Geek Chic

Tis The Season, Bitches – A Gift Guide (Of Sorts)

I didn’t use to get so frustrated while trying to decide on Christmas presents to get my friends and family. My gifts had themes or followed a common denominator, and even Secret Santa gifts were purchased with a purpose. If someone made a specific type of comment throughout the year, I’d make a mental note to myself to remember it for Christmas time. Take my boyfriend for example, I’ve used themes like artist, zombie, colors and anime characters. I’m really running out of ideas for him fast. I made hidden Pinterest boards and Google Drive documents with lists and ideas and notes on what to possibly get him that I haven’t gotten him already. A friend of mine that’s been with his girlfriend for about the same amount of time has commented about how difficult this year seems to be for ideas for him as well. It’s nice not knowing I’m not alone. And don’t even get me started on friends and family. I drew my dad’s name for Christmas and now I have to somehow fashion him a bow cover. *shakes head sadly* That’s going to be interesting seeing as I don’t currently have a sewing machine in my possession. But I’m going to make it happen because I love my dad, and how can you deny something as randomly cool as a bow case? And by “bow” I mean as in bow and arrows. Yeah.

With the economy as it is and people having less money to spend on gifts for people, how do you spread the love to those around you without starting the new year in extreme debt? Also, have you noticed everyone’s on diets these days? Cookies and brownies are out. So, now what? What do you do when you’re so limited on what you can do? While I might not have all the answers, I can do you the next best thing: weigh out the pros and cons before you make the mistake of diving into a project you weren’t fully ready to handle. Each reduced cost gift idea comes with pros and cons, and good ideas for who the gifts may or may not be good for.

The Food In A Jar gift

Pros: Buying the ingredients for these gifts is a LOT cheaper than most gifts. You might be introducing someone to a recipe they’ve never tried before. Last year, one of my manager’s wives put these together and I got a sweet recipe for a cookie mix that had Rice Krispies in it and it was AMAZING. All they have to do is add the wet ingredients (meaning water, eggs, things that might need to be refrigerated , and BAM magic happens. The ingredients look so pretty layered together.

Cons: A lot of these ingredients are not for gluten intolerant individuals or require the purchase of meat, which can be pricey on those who don’t have that kind of money to spend; you might not think meat is expensive until you’ve gotta stretch $5 over four days. These should be eaten within a month for freshness. The jars are costly; you’re looking at about $15 + tax/shipping if you buy a 12 pack from Amazon, about $2-$10 each at places like Joann’s or Hobby Lobby. If you’ve got a tight budget for Christmas gifts and you have a lot of people to hit, this might not be that good of an idea. At my local Hobby Lobby, about 75% of the jars on the shelves aren’t label for their ounces. A lot of the jar recipes don’t tell you what size jar to purchase either, so you almost need to buy one and hope for the best that it’s the right size or that you have a back-up plan for the jar if it’s not enough (terrarium, anyone?).

Who This is Good For: Great for someone that isn’t very handy in the kitchen. Aunts and uncles, surrogate parents, grandparents, siblings that are parents that you feel deserve a very thoughtful gift (soup is thoughtful, trust me). Great as part of a care package for college students or young people that might be living on their own. Coworkers. Your in-laws or your significant other’s parents. Cookie jars are good for kids, but double-check with the parents to make sure it’s cool first.

Who This is Bad For: You really have to be sure that you’re not giving someone food that they’re allergic to. Don’t be afraid to ask just because you’ll “ruin the surprise”. The surprise will be ruined when they’re being rushed into the ER.

The Hand-Painted Mug

Pros: You can do WHATEVER YOU WANT on these mugs. Be as dirty or as clean as you want. Be as loving and sappy as your little heart desires. You can do this with a sharpie, which means that you don’t have to spend $4 at the craft store on paint pens just to get the job done. Hell, pick up your mugs at the Dollar Tree. I found the ones I used there and they had colored insides. It was actually pretty awesome, but I was a little bummed they didn’t have just all white ones.

Cons: Have you ever free-handed on a round surface before? There is no CTRL-Z for that shit. You smudge anything and it is game over. I really wish I took pictures of the mugs I did for the Movember winners. I’m actually secretly glad that Jeff won one because I gave him the one I messed up really badly on. I have no idea how these mug designs hold up in the dishwasher. I’m assuming little to not at all. If you don’t get these at the Dollar Tree, the cost can jump up to anywhere from $3-$20 each. Again, $3 each starts to add up when you have to buy and draw on a LOT.

Who This is Good For: Literally everyone. There’s not a person out there who wouldn’t like something like this. The ability to customize something that people get a lot of use out of is the gift that keeps on giving.

Who This is Bad For: I’ve honestly been contemplate this one little part for the past 2 hours and I really don’t have anyone in mind that this would be bad for. A hoarder maybe? Someone who hates to drink things? I got it! A person who hates ceramic drinking utensils. You probably shouldn’t be friends with that person anyway.

Anything Christmas Themed

Pros and Cons: This particular type of gift is so hit or miss that I had to combine these into one section. It depends on what it is and when you give it. Let’s say you give them a Christmas themed dish towel set. If this is given around two weeks before Christmas, it’ll still have some use out of it. If it’s opened on Christmas, it’ll be boxed away until next year or regifted to someone last minute. If it’s vaguely themed, like something with stars or snowflakes, there’s a lot more chances for it to be left out of the box and in use all winter to all year round. If it’s food meant to look like Christmas, like cookies, it doesn’t really matter.

Who This is Good For: Mainly women. It’s more likely that a woman would love these types of gifts as we are usually the ones that get into the decorating aspect of Christmas more than men.

Who This is Bad For: There’s really no right answer for this type of gift either. Personally, I like to advise against these particular types of gifts. I feel that if you’re going to give someone something, make it worth not only your money, but their time with it.

Homemade Beauty Products
Pros: This gift is as easy and cheap to make as the coffee mugs. It’s really quite exciting. The ingredients are cheap and spread far for making multiple gift packages. This also gives you the chance to eliminate a lot of harmful crap that can be found in store bought items. 
Cons: I know quite a few people who are allergic to most perfumes, dyes and starches. This can be a MAJOR problem. Plus, you have to worry about odd skin reactions to certain ingredients. Even if you test it on yourself with no problem, that doesn’t mean that everyone’s safe. Check with your friends for specific allergens they might have, or if there were any organic products they’ve used in the past that have reacted badly with their skin.
Who This is Good For: Your general female audience would eat this shit up. Srsly. Women love handmade items because they represent thoughtfulness. Some men appreciate beauty products as well. I know tons of guys that love to get a mani/pedi every once in while, or enjoy the occasional spy pampering with their significant others while on vacation. Note to the men reading this post: chicks dig men that pamper… TO AN EXTENT. Most honest women will agree that your pampering should not take more time, effort and money than what we do to ourselves. You do that and now we see you as self-absorbed. 
Who This is Bad For: I would recommend not giving this to someone who thinks these kind of products are “stupid” or “a waste of money,” or for those that buy only specific brands for whatever crazy reason they concoct. You give this to that person and your gift will be regifted the next day.
So, I  really hope that I don’t offend to many people here with this post. I feel like there is a high number of people that fluff these types of projects, but fail to mention the asinine amount of work involved. I will admit that I contemplated this post for a week straight. As a quick update, my dad’s ever-changing mind switched gift ideas 7 times between the start of this post and the end of it. I bought his gift today, so he can just deal with not being able to change his mind again lol. Please note that this post is based off my opinion, and research I’ve done from people that have and have not successfully created and given out these types of gifts. Has there been a handmade gift you’ve given out to a ton of people and had good or terrible reactions? Is there a special warning about a certain type of handmade gift you would like to share with others? Drop me a line and let me know!