Crafts: Surprise birthday box with clues

Here’s a gift idea that I came up with for Sean’s birthday, and it was really fun to put it together and present it to him!

A lot of people give and receive material things as gifts, but we both are against collecting stuff (especially after Sean’s watching “Hoarders” show), plus living in a NYC apartment forces you to own as little as possible. And we both love and prefer discovering new places and doing things, so I planned a cool weekend getaway packed with activities. But to make the actual gift giving process fun, I decided to make each activity a unique wrapped gift.

First, he would discover a place that we were going to – that’s gift #1, the getaway itself.

Then, we would go on a romantic gondola ride – that’s gift #2.

Dinner was something that would just 100% happen, so I didn’t really make it a “gift”.

After dinner, there was a show that I found, and made it gift #3.

But that’s not all: since it was a birthday weekend, I also had plans to go see Newport mansions, so that would make it gift #4.

And last thing that I got way in advance of all this activity planning, was tickets to a Broadway show, so I decided to wrap the tickets as well and make it #5.

Also, I got a few small items before all these planning, that I wanted to give to him, just for fun. Most of them edible, so it’s nothing major that would take space or create clutter, but would still make a very nice thoughtful present. Here is what I got (all from the Hickoree store. The store is based in Brooklyn, but I ordered online):
1) Southwestern beef jerky. Who doesn’t love jerky?
2) Mast Brothers chocolate, maple and pecan flavor – his fav
3) Astronaut ice cream – any guy would be delighted to get it! They were all little boys once :)
4) Vintage slinky – for some fun childhood memories

So for all 4 experiences, I had a corresponding physical item (gift #5 was an item in itself – printed tickets) – which was perfect.

The last thing to do was the presentation. Don’t ever underestimate presentation! Even a small gift will look amazing if it’s nicely wrapped and presented!

I knew I needed 5 little cards where I could write description for each item. Quick search on Etsy gave me just what I needed: a set of 5 beautifully designed unique birthday cards. Highly recommended – the items arrived in 2 days just like the seller promised, and I was really happy with them.

On each card, I decided to write a clue about the gift. First, I included a quick line about the item, where it came from and why I wanted to gift it. Then, I wrote a rhymed clue about a destination or activity of the gift.

As for wrapping, I got this inspiration from the handbag I recently bought (pretty random, but it shows you can get inspiration from so many things!). The bag looks like a big mailed package or a letter, and I just love this postal vintage look.

Parcel post bag from Anthropologie

So I wanted the gifts to look like they came from wonderful places across the globe, and were just mailed in. Quick googling gave me this excellent source of wrapping and presentation goodies: Paper Source. There’s an online store, and also a physical store in SoHo, so I went there during my lunch break and got this gorgeous letter-inspired Cavallini wrapping paper, some tags for gift numbers, and natural hemp thread for tying it up.

Next steps were easy: wrote the cards, wrapped it all, attached tags, and put everything into one bigger box, and wrapped it as well. It came out real nice!

On the actual birthday, we took our “box of clues” with us on the train, and had fun opening each of the items one after another: Sean loved guessing gifts, and I just enjoyed seeing how much he liked them.

Happy gift making and giving! Also, read about the actual weekend activities here.

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