Her hacks: Giving the gift of hack

“Give a person a gift and they’ll be a happy for a day. Teach him or her to hack and he or she will be happy for eternity.” — Unknown

The holidays can be a stressful time, what with being forced into small rooms with relatives you see twice per year, carbo-loading on fruitcake and traveling across the icy tundra that the Midwest turns into come November.

So, why should you have to stress about finding the perfect gift for all 520 people on your list, too?

Why not hack your way through that gift-giving?

Subscription services

Back in the day, if you wanted fancy coffee, you bought a can of Folger’s Maryland Club Butter-Nut and drank from your cup with pinky held high.

Today, though, there are options like Mistobox or Atlas Coffee Club (www.mistobox.com and atlascoffeeclub.com). You just find a subscription (sometimes with coupons: tinyurl.com/y5rf44dy), input your giftee’s preferences, and you’ve got a gift that keeps on giving.

The same can be true of books (www.freshfictionbox.com and www.thebookwormbox.com). Or wine (www.winc.com and www.cellarswineclub.com). Or Hello Kitty (tinyurl.com/y4bhr2pf).

The options are endless, and they cover just about anything you want to appear at someone’s house.

Get crafty

There are few things more satisfying in this world than a well-executed macaroni, glitter and hot glue card expressing just how much you value someone’s presence in your life.

But let’s take a look a little further afield, shall we?

A tea wreath is a clever idea for any of the steepers on your list. Kojo Designs has a step-by-step guide at tinyurl.com/y2yxomso, but simply, it’s a wreath that uses clothes pins to hold tea bags. Squeeze open a pin, grab a bag and enjoy some delicious, warm refreshment.

They also have the benefit that you or the giftee can refill the wreath at a later date, perhaps with a mix of never-before-drunk and new-to-them tea bags.

If you’re gifting to someone who is more into the evening drinks (otherwise known as adult beverages) consider doing a little glass etching. All it takes is a couple of cheap wine glasses and a plan, and you’ve got a gift that’s endlessly customizable. Check out Instructables’ guide at tinyurl.com/y36qcqhb for a great guide to the basics.

If crafty for you equates to getting into the kitchen, perhaps some gourmet marshmallows are in order.

Swing over to Country Living’s recipe at tinyurl.com/y2xzcnrj, which includes a variety of flavors, including peppermint, coffee and lavender.

But what to do about the packaging of all those tasty ’mallows?

Crafty packaging

First impressions are everything, especially when you’re giving out hand-crafted future heirlooms to people.

Punch up the packaging with a little tape. Or a lot of tape. Either apply. And, don’t be beholden to one type, or color, either. Tape up that paper with geometric designs, words or holiday-appropriate symbols.

If you’re one of those duct tape aficionados, check out The Sweetest Occasion’s guide (tinyurl.com/yyxw7w6n) has some fun ideas for duct taping your gift wrap.

Another way to personalize your

gift-wrapping exploits is the creative use of photos. There are a plethora of services out there that will print photos on wrapping paper for you (Walgreen’s and Zazzle.com are just two of them), but you also can go the DIY route. All it takes is some adhesive printer paper, a little time and some photos that exemplify your relationship with your giftee.

Secrecy’s the thing

If you’re still finding yourself stressed out after all the preceding advice, maybe it’s time to start thinking outside the norm.

For instance, instead of everyone in your family going into great detail and buying each and everyone else in the family a long-thought-out, meticulously chosen gift, why not consider the classic Secret Santa?

Everyone buys one gift, a price range is agreed upon ahead of time and a great deal of stress is saved in everyone’s lives.

Just make sure you set a clear “white elephant gift” policy — you don’t want one person getting stuck with a wind-up chattering teeth while everyone else enjoys their new iPhones — to keep the fairness level even.

Gift cards

Sometimes we make things harder on ourselves for no other reason than we’re stubborn.

Sure, the parental units might have ingrained in us at an early age that gift cards are too “impersonal” or show “too little effort.”

But, instead of thinking about it like that, consider this: How often have you been mad about getting a gift card? If you’re anything like the Her Hacks Team, that number is probably zero.

Just make sure the card is appropriate to the person — or one of those generic gift cards that work anywhere (tinyurl.com/y4kbqefb) — and you’ve put another check mark on the list.

The science of it all

Will no one think of the science?!

Lifehack.org has an interesting visual guide to the science of gift giving at tinyurl.com/y3dk3kdt.

Some interesting tidbits revolve around the difference in perception between gift-giver and gift-receiver, which in many cases, were leagues apart.

Anthony Frenzel writes for the Telegraph Herald. You can send your hacks, tips, suggestions, DIY thoughts, inspirations and cobbled -together-machinations to him at tony.frenzel@thmedia.com. You also can share a few of your favorite holiday or other pins with him on Pinterest (Anthony Frenzel). If you do, you might just be featured in an upcoming edition of Her Hacks.

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