Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Holiday Gift Ideas: Spotlight on Paper Source

So, I owe the grandparents and great grandparents some photos of the kids in their Halloween costumes, but this is not that post. That post will come later-ish.

Instead, this post is an attempt to start a mini-blogging series on (as the title suggests) "Holiday Gift Ideas." I'm going to do my darnedest to gather the gift ideas I find while trolling the Internet, and share them here on a somewhat regular basis throughout the month of November. I have ulterior motives, of course. The main one being that I can never, EVER remember all of the ideas I think of for the people in my life when it's actually time to shop. I get to the mall, or open up, and draw a complete blank. This way I'll have a reservoir of ideas to draw from, and can skip that panicky blank-drawing feeling. And hopefully, it will help you, too. Now, family/friends, please keep in mind that while you may indeed received a gift that I highlight here, you may also get something entirely different. I reserve the right to either surprise you OR get you something that you see on one of these posts that wins raves from you.

Now, I'm not planning to have any kind of format for these posts. I may focus on a specific age group or familial relationship one day, a gift "category" another day (Scarves! Hostess gifts! White elephant gifts for the office party! Food gifts!), just throw up one idea, give you more links than you'd ever want to click on, etc. At this point, it's a mystery to even me what and when I'm going to post. We'll just have to see how this goes.

For the inaugural post, I'm choosing to focus on a particular store: Paper Source ( For no real reason other than I saw a few gift ideas on the 2011 Style Lush Holiday Gift Guide: 100 Gifts for $25 or Less from the store that I thought were adorable. In fact, a couple of the items I'm about to point out are shamelessly lifted from that guide, and you should all go check the Style Lush guide out because it has lots of other great ideas. Also, I feel like I need to state that I was not paid or compensated by Paper Source in any way, shape, or form for this post. I just like the stuff, and wanted to share it.

I browsed through Paper Source's inventory, and can tell you a couple of general things first. There are some store locations scattered throughout the country, but they are not ubiquitous (5 in Massachusetts, 2 in Maryland, etc). Your best bet is probably online shopping. I have no idea what their shipping rates are like, as I have never personally ordered anything from the company.

General pros of the store are: There are lots of creative, humorous, and retro gifts. Think Darth Vader lunch boxes and watches, band-aids that look like bacon, cocktail napkins with witty sayings, lovely stationary and paper, whimsical throw pillows, etc. There is something appropriate for nearly everyone on your list, especially if your list is heavy on females and kids. Also, I ascribe to the point of view that you should give people gifts that they'd never buy for themselves. Don't give them something they're just planning to get already. Make it fun! Make it something they think is great, but would hesitate to spend their own hard-earned money on. Spend your own, instead! This store is great for that kind of gift.

General cons are: There are no product reviews, which can make it hard to judge customer satisfaction (I personally pore over product reviews, though I try to take them all with a grain of salt). The items for kids don't always provide information on the age appropriateness of the toy/game/thing. And, finally, there's not much here for the over 13 male crowd, from what I can tell.

Without further ado, here is a selection of things that caught my eye (with many more that I'm not including - so hard to choose!):

Calendars, for me, fall under the “nice to have, but reluctant to spend $$ on, guess I’ll settle for using the free one from the zoo again this year” category. I prefer the grid type (need those little boxes so I can scribble in birthday and anniversary dates), so the one I chose, the Art Grid Calendar ($24.95), follows that style, but this site has many other types and styles to choose from. Isn't the gnome for December's picture adorable? Reminds me of the huge book about Gnomes I used to have when I was a little girl (click on pictures to enlarge):

I'm kind of patting myself on the back for this next idea - a selection of gift wrap. Give 5-6 patterns of gift wrap (prices range from $3.50 to $7.50 per item, depending on sheet vs. roll) so your gift recipient will always have gift wrap on hand for any occasion AND (bonus) much of it is pretty enough to frame! Here's a few of the many, many that caught my eye:




More birds. I have a bird problem.


Cherry Blossoms

OK, though I could go on forever posting links to the wrapping paper, I'll move on. This Mod Multi Shoulder Tote looks like it could hold ANYTHING, and it's cute to boot ($18.95):

How's about some owls? I'm totally ON the owl bandwagon.- I love me some owls!! Here's a little sampling of the cute owl things Paper Source has:

An adorable cloth Owl Rattle ($9.95):

Owl Soap-On-A-Rope, for the soap-on-a-rope enthusiast in your family (there's always at least one, am I right? And for clarification, I don't mean anything dirty by that - some people just really like soap on a rope!) ($16.95):

An Owl Cutting Board. We store our cutting boards propped up on the kitchen counter because a) they're too big/bulky for the cabinets, and b) we use them every day. But they don't exactly add spice to our kitchen. This adorable thing combines decor with function ($24.95):

A Hummingbird Wristlet Wallet, for those days when carrying a big ol' purse/diaper bag isn't going to fly (hello, girls' weekend! Date night!) ($11.95):

Remember that cute gnome from the calendar above? How about a couple of Gnome Mugs? ($6.95 per mug):

I have more glasses than any sane person actually needs, but these Retro Bike Glasses would be fun for both the hipsters and non-hipsters alike in your life ($16.95):

And finally, a few ideas for the kids...

I don't know if this is a universal kid thing or not, but both of my kids are obsessed with chapstick and regularly insist on using and mutilating my tubes. How about their very own tube, from Santa? This Rudolph's Rockin Raspberry Lip Balm would make a great stocking stuffer ($2.50):

Animal Crayons, for the art- and animal-lover child ($8.95):

Finn loves all things airplane - paper airplanes, toy airplanes, spotting every. single. goddamn. airplane that flies over head, etc. According to the description, this Flying Model Airplane kit is great for kids of all ages, so it might be the perfect gift for his stocking ($12.95):

Finn is a perfectionist when it comes to homework and artwork, and he likes to have an eraser nearby for any potential mistakes. He INSISTS on erasing his mistakes, instead of crossing them out, even though his homework is usually done in crayon. These Dessert Erasers (other food types also available) would make his day, I'm sure ($8.95):

Phew! That's it. I'm out of links, for the moment. Feel free to provide suggestions on specific types of gifts you might want me to focus on in the comments. Until next time...


  1. Love the idea of wrapping paper as a gift - something I never splurge on myself. What a good idea to keep track of these things. Go A!

  2. Remember how annoyed Dad was when Old Spice Soap on a Rope was discontinued? I even called the company for him to see if I could score some but no luck. Love those crayons and the Rudolp lip balm.

  3. Great post! Gave me some great ideas for gifts. I love owls too! The Onion has a tshirt: Owls are assholes.

  4. I also love Paper Source! Last year, I ordered some of their beautiful paper and lined our china cabinet! And...for the holidays, I ordered their owl magnets for a good friend. Yay, for owls! (: