on the left hand side under departments and you can find the apparel, tote bags, and phone cases. All are really reasonably priced and a way to buy someone art without dictating their wall decor the way buying prints can feel. I do recommend following the directions and only washing the shirts inside out- it will prolong the longevity of the art print decal. (Is decal the right word?)

Additionally, this artist is a good friend of my aunt’s and an incredibly talented artist who deserves some support.

Art Luminary

Here is an interesting gift, also from the artist above, Kim Gordon. These luminaries are sold on Etsy and come packed flat and lightweight- so they’re a breeze to ship. They also are sturdy enough to use in successive years, so they are not just holiday ephemera. There are both holiday specific and art prints for year round use. I would use a flameless candle with these though, as it’s what the artist recommends.

Luminaries from Open Cupboard Designs found here

Cost: $17.95 ea


So you know when you have a dad who was a musician in the 70s and 80s, loves naval fiction, and installs rain water collection systems for a living? Isn’t that guy hard to shop for?! I finally hit on the fact that my dad loves stuff like armillaries, gimble compasses and such, so maybe this could be a good gift. Basically a category of stuff that is weird/special use tools made out of brass with a historic nod seem to be the sweet spot here. I haven’t given him this yet, so maybe this crashes and burns, I don’t know. But I’m putting it on the list anyway.

For $15.99 I’m willing to give it a shot, anyway. In classic weird Amazon fashion, when I took the screenshot on my phone earlier it was $15.99, but now is coming up as $17.40 when I go to the link on my laptop. It’s the same Amazon account! Get your shit together, Bezos.

Armillary found here

What else what else… I also find antique books on Ebay for only a few dollars to use as gifts: 100 year old copies of The Three Musketeers are a particular favorite. I also buy cookbooks on Ebay for my brother as he really likes and prefers used books. I must admit if it’s not for him or legitimately old books I generally prefer to buy new copies of books as gifts though.

Whelp. There you go… I hope that was somewhat helpful for you and that you have had a stress free holiday gift buying experience this year.

Here is to a to a good Christmas, Hanukkah too of course, and then we’re on to the next two most anticipated holidays: New Year’s Eve to kiss 2020 goodbye and January 20th to do the same to Trump!

(Almost forgot to say, I may make a few cents from Amazon if you click those links from my blog- that’s like a legal thing I need to put in here. But I’m not out to make that sweet, sweet $0.13 from you… I just want to share some gift ideas!)

7 thoughts on “A Gift Guide Now That It’s Too Late To Do Anything About It

  1. Morning, Lauren: Enjoyed your lasted post, and sympathize, utterly, with the number-of-gifts thing.

    Has your mom ever told you the story about the Christmas when Jon C. was being born? His birthday is December 24, as you know, and back in the day, mothers spent three to five days in the hospital after giving birth. So Geoff, Cyndy, Gerry, Nancy and I woke up on Christmas Eve with no parents around–Dick C. was at the hospital, and didn’t get away until late in the day.

    We entertained ourselves, but wondered if Santa was going to find us that year. Well, he did in spades, as it turned out: Mom had shopped ahead of time and had a large cache of wrapped presents secreted away (strange than Cyndy didn’t know this, she had a radar for hidden presents, always found them, usually unwrapped them slightly, then announced to each of us what we were going to receive). But Dick didn’t know this, so he dashed around, shopping at the only store still open late on Christmas Eve, which was the local drugstore.

    So we each got a Timex watch, and magazines and candy and maybe perfume for the girls, aftershave for the boys.

    And when Mom came home from the hospital, she hauled out her stash of gifts. It was quite the Christmas, let me tell you.

    Best, Val C. >

    1. I have heard that one- but not any of the details of the gifts themselves! And she used to get on me SOO badly for looking for Christmas gifts around the house, the hypocrite!

  2. Your curated gift collection is a standout, Lauren, I had no idea many of these things existed, and they certainly would be one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone on anyone’s list! Val C.

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