More Holiday Gift Suggestions: Not “Just a Gift Certificate”

On Monday, we got suggestions for specific art supplies as gifts for artists. Here's the rest of the conversation: And then there is the gift certificate. People tend to scoff at gift certificates, claiming they're impersonal and don't demonstrate how much you care for the recipient. We'd like to debunk that belief, though, especially when it comes to artists who have specific needs. Alice says, "I know most people frown on gift certificates, but I love them (from the right stores of course, not something like Wal-Mart!) because sometimes *I* don't know what I want . . .until I get there! For people like myself who indulge in (too) many creative pursuits, it's nice to be able to pick up a little of this and a little of that." If you want something a little more personal, she adds, "You can't go wrong with a nice sketchbook for a creative person. I use them for everything I do; I even have one I use as a calendar/day planner. A beautiful sketchbook with a gift card from my favorite art supply store tucked inside has always been greatly appreciated gift." I know this is true because even though I don't keep a sketchbook or an art journal, I always have a blank notebook on hand for all the lists and doodles and ideas and jotted-down notes that need to be kept in one place. Doing all this in a nicely-bound book is so much more enjoyable than using a spiral notebook with those sharp wire ends poking out.   If you give a gift certificate, it doesn't have to be tucked in an envelope. Think of ways you can make the presentation special, as Alice suggested: tucking it into a really nice sketchbook, for example. Linda says, "Gift certificates to a local art store--my stepdaughter did this one year. She put it inside one of those empty paint cans everyone was using and tied a nice brush to it. Good stepdaughter! Other than that, magazine subscriptions are nice, or buy a workshop they've been wanting to take." You can combine those two--workshop + gift certificate, at a site like Joggles, where there are dozens of workshops along with gift certificates in various denominations. Barbara, the owner, says, "There are no restrictions for gift certificates, and they’re the perfect way to gift someone with an online class," and she adds, "And the buyer can mix and match to purchase the correct amount for a gift." Because the gift certificates are virtual and aren't mailed, they're perfect for that last-minute gift. Not that any of us would suddenly need a reciprocal gift for someone who gave us one but for whom we hadn't thought to buy anything, of course. But just in case you know someone who's found themselves in that awkward spot. . . .   Whether it's an actual paper gift certificate or just a note you've created to let your recipient know to check their email for a surprise, you can take that piece of paper and have fun with it. Besides tucking it into a sketchbook, think about putting it in the pages of a book about metal-clay jewelry or doll-making or drawing or whatever. Or if this is someone really special and you're also giving them something you've made for them, what about slipping it inside a handmade card or into an envelope attached to the back of a framed collage? Create a doll or sculpture that can hold the certificate, or hide it in the pocket of a garment you've created or altered. Once you get past the idea of not wanting to give "just a gift certificate," you can find all sorts of ways to make it The Perfect Gift, no matter how much or how little you spend or--ahem--how late you've put off shopping.   Go; be merry and bright!   Ricë is the author of Living the Creative LifeCreative Time and Spaceand Destination Creativity. She also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.
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