Transform U: A joyous gift

By Auretha Callison

Auretha shares a few of her favorite gift ideas.
by Auretha Callison
The qualities of a great gift are a blend of usefulness, thoughtfulness and aesthetic prowess.
Call me a gearhead, but I think great, long-lasting tools reflect a commitment to the earth and to our hard-working roots. Here are a few of my favorite functio nal and creative gifts, certain to be appreciated in these practical times!

Nail cleaner: $17 Any gardener, artist or workman will be thrilled with this tool that allows for cleanup of the dirtiest goo under one’s fingernails. We order this in bundles to get free shipping and have it on hand as the perfect stocking stuffer!

Combine with earth-friendly orange hand cleaner for greasy clean-ups I love orange cleaner to get oil off my hands, stickers off shoes, grease spots out of laundry, etc. It’s a great all-purpose product for any creative adult.

Knife sharpener from Ace Hardware: $12 My engineer friend Paul turned me onto this nifty knife sharpener he carries in his pocket. For kitchen knives, get the red one. Sharp knives are safe knives.
DMT Diamond Mini- Sharp

Another great stocking stuffer for young or old? A headlamp! I keep one in my car (for safety and signaling) and one in my backpack. How many times has something fallen into a dark spot and holding a flashlight doesn’t work? A great gift for travelers.

Turbo pliers: self-adjusting 9.75″, $25-35 These have saved my child-sized hands from great distress. My man keeps trying to sneak them out of my sight into his truck. They are known as “the pliers” at my house. I really think this is the most useful tool in the world.

An art basket featuring WATERCOLOR PENCILS! These pencils are my favorite tool to get those who draw to become those who paint! Be sure to include watercolor paper in a medium sized notebook and a good-quality watercolor paintbrush. Utrecht in Sugar House is my number one art supply source. They carry Staedtler big white erasers—wonderful for removing smudges from walls and patent shoes.

For southpaws? Leftie scissors. Righties have no idea what a big deal this is!

For wine lovers: enormous lucite or glass diamond wine bottle stoppers! $18 -35. Put some bling on your bottle! Several local glass artists carry beautiful wine bottle stoppers.

Local crafts Glass or wooden items made from local artisans are appreciated for their durability and beauty. I recommend purchasing medium sized cutting boards, big wooden salad bowls are always needed at my house (hint), and I love supporting our local artists. We’re always on the lookout for huge pottery mugs that can double as soup bowls. If you’ve liked someone’s work, call them up for a Christmas order right now.
Just can’t choose something practical? Head to Second Hand Chic (959 E 3300 S, 801.433.0044) for a lot of one-of-a-kind. Vintage nudie refrigerator magnets, anyone?

What not to gift? Clothing, makeup, fragrance, jewelry and artwork, unless you have a specific request to do so. Over many years, I’ve learned to hint to parents and relatives what gifts I would appreciate most. My mom knows clutter and tchotchkes are no longer appreciated as my
sister and I streamline our lives. If unsure or it’s someone you don’t know well, buy a gift certificate to an ethical business with a diverse product selection (Earth Goods General Store on 9th East) or a local bookstore (Golden Braid, Sam Weller, King’s English, Ken Sanders). You can’t go wrong supporting local businesses. Happy giving and receiving to you!

Auretha Callison is an image stylist living in Salt Lake City.

This article was originally published on November 30, 2009.