The pursuit of the perfect Christmas gift can often lead to a lengthy, stressful journey that ultimately leaves shoppers scrambling, especially if the person they’re shopping for already has a lot.
To help you on your Christmas quest, here are five unexpected gifts that will deliver a laugh, or a wow, or a story to remember, and all of them can be found in the Chicago area.
1. For the travel lover. Now you can get flight options. A Chicago company, Options Away is one of the first, if not the first to make it possible to reserve a flight and pay for it later, up to 21 days later.
If you don’t know if your sweetie wants to go skiing in Colorado or snorkeling in Florida, for a small fee (starting at $4) you can buy a flight option for Colorado and one for Florida. They can then choose, and you will only have to pay for the flight to the location of their choice, or the date(s) of her choice.
TIP: This is a perfect last minute gift for the procrastinators out there!
2. For the professional boomer in your family. Surprise them with a stocking stuffer that will bring back fond memories – like Smith Brothers Cough Drops. If they say, “my [dad, uncle, brother, or grandpa] always had one in his pocket,” you know you scored big! Although this is the modern Smith Brothers, you won’t be disappointed. Just give the Warm Apple Pie drops a try. The famous brothers are back at Walgreens stores around Chicagoland.
TIP: Try the caffeine drops for the busy professional.
3. For the vegetarians and vegans in your life. Let’s admit it, the holidays, with the turkeys and hams, can be a hard time for non-meat eaters. So foodie gifts can often bring relief to the selective foodie. Here in Chicago there are plenty of places that will help bring salad options home. Places like Falafill’s salad bar have plenty of options, all freshly made. What a better gift than a “take-away salad bar”? Veg heads will not only get a kick out of the leafy gift, but they will probably be happy to have the side, or entrée, on hand.
TIP: To keep lettuce fresh while the ham or roast is in the oven, put the lettuce into a big bowl, and drape a paper towel or two over the top so moisture doesn't settle on the leaves. Also, don’t salt it until ready to serve.
4. For the guy who tried so hard to get everyone else thoughtful gifts. He deserves the ultimate gift.
Option A: A classic time-piece. If your guy is in his 20s, get him something unique and “untouchable” as AskMen calls it. My top pick is the unmistakable vintage Vacheron Constantin ultra-thin watch, in 18K gold frame (my grandpa wore a watch just like that, AND his name was Constantin). This watch will never go out of fashion and will never pass without starting a conversation and its value will likely increase.
If on a budget, the newer stainless-steel Constantin watches can be found on Amazon at a deep discount. They are just as beautiful, minus the precious metal.
Option B: There is a well-kept secret called Little Switzerland, a website that sells fashion jewelry at Caribbean prices. If you call their (877) 800-9998 number you can order some of the most desirable men’s watches at some of the best prices. I favor the Omega time-pieces.
Did you know: Omega watches appear in seven of the James Bond movies, including two watches worn by Daniel Craig in Skyfall. Who doesn’t want to look like Bond, James Bond?
5. For those who have it all. Give the gift of giving. One of the winners of the 2013 Chicago Cause project is Culinary Care, an organization that delivers free and balanced meals to caregivers and fighters affected by cancer. Choose to give love by making a donation to Culinary Care, or another worthy non-profit in your area.
So there, five unexpected gift ideas. What’s on your wish list?
Mana is the president of Chicago Digital Marketing company Lightspan Digital. Mana and her team focus on driving traffic to clients’ websites and building profitable connections through social media and content marketing. Mana’s mission is to bust digital marketing myths and put marketing back in social media marketing. Follow Mana on Twitter @manamica and Google+.