Thursday, May 26, 2022

Despite many efforts to fight the trend, gifts and Chanukah still go hand in hand. Instead of trying to beat the system, embrace it and add meaning to the gifts you give your family and friends. According to Forbes Magazine, customizable purchases are increasingly popular as “one-size-fits-all” becomes a concept of the past. The accumulation of data about individual consumers combined with advances in technology makes the personalized item accessible across many different shopping experiences. Whether it’s customizing sneakers to your foot and style, or custom-tailored suits or even the way Netflix uses an algorithm to suggest content for each user, user experiences are being created to meet each individual’s needs. In recent years, gifts have followed a personal trend as well.

Unique, one-of-a-kind, personalized or handmade gifts have become increasingly popular as a way to add a sentimental connection to gift-giving activities. Projects that are known as “do it yourself,” or “DIY,” have also been a go-to for those looking for individualized presents. DIY gifts can either be something the gift giver makes for the recipient, or something that the recipient can make on his or her own upon receiving the gift. Whatever type of individualized gift you decide to go with, here are a few suggestions to help start things off.

U-Build Games takes the board game experience to a customizable level. Classic games such as Mouse Trap, Battleship, Monopoly and Sorry have game boards that can be changed each game. Pieces within the various games also add to the customizable aspect of the game. Even Connect Four, which does not seem open to change, has a U-Build version where players build the rack holding the pieces, and can even add bumpers that change the direction of pieces that are dropped in.

If you knit, crochet or sew, there are a variety of individualized gifts that can be made for close friends or family. Blankets and throws on a larger (and more time-consuming) level make meaningful gifts, and a hat or scarf for a smaller project, for example. Mason jars are magical, and every time you think you’ve exhausted their uses, a Pinterest post with 10 more ideas will pop up. Whether it’s a recipe in a jar that just has to be mixed, a hand-painted vase with flowers or a Mason jar terrarium, the Mason jar is a perfect vessel for DIY gifts.

For those who feel less craft-oriented, photo websites Shutterfly, Snapfish and Costco Photo Center all have gift options available with a few easy mouse clicks. Need something for grandparents? Put those kids’ cute faces on a pillow. Friends need a gift? Put a picture on a deck of cards. Mugs, cups, magnets, blankets and keychains can all be made into photo gifts.

Some of the latest fads also come with kits for you or your children to make your own. If slime is still taking over the cabinets in your house, slime kits will be a welcome gift. You can customize with specific colors, glitter and scents for a one-of-a-kind personalized slime experience. While everyone has memories of sticker collections, that is a trend that doesn’t seem to go out of fashion. Only the types of stickers seem to change. Boys and girls both enjoy the squishy feel of puffy stickers, and now you can even make your own puffy stickers with a kit for your own at-home enjoyment. Other old-school favorites still enjoyed by many ages include friendship bracelets, potholders, latch hook kits and lanyards.

Other customized novelty items include cutting boards with inscriptions or caricatures, or for the LEGO fanatic in your life, you can turn a loved one into a LEGO person.

Local retailers have loads of options for personalized gifts as well, with stores such as On The Table in Teaneck offering color-specific gifts to match home decor and color schemes or monogrammed gifts.

Of course, nothing beats the gift of quality time, so any of these gifts can be used to enjoy each other’s company as you use the new gift, whether to play a game, teach a skill or make a project together.

By Jenny Gans


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