Nothing says you put time, thought and effort into a gift like personalization. I don’t mean just pasting Uncle Barry’s name on the coffee mug you bought at Target. I mean creating something unique for that special individual. Before you book a weeklong craft-a-thon at your neighborhood paint your own pottery shop, check out these great ideas for creating a totally custom gift online.
These days it’s easy to get your photos printed on any number of items, from shirts to mugs to jewelry to canvas. Costco, Snapfish and Shutterfly are just a few of the sites that offer a wide array of photo gift products.
If you’re looking to branch out beyond photos, however, Café Press (www.cafepress.com/make/personalized-gifts) maintains one of the most comprehensive collections of single-run, design-your-own products. Choose from an overwhelming list of clothing, drinkware, kitchen items, home and office décor, and accessories – from stuffed animals, bags and wallets, custom cases for mobile electronics and much more. Add full color graphics; enter your own text in a wide variety of fonts and colors; and adjust layout until you have your masterpiece.
While there are many other sites that offer a large selection of customizable products, what makes Café Press special is the ability to get a single item at a reasonable price. Most other sites require a sizable minimum order (in many cases it starts at 10 or more). Giving out the same hand designed t-shirt to everyone you know makes it a bit less personal, even when it’s undeniably awesome.
For the soda-lover on your list, Jones Soda Co. (http://www.jonessoda.com/) offers a fully custom label that you can have printed on any of their twelve most popular flavors. Upload a photo and enter your own text for the back of the bottle. A 12-pack will set you back $30, but it will be the most memorable blue berry lemonade soda they’ve ever enjoyed.
Little ones on your list are sure to love a book all about them. I See Me! (www.iseeme.com) offers a great selection of personalized books about their name, the holidays or their birthday, even “The Super, Incredible Big Sister” (or Brother). Simply provide the child’s name and a few additional specifics depending on the book (such as date of birth, gender or name of sibling) and they’ll send you a beautiful, personalized, hardcover book. My son has the “My Very Own Name” book where it tells the story of animals selecting each letter in his name. Each letter has a poem in which the animal of the same letter (Jaguar for J, etc) sings the praises of the letter. He got it when he turned one, still loves it now that he’s four, and has memorized it (despite the fact there’s more than 20 letters in his name).
Trailblazers and on-the-go snack-lovers alike will get a kick out of the custom nutrition bars you devise for them at You Bar (www.youbars.com/buildabar). Choose your base from a variety of nut butters, dates, soy or sunflower. Then select protein powders, nuts and seeds, fruits, sweeteners, seasonings, cereals and infusions. If there’s anything you want that’s not listed, you can write it in under a “special requests” option. As you add ingredients the nutrition facts automatically updates so you can see the effect on fat and calories if you add those chocolate chips.
The choices can be overwhelming so they’ve added tips and recommendations along the way as well as a “Taste Tester” to ensure your concoction is delicious, not disastrous. Name your creation and you’re ready to order a box of thirteen for about $3-5/bar (depending on size). Ingredients are all natural and their online support can help you build a bar to fit just about any nutritional requirements. Bars are “guaranteed delicious” – if you don’t like your bar they’ll help you replace it for free.
Even those of us that aren’t crafty enough to sew mom a custom tea cozy can achieve personalized present perfection with a few clicks of the mouse.
Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, an on-site computer and laptop repair service for consumers and businesses. Andrea is the writer of two weekly columns, Computer Nerds On Call a nationally syndicated column for Scripps-Howard News Service, and Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She regularly appears on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, The CW, and CNN on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, Good Morning Arizona and MORE Good Day Portland, offering viewers easy tips on technology, Internet lifestyle, and gadgets. Andrea recently has begun working with Demand Media to produce content for eHow.com and has written a book for them Smartphone 101: Integrating Your iPhone Into a Windows World. Andrea is available for Q & A’s, expert tech quotes and will appear on your show, call today! See Andrea in action at www.callnerds.com/andrea.