Creative Gift Giving (Part II) is a continuation of a two part series focused on providing alternative options to the standard run-of-the-mill holiday or seasonal gift giving.  Part II includes a final list of 5 creative gift giving solutions.   Each of the below scenerios can be formatted to work as a rough template and can help the giver in deciding upon the perfect gift for other occasions. 

Food & Drink Lovers

The bar crawl scenario is well known to droves of urban dwellers and is often associated with holidays such as Halloween that prompt such organized events as the “zombie crawl.” These loosely organized events binds an adult scavenger hunt (which takes costumed participators all over in order to check items or achievements off a list) to patronizing an array of venues which provide for the consumption of spooky cocktail beverages and bar snacks. Working within the same context of hitting multiple venues and trying different foods and beverages one can adjust the experience, from spooky to a trip around the world.

Due to food and drink being popularized by online cooking shows, celebrity chefs, and by famous faces such as Anthony Bourdain the culinary arts experienced a renaissance due to the ability to popularize, broadcast, and repackage basic human consumption needs into a fresh trend.  These individuals have created a niche, by make a living at transforming the basic activity of food and beverage consumption into a fine art or exotic cultural experience.

It’s no wonder that the inexperienced masses feel intrigued and at times slightly intimidated by exploring more exotic food and drink options.  This cultural trend has even created its own vocabulary in it's wake and popularized words and concepts such as “foodie,” “gastrointestinal euphoria,” and “culinary tourism.”  Regardless of this new fad and its effects on one’s individual comfort level, there are still fun and easy ways to enjoy experimenting with new types of food and drink (which are attainable to the average persona).

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Who knew cuisine could be so extreme!

The gift concept includes a night of hopping around from restaurant to restaurant and ordering an assortment of appetizers and drinks. Sometimes utilizing a specific sets of criteria, including but not limited to country, region, ethnicity, or dishes ingredients can help one narrow down choices and allows one to not get too caught up or overwhelmed with too many details or in overthinking things. One can also visit restaurants from a region such as Southeast Asia by including countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. Another possible approach can be by sticking to a vegetarian theme or meat centered cuisine.

Your gift receiver can casually have a blast by eating their way around the world by consuming one appetizer at a time and by reducing the pressure of committing to an entire meal! Include several restaurant gift certificates that will provide an opportunity for the receiver to comfortably venture into the vast unknown of local and global cuisine.

Group Celebrations

It’s generally customary to bring a gift of sorts to a gathering or to a house warming party. Of course one must correlate the type of gift given to the type of relationship one shares with the host, the type of gathering, and the level of formality or non-formality.

Let us consider an adult holiday party, hosted at one of your best friend’s or closest work relationships home. Atmosphere includes cocktail attire, the warm glow of incandescent light, classic jazz, hors d’oeurves, and a choice of swank alcoholic beverages.  Customary host gift choices run the gambit of a floral bouquet, boutique holiday chocolates or finger foods, a nice bottle or liquor, or a simply a lovely personalized holiday tree ornament or a tasteful seasonal décor piece.

When celebrating in groups, a classy gift basket consisting of 1888 Dirty Martini Mix (hand pressed Spanish olive juice), your favorite locally distilled vodka or gin, and an array of stuffed gourmet olives, is a clever, sophisticated, and memorable gift which is sure to be an instant hit - This smooth, comforting, refined libation is guaranteed to become a holiday tradition!

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Creative Solutions

Gift giving can creatively facilitate a need or resolve a problem. Don’t get me wrong, practicality is admirable and your tangible gift of a flashlight, vehicle safety kit, or a laundry hamper will likely come in handy or fill a need. Ousting the “need based” gift giving approach should not be completely shunned because it has a place in the giving realm but an addendum can easily be added to the original approach for added gift giving possibilities. But since this article is all about revamping routines and breathing fresh air into our standard, run-of-the mill approach to seasonal gift giving, let’s explore the following:

While brain storming for creative solutions, the idea of securing a community garden plot cam to mind because not only will it provide an interesting twist to giving but it is simply useful. We can all benefit from consuming organic produce but purchasing and acquiring such fruit and vegetables can be tougher to procure in larger metropolitan areas in which property is at a premium and the overall cost of living is inflated. Renting a seasonal plot at the local community garden for your friend or family member is a nifty idea. This practical gift is fun because it allows for the best of both worlds, which are, fresh produce and the additional physical and mental benefits which come from tending one’s very own food source. Fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbs are a dream come – In addition one can engage in bartering with one’s surplus harvest by exchanging procure with other gardeners or can donate extra produce to your favorite community charity.

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Cultural Attache

Ethnic festivals, art or historic exhibits, and authentic cultural experiences can be an amazing way to broaden ones horizon and/or to take a closer look at and learn more about ones the city, town, or the early settlers of one’s region. Exploring or taking an in-depth look at ones immediate surroundings or neighboring region can both surprise and enchant ones reality. Gift giving can provide opportunities for learning as well as for expanding one’s ability and sensitivity to the “exotic other.” Through the process of exploring ones immediate exterior a clearer understanding of oneself as an integral part of this process we call life comes into focus.

Becoming familiar with one’s cultural and environmental resources aids in bridging the gap between bystander and community and thus simultaneously creates a sense of stability, coziness, and predictability. Important cultural heritage sites, local museums, protected parks and significant architectural structures can simply become benign fixtures within our world if they are not explored and utilized.

Creating a gift or tour package of local historic sites, statues, parks, and protected resources is an amazing way to both share and encourage examination of one’s immediate home town, heritage, local history, or geographical region. This gift allows for reflecting, reconnecting, and discovering ones world by means of an alternate approach, perspective, and by perpetuating exploration. One can also up the cultural attaché gift ante by including a sketch pad and pencils and/or camera for recording ones experience!

Strathmore Series 400 Sketch Pads 9 in. x 12 in. - pad of 100
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Trips down memory lane can often be both light-hearted and playful or can potentially evoke unpleasant memories and discomfort! The main objective in the “nostalgia” gift giving theme is to take an enjoyable trip down memory lane by drawing upon our 5 senses: touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing. Working to create an experience which embodies nostalgia, by all standards can be one of the most special and thoughtful things your receiver and give. Careful contemplation and preparation is necessary in order to pull it off without a hitch.

Another reason to give a nostalgic gift is to celebrate a period of someone’s life therefore combining several sense experiences and affiliated locations can elicit the strongest and most poignant reaction – And thus a connections to one’s most joyful or tranquil moments in life. Choosing snapshots from life can be challenging but happy childhood or youthful moments are often times the easiest to revisit.  Memorable experiences such as going to the local ice cream parlor, ordering a scoop of pistachio in a homemade waffle cone, sitting on a specific bench, after an annual community picnic held at the local town park, might be a contender for a gift giving opportunity. The taste of pistachio can bring back the summer heat, can conjure up feelings of comfort, youthful vitality, optimism, and general hope for the future.

Remembering that “true gift giving” is not centered around or based upon the giver and what they hope to gain. The giver certainly does strongly affect the trajectory of the gift giving process by eliminating possibilities and choosing the ultimate gift scenario but living vicariously through your choice of gift should be avoided. Keeping the giver in mind along the path of creating a memorable gift which ultimately reflects your concern, appreciation, and overall affection for the receiver is the decisive priority.

All gifts associated with one of the 5 topics, should include a thoughtful letter or card explaining why you chose the gift you did and that you above all you want them to be happy, healthy, and free! Including several well considered and selfless sentences (In your own handwriting – Not typed), paired with your creative and interesting gift can launch the entire experience into the stratosphere!!