Give A Gift of Home Improvement?
The holidays! Malls! Trinkets and traffic! Complete…department store…overload.
It’s the same old, same old. Maybe it’s time to think outside the box. Or rather, in it.
Inside the beautiful big box we call our home. It’s where we lay our heads, raise our families and—ideally—find fun, peace and relaxation.
But that’s not always the case! Unfortunately your favorite person’s home is often a source of frustration and work. So…wouldn’t you love to help them enjoy their most valuable investment a little bit more?
Put that gift money that would otherwise go into another cashmere sweater or piece of expensive jewelry towards a gift for the home.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re worried that your gift will be as warmly welcomed as giving them an iron. Or a new vacuum cleaner. Merry Christmas, honey…now get to work!
Sure, if you don’t choose your gift wisely, it can be interpreted that way. (We can help you avoid making those awkward mistakes. Just read the “Ho-Ho-NO” sidebar below. But if you plan your gift wisely, you may just give them the best gift they have ever received.
We pulled together a few dozen of our most discerning, opinionated and funny readers and invited them to a focus group! Here’s a roundup of some of their most unique home gift ideas.
Lindsay: “Matching Hangers! It will make them feel like they have a custom closet. Surprise them by rearranging their closet with new, matching hangers and then having the present be you opening the door and showing them their newly organized closet. I think that would be a great gift!”
Julie: “A Sub-Zero and Wolf ‘toaster’ oven! That would be a great investment in somebody’s kitchen. I need to warm up these quesadillas and I didn’t want to heat up my whole oven to do it. It’s more energy efficient, more green, more simple!”
Lindsay: “Yes! Call it a countertop oven! It modernizes it and really makes it sound more fun. It’s so far beyond just toast!”
Jesse: “I’m more of a tools guy. I’d rather the kids pool their funds and buy me a great new tool—much more than a new sweater.”
Jennifer: “I think a wine cooler is a great gift. Add in a high-end wine bottle opener.”
Heather: “A wall-mounted fireplace. They’re very affordable and can go anywhere in the house. It’s a luxury item, and most people wouldn’t have it. And it’s romantic!”
Connie: “I come from a designer perspective, but I think a set of nice, high-end picture frames is a great gift, especially if someone were to frame some of my favorite family photos in them. A lot of people wouldn’t spend that money for frames for themselves. If you don’t know what size, a safe bet is 4” x 6”.
Jennifer: “I would love nice matching throws. I have a nice afghan my grandmother made and another blanket we use for the dog, but nothing matches. It would be great to have nice, high-quality throws for each member of the family. When you buy them all together as a set like that, you help upgrade the design of the room, too!”
Kristin: “I think a rainfall or massage showerhead would be a great gift. It’s affordable for a gift but not something most people would buy for themselves. It would make any shower feel that much more luxurious!”
Connie: “This is definitely a luxury gift, but I would love an all-terrain golf cart. Not only can you get around the neighborhood in it, but you can also carry heavy items and do yard work with it!”
Jo Ann: “This is dreaming big and definitely in the ‘luxury’ category, but I would love to have my patio or deck covered so I could use it year round. “
Michelle: “Solar light sculptures. Metal sculptures with solar lights that light up every evening. Some local artists make gorgeous ones!”
Deborah: “I would love a small refrigerator for my craft studio! I can have friends over and have wine and cheese and crackers. Turn it into an actual entertaining area!”
Alicia: “My husband wants to use the garage as a workshop, but we don’t have a lot of outlets out there. So it would be nice to have an electrician install more wiring to make it more useful.” Editor’s note: Have the wiring installed right before Christmas Day and “hide” new outlets with boxes, hanging items etc. On Christmas morning, surprise them by bringing them out to the garage, flicking on the light switch and having new lamps turn on all around the garage!
Frankie: “I would love a Seiko coffee maker. You pour the whole beans in the top; it grinds them and then can make just one cup of coffee. It’s a little more green and better for the environment since they don’t use individual disposable cups.”
Deanna: “I’d love any kind of rollout shelves for my lower cabinets.” Editor’s note: No more crouching and digging, and they are surprisingly affordable.
Judy: “I would love one of those slide-out appliance shelves. It’s getting harder and harder to haul appliances out of the cabinet, and it makes me want to use them less. If I knew I could just slide it out and use it and slide it back in, I’d definitely get more use out of my big mixers, etc. “
Julie: “I would love a new mailbox. Not only would it make me happy coming and going each day, but it also would make the whole street even prettier. If someone gave me a catalog and let me choose which one I wanted myself, that would be great. Maybe pair it with a gift card to a local nursery so I could plant around it myself too!“
Jill: “I stop and get ice from a convenience store almost every day because I like the way they make it. If I could get an icemaker that made that kind of ice at home…oh my gosh, that would change my life!”
Bob: “I would love solar-powered umbrellas for the patio. They can be charging during the day and light up the patio at night! It would greatly increase the amount of enjoyment I’d get out of my outdoor space.”
Jesse: “A fire pit or a grill.” Editor’s note: Create an outdoor man cave!
Frankie: “I’d love a programmable thermostat so when we are on our way to our lake house, I can get the temperature where we want it by the time we arrive.”
Jennifer: “I have a big family with a whole bunch of devices that always need to be charged up. So instead of having a bunch of chargers and wires all over, I want this product called a Techtop. You can get them through LG. If I could have a kitchen where I could set my phone down and it automatically charges for me? I would LOVE that. It also adds to the value of the house!”
Jill: “For my older parents, I would love to get them a step-in tub. They have really bad knees, and this would allow them to take a bath more comfortably.”
Brian: “I recently bought as a gift to myself a surround sound system. With all the new innovations, you don’t even have to install wires everywhere. You can connect them all wirelessly.”
A Pro’s Take: HGTV Designer Chip Wade Weighs In
My advice for “gifting” home improvement-related items is a lot like the advice I give for any home improvement project. Always start with a master plan!
Take the time to draw out a scaled plan or hire an architect to provide you with as-build documents. Brainstorm how the proposed gift interacts with other parts of the home. Better still, invest in a consultation with your favorite designer who can help you create a true vision for the gift.
Overall, I recommend combining a gift item with an experience. Arrange cooking classes to go with the new oven or schedule an appointment with a personal shopper for their new customized closet. Buy them a woodworking class for their new set of tools! An experience like that will become a treasured memory every time that item is used.
Want to really swing for the fences when it comes to a personalized gift? Go for high sentiment and emotion. Consider hiring an artist or fabricator to repurpose a family heirloom that currently serves no purpose in your home into something your loved one can actually use.
I’ve seen pianos used for art installations and an old chandelier made into a necklace. I’ve even seen doors turned into vintage coffee tables. These pieces provide function while, at the same time, serve as great—and meaningful—conversation starters.
Chip is host, designer and executive producer for several shows on HGTV. To learn more, visit ChipWade.com or follow him on social media @chipwade.
Here’s what our group said they would not appreciate seeing under the tree…
• Anything that requires the recipient to assemble it
• A bathroom scale
• Cooking accessories for someone who hates to cook
• Cleaning supplies
• Pest control products
• Diet cookbooks
• An iron
• Anything obviously bought in a drugstore or grocery store (it looks last minute!)
• Pre-scheduled classes that might not work with their calendar
Other Popular Choices:
• Gift certificate for handyman, housekeeping or organizing service
• Massage recliner
• Outdoor wireless speakers
• Billiard table
• New couch/chair
• New high-end mattress
• Home theater
• Personal chef for a special occasion
• Professional landscaping plan
• Under-floor heating
Best Gift Takeaways
Overall, what did we learn from our focus group? Three things:
Listen! Great gift ideas are everywhere. Think about what your loved one complains about the most in their home and buy something that fixes it!
Customize! Gift giving should never be a blanket solution. Choose a gift that shows you have really thought about them and what they want.
Presentation Really Is Everything! Do the work for them. There’s a way to make any home improvement gift effortless and fun. If you are buying new hardwoods, present the recipient with a nice gift certificate that tells them you have arranged for childcare and a lunch at their favorite restaurant so they can have a fun afternoon touring showrooms. If you’re buying an organizational tool, surprise them by actually organizing the mud room, closet, etc. If you buy them something unassembled…assemble it for them!
It’s simple—it really is the thought that counts. If you buy a gift that shows you really have listened to their needs and that you want to make their life easier, you can’t go wrong!