I wrote recently about how excited I was to bring my family’s Hanukkah gifts to Thanksgiving. I love giving gifts and working on figuring out the perfect gift to get people. I don’t do a ton of gifts for the holidays, but I do get something for my parents, my brother, and sister-in-law. And I usually do one gift for my parents and one gift for my brother and sister-in-law for a few reasons. First, I do have to consider how much money I have to spend on gifts. But also, I love getting something that is more of a group gift for Hanukkah because I do something more personal for birthdays.
I take a lot of pride in finding the perfect gift for people and I have a tab on my web browser just for gift ideas. I know that I have to get gifts each year so when I see something that is perfect I save it because I know I’ll eventually buy it for someone. And the Hanukkah gifts I gave this year were something I found a year ago at Thanksgiving last year. And it’s been crazy to keep it a secret for a year because I was so excited about it!
I saw on social media that someone I follow got a custom pet portrait done and thought it was so cute! I looked at a couple of different companies online and they all seemed to be out of my budget. I was disappointed by that but determined to keep looking to see if I could figure out a way to make it happen. I ended up finding a company that was a bit out of my budget, but they usually had sales so I saved the link and was planning on ordering them in September.
I had a setback with the ordering because I placed my order and then the company wasn’t getting back to me. I was supposed to hear from them within 72 hours and gave them over a week before I reached out to them. They weren’t responding to emails or private messages on social media and I was so upset. I disputed the charges and got the money back, but then had to search again for a company to help me out (I finally heard from the original company and they said there was a glitch that caused them not to get my order or messages).
I contacted several stores on Etsy and found ZK Portraits. While the portraits I wanted to have done weren’t exactly what they usually do, they were willing to work with me and we started emailing back and forth so they could find out what I wanted. And they were even cheaper than the original company that I was going to go with!
I knew that for my brother and sister-in-law that I wanted a portrait of their cat as a doctor. But for my parents, I was on the fence with a few ideas. I knew I wanted something that was about Tahoe but I couldn’t decide if I wanted Tucker as a skier, hiker, or kayaker. As much as I wanted to keep this a surprise for my parents, I knew I needed help so I asked my dad for advice. He told me that having Tucker as a skier was the best one and he was so excited that I was going to be doing these portraits. I know that he probably would have loved to have been surprised, but I think he also enjoyed being in on the gift planning too.
Within a week of ordering the portraits, I got the proofs via email to approve. And I couldn’t have asked for anything more amazing than these!
I was smiling so much when I saw these and emailed the artist back to say they were perfect! I was getting the portraits as high-resolution digital images so I had to figure out how I wanted to present them. There are so many options for artwork like these and I didn’t know if they would want them on canvas, metal, acrylic, or photo paper nor did I know what size they would want them. So I had them printed out as 8×10 photos and figured I’d give them the full size image after they opened the gifts so they could do something different if they wanted to.
Sometimes my family does all of our gifts at the same time, but this time we ended up doing them each day. I gave my family their gifts on Wednesday even though they were going to do their gifts the next day. I just couldn’t wait any longer!
My mom opened theirs first (my dad already had seen a preview so he let her open it) and I wish I took a video of her reaction! She was so excited and shocked and was laughing so hard about how amazing the portrait was. She never would have thought of doing something like that herself and loved that I got them a portrait. My brother and sister-in-law started to ask questions about it and I told them they needed to open their present first. That clued them in that I got them something similar and I think they loved that I got a portrait of their cat like a doctor. My brother posted it on the Instagram they created for their cat right away.
The next day I got an Amazon gift card from my brother and sister-in-law and my parents got me a nice down jacket and a beanie that has a hole in the top so I can wear it when I have my hair in a ponytail or top knot! Both gifts will be put to good use (I actually wore the hat when I flew home since it was cold out) and I loved them! I’m still picking out what fun things I want to get on Amazon with the gift card since I don’t want to just use it on something boring like vitamins or printer paper.
It’s almost a joke in my family now that I always try to top the gifts I’ve done in the past, but it’s true. I really want to find the perfect thing and when I find them months before I’m going to give them that just gives me so much time to build up anticipation on how the recipient will react to it. And I’ve actually found something that I might do as Hanukkah gifts for next year, but I don’t think I can top the pet portraits for a while. It really was the perfect gift and I’m so glad they were a big hit!