City farmhouseWe commissioned a history of the house we'll raise our children in. Photo: Amy Suardi/Frugal Mama
When pretty objects can easily be had at any department store, discount warehouse, or grocery store, what really stands out in a gift is thought and effort. Of course there are plenty of heartfelt gifts that can be made with little or no money, but I like these ideas for when you want to make a splash on a special occasion, like a milestone birthday, a golden anniversary, or a house-warming.
Intangible, helpful, or utterly personal, these gifts will surely make a difference in someone's life.
1. A House History
Did you know that you could hire an architectural historian to research the history of a house, just as you might to find out a family's genealogical roots? You can, and I know, because I am the happy recipient of a history of our one-and-only house. House histories, which are often bound nicely, often include rare photographs and scans of old documents like hand-written building permits and census surveys.
An interesting history can even add value to your house when (and if) you ever want to part with it. Do the research yourself or hire one out by doing a Web search for "house history" or "architectural historian" in your area.2. A Watercolor Painting of a Beloved House
A custom home portrait by Laura Trevey on Etsy. Image: Laura Trevey
I still have the little painting my mom made of my childhood home. She is an artist, but if you don't know someone who is talented with a paintbrush, you can commission a painting.
I found several artists on Etsy that will make a beautiful drawing or painting of a beloved house with an emailed photo, like the one pictured above by Laura Trevey for $255. To commission a painting, search your neighborhood -- or just the World Wide Web -- for "custom house painting" or "personal home portrait."3. A Few Hours with an Interior Designer
Let's face it: who can pore over House Beautiful, absorb all those tips, and then make magic happen right there in our very own living room? Not me, for sure. So when I found out that a paint store near me was offering an in-home decorating package for $50 per hour, I was relieved.
Most anyone who longs for a beautiful yet functional interior would love help with the insanity of picking a paint color, the stress of making renovating decisions, or the a-ha! of rearranging the furniture that we already have. For lower rates and package deals, look for in-house designers at a home decorating center in your area, or look up an affordable same-day designer through the Interior Redecorators Network.
Sure, these gifts are pricier than usual, but some occasions, some people, and some houses call for special treatment.
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