DIY Gift Idea: Surprise Balls!

DnD Surprise Ball

Surprise balls are one of the ultimate DIY gifts. Seriously. These gifts are like mini parties in one: your recipient has the joy of unwrapping their gift and getting multiple tiny surprises, while covering themselves with colorful crepe paper! Plus, you look like a wonderful and creative human being, and it only took you a few bucks and a few minutes! Win-win.

The premise is simple: Start with your largest gift in the center and wrap around it with crepe paper streamers. Continue to wrap the streamer around, working it towards a ball-shape, and pause every once in a while to add another small gift. Continue to do this until all gifts are fully wrapped inside of the ball. That’s it!

Surprise Ball Steps

The fun, though, is coming up with ways to decorate and theme the ball. You can change the color of the streamers throughout by taping two colored streamers together, you can dress up the front with washi tape and stickers, or you can create a replica of a round object and theme the gifts inside appropriately.

Harry Potter Surprise Ball

Here are some ideas for geeky surprise balls:

HP Ball Contents

The Golden Snitch

Using gold crepe paper, create a surprise ball and add wings to the back. Fill with Harry Potter-themed goodies! These can include:

  • Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans
  • Gold from Gringotts Bank
  • A Time Turner
  • Pins, stickers, and other accessories in the recipient’s house colors
  • Favorite quotes from the books

DnD Ball Contents

The Dungeon Master

Invite your friends to a Dungeons and Dragons game, and give them everything they’ll need to start their adventure! This can include:

  • A set of dice
  • A miniature
  • Riddles or puzzles
  • Clues that will help them during the campaign
  • “Coupons” they can cash in during the campaign. For instance:
    • Redeem this slip of paper for: One re-roll. (Can be given to another player or NPC.)
    • Redeem this slip of paper for: One random item from the Trinkets page.
    • Redeem this slip of paper for: Advantage or Disadvantage on the roll of your choice. (Can be given to another player or NPC.)

Here are some other fun ideas:

  • Put a bunch of stocking stuffers/candies in a surprise ball with black crepe paper streamers–it’ll look like coal!
  • Make a pokeball-themed surprise ball with mini Pokemon goodies inside!
  • Know a sports fan? Put sports-themed goodies (or a note saying you’ve got tickets to the big game) inside a surprise ball that looks like their sports ball of choice!

What type of surprise ball do you want to make? Let me know in the comments!

Nudo: Adopt Something Delicious

NUDO_Darjeeling_Deliveries-Summary_NA

Why give a friend a gift of teas or olive oils when instead you can give them their own olive tree or tea garden? This is the concept of Nudo: you can adopt a tree or garden and receive a seasonal selection from your own adoptee. I’ve written about Nudo in the past and have loved checking up on the company. (I mean, how cool would it be to tell your friends the story of the exact tree your oil is from?) This holiday season, they’ve expanded their olive tree selection and added Darjeeling Tea Gardens.

I had the pleasure of sampling their new Sicilian Feudo Giulfo single-estate extra-virgin olive oil as well as their Darjeeling Tea, and oh my gosh you guys, the stuff is good. The olive oil is spicy, fruity, and so good on its own with a bit of bread. The Golden Harvest tea was indeed golden in color and tasted like the ultimate cup of tea. This is the stuff tea parties are made of.

If you’re looking for a fun, unique gift for someone that loves food or tea, or cares greatly about where their food comes from, Nudo is for you. And because they’re so awesome, they’re giving away a tea adoption! You’ll receive an adoption certificate from your tea garden and a shipment of the Golden Harvest Darjeeling loose leaf tea. Enter using the rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Smell Like a Geek with Marie DeMars

bluebox

I was recently asked to try out some of Marie DeMars’ scents and I was thrilled to see that she had some inspired by Doctor Who. I received a sampler and they arrived in this amazing TARDIS box, as seen above. (I’d rather get a present in this blue box than in that other blue box, am I right, ladies?) Mr. Geek and I both have a thing for cool boxes, and right away he picked it up. “Where did this come from? What is this?” He was sold. Basically, even after the perfume is gone, I’m keeping the box for tiny treasures. It’s awesome.

Anyway, let’s get to the perfume! I received Silence in the LibraryElevenRiver Song, and Corsair. They’re all oil-based and go on incredibly smooth. They’re warm and musky scents, but wear subtly, which is nice. Silence in the Library makes me think of sitting on a big, comfy chair with multiple old books surrounding me. Eleven makes me feel like The Doctor gave me a big hug and his scent stayed with me, River Song is simply delicious and a little spicy (just like the woman herself), and Corsair is smooth, yet surprising. Although they are all lovely, River Song was my favorite scent to wear. I kept smelling my wrists after putting it on!

You can purchase the scents individually or in a trio. Not sure which ones to get? Get a sampler like mine! And lucky you, Geeky Hostess readers get 30% off with code “GEEKYHOSTESS”. Visit Marie DeMars’ Etsy shop to try these perfumes and more!

Game of Thrones Wine Charms

wine charms

Game of Thrones Fans: I thought you all could use something to go with that whine after last week’s episode.

These wine charms showcase six house sigils from Game of Thrones including Stark, Tyrell, Targaryen, Baratheon, Greyjoy, and Lannister. Pick your alliances wisely and trust your friends to obey basic hospitality rules while in your home!

The set is perfect for your next viewing party and makes a great hostess, housewarming, or wedding gift.

The wine charms are available for $24.99 for a set of 6 at ThinkGeek.com.

Chocolate Crisis Center: You Need It.

Christmas is 12 days away. Everyone I know is shopping, putting in longer hours at work to prep for some vacation time, getting started on their resolutions for the new year, and trying to wrap up projects before the new year. Clearly, everyone needs a chocolate break. The Chocolate Crisis Center can get you your fix, and can suggest gifts for others who are going through the same crises. Their packaging is super cute, and their treats sound amazing. (Who wouldn’t want Tiramisu Cocoa Caramels?)

I recommend finishing up your holiday shopping here and getting a treat (or two, or three) for yourself while you’re there. You deserve it.

Hamlet in a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure

Ryan North, of Dinosaur Comics and Adventure Comics fame, is retelling the story of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in a humorous, choose-your-own-adventure format.

There’s not too much else I should have to say. But I’ll say more anyway. The book will be illustrated by a huge list of artists. HUGE list. Check it out here. You can get your own copy of the book for as little as $15. Go!

Available at Kickstarter.com.

Epic Win Cupcakes

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. If you haven’t yet picked out a gift for your loved one(s), or are looking for a sweet treat for yourself, I’d recommend you check out these “Epic Win Cupcakes.” The cupcakes include a trifecta of ingredients: coffee, whiskey, and bacon. (Not into pork products on your baked goods? Feel free to keep it off.) Between the kick of the whiskey and the caffeine from the coffee, these cupcakes are not for the faint of heart. They’re guaranteed to make an all-night gaming session or movie marathon even better.

Chocolate-Coffee Cake
(Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book’s “One-Bowl Chocolate Cake”)

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBS instant coffee powder
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup cooking oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked, broken into small pieces (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare cupcake pans with wrappers.

In a small bowl, mix the instant coffee powder into the milk. Set aside.

Mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add milk/coffee mixture, oil, and vanilla.

Beat with electric mixer on low speed until combined, then mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add egg, and beat for 2 minutes more.

Pour cupcake mixture into cupcake pans, filling them up 1/2 way.

Bake for 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cool, frost and top with a piece of well-cooked bacon. Enjoy!

Chocolate Whiskey Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 8 TBS unsalted butter
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 TBS whiskey (I used Mischief whiskey, made locally in Fremont!)
  • 3 tsp cocoa powder
  • dash of salt

Directions:

Taste the whiskey, make sure it’s good.

Pour another 3 TBS of whiskey to actually use for the recipe.

In an electric mixer, whip butter until fluffy.

Add in 3-4 cups powdered sugar, 3 TBS whiskey, 3 tsp cocoa powder, and a pinch of salt slowly as you mix.

Continue to mix until the frosting takes on the consistency you prefer, adding more powdered sugar if necessary.

I took these cupcakes with me when I joined BJ Shea’s Geek Nation podcast to talk about Valentine’s Day gifts. You can check out the full podcast here. My segment starts about 15 minutes in.

Looking for the Wonder Woman underwear I mentioned in the podcast? Try SuperheroStuff.com, Hot Topic, TopShop, and Spencers.

You can find a Golden Snitch locket on Etsy.

Need more gift ideas? Check out my post on Valentine’s Day gifts here!

Above all, remember that Valentine’s Day is just a great excuse to tell people you care about them–that can be done with something homemade, a nice hand-written letter, or even just an earnest phone call. You don’t need to spend any money as long as there’s some thought there.

What are you doing for your Valentine?