Monday, 19 August 2013

A unique and personal wedding present idea - 12 months of treats

One of my oldest and dearest friends is getting married this summer. I'm going to be a bridesmaid and can't wait to help her celebrate the big day!

When it came to choosing a wedding present for them, the bride and groom opted for what a lot of couples now seem to do - a request for no gifts, or some cash towards their honeymoon. I can completely understand this, especially when most couples already live together and have no need of the 'setting up home' things that go on a traditional list.

Waiting for a brainwave

Rather than simply write a cheque, I really wanted to give my friend and her fiancee a thoughtful and personal gift. Luckily there was a small group of us, friends from school and college, who felt the same so we put on our collective thinking hats and tried to come up with a few ideas. We hit a bit of a wall when it came to giving them a one-off gift that was both extravagant, and within our fairly modest budget. So I did something that I often do when I've exhausted all other ideas. I turned to a facebook group I belong to for local mums and mums-to-be and sought their ideas. And what do you know, they came up trumps!

The big idea

So this was the idea. Rather than give them 1 special treat, like meal in a fancy restaurant or a night away in a hotel, why not give them a whole year worth of mini treats? Here's how it works.

  1. The bride and groom are presented with a box. The box contains 12 envelopes (one for each month of the year), a variety of presents labelled with a particular month and an envelope labelled 'read me first'.
  2. The 'read me first' envelope contains a letter explaining how the gift works. At the beginning of each month, the couple open an envelope which contains details of that month's treat. The treat will either be a voucher/money to spend on a particular thing that we have chosen for them or instructions to open a particular present.
  3. The lucky couple open up one treat a month until they reach their one year wedding anniversary.
Pretty simple eh?

Why I think this present idea rocks

Here's 5 glorious reasons why this present is fabulous:

  1. No one has a lot of money these days, so what better way to enjoy yourself than to have a full year of treats paid for by someone else?
  2. When it comes to trying new things or having a date night, it's so easy to put it off isn't it? Not enough time, not knowing where to go or what to do and not having much money are just a few of the usual excuses that roll off your tongue. This present takes all of those excuses away!
  3. You can make the treats really personal. Whatever your friend's hobbies, there is always a treat that you can build around it.
  4. This is a great present to organise as a group. Unless you are extremely generous, you will need at least 2 or 3 friends to contribute to make your budget go further. Even if you only allocate £10 a month, that's still £120, so the more that join in the better.
  5. The happy couple will not get another present like this one. Well unless this post goes global and suddenly everyone starts doing it!

Treat ideas

I'm not going to spoil the surprise by revealing what's gone into my gift, but I really think that the world is your oyster when it comes to thinking of 12 different treats. Here's a few ideas to get you started...

  • Cinema voucher
  •  Bowling voucher
  • Meal in a new/favourite restaurant
  • Starbucks/Costa voucher for coffee and cake
  • Ingredients to bake a Christmas cake
  • Voucher for a garden centre
  • Spring bulbs to plant in their garden
  • Wildlife park/aquarium tickets
  • Afternoon tea voucher
  • Day at a spa
  • Night at a hotel
  • Ghost tour for Halloween
  • Bottle of wine/bottles of beer and a DVD for a night in
  • Sparklers and a bag of cinder toffee for Bonfire Night
  • Voucher to buy some Easter eggs from a fancy chocolate shop
  • Tickets for a local farm
  • B&Q/Homebase voucher to decorate a new house
  • Pottery painting vouchers
  • Cash to spend on cocktails
  • A dance lesson
  • Canoeing/rafting/windsurfing lesson
  • Segeway experience
  • Cooking/baking lesson
  • Murder mystery night
  • Comedy night
  • Theatre trip
  • Cheese and wine evening
  • Romantic night in - bubble bath, candles, chocolates etc.
  • Breakfast in bed - egg cups, toast rack, posh jam and marmalade etc.
  • Picnic basket/picnic rug
  • Money/voucher for Sunday lunch or Sunday brunch
I could go on and on, there are endless possibilities!

More tips about treats

  • With my present, I tried to think quite 'seasonally'. So I went for outdoor activities while the weather was still likely to be good, and indoor ones during the winter. 
  • It's easy to weave in Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas to the treats too. Not to mention birthdays and of course, their one year wedding anniversary
  • I also tried to think of activities that are much harder to do once children are part of the equation, you know, just in case!
  • I tried to ensure that there were a good spread of presents to open, so they had some actual keepsakes after the year is up.
  • If you're buying anything food or drink related, check the best before date to ensure it's still ok to eat or drink when they open it!

Making it all look pretty

For the most part, the monthly envelopes are the main attraction of this present. So for me, it was important that they look pretty. I look into buying some really sumptuous and expensive looking envelopes, then stumbled across a much better idea instead. And what do you know, I found the idea on a blog. Emily Summers at Design and Nonsense had written a post about making pretty handmade envelopes out of wallpaper samples. Total genius. And what's more, I already had a bag of wallpaper samples lying around from an earlier decoration project. All I had to do was buy some glue and find a free hour or so of my time to make them. The glue was a doddle, the free time less so with a toddler currently going through a no-sleeping phase!

Here's my finished envelopes! Now I'm definitely not a gifted crafter, but I was quite pleased with these.
Pretty neat, eh?

The full set of 12

The finished present

Here's my finished present. I've got a box covered in gift paper that I'm going to put everything into. Now I'm just excitedly waiting for them start opening those envelopes!

Preparation is key!

One final tip, this is a present that is definitely easier the earlier you do it. It will take a bit of thinking to work out what you can buy with your budget. And don't forget to allow time for writing the letters and making it all look pretty.

Let me know if you end up giving this a wedding present to one of your friends. I'd love to hear what you put in it and their reaction!

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