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Every Gift Tells a Story

Editor’s Note: This is a one of a series of posts written by the Giftovus team highlighting their own gifts and what they love about them.  

It’s not always a particularly noble or involved or deeply meaningful story, but there’s a story in every gift. When I think about people unwrapping gifts on Christmas, I like to think about the stories they are sharing with each other.

“I thought of you”, “I want to share your love of something”, are obvious things a gift can say. But just as important is the story of how the gift came to be and all the chance happenings and people that helped that story along.

I documented the first gift I gave my wife, Jessica, this Christmas and the truly generous people who helped make it happen.

With all the research we’ve done into gift-giving, one thing has been made very clear: experiences are among the best gifts. Being social and connecting with other people has been shown time and again to have a positive impact on a person’s well-being (not to mention health).

So I wanted to find something experiential for Jessica. The San Francisco Ballet is performing the Nutcracker, a beautiful show. If we caught the matinee, we could wander the city and perhaps have dinner with her family – two other experiences she loves. I picked up two tickets.

San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker (courtesy Erik Tomasson)

San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker (courtesy Erik Tomasson)

Every showman knows though – it’s all in the presentation. Giving her the tickets would be nice, but presenting them in a special way could make all the difference.

We rarely have a Christmas tree because we lack the space… but what if I presented the tickets in a miniature Christmas tree with other gifts? Now we are talking!

My first stop was City Lights, a specialty shop for decorations of all types. You could get lost there forever. Thankfully, an assistant at the store named Theresa, helped point me in the right direction to find what I was looking for: ornaments, lights and a nutcracker.

They have all sorts of nutcrackers, and I was able to find one that matched the outfit that the San Francisco Ballet website preview video showed would be the lead in the production. Sweet. Now Jessica would have a keepsake to remember the production, and I had the first ‘gift’ to put under the tree.

I also picked up some ornaments to decorate the tree. I went with mostly red and gold to be classic, but also to help the blue nutcracker pop.

Ornaments and Nutcracker for the Christmas tree

Ornaments and Nutcracker for the Christmas tree

My next stop was Eclipse Chocolates. Eclipse is an amazing chocolatier and restaurant in the South Park neighborhood of San Diego. It’s a favorite of Jessica’s and mine. We love the chocolate, but the restaurant is not to be missed. If you are a fan of interesting taste pairings and flavors, Eclipse should be on your list.

Eclipse Chocolate’s Will, helped me select some chocolate bars and drinking chocolate. If you haven’t tried drinking chocolate, you owe it to yourself to give it a shot. Think about the richest, but delicately flavored hot chocolate you’ve ever had and you’d be close to what the drinking chocolate from Eclipse tastes like. It’s simple to make and simply amazing on cold winter nights.

Will from Eclipse Chocolate with Brian and delicious Eclipse chocolates

Will from Eclipse Chocolate with Brian and delicious Eclipse chocolates

The drinking chocolate and chocolate bars would find their way under the Christmas tree as well.

Sea Salt & Caramel Drinking Chocolate, Spiced-Pumpkin chocolate bar, and Orange Peel Anise chocolate bar

Sea Salt & Caramel Drinking Chocolate, Spiced-Pumpkin chocolate bar, and Orange Peel Anise chocolate bar

You might be asking yourself how hot chocolate or drinking chocolate fits in to the theme. Well, the tree and gifts would have to be presented before Christmas, since the show is before Christmas. Jessica loves surprise gifts on Christmas Day, so I’m going to give her a Blu-Ray of the Nutcracker as performed by the San Francisco Ballet in 2008 (and made her promise not to read this post). She’ll be able to watch the show again and sip the chocolate then.

My next stop was Adelaide’s. I hesitate to call Adelaide’s a florist – they are more like artists whose medium is plants. Nicole, an Adelaide’s artist, understood what I needed immediately. She promised to have the “Christmas tree” ready by the next day.

The Christmas tree starting to come together.

The Christmas tree starting to come together.

I still needed a card to enclose the tickets though. Nicole directed me down the street to Warwick’s, a stationary and book store. I met Nancy and after explaining my needs, she directed me to something that made my jaw drop. They had the most amazing, blue, nutcracker gift box. You pull his hat, and his mouth opens to reveal a space for something… like tickets! They even had him in blue.

Nancy from Warwick's with Brian and the Nutcracker box

Nancy from Warwick’s with Brian and the Nutcracker box

Armed with the nutcracker gift box, I set about packaging the tickets up. I couldn’t just fold them up and drop them in… Instead, I took some brown construction paper that I had used for a surprise for our wedding (a tale for another time…), and thanks to YouTube, folded up an envelope to enclose the tickets.

Nutcracker box with envelope containing Nutcracker ballet tickets

Nutcracker box with envelope containing Nutcracker ballet tickets

The next day I made my way back to Adelaide’s to see Nicole’s work. Gorgeous! She had beautifully ensconced the nutcracker, ornaments, chestnuts (I picked those up at a grocery store earlier), and chocolate and had reserved a space for the nutcracker box.

Nicole from Adelaide's with Brian and the finished Christmas tree

Nicole from Adelaide’s with Brian and the finished Christmas tree

It was so cute! She had told some of the other artists and staff in the shop about the gift. When I arrived, I was surrounded by them joyfully expressing their thoughts of Jessica’s reaction.

Nicole had done a phenomenal job. She had paired the bells up and pulled all the ball ornaments together. The lights were expertly hung with the cord easy to reach to plug in. I can’t say enough about the work she did to make our ‘tree’ a reality.

Finally, it was time to present Jessica with my gift(s). I made my way to the lobby of the building that she works in and asked the guard to let her know she had a delivery.

She was a little lost for words. I think the smile on her says it all.

Jessica with the Christmas tree, complete with gift ornaments.

Jessica with the Christmas tree, complete with gift ornaments.

Special thanks to Theresa at City Lights, Will at Eclipse, Nicole at Adelaide’s, and Nancy at Warwick’s. Without your help, advice, and support, Jessica would not have smiled quite so big.

Some more eye candy from the tree:







Brian Jessup is a co-founder of Giftovus and the CEO.

Written by Brian Jessup

Written by Brian Jessup on December 18, 2014

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