Monthly Archives: November 2015

25 Unique Gift Ideas

I’ve always loved searching stores and the internet for unique gift ideas, and now I get to share those fun finds with you!

These 25 unique gifts are from our first 25 Gifts of the Day featured on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get your daily dose of gifting inspiration.

25 Unique Gift Ideas

1. Wrestling Bear Cups

Unique Gift Ideas: El Guapo Coffee Cup Set from Jimbobart

I love everything about El Guapo!! Set of 4 bone china coffee cups with artwork by Jimbobart in London.

Available from Jimbobart: El Guapo Coffee Cup Set

2. Cheese Markers

Unique Gift Ideas: Cheese Marker Set of 6 from Etsy

Unique and repurposed – a set of 6 cheese markers made with upcycled vintage forks.

Available from Etsy: Beach House Living: Cheese Marker Set of 6

3. Leather Tote

Unique Gift Ideas: Azeb Getaway Tote from Raven + Lily

This leather tote is made by artisan women in Ethiopia who are paid a fair wage for their work. Raven + Lily is a company doing important work to empower women and impact poverty.

Available from Rave + Lily: Azeb Getaway Tote

4. Pumpkin Sugar Scrub

Unique Gift Ideas: Pumpkin Body Scrub from Simple Sugars

Loaded with antioxidants, this scrub will leave your skin “glowing brighter than a jack-o-lantern on Halloween!”

Available from Simple Sugars: Pumpkin Body Scrub

5. Travel Coffee Mug

Unique Gift Ideas: Holdster USA Leather Mason Jar Mug

We’ve got your coffee loving hipster friends covered with this leather holdster and canning jar travel mug – – oh yeah, it’s a thing! And trust me, they will love it!

Available from Holdster USA: Holdster Mason Jar Mugs

6. Bacon Cookbook

Unique Gift Ideas: 101 Things to Do With Bacon cookbook

Bacon!! Enough said 🙂

Available from Amazon: 101 Things to Do with Bacon

7. Pumpkin Whiskey Aftershave

Unique Gift Ideas: Jack O Lantern Men's Aftershave

Inside the apothecary inspired bottle are scents of pumpkin and whiskey with skin pampering ingredients like witch hazel and green tea extract.

Available from Etsy: Jack O Lantern Men’s Aftershave from Nevermore Body Company

8. Spice Shaker Set

Unique Gift Ideas: Spice Shaker Set

I can almost hear their dinner guests now, “Oh my gosh, these are sooo cute! Where did you get them?!”

Available from ModCloth: ‘Tis the Seasoning Shaker Set

9. Decorative Throw

Unique Gift Ideas: Sari Throw

A sari is a traditional garment of South Asian women, and these blankets are made from old saris that are collected, washed and stitched together. They are handmade by women who have broken away from the red light district in Bangladesh.

Available from Ten Thousand Villages: Sacred Sari Throw

10. ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ Candle

Unique Gift Ideas: Banned Book Collection

From the Banned Books Collection, this is the candle inspired by Where the Wild Things Are with scents of sweetened grapefruit, lemon, and orange and a touch of slightly exotic island greenery.

Available from Etsy: North Ave Candles’ Sugared Citrus + Island Greens Candle

11. Tea Cups

Unique Gift Ideas: Etsy Tea Lovers Set

I love coffee, tea and a great pun. These mugs are everything!

Available from Etsy: Lenny Mud’s Ultimate Tea Lover’s Set

12. Margarita Glass

Unique Gift Ideas: Crate and Barrel Margarita Glass

These rustic-styled Garcia Margarita Glasses are handcrafted from recycled tequila bottles. Thank you Crate & Barrel for making it okay to drink from the tequila bottle 😉

Available from Crate and Barrel: Garcia Margarita Glass

13. Fun and Funky Jam

Unique Gift Ideas: The Jam Stand's Drunken Monkey Jam

Handmade in Brooklyn, it “tastes like sugar-coated bananas dipped in rum”

Available from Scoutmob: The Jam Stand’s Drunken Monkey Jam

14. Holiday Soaps

Unique Gift Ideas: Cranberry Goat's Milk Soap

Handmade goat’s milk soap with cranberries and fig, a great go-to holiday gift or the perfect way to bring a little fa la la to your powder room.

Available from Etsy: Buttercup and Thistle Cranberry Goat Milk’s Soap

15. Fun Ideas for Dads

Unique Gift Ideas: Made by Dad Blueprints Book

Sometimes we might find the men in our families hardest to buy for. If he’s a dad (or even an Uncle!) to small kiddos, give him the blueprints to rockstar dad status. More than 60 cool and clever DIY projects and mad scientist experiments.

Available from Amazon: Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff

16. Cooperative Play Board Game

Unique Gift Ideas: Pandemic Board Game

Perfect for extremely competitive groups because this is a collaborative game! Still, there can only be one winner, the diseases or humanity. The goal of the game is to eradicate the deadly viruses before all of the humans die…you know, just a little light hearted family entertainment

Available from Barnes and Noble: Pandemic

17. Children’s Book

Unique Gift Ideas: I Am Amelia Earhart, Children's Book

This book by Brad Meltzer is one of my all-time favorite children’s gifts, especially for little girls! This picture book with it’s beautiful illustrations tells the true story of an inspirational hero who even as a little girl knew she would have many adventures.

Available from Amazon: I Am Amelia Earhart by Brad Meltzer

18. Decorative Pillow

Unique Gift Ideas: Otto Finn: Pretzel Pillow

One of many huggable home decor pieces from Pittsburgh designer OTTO FINN

Available from OTTO FINN: Pretzel Hug Pillow

19. Fun Office Supplies

Unique Gift Ideas: Googly Eye Push Pins

A fun holiday stocking stuffer! Perfect for teenagers, college students and your friend’s work cubicle.

Available from Amazon: Googly Eye Push Pins

20. Pie Carrier

Unique Gift Ideas: PieBox

The perfect way to deliver your famous pumpkin or pecan pie this holiday! Even if baking isn’t your thing, pick one up from the freezer section and dress it up in this beautiful handcrafted wooden pie carrier. That pie sure will taste homemade!

Available from PieBox: PieBox with Small Strap/Handle Bundle

21. Dazzling Earrings

Unique Gift Ideas: Frost Finery: Black Druzy Earrings

Handmade silver earrings with a modern and edgy look from Pittsburgh jewelry designer Melissa Frost.

Available from Etsy: Frost Finery’s Druzy Silver Stud Earrings

22. An Infusion of Flavor

Unique Gift Ideas: Flavor Infusing Decanter

For the master mixologist on your Christmas list. They can make their own liquor infusions with berries, fresh herbs or straight from their imagination.

Available from Uncommon Goods: Flavor Infusing Decanter

23. Building Blocks

Unique Gift Ideas: Childcraft Building Blocks

These colorful blocks were a staple of my childhood. My cousins and I spent years building many forts and wonderlands out of these blocks.
They are sturdy, durable and lightweight blocks – the building blocks of endless fantasies and adventures.

Available from School Specialty: Childcraft Corrugated Blocks

24. Random Act of Kindness

Unique Gift Ideas: Random Acts of Kindness Calendar

The Pittsburgh Kindness Initiative, who believes we can change the world with kindness, is sharing 24 ideas for a random act of kindness. They’re offering so many great ideas, why stop at just one? I’m totally doing number 13! 🙂 I’m also committing to 8, 10 and 20.

View larger image of calendar

25. Handmade Pitcher

Unique Gift Ideas: Sangria Pitcher

This authentic and cheerful sangria pitcher is handmade and handpainted. It has a clever pinched spout design to keep the wine flowing and the fruit in the pitcher.
And Sangria’s not just for summertime! Caramel apple sangria is my new fall favorite!

Available from La Tienda: Sangria Pitcher-Colorful ‘Flor’ Design

Meet the Maker: Papyrusaurus-Unique Handmade Goods

Calling all geeks and bibliophiles, you are not going to want to miss the unique handmade goods featured in our latest Meet the Maker interview!

Meet Ashley Aranda, a nerd, a geek, a Mom and a truly gifted paper artisan. I first met Ashley at last year’s I Made It Holiday Market in Pittsburgh and I bonded with her over Firefly fandom and all her geeky creations. Since then, beyond her beautiful upcycled and geeky typography prints (which are so fabulous!) I am obsessed with her holiday ornaments! They are truly unique and one-of-a-kind and absolutely perfect as a go-to gift for anyone on your list.

Don’t miss Ashley’s unique handmade goods and all of the other talented artisans at this year’s I Made It Holiday Market, Thanksgiving weekend in Pittsburgh (Nov 27-28). Now, read on to find out more about Ashley and how she’s turning forgotten books into her kick-ass creations.
Papyrusaurus-unique handmade goods-family photo

Meet the Maker

Papyrusaurus logo

How would you describe Papyrusaurus and the items that you create?
I’d say Papyrusaurus is fun and quirky paper crafts with a geeky kick. I make a variety of unique home decor items and gifts from upcycled books and other papers, most with a little injection of my favorite fandoms: Doctor Who, Supernatural, Firefly, and various others.

Papyrusaurus-unique handmade goods-Firefly Print

Papyrusaurus-unique handmade goods-Cuffs

How did you get started working with upcycled books?
It honestly started because I didn’t want to waste good paper. I was tinkering with making paper ornaments, but didn’t want to ruin expensive scrapbook paper on a trial run. I’d had an old dictionary sitting on my book shelf forever, and since it was falling apart at the seams, I decided I’d use pages from it for practice. But then it looked so nice I just kind of stuck with it.

Papyrusaurus-unique handmade goods-Paper Ornaments

Where do you find your inspiration?
Obviously, since a lot of my stuff is fandom-based I get inspiration from watching a lot (read: too much) TV. I also get help from my kids and my husband, who are all completely hilarious. They’ve been great help with some of the funny, snarky relationship prints and cards.

Papyrusaurus-unique handmade goods-Prints

Ok, I have to ask, where does the name Papyrusauraus come from? 🙂
When I first started I operated under a truly terrible, clunky name that shall never be uttered again (it was really THAT bad.) I knew I had to rename the shop once I started getting more attention my second year around. I wish there was some really cool process that happened, or hilarious story. But it just sort of popped into my head one day while my kids were watching Dinosaur Train (the Dinosaur ABC episode. For the 9 millionth time.) I’ve always loved dinosaurs and I work with paper. Ta-da!

Do you have any favorite pieces?
Right now I’m absolutely in love with the Where the Wild Things Are ornaments. I had a copy on my cutting board and my (genius) husband suggested adding Max’s crown to them. So I made one up and as soon as the crown went on the top, I burst into happy tears. It’s always been a favorite book of mine and these little ornaments capture it perfectly.

Papyrusaurus-unique handmade goods-Where the Wild Things Are ornament

I am so obsessed with your pine cone ornaments! Is there a history behind them or a specific heritage to them?
I don’t know if they have any specific heritage, though the porcupine ornaments I make are Polish, so I suppose they could have similar roots. I’ve always seen them made with folded fabric or ribbon. I adapted it through trial and (lots of) error for paper. It took awhile to get them to be consistent, especially my signature star on the bottom and how I finish the tops. But now I’ve made so many of them, I can nearly do them in my sleep. I try to stay as stocked as possible for the holiday markets, but I know we’ll be running low very quickly. All pine cones purchased online are made-to-order, so they’re always available.

Papyrusaurus-unique handmade goods-Paper Ornaments

Do you have a gifting tip or a gift wrapping hack to share with my readers?
We love making gift wrap here! I get a big, cheap roll of brown craft paper and let the kids go crazy on it with stamps and markers and paint and stencils. It always goes over well with the grandparents. They can even save the wrap and frame it as a holiday memento.

Where can we buy your pieces?
You can find Papyrusaurus creations in my Etsy shop.

papyrusaurus.com will also take you to my Etsy shop (my plan of having a free-standing site before the holidays was thwarted by wedding planning!)

We’re also at Boutique 208 in Pittsburgh.

We have three markets scheduled for this holiday season: I Made It! For The Holidays on November 27th-28th in Pittsburgh, PA, and Handmade Arcade on December 5th, also in Pittsburgh.

Where can we find you online?
You can keep tabs on where we’ll be popping up next and what neat things are in the making on:
Facebook: Papyrusaurus
Instagram: @PapyrusaurusCraft

What’s a little fun fact about you? 😉
I’ve had the same best friends since age 4. Even though we’re spread out all over the country now, we all obsessively watch the same shows and then scream text each other about them the following day. (This was the inspiration behind the “I love developing irrational attachments to fictional characters with you.” print)

Thanksgiving Host & Hostess Gifts

For many people, Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday. I love holidays, so it’s hard for me to have just one favorite, but Thanksgiving is a great choice. Whether your gathering is large or small, family or friends (or both!), it’s a time to be loved, be thankful and hopefully enjoy really, really great food.

From the turkey, to the stuffing, the cranberry sauce and all the trimmings, getting ready to entertain at Thanksgiving should probably be an Olympic sport! So in honor of your host or hostess, these are my favorite gifts this Thanksgiving.

8 Thanksgiving Host & Hostess Gifts

1. Fresh Seasonal Wreath

Magnolia Woodsy Wreath

A fresh seasonal wreath is a beautiful and unexpected twist on the traditional gift of flowers. Plus, there’s the added bonus that a well-made wreath should last through the December holidays.

Many local florists will create and customize a fresh seasonal wreath, or you can order a handmade artisanal wreath like this one, available from Creekside Farms: Magnolia Woodsy Wreath

2. Donate a Wreath

Wreaths Across America

I have a special place in my heart for the Wreaths Across America organization. In 2014, they placed a fresh wreath on all 226,525 graves at Arlington National Cemetery and a total of 700,000 wreaths at locations worldwide.

You can sponsor a single wreath for as little as $15. Wreaths can be sponsored in honor of/memory of a servicemember, or simply sponsor a wreath in thanks for the freedom to spend this Thanksgiving day with your loved ones.

Don’t forget to express this thanks, and share your sponsorship of a wreath, in a handwritten note to your host or hostess.

Available from Wreaths Across America: Sponsor a Wreath

3. Bring the Sauce

Wigle Whiskey

Create a little gift basket with the makings of a signature cocktail. And don’t forget to include the recipe! Thanks to Miss Martha Stewart, you can put the sauce in ‘cranberry sauce’ with her Cranberry Old Fashioned.

I always advocate using craft spirits and in Pittsburgh we have the very popular Wigle Whiskey.

Available from Wigle Whiskey: Organic Pennsylvania Bourbon

I love the combination of orange and cranberry and Wigle’s orange bitters should really enhance the orange zest in Martha’s recipe!

Available from Wigle Whiskey: Organic Pomander Orange Bitters

4. Fabulous Hand Soap

Lemon Verbena Hand Wash from Maison Apothecare

If your host or hostess has been spending a lot of time in the kitchen preparing the nosh and nibbles, a gentle and great smelling hand wash is a perfect choice. I recently purchased this lemon verbena hand soap and I LOVE it!! It smells amazing and it doesn’t dry out your hands.

Available from Maison Apothecare: Lemon Verbena Hand Wash

5. Honeyed Walnuts

Honeyed Walnuts

There is just something about a honey bear!

This little guy is filled with whole walnuts soaked in 100% natural Amish honey. A special treat delicious on cheese, ice cream or fresh fruit…and I’m pretty sure even eating them right out of the jar is fabulous.

Available from Alex’s Meats: Honey Bear Walnuts

6. Bring the Conversation

Table Topics from UncommonGoods

Whether you’re attending a family Thanksgiving or a gathering of friends, it’s always good to have some conversation starters in your back pocket. And ok, so this cube likely won’t actually fit in your back pocket, but it does come in a variety of themes (Foodies, Family and Happiness, just to name a few) and each cube contains 135 conversation starters.

Available from UncommonGoods: Table Topics

7. Exotic Sea Salt

Breakaway Matcha Tea Sea Salt

A fun treat to spice up their kitchen pantry. Matcha tea is definitely one of the ‘it beverages’ right now. Put an unexpected twist on it with this hand-blended combination of matcha tea and French sea salt. Even the packaging is extraordinary with the use of a beautiful violet-black glass jar.

Available from Breakaway Matcha: Breakaway Matcha Salt

8. Herbal Tea

Tea: Red Rooibos Chai Masala

Give your host or hostess a gift to enjoy after the guests have gone home and they can sit back and revel in the beautiful gathering they created. This unexpected twist on Chai is made with red rooibos tea instead of black tea with the addition of vanilla for a hint of natural sweetness.

Available from Miss Tea Organics: Red Rooibos Chai Masala

Purr-fect Gifts For the Cat

I’ve been cat-shamed by a 4-legged friend named Gadget. He was our border for a few months while his Mom was getting set up out of state. Now he’s not speaking to me. He heard that I referred to myself as a ‘dog person’. I’m learning that cats are not easy to apologize to, they make you work for it. I’ve come up with 8 gifts that just might be worthy of an apology, a celebration or just keeping yourself in their good graces.

8 Purr-fect Gifts For the Cat

1. DJ Kitty Scratch

DJ Cat Scratching Pad from UncommonGoods

This dj cat scratching pad is so awesome, I feel like maybe I should just drop the mic here. Boom.

Available from UncommonGoods: DJ Cat Scratching Pad

2. Whack’a Mouse

whack-a-mouse

Warning: he won’t want to quit until he earns enough tickets for that feather on a stick.

Available from Amazon: Whack A Mouse Learning Cat Toy

3. Cat Hammock

Cat Crib

Dahling, bring me a mojito and hold my calls.

Available from CatCrib’s website: The Cat Crib

4. Sphere Cat Tower

Sphere Cat Tower

She’ll enjoy the view of her kingdom and all her subjects. You’ll enjoy a piece of cat furniture that looks good in your living room.

Available from Hayneedle: Sauder Natural Sphere Cat Tower

5. Cat Scratch Lounger

Cat Scratch Lounger from Amazon

A modern, sleek design made of durable, recycled, corrugated cardboard. Winner of an Eco-Excellence Award.

Available from Amazon: PetFusion Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge

6. Catnip Toy

catnip toy bird from EtsyA sweet little bird handmade from upcycled wool (or wool blend) sweaters and stuffed with eco-fiber and certified organic catnip. I kind of want one for my desk, but I don’t need the catnip distraction.

Available from Etsy: Birds of a Sweater Catnip Toy from Three Sassy Sisters

7. Ball Chaser

Star Chaser Turbo Scratcher from Amazon

Ever feel like you’re just going in circles? Sounds like fun doesn’t it?!

Available from Amazon: Bergan Star Chaser Turbo Scratcher

8. Laser Pointer

FroliCat BOLT Laser Pointer

Our dogs couldn’t be bothered with a laser pointer, but my buddy Gadget sure loved it. This one can be set to a 15 minute auto timer for when you have to leave the house or  actually get some work done. Lightweight and handheld it also works like a standard laser pointer for hours of family fun.

Available from Petco: FroliCat BOLT Laser Pet Toy

Meet the Maker: Frost Finery Handmade Jewelry

I met the fabulous Melissa Frost through a Mastermind for female badasses (a.k.a. entrepreneurs). She is such a super cool and energetic person and it all comes across in her amazing handmade jewelry pieces. Melissa’s designs are classy and little edgy, just like her! I’m such a fan of her work, you can even find several of her pieces on my own personal giftbug registry. 🙂

Meet the Maker

Frost Finery Logo

Melissa Frost of Frost Finery

What was the evolution of Frost Finery?
As soon as I took my first metal-smithing class and saw how metal can be melted, annealed and reformed, I was fascinated and I haven’t been able to stop. I really kicked Frost Finery into gear when I was accepted into the Made Right Here Apprenticeship Program through TechShop. Having access to new equipment gave me the opportunity to look at my process and find different ways of creating. I learn every day on the job whether it’s figuring out the best execution for a custom design, dealing with shipping logistics or updating my website.

Frost Finery: at the bench

Where do you find inspiration?
In my graphic designer days, I drooled over work by Saul Bass, Louise Fili and Richard Perez. So when I moved into the metal world, I immediately looked for minimalist metal artists and found, Patrik Hansson, a swedish jeweler who also used to be a graphic designer. While metal is a great medium for clean minimal lines, I’m appreciating how well it can be manipulated to show off texture and I’m starting to embrace that more. I recently discovered Kristin Holeman and while it’s a real departure from Frost Finery, I’m astounded by her craftsmanship. On Holeman’s instagram she describes herself as, “Not a jeweler, but a folk artist that tells stories in metals and enamels for 41 years.” Seriously, what a statement – so inspiring! So inspiration can come from a lot of places, but I feel inspired most when resonating with someone’s authenticity. It’s a reminder that while I want Frost Finery to be fashionable, I need to draw on inspiration that truly resonates with me.

Frost Finery: sample work

Frost Finery: earrings

Frost Finery: ring + necklace

What is your process for creating custom jewelry pieces?
First, I ask a lot of questions. Who is it for? What is it for? What kind of jewelry does this person like to wear? What’s their style? Do they have sensitive skin? Sometimes what people have an idea for in their mind can be difficult to describe so I ask them if they have any visual inspiration to include that as well. I usually do a few sketches and present two or three options. Sometimes I’m able to start creating and sometimes we have to go back and tweak a few things. It’s a great challenge to make something new and unique, but I love doing it because the reasons behind the custom pieces make it really rewarding.

Do you have any favorite pieces?
I loved my last custom piece. It was for a bride that is beautiful inside and out. They were art deco inspired earrings with a fan shape and 10mm sparkly white druzies.

Frost Finery custom designed druzy fan earrings
Art Deco inspired fans were designed to compliment a beautiful bride’s heirloom wedding dress that belonged to her grandmother. 10mm white druzies gave a rich contrast between the smooth 14k gold-plated edgy fans and the natural rough crystals of the stones.

Would you introduce everyone to the fabulous Ziggy?
Ziggy is my 3yr old English Bulldog. My mother-in-law jokes around that there are more picture of him than my three nieces combined (they’re really adorable too) but Ziggy really knows how to work the camera. He can skateboard, he falls asleep with his tongue out, snores very loudly and is a really affectionate and goofy pup. If it’s cool day, he often makes an appearance at my jewelry booths outdoors.

Ziggy and Melissa of Frost Finery

Frost Finery Mascot: Ziggy

Can you share a gifting tip or a gift wrapping hack?
A personalized feature and a glittery bow go a long way. One of my favorite things to do is stamp the inside of a box or a notecard. I lasered a stamp with my diamond logo that says “shine on” and it makes it more fun to gift wrap and ship things out. There are lots of shops on Etsy that will make you a custom stamp, that alone could be a really fun gift too!

Where can we buy your jewelry?
On my website frostfinery.com or in my Etsy shop.

I have a selection of pieces for sale at Jack + Jules in Lawrenceville, Pa, the Rosewood Boutique in Sewickley, PA & The Shop in East Liberty.

I’ll also be at the I Made It Holiday Market on Black Friday in the North Side (Pittsburgh, PA).

Where can we find you online?
Twitter: @frostfinery
Instagram: @frostfinery
Facebook: frostfinery
Pinterest: frostfinery

Any final interesting facts or tidbits you want to share?
My first job was drawing caricatures at Busch Gardens. In some ways I feel like I’ve come full circle whenever it’s time to setup my booth. I really love meeting my customers in person, seeing what they respond to and being able to talk more about my process.

As I said at the beginning of this post, Melissa’s beautiful designs are definitely on my giftbug registry, now don’t forget to update your giftbug registry. You can link to her website, her Etsy shop or use any of the retail partners that she listed above. Message me if you need any help!