Unique Ways to Surprise Someone with a Gift

I reckon you’re at this post for one of two reasons:

  1. You don’t have a gift yet and desperately need ideas, OR
  2. You have a gift but want to figure out interesting ways to surprise someone with a gift

This post is more about #2, but if you ARE looking for cute gifts you can either try finding something on Etsy, or our own little handmade gift subscription (shameless plug).

But! Let’s talk about reason #2.

Unique Ways to Surprise Someone with a Gift: The Homemade Treasure Hunt

I basically have one absolute favorite way of giving a gift, that you can easily add your own flavor to.
In four words: A homemade treasure hunt. 

Regardless of whether your gift recipient is a child, sibling, friend, or romantic partner, a treasure hunt never fails to delight.

A treasure hunt basically starts with you giving your gift recipient their first “clue” (usually a little paper clue), and has them traveling from spot to spot, finding additional clues. The final location will be where you hide the gift.

I list a couple ways to do it below.

Make a homemade treasure hunt through your own home

This can be especially fun if the gift recipient is someone you live with. You can have the clues be references to things that happened in your house, or items that you own together.

Examples:

Clue says: “You think I don’t know where you hide the chocolate….but I know.”

Clue says: “The mouse’s hiding spot.”
This could refer to that one time there was a mouse in your house, and it was hiding behind the curtain while your partner was shrieking on a chair.

Clue says: “Fido’s favorite sunbathing corner.”

Use a treasure hunting kit to make it easier

Unique Ways to Surprise Someone with a Gift: The homemade treasure hunt!If you’re too traumatized by the idea of creating a treasure hunt from scratch, Tiny Treasure Hunts actually makes a little kit that basically has a built-in treasure hunt. Works great for both kids and adults.

Make a treasure hunt through your shared memories

This is probably better as a treasure hunt for a romantic partner. This journey can be either on foot, bike or via car. Have the clues refer to places you have shared memories together. Since it’s a bit harder to hide paper clues in public places, it’s sometimes easier if you initially give them a sheet with all the “unfinished” clues on it. There will be gaps in the clues that you can have them fill in with answers from the locations you send them to.

Examples:

Clue says: “Our first date spot. What number is the spaghetti marinara on the menu? Use that to dial this number: 424-312-5??3”
Theoretically the missing numbers should fit into the phone number, which should be the business phone number for the next location.

Next Clue says: “Go to this location (from Clue 1). Order our favorite drink.”
If you’re familiar with the staff, give them a clue beforehand to slip underneath your hunter’s drink.

Overall, this type of treasure hunt is a lot more complex and work intensive to pull off. But it can really be a fun and romantic stroll through memory lane.

The Final Gift

When your treasure hunt is wrapping up, it should point to the final location of the gift. If the gift is a physical object, we suggest you wrap it up in a really cute way (we have a tutorial on it here). Or if it’s a sillier treasure hunt, you could do the whole “box within a box within a box” gag. This works better if you’re not worried about your recipient being disappointed when the gift is smaller in size than originally expecting (might not be good for kids).

Homemade Gift Wrapping Ideas

Sometimes people disregard presentation when they’re giving a gift. But having been in the gift industry for almost 10 years now, I know how important presentation actually is. It can make the difference between someone thinking the item inside has a good value or a low value. And it can change the overall “vibe” of the item—you can add a hint of fun, or mystery, or luxury—just based on what type of gift wrapping you choose.

With that in mind, we’ll jump into some really cute and cool homemade gift wrapping ideas to made sure your gift gives off the right impression.

10 Cute Homemade Gift Wrapping Ideas

Homemade Gift Wrapping Ideas

We usually recommend starting with either brown kraft paper (if you don’t have any, cut up any brown grocery bag or lunch bag and voila!). Or, if your box already looks nice, just start from there and add embellishments, like the ones below.

Use Stamps

If you have any stamps around the house, adding one to the top of a plain kraft box can really add a lot. Hearts are a great stamp idea, as well as feathers. If you don’t have any stamps, we recommend cutting one out of a rubber eraser, and then using ballpoint pen ink (or lipstick) as your stamp ink.

Leaves or Flowers

Probably our favorite type of homemade gift wrap embellishment, leaves and flowers can give a very organic feel to the gift. If you’re doing flowers, we recommend picking a test flower first and seeing how long it lasts before it starts to wilt. Make sure it will last long enough to get the gift to your recipient (lavender lasts a long long time).

For leaves and twigs, sometimes dead or dried ones work best. But if you find eucalyptus leaves, those last a long time fresh, and smell really nice. Certain herbs work well too (fresh), like rosemary.

Ribbons, twine and lace

Our favorite type of item to use to close it up is with gardeners twine. You can get it both at an arts and crafts store, and also at your local hardware or garden center. Additionally its available on Etsy.

“Wrapped with Love” Tag

To give it that finishing touch, attach a little tag that says “Made with Love” or “Wrapped with Love”, or even just has a little heart drawn on it. It seals in that homemade touch.

Summary

Summary: Keep it simple and cheap when you’re doing homemade gift wrapping. You should be able to find enough stuff around your house to fashion an adorable little gift.

The Plant Recipe Book (note: not for eating)

The Plant Recipe Book

I was lucky enough to receive an early release of Baylor Chapman’s The Plant Recipe Book, and boy was it enjoyed around my house!

We are a household of succulent-lovers as well as upcyclers—so all the wonderful arrangements in this book were spot on. With a selection of plants, a lovely dish or pot from the local thrift store or yard sale….plus a little bit of love, a fancy table arrangement á la Sunset Magazine can be yours!

58-59_Asparagus Fern Recipe 3 Ingredients 2

49_Aloe Recipe 2_FINAL

95_Euphorbia Recipe 1

83_Echeveria Recipe 1_FINAL

Credit for ALL photos: Excerpted from The Plant Recipe Book by Baylor Chapman (Artisan Books). Copyright (c) 2014. Photographs by Paige Green.

All of the 100 “recipes” (this slightly confused some of my friends into thinking they could eat the contents, but which was quickly clarified) are made with live plants, so the arrangements stay fresh for as long as you care for them.  I love the breakdown pages where it shows you the individual “ingredients” for each arrangement.

Overall it was a very cool book to review, and it has already seen a lot of traffic from its place on my coffee table (next to some succulent arrangements, no less)!

Succulent arrangements clas

Cute succulent arrangements in cups

This past Sunday (March 30, 2014!), Whole Foods invited Fair Ivy owner Lucy (that’s me) to teach eager crafters about a fun way to personalize your dinner place settings.  The DIY Dinner event was connected with Whole Foods’ new online publication called Dark Rye.

I decided to combine three of my favorite things to create this DIY class:

  1. Crafting
  2. Upcycling (definition: The process of converting old or discarded materials into something useful and often beautiful.)
  3. Succulents!

So I headed to the art store, the thrift store, and my own garden to gather the materials.  Check out the photos from the successful event!

Succulent planters

Twigs for succulent name tags

Succulent collection - how to plant succulents

Washi Tape collection

Dark Rye Whole Foods Presentation by Fair Ivy - Succulent Arrangements

The main materials were:

  • Pots and cups that were upcycled with spray paint
  • Succulents snipped from my own garden as well as from generous friends (you can just put a clipping into the dirt and 90% of the time it will just grow its own roots!)
  • Paper scraps and twigs to create the name cards

Below are a few simple samples I brought to give participants an idea of how these succulent arrangements could be used as DIY dinner table settings—plus, as party favors that guests can take home at the end of the night!

Thrift store dishes upcycled into cute succulent planters!

Dark Rye Whole Foods Presentation by Fair Ivy - Succulent Arrangements

Dark Rye Whole Foods Presentation by Fair Ivy - Succulent Arrangements

Dark Rye Whole Foods Presentation by Fair Ivy - Succulent Arrangements

Whole Foods presentation - Lucy from Fair Ivy

Above: Me in action, teaching the steps.  Below: Whole Foods was generous and provided us with delicious snacks and drinks that were perfect for the warm yet breezy afternoon outdoor event!

Whole Foods snacks

Whole Foods Dark Rye Recipes

Whole foods presentation from Fair Ivy

Succulents in cups

Make a succulent mini planter

Make a succulent mini planter

There were so many wonderful cute succulent arrangements created by all the participants!  Check out some of my favorites below:

Thrift store dishes upcycled into cute succulent planters!

Thrift store dishes upcycled into cute succulent planters!

Thrift store dishes upcycled into cute succulent planters!

DIY succulent planter

DIY succulent planter

Succulents in dishes

Thrift store dishes upcycled into cute succulent planters!

Cute Succulent Arrangements

Succulent how to

It was a ton of fun—a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  A big thanks to Whole Foods for inviting me to teach, and to all the wonderful participants who were so enthusiastic and creative!

Best Homemade Beauty Products: Recipes

Homemade Beauty Products:  Recipe list from Fair Ivy

Fair Ivy receives tons of submissions each week from artists and handmade businesses, looking to get their products featured as one of our monthly surprise packages.  We thoroughly enjoy perusing each and every submission, and have found that over the years we’ve gotten very familiar with handmade and homemade beauty products.  And now we’re hooked!

If you aren’t a subscriber to Fair Ivy’s handmade surprise packages, you still may be interested in buying or making some handmade or homemade beauty products on your own.  And we’re here to help!

One of our absolute favorite creators of handmade beauty products is Mickey Cho from Fabled Soap Co.   She’s been a featured artist with her gorgeous soaps on Fair Ivy both in August 2013 and October 2013, and we’re sure she’ll be showing up a ton more.  However, she doesn’t just make soap and lip balm.  Check out these wonderful homemade beauty products she creates:

Homemade beauty products : bath soak

Bath soak sample set

Homemade beauty products : Laundry detergent

Homemade laundry detergent

Homemade Beauty Products: Soap samples

Soap Samples – Handmade Old Fashioned All Natural Vegan

Alright, enough of our gushing about how much we love Fabled Soap Co—onto some recipes!

Our favorite homemade beauty products recipe sites:

  • The Daily Green: This lists 10 different types of homemade beauty products and the recipes to make them!
  • Refinery29: This site focuses on the thrifty aspect of homemade beauty products—it’s true, they can be really cost-effective!
  • Babble: List of recipes, with great photos
  • Keeper of the Home: Along with recipes for what ingredients to use, this page tells you what ingredients you should specifically AVOID using. Very helpful!
  • Wellness Mama:  With just 7 ingredients, make 20+ different items!

If you have any of your own favorite recipes, please send them along and we’ll post them here!

Rubber stamps

A great way to improve your product packaging—or make your personal gifts look more awesome, is to make or buy little rubber stamps and stamp the packages up!

I made a few different “handmade” ones that might be cute to use if you sell handmade products online.

Simple but cute, no?
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