Tag Archives: candles

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

Read All About It: Gift Ideas For Book Lovers

I was telling Andy over the weekend that I really needed to ‘just get lost in a book.’ And so I did. Every free minute that I had over the weekend, my nose was back in my book. It was an amazing vacation without ever leaving my house. That of course got me thinking about all things books and my fellow book lovers, so you guessed it, a gift list inspired by and especially for book lovers.

Check out these gifts for the bibliophile in your life (get it, it’s a library themed list…”check it out”  😉 )

10 Gift Ideas For Book Lovers

1. Personalized Library Embosser

Personalized Library Embosser

I have a few books sitting in my home office that were lovingly loaned to me by friends…I’m just not sure which friends. Whenever I figure out who they belong to, this would be a perfect gift for them – to guard against friends like me 🙂

It’s not a homing beacon, but it’s possibly the next best thing in ensuring their well-loved books are returned.

Available from Horchow: Library Emobsser

2. Library Card Tote Bag

Library Card Tote Bag

The perfect tote for…well, toting their library books around.

Available from UncommonGoods: Library Card Tote Bag

3. Library Scented Candle

Library Scented Candle

The next best thing to sitting in a library – bringing the scent of the library to you. The smell of old pages, polished hardwood floors and leather bound books.

Available from The British Library: Birch & Brook Library Scented Candle

4. Cat Bookends

Cat Bookends

I admit it, I’m a dog person, but these are purr-fect (yep, I went there) for any book lover’s shelves.

Available from Etsy: Bookends by Glozis

5. Coffee Mug

Library Mug: I Like Big Books

On the heels of my bacon lover gift list and the “I like pig butts’ t-shirt, I found this mug. I definitely have questionable humor, but this mug is still super clever 🙂

Available from Etsy: Library Mug by vitamina eu

6. T-shirt

T-shirt: Talk Dewey to Me

I’m crying over here, this shit cracks me up 🙂 Geek humor, is there anything better??

Available from I Love Apparel: Talk Dewey To Me T-shirt

7. MacBook Cover

BookBook MacBook cover

“A most novel idea in MacBook protection.” This handmade, genuine leather case offers protection, class and personality when toting a laptop to meetings.

Available from Amazon: TwelveSouth’s BookBook for MacBook

8. Scarf

Library Card Scarf

I love that at first glance this just looks like a classy patterned scarf. Once the admirer takes a closer look, they will certainly be asking where they can get that scarf!

Available from Etsy: Cyberoptix’s Library Scarf

9. Home Library Kit

Personal Library Kit

Another charming idea for sharing your beloved books and guaranteeing their return.

Available from ModCloth: Personal Library Kit

10. iPhone Case

Library Card iPhone Case

Bookworms unite and customize your mobile phone with this nostalgic library card look.

Available from Etsy: Library Card Phone Case by Caribou Creek Cases

Meet the Maker: North Ave Candles

I’m excited to start a new series on the blog! With this Meet the Maker series I want to introduce you to some of the amazing artisans and makers out there. They are using their passions and talents to create truly one-of-a-kind gift ideas.

I first heard about North Ave Candles at last year’s I Made It! Holiday Market here in Pittsburgh (mark your calendars for this year’s event: November 27-28!).

I loved Amanda’s simple packaging (I have a weakness for a mason jar), her refreshing scents and some of her super cute wax designs (her watermelon candle is always a big hit.)

watermelon-and-banned-books-candles: North Ave Candles

Earlier this summer when Amanda launched the new Banned Book Series, I became obsessed with it and knew that I had to feature her. These candles are awe-some! I love the clever labels, the fabulous scents and the nod to literary history. And because I’ve purged all Algebra equations from my brain, I have room to remember interesting facts like this week being Banned Books Week (Sept 27 – Oct 3), so what better time to introduce you to my first maker friend 🙂

Meet the Maker


Amanda Fenner of North Ave. Candles

giftbug: How did you get started making your candles?

Amanda: Short story is that it was DIY Christmas gifts that quickly spiraled out of control.

Long story is that I had been making candles for awhile as a hobby. I was waiting tables and in nursing school and suddenly found myself (surprise!) pregnant. I always knew that if I ever had a child, I’d want to stay at home with the baby for the first few years, so nursing school was put on hold and I got to stay at home with my daughter Amelia. My extremely supportive husband suggested that I spend the winter making candles and sign up for our local farmers’ market in the spring for a little extra spending money and some socialization. And I did exactly that.

Amelia was always one of those babies who refused to be set down without crying, so I spent the late winter making candles with my daughter strapped to my back. Then in the spring and summer, I hit the markets (all the while still wearing my happy little babe!).


Once I started participating in the I Made It! Market series is when things really took off in a meteoric and unexpected way. I was able to really learn and develop the business side of candlemaking. I was able to meet other makers and network with them and learn from them. The majority of my wholesale accounts were acquired because of people I had met at or through I Made It! Market. I really feel like IMI was the platform that launched my business.

giftbug: Can you tell us a little bit about your candle making process?

Amanda: My process involves an incredible amount of trial and error. Testing, note taking, retesting, experiments, failed experiments, breakthrough, and then even more testing.

candle-process: North Ave Candles

From the start, I knew I liked veggie waxes. I like the creamy look of veggie waxes and how slowly they burn. As far as scents, I try to create scents that you don’t find often. You have to have some staples like cinnamon and vanilla, but I like to get creative with scent combinations. Two of my most popular scents are Orange + Chili Pepper, and Teakwood + Tobacco Flower. I’m also pretty picky about my oils. They’re all phthalate/paraben free, high quality fragrance oils.

I started with jelly jars and mason jars, which is pretty typical for candlemakers. They’re inexpensive jars that you can find just about anywhere. Then I started experimenting with making candle creations in thrifted vintage glassware. I have a lot of fun with that.

For the Banned Books Collection, I knew I wanted to use a larger jar with a more upscale feel. The jars I use for that collection have a nice weight to them and an upscale look.

giftbug: What makes you so passionate about candles?

Amanda: In the beginning it was like a quest to solve this candle riddle. When I first started, I thought it would be a purely creative endeavor, but there is an incredible amount of precise science involved in making a functional candle. You have to use the right type wick for your wax, the right size wick for your jar, you have to add a specific amount of oil at specific temperatures. I became, like, obsessed with creating the perfect candle.

After finding a system that worked for me, what really made it my passion was that candlemaking is something that’s entirely mine. I love being a wife and a mom, but it doesn’t leave much time for me. Making candles is my time to shut out the rest of the world, have some “me time”, create something that I’m proud of, and all the while make money to contribute to my family doing something that I genuinely love.

banned books collection: North Ave Candles

giftbug: How did the Banned Books Collection come about?

Amanda: I knew for awhile that I wanted to create a more upscale candle line. And I knew that I wanted that line to have some sort of literary twist. I always felt like books and candles go really well together. They’re both cozy, comfort items. There’s also a large overlap between “book people” and “candle people”, so I wanted to create something to appeal to both of those audiences. After playing around with some ideas, I started thinking about different moods that books can set and what scent combinations match those moods. White Tea + Rose for Alice in Wonderland; Pine + Parchment for Fahrenheit 451; scent can really tell a story.

My goal with the Banned Books Collection is to continue to reach out to different retailers, specifically book stores, and expand the wholesale side of my business. I also intend to keep rotating candles in and out of the collection while thinking up new ideas, seasonal options, and featuring “guests” in the collection. For example, Andy Warhol is currently making a guest appearance in the Banned Books Collection. I want to keep it fun and interesting and exciting.

giftbug: Do you have a favorite candle?

Amanda: I have a few.

Gin, Juniper + Daisy, inspired by the Great Gatsby was my first candle of the Banned Books Collection, so I’m partial to that one. It’s such a fresh, unique scent.

My watermelon candles are super fun.

Also, I make a three layer candle in the fall and winter that I call “Partridge in a Pear Tree”. It’s three layers of scent starting with Fresh Pear, then Mistletoe, and finishing with Pine Cones. The colors are a beautiful green ombre. I really love that candle.

giftbug: Do you have a gifting tip or a gift wrapping hack?

Amanda: Well, obviously I’m going to recommend shopping small, local, and/or handmade as a gifting tip. Not only because I want to see all of my amazing, talented, hardworking friends succeed, but because there’s been a shift in consumerism lately where people not only appreciate, but actively seek out, local/handmade wares. People are starting to appreciate how important and impactful shopping small and local is.

giftbug: Where can we purchase your fabulous candles?

Amanda:There is always a wide selection of my latest candles in my Etsy shop.

You can find me in person at many events throughout the year. I don’t know yet which holiday events I’ll be participating in because acceptances haven’t been sent out yet, but I keep all of that information current on my social media.

As far as retail partners, my jelly jar candles can be found in Sunny Bridge Natural Foods and Bedner’s Farm and Greenhouse (both in the South Hills).

A small selection of my vintage upcycled collection is available at Three Rivers Vintage in the Southside.

The Banned Books Collection is current being carried in City Books in Brookline, The Library Shop in the Carnegie Library Oakland, Kards Unlimited in Shadyside, and Calligramme in Lawrenceville.

And the Artsmiths of Pittsburgh on Beverly Rd in Mt Lebanon carries a little bit of everything I make.

giftbug: Where can we find you on the web?


giftbug: Any last fun fact that you want to share?

Amanda: I always crank music while making candles, so any candle you buy off of me was likely made whilst dancing.

BONUS: As a gift to you, because Amanda is so truly fabulous, she is clueing you in on her sale for Banned Books Week. Visit North Ave Candle’s Etsy shop and use the coupon code READBANNEDBOOKS to get 20% off your purchase. Sale ends Monday, October 5th, 2015.

And if you are in love with Amanda’s handmade candles as much as I am, don’t forget to update your giftbug registry. You can link to her Etsy shop or use any of the retail partners that she listed above. Message me if you need any help!