Flowers and chocolates send the wrong impression -- what are some cool thank you / thinking of you / humorous friend gifts?
August 15, 2010 5:40 PM   Subscribe

What are some quirky, interesting, funny or sweet gifts to give people thanking them for being awesome?

I'm looking for some ideas for interesting gifts to thank people for help, tell them I'm thinking of them or just to brighten people's days.

I'm trying to express myself and be more appreciative, friendly and thankful to those around me who support and help me succeed. Along with verbal and written acknowledgements, I'm looking for other opportunities for people who've gone above and beyond to help me out. I've started baking cookies and brownies for folks, but don't them to think I'm just trying to fatten them up, so I'm looking for other ideas.

Ideally, inexpensive is better than expensive -- I'm not trying to really impress people by throwing around lots of money or make them think they have to write me a thank you note for the thank you gift, just give them a laugh or show them I appreciate them.

I love the unique stuff offered by Think Geek:

Stuff like that, and/or stuff like that for non-geeks would be awesome. Some of the cards form SomeEcards are awesome, but some are really not appropriate for the professional environment.

Any suggestions, ideas or thoughts?

Thanks for your help!
posted by jkl345 to Shopping (14 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I really believe the only gift really worth giving is the one specifically selected for the individual recipient. Why don't you tell us a little about the folks around you? Or at least tell us how they have supported you, or what types of people we're dealing with, so we might have some more guidance?
posted by thejoshu at 5:49 PM on August 15, 2010

Usable items come to mind--things like mugs, thermoses, small kitchen implements, etc. Sure to be appreciated and relatively cheap. On a less-fatty baking tip, you can bake no-knead bread with about five minutes' worth of effort and produce beautiful, tasty round loaves that will make people freak out. Small containers of high-quality loose teas are also great, and the type of thing that many people don't buy for themselves.
posted by tetralix at 5:54 PM on August 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Letters, cards, notes, postcards! Support the postal service. Everyone loves hard-copy mail.

Taking time (to write, bake, or just listen) is one of the best gifts in the world!
posted by maya at 6:05 PM on August 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Draw a little picture or doodle to go along with your text; something related to the thank-you note. This makes it funner and more personal.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:13 PM on August 15, 2010

Buying people things that are too expensive sometimes makes them feel uncomfortable, like they are now locked in a cycle of reciprocating. I'd focus on giving them things that don't have a hard monetary value - that's why brownies and such are great. If you are a cooker, you could try making healthier treats like pickles or jams, or even just a fresh fruit/vegetable/cheese plate. You could also invite them (or a group of wonderful people!) for a dinner party. If you have a garden, you could give them a pot of living herbs, or a potted flower. Also, it's great to personalize - if you know they like small pieces of jewelry you see at the market, or that they like fresh pens but never buy them for themselves, little things like that.
posted by fermezporte at 6:30 PM on August 15, 2010

Recipe in a jar? granola, soup, etc. don't have to be too desserty. Handmade (or artisan) soap or hand lotion? Artisan chocolate always seems to rock.
posted by kch at 6:44 PM on August 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Fresh cut flowers, seasonal fresh herbs or seedlings if they have a place to plant, seed packets (which are also easy to put in the mail, and since I believe that mail that isn't bills is awesome, that's a two-fer, imo.)
Etsy is a goldmine for themed items for specific people. Say you have someone who likes a certain thing - keyword search and there you go. Awesome, and supporting a small craftsman.
Small scented candles, if people like scents. I've found you can get them in three packs a lot of places like Target, then just divide them up among people.
Also, Target OneSpot has seasonal things. I've found you can put together a silly themed gift bag for about $5 for most seasons (bbq, St. Patrick's, spring plantings, Easter, monkeys, have been recent themes).
Most grocery stores have relatively inexpensive pet toys. A lot of my friends love it if you throw in a catnip mouse or a squeaky ball for their pet when you give them a gift as well.
$5 gift cards mailed anonymously are great to get in the mail.
For ladies, silly throwback cosmetics can be fun. You can get a ton of flavored lip gloss and then also divide those up too. Also, check sample sizes at stores like Sephora or Bath & Body Works. You can put together a cute little bath product basket for a few bucks that way too.
Buy a box of postcards and stamps and mail them all in one day.
posted by librarianamy at 6:47 PM on August 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Lots of great homemade gift ideas here!

Here are my favorite stores for fun stocking stuffer-ish/token-of-appreciation items (in addition to ThinkGeek) -- in case you don't want to DIY:

Shana Logic

Uncommon Goods
Archie McPhee
Perpetual Kid
Container Store (esp during holiday season)
The Spoon Sisters
Charles & Marie
posted by hansbrough at 7:14 PM on August 15, 2010 [8 favorites]

I also second office supply stores (fresh pens, etc.), Target, and also smaller hardware stores (along the lines of Ace rather than Home Depot) for fun small gifts.
posted by hansbrough at 7:15 PM on August 15, 2010

I ordered a bunch of these Giant Microbes and gave them out as presents. They were a big hit.
posted by DaddyNewt at 10:13 PM on August 15, 2010

If you paint at all, buy a book that they'll like, put some gesso on it (I'm partial to black, but whatever) and then paint the book. I've done that a number of times and people LOVE them. I think of the person as I'm painting the book, and then tell them about that, that this book is painted for them, period. Obviously this won't work if you don't paint and/or they don't like books and/or you don't know what books they'd want. But it's something that I do, works well, it's fun
posted by dancestoblue at 11:50 PM on August 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

i love giving/getting anything that's crafty and handmade like:
make magnets with flat marbles & pics of something that they'd like
hot chocolate cones
shrinky dinks
for my birthday, a friend once gave me a piece of 'art'. the 'frame' was a cd clear cover and inside it were things that pertained to me/my life. i took it to every apt that i moved to.
posted by UltraD at 7:23 AM on August 16, 2010

If you enjoy making food items, but want to avoid the fat, you can't go wrong with homemade salsa.

I've also had success with homemade soaps, sugar scrubs and bath bombs. One time I went to a store that had vintage sodas and got a whole bunch to bring into the office and that was a hit. Yo-yos and Sliinkies are quite popular. If you sew, homemade tote bags are always useful and you could fill them with tasty food items or fresh notebooks, journals and pens. You might even delight someone with a coloring book and a brand new box of crayons. If you focus on the simple pleasures of life, you will usually make someone smile.
posted by bristolcat at 7:52 AM on August 16, 2010

Magma have some cool, low-cost quirky goods. Even better if you're near one of their stores.
posted by mippy at 8:42 AM on August 16, 2010

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