Sure, the holidays seem to be off in the distant future. But if you want a gift that's one-of-a-kind and fits perfectly — trust us, you get extra points for that — it's time to get started. Don't worry, CultureMap has rounded up the best gifts to put your own spin on, in Houston and beyond, for the first of our holiday gift guides.
There's no such thing as a standard gift box from River Oaks' Araya Artisan Chocolate. Choose from a set of fruit chocolates, alcohol-infused chocolates, or truffles, or mix and match your own. Bonus: The boxes are covered with images from different local and international artists. A dozen chocolates, $28.
When it comes to gifts, the devil's in the details. That's why we love that Tiffany & Co. still uses only hand-engraving on their silver and jewelry — the last bastion of a rare art. The Tiffany's engraver will be making a stop in Houston on Nov. 22 — in a pinch, remember "love, always" is a guaranteed winner.Tiffany Somerset bangle in 18-karat gold,$1,350; Tiffany Blue bangle in sterling silver, $450; Tiffany 1837 interlocking bangle in sterling silver and 18 karat gold, $2,200; Paloma's Crown of Hearts bangle in 18 karat gold by Paloma Picasso for Tiffany & Co., $1,275; Tiffany Atlas bangle in 18 karat gold, $2,150; Tiffany Blue bangles in sterling silver, $400 each; Tiffany 1837 interlocking bangle in 18 karat gold, $4,300.
What's better than a serenade of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in the style of Polynesian superstar Israel Kamakawiwo'ole? The same serenade on your own custom, handmake gourd ukulele by artisan Danny Ferrington. Ferrington has made instruments for George Harrison, Keith Richards and Chrissie Hynde — each one is an heirloom-quality work of art.Danny Ferrington ukulele, $6,000, through Neiman Marcus.
For the perfect mix of classy and sexy, there's nothing like a menswear-style shirt on a lady. Check out Houston-based Claridge + King's His is Hers and say good-bye to stolen shirts. We love it even more with a classic monogram, offered in 19 colors, five styles and five locations. Original His Is Hers shirt, $95, plus $28 for monogramming, at claridgeandking.com.
This takes "our favorite wine" to a whole new level. Design custom wine labels at Water 2 Wine or go in for a tasting and create your own custom blend.Custom wine labels, $20 for first bottle and $5 for each additional bottle, 24-hour notice required. Custom wine, from $275 to $505 per batch of 28 bottles, 8-10 week wait required for fermentation.
Step away from the tired L.L Bean boat bag and say hello to Iomoi. The new Parker bag in canvas with leather trim comes with over 100 monogram options, from stripes of every pattern and color to whimsical designs of elephants, nautical themes, crowns and more — include classic initials or up to two lines of text in four font choices, or you can design your own. It's the perfect mix between classic and whimsy for the modern prep.Iomoi Parker bag, $298
Initially Speaking custom jewelry takes gift-giving personally. Owners Fran Brooks and Barbara Courshon use initials as the centerpiece for custom bracelets and necklaces made from citrine, Swarovski crystals, onyx, pave diamonds, pearls, gold and silver. From $25-$500, at initiallyspeaking.com.Initially Speaking Custom Grand Lux Bracelet, Citrine Pearl Dreams, $275.
Whether bespoke or made-to-measure, a Hamilton shirt is a stylish necessity for the well-dressed Houston gent. And with over 100 new fabrics for fall, there's bound to be something that will look good under a tree. Made-to-measure shirts, from $245, at Hamilton Shirts.
Leave the it bags to the "it" girls and give a tote that's one-of-a-kind. Pick up a pattern and a pre-made kit with everything you'll need (including a variety of fabrics) at Sew Crafty.Frenchy bag kit, $35; Frenchy pattern, $12.95.
Sure, you can pick up custom stationery (starting at $47) at Ph Design Shop, but we also love the monogram paperweights, $45, and adorable address stamps, $28.
A photo in a frame is nice, but a painted portrait says you did more than run to Walgreen's to print out that arm's length picture. Houston artist Hanh Tran elevates that moment-in-time with commission portraits based on a client sitting, photograph or concept. Prices vary depending on size of the painting and color and texture thickness.Hanh Tran oil on canvass, 48 inches by 72 inches based on photo image. Price on request.
We've all heard "make it your own" a zillion times, but at Naked Body + Bath, they really mean it. The line of lotions, fragrances, soaps, hair and skin products are sans parabens, phthalates and sodium lauryl, but full of natural scents and other elements you create with all-natural products. The Rice Village shop smells divine and whether mixing for you or a friend, take time for a sit and a soak in the complimentary foot bath.Custom bath, skin care, fragrance and beauty products, $9-$85.
Tervis tumblers have a lifetime warranty and a cult following for their unique double walled insulation — it keeps cool bevvies cooler, hot drinks hotter, and won't crack, melt, shatter, or chip. And they can come personalized with a name, favorite college or sports team, or photo. $10-$15 each, plus $5 per glass for personalization, at tervis.com.