Gift Giving Made Personal… and from the Heart by Christine Eisner

People talk about the art of gift giving, but the good news is that you don’t need to be a Picasso (or a Trump) to show someone that you care. Gifts from the heart have less to do with money than with the thought that goes into selecting them. Even better, “heart gifts” are the ones that will stay off the re-gifting merry-go-round!

Whether you customize one store-bought item or rally a few items around a particular theme, look for “add-on experiences” to move gifts out of the closet and into daily living. (And of course, it’s always fun when the wrapping on the outside offers a hint of what’s inside.)

So take a moment to think about the people on your list and what they treasure — travel, health or a new grandchild. Then add your own creative touches to create one-of-a-kind gifts that go directly from your heart to theirs!

1. For the Nature Lover:

Go green with beautiful hand-made rice paper and Ballard’s burlap tote topped off with berries as a bow substitute! On the Inside, continue the theme with a green tea mug, assortment of teas and a trio of wooden nesting bowls (with a few green tea candies just for fun). A green-style bonus: Ballard’s driftwood votives and botanically themed matches, with the “add-on” of an eco-citation that put a smile on this gift of sustainability.


2. For On-the-Go Empty Nesters:

Road maps and red-trimmed burlap ribbon offer clues as to what’s inside the box: two of my favorite fold-flat Ballard jute bags embroidered with His and Hers instead of traditional monograms. Tap into your inner artist with flourishes of paint and beading (available at your local craft store), and bring this gift to life with a copy of my book, Comfort Living: A Back-to-Basics Guide to a More Balanced Lifestyle. Add on a weekend at a B&B for this exciting stage of life!

3. For Glammie Grammies (and Grandpas, too!):

A simple brown paper bag goes glamorous when bedecked with Ballard’s ribbons. For new grandparents, enlist the aid of fabric paint, felt, a glue gun and cheetah ribbon to turn one of Ballard’s velvet pillows into a family treasure. Add on the gift of a photo shoot (with yourself or a professional behind the lens), and use Ballard’s Suzanne Kasler frame to display the “gift certificate” and, post-shoot, to enjoy a treasured memory.


4. For Foodies & First-Time Nesters:

Who says that every gift needs to be wrapped? Black and white checked ribbon, garnished with red-tipped cooking utensils are a nod to the trousers worn in restaurant kitchens. They also hint at the comfort food recipes, pizza coupons and “Homeowner 101” tips which make this binder and file folder duo totally unique. This is a gift that will used for decades — and may even get passed on to the next generation. Tuck in a gift certificate or a DIY class schedule from your local hardware store and before long, you may be the one asking for advice!


5. Just do it! Got Fitness?

Wrap this gift in the Sports or Health section of your newspaper, tie it up with a jump rope and top the whole thing off with a color-coordinated protein bar. Inside, a set of hand weights and an exercise ball are wallet-friendly tools that become priceless when combined with your offer to be a workout buddy. For someone on a mission to get in shape, this “add on experience” might be the gift of life!

Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.