Oh, infatuation..
December 25, 2007 11:06 AM   Subscribe

What sweet, silly gift can I give to a sweet, silly boy? This question isn’t as cliché as one might think.

I am losing time and sanity trying to come up with a gift for a unique situation. I know it would mean more if I came up with the perfect idea but I think my brain died.

Several days ago while at work, a guy presented me with the gift of a hollowed out coconut full of red skittles. Although seemingly crazy, it was actually very sweet. I was in fact, floored. The back story to such a gift is as follows: one day I was joking around with a co-worker and posed the question, “If you could only pick five people from work to be stranded on a deserted island with, who would you choose?” After she selected her top five people, I listed mine, which included the aforementioned boy. I designated my people with “duties” like fire starting or fishing and hunting (mine personally was arts and craft). The boy’s duty was coconut picking, as he is incredibly tall. I informed him of my little list and we had a laugh about it. A few days later, he offered me some skittles but I jokingly informed him I only eat the red ones, as I am kind of an elitist.

Thus was the birth of his handmade present. He prefaced the gift with the explanation that firstly, he had not realized how hard coconuts were and secondly, he had not realized how few red skittles were in a bag. He asked me on a date and we’ve been in contact via phone since (he’s out of state currently).

Everything is going swimmingly except for the whole return present for him. I thought about making a mixed CD or tape but my friend informed me that 1992 called and wanted the mix back. I was thinking about a snow globe with a tropical island and coconut tree inside but my searching was met with failure (I don’t want a specific island’s name printed on it). We had talked about our wanderlust and love of randomly and spontaneously road tripping for days. We also talked about our desire to play “Survivor” out in the woods for a month or so. I thought those two things could possibly be expanded on (some type of equipment.. a compass?), but I am really clueless. I’d prefer if it was homemade but despite my assigned island duty, I am far from crafty. I want it to be silly, sweet, fairly inexpensive (10-20 dollars), and related to above inside joke.

The only other thing that I was thinking about is an excerpt I read him about using birds in our bodies as an excuse for anything terrible or good that we did (“I’m sorry I missed your mouth, the sparrows were beating their wings behind my teeth… I’m sorry I never loved you enough. There’s this sweet hysterical raven in my heart.”). He’s going through a rough patch (friend’s death) and has been very candid about certain difficult situations that he has endured over the past few months. I was thinking of maybe getting him a wooden bird or something.

Like previously stated, I am completely clueless and fairly awkward about coming up with gift ideas. Any and all suggestions are completely welcome. Thanks!

(Also, if you are the boy and read this question, I am terribly sorry that I am not only soliciting the help of others but that I am revealing your absolutely amazing gesture to me. I mean this with the best of intentions.)
posted by fiasco to Human Relations (44 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Has he given you any hints about foods/candies/treats/etc. that he loves? Since his gift was a consumable, it would be cool to respond in kind. Any idea what he loves to eat? Perhaps such a treat, combined with wooden bird/island relic/etc. Also, sounds like it could also tie in to the fact that he is so tall.
posted by jbickers at 11:18 AM on December 25, 2007

Response by poster: I know he is fond of pomegranates as he offered me one a week or so ago..
posted by fiasco at 11:22 AM on December 25, 2007

I don't think 1992 will call if you give him a mix CD. Especially if it's full of well-chosen songs...

How about songs about birds and desert islands and red Skittles and tall boys? (I smell an AskMe question...)
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:29 AM on December 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

(Maybe not tallboys... but you know...)
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:30 AM on December 25, 2007

A half coconut shell filled with Skittles with all the red ones removed. And a bottle of Pom.

On the bird front, search for "Breezy Singer" toy birds. They're robotic and very cool and fairly subtle. The company or distribution seems a little janky right now, but I bought one a couple years ago for someone to great effect.
posted by rhizome at 11:31 AM on December 25, 2007 [2 favorites]

Hmmm.... all I've got is "heart of palm."
posted by salvia at 11:34 AM on December 25, 2007

How about one of those coconut candles? It's about 3" high, and it's the base of a coconut, complete with husk, filled with coconut scented wax. They're about $10 I think.

Or a book about surviving on a desert island? Swiss family Robinson DVD? A piece of art of a bird being held by a woman (think Etsy)? A bag of bird food?
posted by Solomon at 11:43 AM on December 25, 2007

Oh wow, that guy is totally into you! :D
Bury a treasure chest somewhere near your workplace and give him a home-made treasure map put in it some pomengranate juice and a bottle of rum and have some cocktails.
posted by Iteki at 11:51 AM on December 25, 2007 [7 favorites]

You need to look at this.
posted by YamwotIam at 12:00 PM on December 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

If your responsibility on the island is Arts 'n' Crafts, how about a homemade diorama of the aforementioned island, with a little you and a little him on it? And throw in the mix CD - cool music is a nice gift and a fun way to share bits of you.
posted by itstheclamsname at 12:01 PM on December 25, 2007

I thought about making a mixed CD or tape but my friend informed me that 1992 called and wanted the mix back.

For the record, my very awesome friend gave me a mix CD (and a bought CD) for Christmas this year. So, I think it's a great gift idea.
posted by mpls2 at 12:07 PM on December 25, 2007

Best answer: Send him on a scavenger hunt.

Have a mysterious stranger (or someone you both know wearing a big scarf or chicken suit or something) deliver a note to him to let him know about the hunt and give it an end date of one week. Write little entries for him each day leading him to clues. For instance, clue one can lead him to a place where you've hidden a compass ring, entry two can use the ring to lead him to another spot where you've hid a postcard with an island image and the next clue written on the back, which lead him to a half-shell coconut with further instructions, etc. Make the clues a bit challenging but nothing too difficult. (Stuff like anagrams and mirror writing is fun.) Have the last clue for the last day lead him to the place where you are. Hand him something like this figure to talk the other sparrows out of bothering him.

I hope as long as you are together you never stop doing things like this for each other.
posted by melissa may at 12:13 PM on December 25, 2007 [2 favorites]

Oh, he's good! Bravo. I've achieved that level once or twice, but it's so hard to maintain. And when I did, I was not kidding. It looks like you get it but if not, there's some serious intent behind that.

A half coconut shell filled with Skittles with all the red ones removed.

Very good, but only if you're equally serious about this guy and ready to say so out loud. Hell, in some cultures you do something like that and you'd be married.

I agree you have to maintain the island theme and you have to make something - especially since your job was arts and crafts. Island diorama? Driftwood plank base, some sand glued down, palm tree with a bird in it - just as a starting stake in the ground? You can personalize the idea in significant ways we couldn't tell you from outside. I think that way you'd walk a line between parts you bought from one of those craft stores with the doll parts and the beads and still giving him something you made yourself. That way you don't have to worry about carving the whole thing out of Sculpey or something if you're not really crafty. It would look pretty good while still being very personal.

Or, on preview, you could just read itstheclamsname's post... D'oh. Good luck though. Sounds like you've definitely got him on the line.
posted by Naberius at 12:24 PM on December 25, 2007

Get him an orienteering compass and craft a topographical map of the neighborhood with a goal. Making the map would take about as long as sorting hundreds of Skittles, I bet. At the end of the map, he would find a pretty package containing a pomegranate with a tiny bird inside.

And then please kiss him until his eyes fall out. He sounds wonderful.
posted by lauranesson at 12:37 PM on December 25, 2007 [3 favorites]

Along the lines of a diorama, make him a shadow box / collage. Joseph Cornell is your goto guy for inspiration here, and he did a lot of them with tropical birds like parrots, so you can get the island thing in through something similar like that.
posted by extrabox at 12:43 PM on December 25, 2007

How about an island diarama in a hollowed out pomegomerante? Be sure to have a bird in there somewhere...
posted by zia at 12:43 PM on December 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

I lack gift ideas in general right now, but if you do decide to go with the "mixed tape" idea...


That might be a way to avoid time travel to 1992. It looks like a tape, but actually is a USB thumb drive that holds a hour of music. :o)

Or maybe you could get him the hasbro furreal friends talking parrot for his time on the island (along with other "island" paraphenalia, perhaps from Oriental Trading).

Incidentally, he sounds INCREDIBLY sweet... I hope everything works out awesome for you guys.

P.S. If you wanted to keep with the island theme but still wanted to do the mixed tape thing, you could make an "island music" CD. :o)
posted by Mookbear at 12:51 PM on December 25, 2007

Tickets on a ferry to a nearby island? Don't know where you are, but here in SF I'd take him to Angel Island, for example.

Cargo vest with matches, compass, Skittles, love hearts, book of poetry... condoms...
posted by rdc at 1:04 PM on December 25, 2007

Make or buy a coconut cream pie? Or other coconut goodie?
posted by Robert Angelo at 1:21 PM on December 25, 2007

Ooh, the coconut cream pie idea is good symbolism: I take what you give me and make it sweeter.
posted by salvia at 1:31 PM on December 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

What about making him a snow globe? Like this. It could be a message in a bottle kind of thing, to go along with your island theme.
posted by slowfasthazel at 1:32 PM on December 25, 2007

I say make him some coconut maccaroons with a red skittle on top of each one. You could package them up real nice and then get him one of the "How to survive anything" books that was mentioned upthread. That way you are carrying on the 'theme', doing something that takes some effort to show that you care but it's not too much at this point in the game. What a cute way to start off a relationship and if you get married... you HAVE to serve coconut cake!! Best of luck!!
posted by pearlybob at 1:46 PM on December 25, 2007

Best answer: This guy wants only three things: your sincere appreciation, your time, and your attention. (maybe hot island monkey love too)
*Anything* else is just window dressing. So stop worrying that you'll blow it - just tell him he blew you away.
posted by mikewas at 2:07 PM on December 25, 2007 [2 favorites]

P.S. If you wanted to keep with the island theme but still wanted to do the mixed tape thing, you could make an "island music" CD.

Even if you don't do the mix CD, download the delightful song "On a Coconut Island" (lyrics) and play it when you give him the gift. The Louis Armstrong version is fabulous, and I believe you can download the track (or listen to a sample) here.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:44 PM on December 25, 2007

you need to do it all: the mix cd, the coconut macaroons, the survival vest, etc ... box it all up, and call it a survival kit. throw in some other stuff--bottle openers, a remote control for a tv, maybe some car keys, and (down at the bottom) a gift card for dinner at a nice resturant. call it a dessert island survival kit. make sure everything has a purpose: the remote? to change the weather. gloves? in case you get too hot to touch. the mix cd? it's supposed to be a prerecorded distress message. bonus if you could fit the cd in a bottle, ie message in a bottle style.
posted by lester at 3:05 PM on December 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

Love this idea:

I say make him some coconut maccaroons with a red skittle on top of each one. You could package them up real nice and then get him one of the "How to survive anything" books that was mentioned upthread. That way you are carrying on the 'theme', doing something that takes some effort to show that you care but it's not too much at this point in the game. What a cute way to start off a relationship and if you get married... you HAVE to serve coconut cake!! Best of luck!!
posted by pearlybob at 1:46 PM on December 25 [+] [!]

posted by KAS at 3:13 PM on December 25, 2007

Aw! Isn't that such a nice feeling? If you do make a mix, be sure to put They Might Be Giants' "Birdhouse in Your Soul" on it.
posted by MsMolly at 3:14 PM on December 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

How about a message in a bottle?

Get an interesting bottle--preferably with a cork seal--and a scoop of sand from a nearby beach or playground. If you really want to get craftsy, you can etch the glass yourself with this stuff and a stencil (available at many craft stores, and much easier than you think). Write a message or poem or love letter on a slip of paper, roll it up, stick it in the bottle, seal it, and leave it somewhere for him to find it accidentally. It's on-theme, romantic, and inexpensive, and he'll love it.

(The Mr. and I actually used this idea for our save-the-date mailings. We're island lovers too! I think every guest kept it as a keepsake.)
posted by nadise at 3:23 PM on December 25, 2007

I've made elaborate treasure hunts before--once for a co-worker I'd never even spoken to (a friend of a friend). I would slip him a note that would lead him to the cut-out silhouette of a chicken on top of the break room coke machine, which contained a riddle pointing him to a cootie catcher taped beneath the paper towel dispenser in a bathroom, which led to a scytale cipher and also a small dowel (pencil) for deciphering, which led eventually to a little book I'd made. Substitute book for note, or coconut cream pie, or tripline attached to a bucket of monkeys which fall on his head.
posted by soviet sleepover at 5:26 PM on December 25, 2007

Best answer: marry him!

i'm only half-kidding. he sounds wonderful. i wouldn't stress too much about reciprocating exactly...nobody's keeping score. unless it was specifically a holiday gift, i wouldn't even stress about reciprocating right away.

what about a bird wearing a lei, or a dashboard hula girl?
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:36 PM on December 25, 2007

If you do make a mix, be sure to put They Might Be Giants' "Birdhouse in Your Soul" on it.

+1. Actually, this makes coming up with a mix even easier, as long as you plan on listening to it together, because if you put it first, you'll already be making out by the time track two comes on, so the rest of the songs won't even matter that much.

Alternately, you could make him a zine/storybook thing with the story of your desertion on an island in it. Glue in bits of construction paper and feathers and whatnot.
posted by silby at 5:58 PM on December 25, 2007

Before we were married, my husband gave me a gift of a book. The book was an old anatomy textbook. Inside the book, starting on the chapter detailing the biological intricacies of the heart, he had carved out a small square hiding place and hidden an unusual 1940s Mexican silver ring.

I think you could develop this idea as your method of gift delivery...I remember being pretty delighted by it.
posted by pluckysparrow at 7:46 PM on December 25, 2007 [3 favorites]

Seconding MsMolly and silby, about "Birdhouse in Your Soul." This was the first song at my husband's and my wedding; it is our song.

If you are indeed making a mix tape, another good song might be "Desert Island" by the Magnetic Fields.
posted by beandip at 8:39 PM on December 25, 2007

Best answer: My two cents, as a wacky crazy sweet guy:

#1: he's set the bar of what he's capable of doing to amuse you and show he's interested in you, but that doesn't mean he demands, expects or even wants you to respond in kind. If he's anything like me (and certainly we're both tall as well) he might just hope you're the kind of person who likes the kind of person he is, and that you'll appreciate his effort.

In short, don't feel like you have to match his type of effort, although certainly it's appropriate to match his level of effort if you feel that way about him.

#2: if he's truly inventive and quirky, he's possibly (again, assuming he's like me) the kind of person who enjoys something cute and clever and unexpected, but then moves on. You have to be careful that you acknowledge his effort as awesome because of what it revealed about him, not because it involved coconuts.

In short, don't turn him off by playing the joke out after it's gotten stale. He's interested in you, not in having his own cleverness turn into a lead weight around his neck.

I think if I were in your position (which I am not, but it sure sounds like a nice position to be in!) I would latch onto the idea that "We had talked about our wanderlust and love of randomly and spontaneously road tripping for days." Plan to roadtrip for a weekend; make sure he doesn't have important plans or responsibilities that weekend, then have a car ready to go when you knock off work. Let him know you've got an itinerary planned out, drive him home and make him pack a list of very specific items (bizarre ones; be sure to include flip-flops and any other random shit he might have, and if he doesn't have some of the items, pick a random one to be "MANDATORY" and take him to go get it. Tell him you won't say where you're going until you get to the first destination on your itinerary.

Then, when you're settled in the car and are about twenty minutes out of the city, tell him it's time, and hand him your itinerary. It should be handwritten on a napkin, and should have exactly two things written on it: "On our way" (with a time of TBD) and "Back home" (with a time of TBD) -- and then start figuring out where the hell you're going to spend the next couple of days.

It'll show that you trust him, show that you can be spontaneous (in a clever and endearing way) and by the end of it you'll either be tight or you'll have called the trip off early because you couldn't even figure out where to go first. Either way, you win.
posted by davejay at 10:07 PM on December 25, 2007 [6 favorites]

Best answer: What davejay said.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 7:10 AM on December 26, 2007

Best answer: I agree with davejay. Drop the coconuts. He took a joke of yours that you had shared with him and came up with something amazingly neat for you. To match this, you need to take something that's specific to him and return the favour. A road trip sounds neat (especially planned that way) but maybe a little intense this early in the game. (And a mix tape? Yeah, mix tapes are pretty close to being on the level of a gift card these days, only cheaper.) I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's the thought that counts, but specifically the time you spend thinking about him, as opposed to time spent thinking about a gift.

(Or as a last ditch effort, if you know he likes his pomegranates shelled [as opposed to just bitting into the rind, as I hear some people do], you can do a really good job of pulling the seeds out of a pomegranate for him, discarding the mushy brown ones, rinsing off the extra white bits, and so on--this is a non trivial effort, on the order of sorting out the red skittles until you have a large quantity. I suppose you could then serve them in a coconut.)
posted by anaelith at 7:18 AM on December 26, 2007

if you sort a pomegranate, do it in a bowl of water. the white stuff floats and the seeds sink.

lovely story! i hope we hear more.
posted by olya at 10:44 AM on December 26, 2007

Best answer: Thirding davejay. Do something entirely different. If you go with a road adventure, you might pick a fun structure, like "First we have to drive until we see a word that starts with A. Then go east to find a plant that starts with B. Etc etc." Or more complicated than that. That way you don't actually have to plan anything, and you get to make the adventure together. Wait until you have more inside jokes before making an awesome present.
posted by unknowncommand at 12:20 PM on December 26, 2007

Best answer: #4 for davejay.

Don't feel pressured to sit and think and come up with something even more fabulous than what he already came up with... just let him know that you want to spend time with him, you're interested in him. (He's obviously interested in you.) Planning a roadtrip is a great idea.
posted by eleyna at 1:37 PM on December 26, 2007

Best answer: #5 for Davejay, forget the Coconuts and do the road trip. Although I'd say have at least one silly suggestion in mind (if you live in the south east, suggest a trip to South of the Border for example)
posted by ZackTM at 2:10 PM on December 26, 2007

Best answer: What a wonderful thing you two have going on.

There is no reason to match or exceed his spot on gift. You don't want to get into a cycle of "one-upmanship" gift giving.

Any of the ideas you had would be great. Your letting him know how touched you were my his gift might be the best gift of all.
posted by moonlily at 10:45 PM on December 26, 2007

Best answer: Davejay wins the thread.
posted by mikewas at 7:02 PM on December 27, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great feedback. I just wanted to do a quick update to let you know I’ve online ordered this for him (thanks melissa may!). I plan to attach the quote about birds in our bodies to the wooden sparrow and slip it into his coat pocket or mitten at some point.

Furthermore, we are going on a road trip together (thanks davejay and everyone else who agreed with his observations). Since we both have crazy work schedules, I didn’t surprise him. We’re leaving in a week. I’m planning on making him a mix for the road trip, though I don’t think it’ll involve an island theme. We actually never went on a “first date.” We’ve just spent three consecutive days together (thus far). He got off his flight and called me. I told him to come over. We’ve gone to a museum exhibition, grocery shopped, read books, ordered take out, and kissed.. a lot.

As a side story, I’ve officially been demoted from coordinator of arts and crafts to director of sing-alongs. My demotion occurred after a botched attempt at button sewing (I somehow managed to attach my thumb instead of the button).

Once again, thank you for the advice!
posted by fiasco at 2:49 PM on December 28, 2007

This is brilliant! Thank you for the update.

And well done!
posted by lauranesson at 3:08 PM on December 28, 2007

« Older Magic money?   |   Handheld Hell Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.