UncommonGoods.Com – an unusual gift givers delight!

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My favourite item on the site so far – this set of four Agate Coasters – beautiful!

For those organised people who are already thinking about this year’s Christmas gifts – if you are stuck for ideas or fancy something really different this year then I have got a brilliant website for you!

I start my Christmas shopping really early, not just because I have so many people to buy for, but because I am not one of those people who leaves it until the last minute and then hits the stores with a massive list and basically grabs whatever is left on the shelves! I like to give each present I buy some significant thought to ensure I am buying something the person will love and either use regularly or treasure forever!

As the years go on it is becoming harder and harder to find such unusual gifts for people. Trends change really quickly and as soon as someone has introduces a great idea, it is not long afterwards that the market becomes flooded with copycat ideas and everyone ends up with one of these latest gifts or gadgets under the tree.

This is where Uncommon Goods comes in!

The website is an American website but they make it incredibly easy to shop online from the UK. All prices are quoted in Pounds sterling and all the duties and taxes are calculated at the checkout – so you know exactly how much something is going to cost and aren’t left with any outstanding fees surprises when the item is delivered! Uncommon Goods also keep the international shipping rates as low as possible so you aren’t stung on delivery costs which, on some websites I’ve used, end up costing more than the item itself!

I’ve spent lots of time searching through this brilliant website – there are hundreds and hundreds of amazing gifts to choose from, it was really hard to whittle it down to just a few but here are some of my favourites from the following Uncommon Goods collections:

Perfect Christmas gifts for her

I love this necklace which reads “do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and make a trail” because I first came across this quote on a plaque in Las Vegas at the New York New York hotel in 2009 – I loved it then and I’m so pleased I came across this!

Travel Stub Diary – ideal for storing tickets, maps, postcodes and any other memorabilia you’ve collected from those special places you’ve visited.

I LOVE snow globes – how beautiful is this cherry blossom snow globe?! My sister adores cherry blossom so she might find one of these hiding under the Christmas tree this year!

Bath salts are always a firm favourite – I love these Chakra bath salts in these bright cheerful colours!

How elegant is this wine tasting flight? Ideal for a girls night in to give guests the opportunity to sample different wines!

I’m not normally a fan of mugs but how cute are these little owl mugs?? I hosted a Harry Potter themed party recently – these would have been ideal for it!

Check out this amazing Elwood unicorn mug! There’s also a matching bowl! You can’t go too far wrong with anything unicorn themed as a present at the moment!

This woven wine tote with glasses is a great idea for picnics or even when just sitting in the garden – no more knocked or kicked over wine glasses when they are put safely back in this woven tote!

These cocoa butter truffles bathtub soaks look good enough to eat but you will have to settle with using them in a nice hot bath instead! Ideal for relaxing with during those cold winter months!

I love this set of three loofah scrubbers! The embedded loofah is made of dried gourd which is a natural skin polisher.

Perfect Christmas gifts for him

Check out this whiskey wedge! Simply make the “ice slope” from the mould to keep drinks cold but with minimal dilution.

This bottle loft is brilliant and definitely something hubby will be adding to the Christmas list! It looks really impressive and saves space too!

My father in law loves guitars and has built up quite a collection over the years so these coin guitar picks and guitar themed socks will probably end up in his stocking this Christmas!

Carrying on with the music theme – these two are great for music lovers! Check out the record clock and record bowls! There’s also a matching doormat if you’d prefer…

If you want to avoid having ice in your drinks altogether then these nautical whiskey stones are brilliant! Simply freeze them and add them to your drinks to keep them cool and prevent watered down drinks.

How unusual is this stone drinks dispenser?? I’ve never seen anything like it before! Probably why it appears on the UncommonGoods website though!

If food is more of a perfect gift for the man in your life, how about this brilliant beer jelly? It comes in a set of four preserves which are infused with craft beers!

Or these boozy Jonboy caramels? A set of three in absinthe, whiskey and fleur de sel flavours!

Perfect Christmas gifts for Mum

I was really looking forward to rifling through this section of the website because I love choosing special presents for my Mum!

I really love these birthstone wishing balls – each one comes with 52 slips of paper for you to write down your wishes, memories or accomplishments every week of the year! Coil them up and put them in the tiny hole near the base and they become a permanent part of the display! Stunning!

Continuing with the birthstone theme (this features a lot in my choices I’ve noticed!) is the birthstone jewellery dish – ideal for Mum’s dressing table!

I also love this Nordic tea light trough – really cosy looking and relaxing!

I love this molten sculptural bowl – probably more for myself than for someone else! The base is the root of a gamal tree and it can be used as anything from a vase to an unusual wine decanter. Absolutely beautiful and utterly striking.

I thought these wine cork candles were a brilliant idea! Really effective, they come in a pack of 12 to keep you going for a while.

How unusual is this real sugar maple leaf night light?? It is preserved in 24 karat antique gold so it retains its delicate shape and veins, and is stunning as an ornament in the day and a night light in the evening.

Sorry… birthstone related gifts again! But believe it or not these are SOAPS! Aren’t they great? They are all handmade and look just like gemstones, I would like one of each in my stocking please Santa!

My Mum loves her herb garden, and so these brass herb plant markers are a perfect present for her!

Or how about this slow brew iced tea maker?! A great idea if your Mum enjoys her iced teas whilst working in the garden!

 

If this hasn’t been enough to convince you, UncommonGoods also have a really admirable mission statement, and are working hard to make sustainability a key part of their business. They are constantly working to make UncommonGoods more environmentally friendly and more socially responsible.

Here are just some things UncommonGoods focus on as part of the everyday running of the business:

Handmade, Recycled and Organic Products –

“We’re committed to offering you a creative and exciting merchandise assortment and are working with our suppliers – from artists to small manufacturers – to make their products in a more socially and environmentally responsible manner. Since our founding, we’ve featured products that contain recycled components and have not sold products containing leather, feathers or fur – we’re committed to selling products that do no harm to people or animals.”

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

“We understand that by producing a catalog we use the earth’s resources. We try our best to minimize that impact by shifting more business online, limiting how many catalogs we mail, and printing our catalogs on either recycled paper (virtually all of which is from 30% post-consumer waste) or paper sourced from FSC certified forests (which are harvested in a sustainable manner).”

Better To Give

“Giving back is important to us and we want to share this passion with our customers. That’s why we created the Better to Give Program in 2001, which allows you to select a non-profit organization to receive a $1 donation from us at checkout. UncommonGoods has donated over $1,000,000 since we created this program.” Learn more about this here

B Corporation

“UncommonGoods is proud to be a founding member of B Corporation, an organization created to help customers understand the social and environmental impact of their purchases. The B seal means that a company has met the standards outlined in a comprehensive screening questionnaire, which evaluates a company on issues ranging from providing a living wage, to lessening their impact on the environment, to giving back to the community.”

So as  you can see, they are a wonderful company to purchase from!

Happy shopping – I’m sure you will find some truly amazing gifts for your loved ones from UncommonGoods! I would love to hear from you about your fantastic finds! Don’t forget to sign up to their website – secret sales are available to their email subscribers only!

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Chlo Chlo Chlo! Christmas Eve Boxes – Part One

Christmas is my absolute favourite time of the year! I start planning as early as possible, not just because I enjoy the build-up to Christmas but also because I have so many people to buy for and so much to plan for events throughout December.

I always plan people’s Christmas presents way in advance so it gives me enough time to really think about what people would like. This means they get something they want, need or are interested in, and I don’t end up wasting my money buying presents which will ultimately end up in someones bin, at a car boot sale or on eBay for a fraction of the price that I paid for it.

Another reason I plan so far ahead is because each year for my family, Christmas has a different theme. This theme comes in the form of surprise gifts for the family which they are usually given on Christmas Day before we all sit down together for Christmas dinner. Other themes have stretched across the entire month of December! Previous themes include Silly Slippers, home made Advent Calendars, personalised Snow globes and Christmas jumpers.

As the years have gone by I have found it more and more difficult to choose suitable presents for people. I find it especially difficult to choose presents for couples, like my husbands Mum and Step-dad and his Dad and his Dad’s girlfriend. Throughout the year, if there is anything they fancy, of course they just go off and buy it! This usually leaves little to no choice of things to buy for them when it comes around to Birthday’s and Christmas.

I decided in around September 2016 that 2016’s family Christmas theme was going to be Christmas Eve boxes. A craze which originally started in America and is quickly becoming very popular in the U.K, the idea is that children would be given a personalised Christmas Eve box to open early evening on Christmas Eve. Children’s Christmas Eve boxes contain a few stocking fillers, for example a DVD for the family to watch together before the children go to bed, Christmas pyjamas, popcorn or other treats to eat whilst watching the film, a Christmas story book, games and puzzle books and so on. My first thought was why does this have to be limited to children?? I could put an adult twist on these boxes and almost put together a mini hamper for friends, family and couple’s I was struggling to think of suitable presents for. They would be hampers full of treats, games and stocking fillers for people to enjoy before the big event!

I did a lot of research into the boxes – Pinterest and eBay were my main sources for ideas. I found many on eBay which were already pre-made and would be personalised once they were sent. The prices for the boxes ranged from £30 to around £50 dependant on the design. Although I thought these prices were relatively reasonable considering the amount of work which went into the boxes, the cost was too much for me to pay out before I had even begun to fill them! The other thing was, although I wanted all the boxes to be the same size as they would likely all have similar contents, each recipient was an individual, and I therefore wanted each box to be individual.

The first thing I needed to do was to figure out a rough idea of what was to go in the boxes so I could buy appropriate sized boxes to fit everything in. This blog (Part One of my Christmas Eve box blog) will look at items you can use to fill your boxes, whilst also keeping it within your set budget. Not one of my recipients had exactly the same contents in their boxes, and some boxes were for individuals and some for couples, but contents included the following:

  • Miniature (20cl) bottles of Prosecco. There are many varieties available from a range of supermarkets, I chose the Plaza Centro Prosecco Doc Brut from Tesco which was £2.25 a bottle.
  • Bath bombs. Again, loads of places to get these from, especially if your town is lucky enough to have an annual Christmas market. I got all mine from Lush, prices vary depending on which bath bomb you go for but are around £3.75 to £4.25. I started buying these relatively early (in October) but if you do the same, make sure they are stored in a cool dry place or over time they will absorb moisture and start to dissolve and lose their scent!
  • Pyjamas. Primark is my go-to place for stocking filler pyjamas. I managed to get a couple of lovely themed nightshirts for women for as little as £5 and then flannel or fleeced 2-piece pyjamas for £8-£10. I found the men’s pyjamas more difficult to find as Primark didn’t seem to have a very impressive range this year. I ended up buying the men’s from Asda (a brilliant set of men’s Cookie Monster pyjamas for £14!), Tesco Direct (a lovely set of flannel chequered pyjamas for £10) and eBay (a bit more expensive but a much bigger choice of larger sizes XXL and above). Remember, if you are buying thick or fleecy pyjamas and particularly if you are doing a Christmas Eve box for two or more people and are giving them pyjamas, they will take up the vast majority of box space!
  • Yankee candle. I thought these were a nice idea as you can get so many lovely Christmas scents including Christmas Eve (of course!), Bundle Up, Cosy by the Fire, Candy Cane Lane, Sparkling Snow, Cinnamon Stick, All is Bright…. you get the picture. They bring out new flavours every year too. I bought the small jars for my Christmas Eve boxes but, costing around £7 to £9 each even on eBay, they were one of the most expensive things in the boxes! You may wish to buy the Yankee Candle melts which start at around 99 pence each on eBay. Imagine finally sitting down on Christmas Eve with the kids in bed, everything wrapped and the food all prepared and lighting your Christmas smelling candle in your Christmas pyjamas after having a relaxing bath with an amazing smelling bath bomb! Magical!
  • Slippers. Only a couple of my box recipients had slippers but if you are unsure of buying pyjamas then slippers are a great alternative. Again, Primark have a great selection of slippers and bed socks etc ranging from £2 to £5.
  • Chocolate, sweets and other treats! I used a really wide variety of these depending on what sort of thing people like. Most people had a Terry’s Chocolate orange in their box (my sisters and I always had one in our stocking when we were younger!) and there were a few large Toblerone’s thrown in for good measure (milk, dark and white chocolate versions). Marks and Spencer’s really do have some amazing treats – Prosecco or Buck’s fizz flavoured crisps, ginger and dark chocolate popcorn, cookie dough bites and beautiful boxes of chocolates. Asda and Tesco’s also have some brilliant stocking filler treats for £1 or less, the options really are unlimited! Always, always check the best before label on the food items you are buying – most items should be ok but some may have a short shelf life and expire before Christmas Eve (yes – despite being Christmas themed items! This has happened to me! Annoying!)
  • Book, CD or DVD. Depending on how much you want to spend on someone, you may want to include one of these – Christmas DVD’s such as Elf, Fred Claus and Home Alone which have been out for years can be picked up brand new from places like Amazon for only a couple of pounds. Places like The Works have great book stocking fillers – puzzle books and quizzes, and this year they had brilliant themed baking books called Game of Scones and the Walking Bread for only £5!
  • Silly Christmas hats or head boppers. eBay, Primark, Asda, most Poundshop’s and even Claire’s Accessories have had some great ranges over the years including Elf Ears, Reindeer Antlers, Christmas pudding bobble hats, Turkey hats… the list goes on.
  • Silly Christmas sunglasses. These also appeared a couple of years ago alongside silly Christmas hats and should be available from the same places. So far I’ve come across mistletoe sunglasses, Christmas Tree sunglasses, Reindeer sunglasses and Santa sunglasses which have a hat and beard attached! I’m sure you will find many more with just a quick Google, eBay or Amazon search.

 

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Of course you can add absolutely anything to the boxes that you choose! The list is never ending! A friend of mine makes gingerbread houses with her children every Christmas Eve and said she would make them a Christmas Eve box and start including gingerbread house kits and decorations in them every year.

One piece of advice – start with a list of what you are going to buy and cost it up first! Once you have costed it and you know your budget, do your very best to stick to it! It is so easy to get carried away if you don’t have a list to focus on, and then when you are packing up the boxes nearer Christmas, you realise you have spent £30 on sweets and chocolate per box!

You may end up changing some items on the list or adding a couple more if you find some good deals but bear in mind you will spend around £20+ buying and making your box in the first place, so if you had planned on only spending £30 per box this leaves you with limited funds to fill it! Don’t be disheartened though – in this instance you can still buy ten items from places like Poundland and B&M and still fill the box with some lovely items! Of course in subsequent years you can reuse the box and focus a lot more on the contents rather than worrying about what the box has cost to make!

Happy planning!

Now that you have made a plan on what to fill your box(es) with, find out how to buy, make and decorate your Christmas Eve box in Part Two of this blog!