Help me make my boyfriend's birthday awesome with fiendishly delightful present wrapping and delivery!
July 21, 2009 12:32 AM   Subscribe

It's my boyfriend's birthday soon, and I want to make the present giving AWESOME! Have already purchased presents and booked flights to be with him. Am organising special birthday meals for him, and a couple of activities too, so most of the day is pretty much sorted. But I really really want the present giving/opening experience in particular to be super fun for him. I'm thinking along the lines of a treasure hunt with clues so he has to hunt for the presents... Or wrapping the presents in a giant box and painting it like a cake with sparklers on top! Or multiple layers of wrapping disguising the present...Or, um, something else. But I don't know what exactly. I just want to make it a completely excellent fun surprise for him.

Some background

Him: mid-thirties engineer. Likes:dinosaurs, robots, sci-fi, machines, beer, puzzles, poker.

Me: mid-thirties journalist / photographer. Handy with glue, cutting, drawing, writing, pics, collage and general crafty stuff. But even simple woodwork or electronics would be beyond me.

Equipment available: minimal. Can go to the hardware store, and there's a not-very-good craft store in his town too. I don't have a sewing machine. Everything basic like glue, paint etc is easily available where he lives, but more complicated stuff not so much.

Finances: low. Am broke after present and plane-ticket buying. Could go $20-30AUD extra. Aiming for ingenuity and surprise over extravagance.

Location: Outback Australia. Really.

Timeframe: Nine days til I catch the plane and another eleven days in his town before B-Day. If it's going to be massive in size, must be constructed in 11 days. I won't be bringing a papier-mache fort or birthday banner on my discount flight, for example.

Help me hive!

He is really the best boyfriend in the world and deserves the Best Birthday in the History of the World Ever.
posted by t0astie to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I'm thinking along the lines of a treasure hunt with clues so he has to hunt for the presents.

My wife did this for me a few years ago and I thought it was great. She handed me a post-it note with a poem (clue) written on it and I had to figure out how to find the next one, which led to the next, etc. Some were extremely easy, some took a minute to figure out and she was always ready to give me a hint if I needed one, of course. Mixed in with the post-its I would occasionally find a cheap gift - for example, I had once mentioned I wanted a large glass, because I'm a large guy, so I could get enough water to last me awhile without having to get up constantly during work. She remembered that offhand comment and got me one, and that silly thing meant the world to me. Still does.

Having her go through all that creative effort and seeing her remember/think of a bunch of small things I wanted or needed was amazing. I've had birthdays where I got far more extravagant presents, and I mostly remember those gifts, but this particular birthday was way more memorable and special as an overall experience.
posted by empyrean at 1:44 AM on July 21, 2009

Best answer: Me: mid-thirties journalist / photographer.

Wrap the presents and hide them around the house or outside. Maybe there are other buildings, or convenient trees/rocks/fenceposts.

Take extreme close-up photos of them that make it difficult, but not impossible, to figure out where they are: show just enough of the surroundings to make it guessable, or take a closeup photo of some other "What is this?" object that's next to the hiding place. Be clever with the angles and lighting and cropping and such. Write cryptic clues on the back of the photos if necessary. The hiding places have to be very good so he doesn't stumble onto one accidentally.

Hide one photo under each (different) gift. Put the first (last) one in an envelope with a very boring "Happy Birthday" card, and present that as if it's his only gift.

Sit back and watch the fun.
posted by rokusan at 1:53 AM on July 21, 2009 [3 favorites]

Wrap each clue up like a present, but a successively harder to open present. For example: this past Christmas, my little brother opened a gift card box. He followed the clue to a wrapped present under the kitchen sink. This led him to a cracker box that had been covered completely with tape and then wrapped. This led him to a soda box that had been duct-taped before being wrapped. This led him to a ball of yarn with a clue inside. Etc, etc. We filled each box with something relatively heavy (rocks, marbles, a brick) so each time he thought it was an actual gift. It took him around 45 minutes to finish the hunt. Best of all: all you need to pay for is a roll of wrapping paper (or use butcher paper/wrapping paper/similar)...the rest can be improvised by what you have laying around.

And a completely disgusting idea, just for posterity: When I was in high school, for a friend's birthday, a group of guys pooled together a bunch of money and a gift card to a restaraunt. They put the money in a ziploc bag, then covered it in yarn, then covered the yarn ball in duct tape until it was the size of a softball. They then put it in to a gallon ziploc bag full of maple syrup and put that at the bottom of a huge pickle jar- she had to dig through the pickles, maple syrup, duct tape, etc to get the money.
posted by kro at 2:36 AM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Mrs. Advicepig made a really fun treasure hunt of sorts for me. It started with a mix CD and a note the play track 3. Track 3 was a song that was a clue, like Pump Up the Jam. So first I looked in the jam making supplies, and found nothing, but then found the actual next clue by the bike pump (which notably was inflating a jar of jam!) The next clue told me the next track to play. It eventually led to a fun little surprise, but the finding was just as much fun.
posted by advicepig at 7:02 AM on July 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

Sometimes I like to take the smallest gift I have for someone and wrap it inside a box that's inside another wrapped box, that's inside another... etc... A little like those Russian dolls (or Chinese hat boxes?). It's pretty hilarious, and it makes for a memorable event.
posted by tybeet at 8:20 AM on July 21, 2009

I had this done for me some years back. The hunt would have lots of choices too, including money spent at several possible locations. I was also handed off to a friend for some cool painting (he's an artist). Then dinner and wine. I was so tired and was looking forward to something nice and relaxing. Instead I got a surpise party with all of my friends on top! I had never had one of those and it was nice.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:18 AM on July 21, 2009

We give the nieces and nephews money every year, and try to come up with unique ways of presenting it.

This last Christmas, I embedded 30 dollar coins in peanut brittle and boxed it up. Maybe your gift[s] will survive being immersed in candy?

Years and years ago at some sort of dating event at the U of MN [I suppose it was like a auction-off-the-boys thing], two friends of mine took their dates on a walk across campus to the restaurant they were going to. A couple of us went ahead, hiding little trinkets and gifts at predetermined locations, so that as Tom & Jeff walked along, they would periodically pull something from behind a bush or from inside a phone booth or whatnot. "Hey, what's this? It's a rose!" "Speaking of Charms Blow-Pops, I think there's a case of them....right here!"
posted by chazlarson at 10:23 AM on July 21, 2009

My boyfriend just celebrated his birthday (late 20s). While I didn't do anything overly elaborate, I wrapped his presents in other presents, so as to have less waste and more presents.

Specifically, he is strangely picky about socks - he has this particular type of socks that he LOVES, and we thought they weren't available any more and had looked all over the place for them. One day I found them in a hidden corner of a department store, so I bought lots of them, and I ended up kind of weaving them all together and wrapped up a board game that I'd gotten him. He was highly amused and pleased that I'd found the socks, used them as wrapping, and that there was something more inside them!
posted by just_ducky at 3:12 PM on July 21, 2009

Response by poster: These are all such great suggestions. I think I might use a tiny bit from each one, but mostly pics and songs. Thank-you hive!
posted by t0astie at 7:40 PM on July 21, 2009

Once I came home, walked in the door and immediately thought the dog had made a mess with some string. There was string everywhere, like she'd grabbed the ball in her mouth, and had run around the house with it unravelling - weaving in and out and around and over and under the furniture - and at the end of the entirely unqound ball of string, there was a present. I figured out within the first thirty feet that it had to be the silly husband rather than the silly dog, but it was fun getting there.
posted by peagood at 9:10 AM on July 22, 2009

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