Most paper gift ideas begin with
a simple sheet of paper. Many will delight
your recipients AND respect your budget!
What pops into your mind when you think of paper gifts – a box of stationery? A framed certificate? A smallish rectangle with a portrait in the center and a number in each corner?
OK, let's begin with gifts of cash – then we'll look at: Personalized paper gifts
Certificates and such
Paper wall decor
And we invite you join us in some 3-D thinking - with More Paper Gifts: books, home accents, and paper gifts just for fun!
Also, paper is the traditional First Wedding Anniversary gift, so we'll keep an eye open for paper gift ideas that are suitable for a couple.
Gifts of Cash
Some folks avoid revealing the price of a gift, which is difficult when you're giving cash! Only you can assess your level of comfort in this area. But sometimes a cash gift is traditional or expected (especially for weddings). When in doubt, get some advice about what's appropriate for the occasion and your relationship to the recipient.
Other folks view cash as impersonal. However, cash (or a check) may be the most appreciated gift you can give. Many young people prefer cash over almost anything selected by an adult. First-anniversary couples might prefer contributions toward a big-ticket item they're saving for, like furniture or a delayed honeymoon.
It's fun to present a cash gift creatively. If you're contributing toward a specific gift item, enclose a magazine or catalog illustration. Or, enclose the cash with something related to the gift (e.g., stain repellant for that new sofa, or sunscreen for a delayed honeymoon).
Personalized Paper Gift Ideas
Ordinary paper gift ideas become special when they are customized - with a monogram, say, or photos/decorations that reflect recipient interests. Paper gifts in all price ranges can be personalized. For example:
- Personalized Artwork - a hand drawn cartoon or caricature depicting your recipient in a favorite activity. A charcoal or watercolor portrait created from a favorite photo. A portrait of your animal lover's pet. A painting of their home or a favorite local landmark (a nice moving-away gift).
- Stationery items - even in the electronic age, there are many occasions to put pen to paper. Here are some favorite stationery gifts that can be personalized:
- writing paper and note cards
- memo pads
- shopping and to-do lists
- recipe cards
- bookmarks and ex libris book plates
- Personal photo calendars - collect photos from memorable events in all four seasons; use photos of your recipient's friends, family members and pets to illustrate their respective birthday months.
You can send scanned photos to an online calendar service; or use free calendar templates found online and print it yourself; or send/take your layout to a local print shop for printing and binding.
- Naming a Star is a very romantic gesture, or a fun way to encourage an interest in astronomy. Depending on how deluxe the documentation (and how visible the star), prices can range from $20 to $150 or more.
But it must be understood that there is nothing official about naming a star. The only organization with the authority to name heavenly bodies is the International Astronomical Union (IAU), which does not sell star names.
- Day/week you were born issues of newspapers and magazines are fun to browse, especially for recipients born in dramatic historical times. And for an older recipient, too, because of the ads! What a hoot to see the fashions, hair styles, and the prices from way back when!
- Bar signs and coaster sets and bottle labels are paper gift ideas that add fun to a rec room. Buy them at party supply stores, or design them yourself to add a personal touch. A box of cocktail napkins can also be custom printed.
Certificates and Such
These paper gift ideas are worth lots more than the paper they're printed on! It's a broad category, and for each of our suggestions you'll probably think of two more.
- Gift certificates, like cash, offer your recipient the opportunity to select his or her own gift. There is much to be said about gift certificates – please visit Gift Cards and Gift Certificates for a detailed discussion.
- U.S. Savings Bonds are thoughtful gifts for graduates or new baby gifts, for they look to the future. Paper (vs. electronic) Series EE/E Bonds can be purchased at most banks for half the face value and earn interest for 30 years. For details, visit U.S. Savings Bonds and click on the individual/quick links.
- A Share of Stock - A framed stock certificate for Disney or Coca Cola is an excellent educational gift for a student of middle-school age and up. Add the stock market page from the newspaper so you can show 'n tell how to follow the ups and downs of the stock.
- All sorts of tickets (well… not speeding tickets!) are exciting paper gift ideas. Most recipients have at least one interest that involves a ticket or a pass. Examples:
- A day's pass to a ski lift or theme park.
- For a first-anniversary couple, a pair of tickets to a play, concert, or sporting event.
- A year's parking pass to all U.S. National Parks includes admission - a great family gift.
- Mark once gave me an airline ticket to visit his family in Cyprus - lucky me; I had a terrific time!
Lottery tickets are another story. If you give a winning ticket, you're a hero of course. If not, it's a moment of suspense and no more. Most lottery tickets are NOT worth the paper they're printed on! They are best used as stocking stuffers, or package decorations, or party favors.
- Celestial Real Estate - "deeds" to property on planets or the moon are entertaining paper gift ideas. But as with naming a star, celestial deeds are absolutely not official. Still, many astronomy or science fiction fans, down-to-earth real estate agents or mortgage brokers would get a kick out of "owning" a Lunar or Martian property.
Hang It All – Paper Wall Décor!
A word of caution: home décor tastes are subjective. Be sure to get a good sense of recipient likes and dislikes before turning your paper gift ideas loose on their home. With that in mind, here are some suggestions:
- Posters and art prints – there are thousands to choose from, many quite affordable. Having a poster or print professionally matted and framed isn't cheap - it's said that if the frame doesn't cost more than the artwork, you haven't paid enough for frame!
Frame-it-yourself kits are less expensive and can be found at art/craft supply shops. If the art shop doesn't cut glass on-site, try your local hardware store.
- Photography ranges from family portraits to fine art. For a "rogues gallery" of ancestors, a good photo shop can work wonders with old sepia photos and darkened tintypes. Find interesting frames in antique shops or used furniture stores. For modern tastes, consider photo montages, cityscapes, and NASA or Hubble space photos. Note that black and white photography is often more dramatic than color.
- Maps and/or timelines are thoughtful paper gifts for a history buff, or someone who loves to travel. Many recipients would enjoy a map of their original home town or the country of their ethnic ancestry. Note the comments on framing, above.
- Paper Cuts - Papercutting art originated in China and is now popular in Japan, India, Turkey, Israel, Germany, Poland and Mexico, among others - each with its unique style and cultural symbols.
Paper cuts feature intricate designs and are often very affordable, either as wall décor or to embellish home accents like serving trays and drink coasters.
- Origami (folded paper) and Kirigami (folded and cut paper) are Japanese arts that range from easy-enough-for-a-child (such as snowflakes) to unbelievably intricate designs. Sheets of origami/kirigami papers, in solid colors or prints - or in kits, with instructions - are engaging paper gifts for anyone who enjoys doing arts and crafts.
- Growth charts, available in many pleasant designs, are good paper gift ideas for young children. They make a jolly decoration for a kid's bedroom or playroom - much tider than pen or pencil marks on the wall or door frame! Kids are proud to point out how they've grown since their last measurement.
- Papyrus art is an unusual decorating accent. This earliest form of paper is an attractive neutral color. Paintings often feature Egyptian themes, usually in one or two colors plus gold. Papyrus art is available in many museum shops, and unframed pieces are quite affordable.
Paper gift ideas are less about the paper
than what's on it! Printing or paint, snips or folds
turn simple paper into a well-chosen gift!
PS: Cardboard tubes make good containers for flat, rollable paper gifts... (how to wrap a tube). top of: Paper Gift Ideas
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Logo photo by Jane M. Sawyer, courtesy of morguefile.com
Paper cut courtesy Libby Graphics, all rights reserved.
Other graphics courtesy of Microsoft.