Looking for gifts that are flat and thin, useful/consumable, but special
November 4, 2020 2:07 PM   Subscribe

I’m starting to plan my Christmas gifts. We will not be travelling to see family and friends this year, so I’ll be mailing them out. This can get pricy in Canada—paying $20 to mail each package really adds up. I’d like ideas of some smallish, non-fragile, thin flat items that could be easily mailed in a 9”x11” padded envelope. They should be useful or consumable but also special or attractive enough to be a nice gift. Ideas I have so far: Swedish dishcloths and reusable mesh produce bags.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl to Shopping (36 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
I’m having trouble linking from my phone, but the Hope Forever Blossoming Vases I saw in Japan were gorgeous, practical, non-fragile, and folded totally flat. They’re really beautiful in person.
posted by saltypup at 2:18 PM on November 4, 2020 [9 favorites]

a photograph

Cash/gift cards


Donations in the name of recipient
posted by bbqturtle at 2:22 PM on November 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Bars of nice chocolate.
posted by cyclopticgaze at 2:23 PM on November 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

- pretty origami paper with instructions or link to youtube instructions
- small silk scarves
- stickers, kids love them
posted by dum spiro spero at 2:23 PM on November 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

These metal frames that support flower arrangements are a cool concept and both flat and very lightweight.

My mother always swore by these pop-up sponges. The link is to Williams-Sonoma but lots of places carry them.

While on the subject of Williams-Sonoma, though, their pantry towels are truly special and the best kitchen towels I've ever found.
posted by DrGail at 2:26 PM on November 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

You can get metal cards that are the size of credit cards but have useful tools on them.
posted by soelo at 2:27 PM on November 4, 2020 [4 favorites]

Beeswax wraps - cotton fabric saturated with beeswax to use as a reusable replacement for cling film. You can make your own in whatever patterns you like if you want to!
posted by momus_window at 2:37 PM on November 4, 2020 [7 favorites]

I'm not sure if these sleep earbuds are special in the way you mean, but they're pretty great for people who like to fall asleep listening to music or podcasts. (I don't remember how flat the packaging they come in is, though.)
posted by trig at 2:44 PM on November 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Calendars with pretty pictures of the area they're being sent from are a big international gift item in my rather spread out family.
posted by wwax at 2:48 PM on November 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

Fancy sheet masks?
posted by Sparky Buttons at 2:50 PM on November 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

I came as well to say those beeswax wrap thingies for food. The sort of thing that's too hippie/crunchy/non critical particularly when I already have a cupboard full of disposables for me to buy for myself, but a neat gift item.
posted by phunniemee at 2:55 PM on November 4, 2020

handkerchiefs or bandanas can be had in all sorts of patterns. You can even embroider (or tie-dye, or otherwise decorate) white handkerchiefs yourself for an extra special touch.
posted by bilabial at 2:59 PM on November 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

Oh my goodness, these are all wonderful so far! Thank you so much!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:19 PM on November 4, 2020

Hot chocolate sachets, stickers, seed packets, pretty face masks for the pandemic, little notebooks or other stationary (I like Muji's), bookmarks, gift cards, pop up cards (here's a xmas cactus, for example).
posted by pinochiette at 3:28 PM on November 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

If you've got bakers on the gift list, maybe a nice silicone baking mat?
posted by andrewesque at 4:27 PM on November 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

Seeds - either packets or you get paper sheets or ribbons that contain them all spaced out...
posted by Tandem Affinity at 4:32 PM on November 4, 2020

Kikkerland ships to Canada and has a variety of things that might work:
DIY Swiss house clock
Magnifying bookmarks
Multitool pen
Phone wallet
Doorknob pocket
various kits in tins that might work depending on the envelope, etc.

Museum stores, especially design-adjacent ones, often have interesting items, e.g.
DIY push jewelry bowl
3D DIY decorative beetles (check dimensions)
Very many beautiful 3D cards
Yoko Ono pencils
posted by wintersweet at 4:44 PM on November 4, 2020 [6 favorites]

(Also, I know Penzey's does not offer reasonable shipping to Canada, but special spices/cocoa/tea/mixes that come in flattish bags and packets could be another thing to look for.)
posted by wintersweet at 4:47 PM on November 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

Today I want a rice heating pad, so I'll toss in a vote for that. Could be handmade, could be purchased, doesn't need to be filled with rice to send.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 5:04 PM on November 4, 2020

3D metal model kits - they are thin metal sheets with the pieces pre-cut, and you assemble them according to the instructions - fun to do and you have a cool decoration after. lots of options
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:08 PM on November 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

When shipping is a problem, I often shop on Etsy and limit search results to the recipient's geographical area. Then, the Etsy seller can send the item locally.

I'm also fond of ordering flowers or baked goods in the recipient's area.
posted by amtho at 5:11 PM on November 4, 2020 [7 favorites]

Everything from Papercraft World ships flat because it's in kit form. Paper, so semi-consumable?
posted by PaulaSchultz at 5:11 PM on November 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Metafilter's own seanmpuckett has an online store with some nifty plotter prints running a gamut of themes and subjects. I've bought some myself. Obviously, they ship flat.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:31 PM on November 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Sunprint paper could be really fun!

And like stickers, I've gotten mileage out of temporary tattoos.
posted by spelunkingplato at 5:34 PM on November 4, 2020 [5 favorites]

Pictures in frames, especially if the frame is good enough to be the real gift. We also gave my mom one of the electronic picture frame fully stocked with pictures of all the grandkids in the extended family..

Pillow cases or towels with messages or pictures.
posted by SemiSalt at 6:26 PM on November 4, 2020

Lee Valley gift card, with a catalogue. I know they could browse on line but a catalogue is more gifts feeling. Tons of gardening and kitchen stuff, not just woodworking!
posted by antiquated at 6:40 PM on November 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

Spa face mask packets
Felt Trivets
Napkins - fabric or paper cocktail napkins (I always enjoy new sets)
Card size/key size multi-tools
Gloves for special uses like gardening or shopping (yeah, I have those)
Origami paper
Hair ties/scrunchies
Coloring Books
Collapsible laptop stand
Stickers/file folders/organizers
posted by typetive at 7:35 PM on November 4, 2020

A beautiful handkerchief
posted by meemzi at 9:33 PM on November 4, 2020

I've seen Cookina available at Canadian Tire and my aunt & uncle swear by their cooking doodads. They come rolled in a box (I'd unroll and unfold the box to include in the envelope).

They are especially into the reusable BBQ sheet and the BBQ paks.

If you have a grilling enthusiast in your life I'd include a Weber seasonings packet. "Just Add Juice" or the marinade mix packets.

Swiss Chalet chalet sauce would also be a hit with certain people in my life!
posted by nathaole at 9:35 PM on November 4, 2020

Get plain ”swedish washcloths” and print or design your own patterns on them.
posted by J.R. Hartley at 1:33 AM on November 5, 2020

Baggu-- the thin "reusable" ones.
posted by BibiRose at 6:46 AM on November 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

The Salux Japanese Beauty Skin Towel is like a long sheet of bath poof material, long enough to do the old shimmy-shimmy back and forth scrub on your back/backside. Also, if you have Daiso (or want to get them off Etsy), they make these adorable velcro animal stickers that go on the shower wall, and your Beauty Skin Towel sticks to it to hang.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:00 AM on November 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

Paper effects glasses like these are inexpensive, flat, light and fun! Great for holiday light viewing.
posted by rekrap at 2:50 PM on November 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

I know it's not exactly what you asked for, but I thought I'd share a tip:

As a fellow Canadian, I'd also recommend that you consider getting yourself a small business account at Canada Post. It's really quite easy to do, as you can just be an individual that does occasional business on Etsy or similar...

If you send out packages regularly, or a few extra during the holidays; you can definitely save yourself a few bucks. Even better during pandemic times, you can process the parcels online, print your own shipping label, and if the package is small enough -- just drop it in the nearest mailbox, so that you don't even have to be exposed to crowds at the Post Office!!
posted by Jade Dragon at 12:23 PM on November 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

That is a great tip, Jade Dragon—I did not know you could do that.

Thank you so much to all who posted such varied and interesting gift ideas...I (and my giftees, though they don’t know it yet) thank you!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:49 PM on November 12, 2020

So I loved the variety of answers in here and I will consult this list again in the future. However, I marked as "best answer" the ones I actually used this Christmas:

-beeswax wraps (did not know these existed--they are very cool and I discovered they are so light they don't require extra postage when you slip them in with a card) from Nature Bee (a Victoria, BC company)
-pretty tea towels (I ordered mine from Smoking Lily and the Regional Assembly of Text, Victoria/Vancouver companies
-sunprint paper and stickers (from STEM Store of Canada, which has lots of cool STEM toys/experiments for kids)
-I included the aforementioned Swedish dishcloths from Swedethings Canada
-and I knit some ball band dish cloths as well.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:52 PM on December 29, 2020

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