This time of year, extravagant tastes come out in full force. We’re talking gift requests for 75-inch flat-screen TVs, iPhones that are so new they’re not even out yet, and that candy-apple red super sweet Mercedes-AMG GT.
Now, let’s get back to reality.
There are the people we actually spend money on, and the ones who get candy canes.
But there’s also that muddy middle – your daughter’s piano teacher, your best friend’s wife, your boss whom you pretend to like. (Luckily, everyone in my newsroom is likable).
Walgreens recently came out with a very official-sounding “State of Small Gifting Report,” which found that less than half of those surveyed give gifts to service workers during the holidays. Even more alarming, teachers are the most often overlooked, while babysitters collect decorative candles.
So, the person who spends all day educating your child for future success is less important than the one who feeds him pizza in front of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” while you’re out shopping for your three cousins.
Gift cards continue to be the most requested gift, according to several surveys. But do you really want your chiropractor to know exactly how much he means to you down to to the dollar?
There’s a better way. And it’s made in Delaware.
We’ve scoured holiday crafts markets, gallery shops and crafting website Etsy to bring you a selection of inexpensive gifts made by your First State neighbors. Some are whimsical; others are essential for good hygiene. All cost under $35.
Coffee table protection for the bibliophile
Do you like dusty books? Do you hate water rings? SherryLynns shop, based in Newark and sold online through artisanal marketplace Etsy, has the solution.
The crafter rescues worn books and repurposes the pages on tumbled stone coasters imported from Turkey. Torn, frayed edges are shabby chic. Pages come with words, pictures or a combination of the two. Choose from a selection of favorites like “Alice in Wonderland,” “Wuthering Heights,” selections from series like “Harry Potter” and “Star Wars,” vintage sheet music and more for $29.99 for a set of four (plus shipping).
You can also request a custom order based on your gift recipient’s favorite book. https://www.etsy.com/shop/SherryLynns.
Postcards for the font enthusiast
If you haven’t heard of House Industries by now, well, then we question your allegiance to typeface. The Yorklyn design studio’s brand is omnipresent. It’s found in the logal for “Girls” on HBO, the Academy Awards winners’ envelopes, New Yorker magazine headlines and Dunkin’ Donuts cups.
Last year, House opened a retail location next to the post office at 1151 Yorklyn Road (hours vary, call ahead) selling koi fish puzzle blocks, flour sack hand towels, bicycle gear, nativity scenes and hand-painted panels of stark numbers, symbols and soothing repetitive patterns.
All those numbers can really add up at the register. Luckily, there’s a set of 100 postcards of House’s iconic letters and patterns available for $20 at the store or online at www.houseind.com/. For more information, call (302) 234-2356.
Animal-print art for the cat lady
You don’t need to cede your home to a dozen cats to appreciate Nicole Logan’s vivid animal designs. Logan, of Bellefonte, sells originals and prints under the Nicole Kristiana brand on Etsy, on her website www.nicolekristianastudio.com, and at Bellefonte Arts, 803 Brandywine Blvd., in Bellefonte.
Matted 8 1/2 inch-by-11 inch prints are $20 to $25. Eleven inch -by-14 inch matted prints are $30 to $32. Logan’s intricate patterns are enlivened by ordinary and odd animals, including Delaware’s own blue hens, seagulls, koala bears, dragonflies and sea urchins.
She’ll also paint one of her friends hanging from or buzzing around initials to honor that special someone.
Happy soap for the grunge rocker
Sunbasil Garden’s mantra is: “Life’s too messy not to use happy soaps.”
The Odessa-based Etsy shop offers vegan soap that smells like bacon or a non-alcoholic sparkling lime mojito. There are soaps shaped like mini action figures, dentures, zombie brains, deviled eggs, French macarons and Hello Kitty, along with various scrubs and body butters.
Individual soaps cost $3 to $8, plus shipping. www.etsy.com/shop/SunbasilgardenSoap.
Hooligans, toreadors for the closeted dancer
“Experience” gifts offer lasting memories. First State Ballet Theatre offers a twin bill in February of “The Young Lady and the Hooligan” and “Carmen.” The first selection, a Russian ballet, follows a violent thug who falls in love with a schoolmistress. No surprise that it doesn’t end well.
The second, with music from the opera by George Bizet, involves a love triangle among a free-spirited gypsy, an army officer and a celebrated bullfighter. One show only on Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Baby Grand Theater, 818 N. Market St. in Wilmington.
Buy one ticket, get two ballets for $35. www.firststateballet.com/ or 1-800-37-GRAND.
Contact Margie Fishman at 302-324-2882, on Twitter @MargieTrende or firstname.lastname@example.org.