Personalized Gift Ideas

I have a confession to make.  It’s really hard to buy presents for me.  This may seem counterintuitive to some since I have several online wish lists that I keep up with regularity, but the problem is that I’m the Sherlock of presents.  I’m always looking for clues and subtle signs of gifts in my future.  My husband is always covering his tracks like a cat in a litter box, trying to throw me off from what I might sniff out.  (This analogy has gone horribly wrong.  Sorry about that.)

It’s not my fault.  I really love presents.  But before you start thinking that I’m a greedy, gift-fueled present monster, know that I love giving gifts every bit as much, if not more, than receiving them.  That’s why this time of year when the lights go up and the Crosby goes on, I often find myself brainstorming, searching, and agonizing in the best way over what gifts I’ll be giving this year.

I’m not one to stand in line at two a.m. on Black Friday.  You won’t find me hauling out a massive television from the mall.  The kinds of gifts I love to give say something about my relationship with the recipient, and in some ways I like to think of birthdays and holidays as an excuse to give our nearest and dearest a love letter.  Instead of paper and pencil, the letters are wrapped with a bow.

I have a lot to share with you, and so over the next few days I’ll be giving you a few of my favorite ideas from over the years.  I’m including both gifts that I’ve given and gifts that I’ve received.  I know Christmas is only two weeks away, and so some of them may be tricky or not possible.  However, you can keep them in mind for future gift-giving occasions.

PERSONALIZED GLASSWARE:  If you read my blog regularly, you might be aware of the character, Gulp.   Gulp is a claymation dinosaur who my husband created out of clay when he was a boy with access to a Super 8 camera.  In his boyhood films (see video above), Gulp downed Lego’s and pocket-sized cars one frame at a time.  After puberty hit, claymation was abandoned, but then brought back to life later when David was working in the animation industry.  Since then David has made a few Gulp shorts and about a year ago, he made a live action/animation cooking video with me.  So when David was having a birthday last year, I had a personalized glass made for him using Gulp’s likeness, so that he could have a gulp with Gulp.

I just had to mail the artist, GeekyGlassware, a jpeg picture of Gulp, and they did the rest.  The artist who made this glass (and the Doctor Who glasses I posted about last month) is now on vacation.  However, with a search of “personalized glasses” or “personalized etched glasses” on Etsy, something like this may still be a possibility for this holiday season for someone on your list.

PERSONALIZED JEWELRY:  You know how it is when you have a favorite restaurant in town.  You don’t even need to look at the menu, because you have your favorite standing orders.  The server could bring the dishes out to you as soon as they see you waltz in the door, because it’s the same highlight reel again and again.  In our vegetarian days (before we’d both gone vegan), we had a favorite haunt in Burbank.  Our go-to order was Greek salad, stuffed grape leaves, hummus and pita, and lentil soup.  For our anniversary one year, David contacted the artists at Inedible Jewelry (whose work I’d enjoyed in the past) about making a personalized charm bracelet.  With each entrée getting represented, they also included a tiny bottle of wine with the year of our wedding on it.

Check out all of the food items at Inedible Jewelry in case one of your beloved’s favorites is already there in necklace, bracelet, or earring form.  FYI – some of the food depicts animal-based items, but there’s still quite a bit of fruits, vegetables, and vegetable-based entrees to go around.  (Someone should give these sugar skull cookie earrings to Kittee!)

HOME VIDEOS ON DVD:  During the 1980’s when VHS cameras were the size of a suitcase, getting to document our lives on video was a novelty.  Before every person had a video camera by way of iPod in her or his pockets, parents were setting up tripods in the rows of school auditoriums.  They were filming at plays, races, and holidays and trying to blend in as much as one could with an oversized camera hoisted on their shoulders.  We thought those tapes would last forever.  Then with replaying and age, they started breaking down long before we could pass them down to our grandchildren.  (Now how are my grandchildren going to witness my junior high performance of The Music Fact Rap?  Such a shame…)

So a few years ago for Christmas I transferred many of our old home movies from VHS to DVD.  Using a capture card to connect a VCR to the computer, I edited the footage in iMovie, taking out the times when the camera was rolling but forgotten or whatnot.  For sections that didn’t have much in the way of talking, I made music videos.  There are still plenty of home movies left to transfer, but I made about ten DVD’s spanning the 80’s and 90’s.  Spending that time watching and editing old family footage was a gift in itself.  I felt like I was sitting there with my family, watching them/us in their/our daily lives.  I loved remembering who they were before they were who they are.

I knew that my brothers, cousins, aunts, and parents would enjoy re-living those days again, but a completely unexpected bonus was how much my young nephew enjoyed those DVD’s.  Even after the other nieces and nephews had chuckled over our 80’s hair and outfits and moved on, my nephew, who was about 7 or 8 at the time, kept watching and re-watching them.  They were a glimpse into his family history.  By now he knows those DVD’s better than I do!  When he discovered that in those days we had an annual Thanksgiving football game, he decided that tradition needed to be revisited, and it came back with a vengeance.  Recently, when he saw an uncle at an extended family event, he recognized him from those videos, even though he’d never seen him before in real life.

Of course, it takes some time to edit and put it all together, but the effort is so worth it!  Plus, gift giving gives you a reason to do it today, before the tapes disintegrate more.

But wait, there’s more!  The personalized gift ideas continue tomorrow…

Only a couple of days remain in the HHL Salad’tude Contest!  Please vote!  You can check out all of the amazing entries here.  My husband is #6!


  1. says

    I loved reading about your clever and thoughtful gift ideas. We did the video transfer thing this year but had to outsource the effort because we don’t have a VCR. How I would have loved to edit the tapes!

    • Cadry says

      Thanks, Andrea! Finding a nice VCR was a tricky part. They sell them new at places like Best Buy, but they’re listed at over a hundred bucks, which seems excessive. Since I only need a VCR for transferring tapes, that’s a bit much. They can be found at thrift stores, which is where we got ours. However, having a quality VCR makes a difference since it affects how well it can play the tapes, especially the worn out sections. Whatever the VCR is unable to get is lost for all time once it’s transferred to DVD. I’d like to transfer more of the tapes, but it’s the VCR procurement that’s standing in the way.

      Now that you’ve transferred the tapes to DVD, couldn’t you edit them?

  2. says

    What great ideas! I love the personalized glassware. We got some etched TARDIS glasses for Christmas last year, and they’re faves around here!

    If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even make your own with etching cream from the craft store. You just need stick on stencils. The only advice I’d give with etching cream is to let it sit longer than the directions say. My bottle said 5 minutes, but 15 minutes gave a much more even, clean etch.

    • Cadry says

      Etched TARDIS glasses? Nice! I approve! :)

      I’d seen a post on Pinterest about etching your own glassware, but I’ve never tried it myself. Thanks so much for the information about the best way to do it! I’ll have to remember that for future gift giving ventures!

  3. says

    Cadry, you’re so cool! I love everything about this post! Wanna go halfsies on the earrings for Kittee? I could paypal you! Those are perfect for her, she has to have them!!

    • Cadry says

      Thank you, Joey! The bracelet is even sweeter in person. It also makes you feel like a kid again wearing tiny, little food. It takes me back to playing in my toy kitchen as a little kid.

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