Monday, November 24, 2008

Designer and Handmade Gifts

I know that we are all budgeting in these tough economic times, but I have run across some innovative designs that are reasonably priced for gift-giving, and I want to share those with you!

First, a couple of designs that you can actually make yourself and achieve impressive results (that's the "handmade" part of the title).

Shains accessories come as a kit containing the basic piece and then an icon or elements--letters, etc--that "encourage and empower people to make their own statements and change them whenever they want!" That's right, you can change your Shains accessories to say whatever you want them to say, from, "Thanks for being such a great friend," to "Please stop looking at me, you crazy stalker." Just kidding! A cool gift idea would be to give a girl a Shains bracelet with a positive message on it, like, "You are beautiful, inside and out." Or just give her a kit and she can make her own statement!

The Shains pieces--the original accessory, like a bracelet, cuff, earrings or hair barrettes, as well as the elements or icons that adorn them--are made from recycled materials, so they are also a green-friendly gift to give. The bracelets and cuffs are made of TRE (basically a recycled rubber), while the elements are made of recycled ABS. Even the packaging is made from recycled materials!

Any tween or teen girl on your list will enjoy customizing her own Shains accessories (prices vary, check the Shains website to order). Update: I just checked the website, and they also have pet collars now. Very cool!

Remember when you were a teen yourself (I know, seems like forever, doesn't it?) and you used to make your own mix tapes? Update that idea with the CD Packaging kit. Complete with 25 labels and CD sleeves and matching stickers to decorate your Mix CD, this is a designer gift with a personal touch! Themes include "Vintage Vinyl", "Surf and Turf" and my personal favorite, "Fauna Mendela," pictured. (CD Packaging kits, 15.95 from Chronicle Books).

If you'd rather leave the designing to the professionals, these next two designers' products, in my opinion, are jaw-droppingly gorgeous!

Lazuli jewelry is like nothing I've ever seen, with bright colors and exciting metal choices. Lazuli's Cubist section even includes Signet Rings for the men on your list, in gorgeous colors (Signet Rings, $85).

I'm especially fond of her copper pieces, like the bracelet shown to the right, but the whole site deserves a look. There's a wide variety of designer pieces available for under $50. Enjoy browsing the Lazuli site, you're sure to find something there to please (Lazuli Copper Slit bracelet, $50).

Equally stunning, and yet completely unique, are Kathryn Reichert's jewelry creations. Her "Le Petites Initial Charm Necklaces" are an..ahem...charming addition to any girl's jewelry box. They're understated and elegant, not at all overwhelming, and available for an unbelievable price (Charm Necklaces, 22.00).

Kathryn also has some beautiful posey rings in her Etsy shop, so if you know a girl's ring size (or just want a ring for yourself), take a look at them as well. Inscribed with phrases like, LOVE PASSIONATELY, KNOW THYSELF and CARPE DIEM, or adorned with an inscription of your own, they make a lovely gift (posey rings, 25.00)

Lastly, we move from designer jewelry to designer scent and two new designer perfumes from surprising (to me, at least!) creators: Jessica Simpson and Paris Hilton.

Now, let me say this about Paris Hilton's Fairy Dust offering: I wasn't sure how I would feel about her perfumes, as I have not always been the biggest Paris fan, but I have to see that the Fairy logo is really cute and will definitely appeal to girls. Plus, I love the idea of the Shimmer body lotion being named, "Fairy Dust." It just fits so well. Paris asks with her line, "Do you believe in Fairy Tales?" And doesn't that make you wish you could sprinkle some Fairy Dust on and go flying to Neverland?

Jessica Simpson's offering is simply entitled Fancy, which is also the name of my cat, who usually smells pretty good, but I assure you Jessica Simpson's perfume smells FAR better! ; ) Fancy is a delicate floral scent, and it comes in a visually pleasing, vintage-inspired bottle. The pink color will appeal, I think, most to tween girls, to whom the fragrance is targeted. I also find that Simpson herself is a good role model for girls, as she comes across as both down-to-earth and gorgeous--and how she manages to pull that off, I have no idea!-- while still having real talent as a singer (Fancy and Fairy Dust are both available this holiday season for under $50).

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