Saturday, May 30, 2015

I’m grateful to receive any gift and I love giving even more. But what I appreciate more than the generic gifts that can be bought at the mall or some chain store are personalized gifts that show me the person put in some extra thought and made that extra effort. I cherish the gifts that remind me of the unique relationship I have with that person. So before you head out the door for the jewelry, perfume, chocolate or flowers, pause and reflect if perhaps you can give something a bit more personal and unique to that person. 

Here are some things to keep in mind in choosing a gift that will truly be appreciated (then scroll down for images of some of the gifts I've received or given!): 

Of course, even customized gifts can seem generic if you don’t consider the recipient’s interests and personalities. It is important to take the time to think about the person for your gift to be really appreciated. Think about what makes that person unique. What do you like and value most about him or her? What are they passionate about? What do they like to do most often in their spare time? 

Many people appreciate getting gifts that they can actually use rather than something with no purpose that may only clutter up their home. On the other hand, there are also many instances where gifts don’t really need to serve a practical purpose (perhaps it's something to commemorate through a sleek display of their favourite photos).

When I was planning the giveaways for my son’s birthday this year, the supplier I used sent me a photograph of what they typically do. Engraved on the giveaways was: “Thank you for coming to my 7th Birthday” with a cute icon and the name of the birthday boy and the date of his birthday. Instead, I chose sturdy water bottles engraved with each child’s own name and, in keeping with the theme of the party, the boys got ones with a Batman logo and the girls went home with the Wonder Woman version. I still kept a message from the birthday boy but it was on paper tied to the bottle with a ribbon. I wanted the children to have something practical and timeless they may actually use.

For me, the way you present a gift is just as important as the gift itself. I know I’m a lousy gift wrapper – crumpled, wrinkled, ripped…I’m always left covered in balls of tape and torn paper. Fortunately, I’ve discovered there’s a way out of this mess! If you’re getting help with your customized gift – perhaps you’re using an artist, photographer or designer to turn your vision into reality – you can ask that person to take special care in the presentation of the gift. If you’re using a retailer, they’re likely to have a gift wrapping service. But instead of using their store branded wrapping paper, bring your own. The best wrapping paper and gift boxes I have found in town are at Limited Addition – they’re reasonably priced and the staff is always helpful and courteous.

Photo Inspired Gifts
People love photos! Rather than have them sit in an online album or in a generic frame, how about a more creative display?

My brother and his family had a memorable time in Kenya so for my sister-in-law's birthday, an artist drew this African-themed artwork on picture frames. I left one frame blank for the birthday girl to choose her favourite photo. Where to go for customized frames? Mariam Gallery which is connected to Mariam Centre for Arts & Crafts

My parents-in-law went to an artist with our wedding photo as well as photos from the university where my husband and I met. Check out what the artist came up with! I love this because it represents the place that brought Oliver and I together and holds many special memories. Instead of the typical gold or wedding registry gift, which your wedding couple will get plenty of, think of what brought your couple together and tailor your gift around that. Another wedding gift we really appreciate and continues to grace our wall is our wedding invitation framed (see above) from my former piano teacher and dear friend Elaine Brown. It's a creative way to display a wedding invitation instead of having it stored in a dusty box somewhere you don't even remember

Perhaps you have a talent for photography or your gift recipient does? For my father-in-law's birthday, we gave him a framed photo that my husband took of the Blue Lizard of Petra!

A collage is always a popular choice but not all collages are nice. You'll have to spend a lot of time going through photos to pick the best ones and don't just go with any photographer or studio to print your collage. I went to Salam Center Studio to put this one together for my father on the occasion of his 70th birthday. I made sure to see the designed version and give feedback on it before print
You can turn a favourite photograph into a piece of art by simply having it printed on canvas. This photo of Jerash was taken by a local photographer and was a gift to my husband on his birthday a few years ago

So this is not a photograph but it is a creative personalized piece of art! Here, Miya's Handwork worked off my concept of using branches and birds to depict a couple who're Jordanian-Italian with their three children. This photo of the 3D art piece doesn't do it justice as Miya used fabric beads, pearls, buttons, wooden flowers and crochet, which just have to be seen and felt up close! 
Welcome Baby & Make a New Mama (or Baba) Happy!

I wish someone gave me this when I had my children! You end up wanting to save your child's first tooth, first strand of hair and so on but wind up with everything stored in different places and perhaps even in an unsightly container or Ziploc bag! This Baby Memory Box Set (engraved with the baby/babies' name and birth date) from Limited Addition comes with  three boxes of 'firsts' (ID bracelet, first curl, first tooth), My First Shoes, My First Savings, Scrapbook and Photo Box

When I had Shareef, my boss at work was the only one who thought of the mother (not the baby) when she came by to congratulate us! Hind's basket was full of individually wrapped and numbered gifts. Between those extremely difficult days and sleepless nights of breastfeeding around the clock, opening one gift a day was a rare and oh-so-appreciated treat for me! Gifts included all the things a mother could really use, such as a lavender-scented eye pillow, foldable back scratcher and Furry Logic Parenthood, filled with truth-telling adages just for parents, such as "Whoever said 'just say no!' doesn't have kids." Where to go for such a gift basket? Virgin Megastore and Readers Fully Booked

You don't have to wait for the baby to arrive! I hosted a breakfast gathering for three relatives who were all pregnant at the same time. It was a chance for them to exchange pregnancy experiences and for me, and other mothers, to answer their questions about what to expect. In this gift box, I included a copy of Family Flavours magazine, a gift certificate to Birth & Beyond and other trinkets for both mama and baby

Spreading Lasting Birthday Cheer

Adiba Dudin handles Family Flavours' Yummy Fun corner, where she cooks with other children and showcases her kid-friendly recipes. With a passion for baking, I knew Adiba would appreciate this personalized gift voucher for a day with Pastry Chef Norbert Stanni of Grand Hyatt Hotel - he will even come to her home with all the ingredients for a sweet session with her and her friends! 

It was such an honour to see my father featured in Family Flavours for the Father's Day edition so for his birthday, I had his article printed on canvas!

I loved getting this elegant gift basket on my 34th birthday! It included a gift voucher to Solace Skin Care Center and a beautiful selection of home accessories from Jordan River Foundation Showroom. And a handwritten card is essential with any personalized gift!

This customized towel for Omar from his cousins was a big hit! You can order yours from Miya's Handwork  

Give Away a Smile with your Giveaways

These personalized water bottles are great for kid event giveaways. Rather than putting your message on the bottle itself, I recommend attaching your child's note to the water bottle (or whatever giveaway you choose). These are from Balconies (they take orders online or by phone only)

Olia's Honey Gingerbread Shop makes unique art on cookies! I used these as giveaways at a dinner with attached personalized greeting cards that I hole punched and tied around the cookie with white ribbon

Jordan River Wine is always appreciated but you can personalize it with a grape or wine themed note card and cookie or whatever the theme is of your (or your gift recipient's) occasion

Happy Colleague, Happy Workplace
I can appreciate when people's passions are connected to their work. If you know someone who's dedicated to their job and passionate about what they produce, then a personalized gift along the theme of their profession is a thoughtful gesture

I gifted this to Hind-Lara Mango, Publisher & Managing Director of Al Marji' Publications, which produces Family Flavours and Nakahat Ailyieh parenting magazines. It's an iPhone case personalized with the letter "H", magazine covers, logos and photos. To create and purchase your own, visit  


Here's what I did for my brother who works with Mr Chips every day that I thought he should be Mr Chips for a day! All I did was obtain a photo of my brother and a high-resolution image of the Mr Chips bag. Then the National Press put together the final design and printed it on canvas 

Marie-christine Mougin, Advisor to Family Flavours, gave me this thoughtful #1 Editor Trophy gift for my 34th birthday. In it were chocolates with customized wrapping and trinkets to symbolize different aspects of my personality (like the three cultures in my family and my hometown of Zarqa). Want to do something similar? This was from Suzy Q Gifts & Chocolate

Celebrating International Women's Day
Every 8 March I take the opportunity to recognize some of the women in my life as my mentors or colleagues

This year's gift to my mentor whose hard work and perseverance I admire. She deserves to be pampered! 
I love cheese so I appreciated this gift, especially since it's aged artisan cheese and dairy from the freshest local milk in season. If you haven't discovered Mistaka yet, you don't know what you're missing out on!


Reem said...

OMG that's a lot of effort ( allah ya3teky el 3afyee) & super awesome ideas.... i going home to visit my family for a vacation soon this came right on time for me thanx a lot :)

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