Back to Occasions done differently

Occasions done differently


Ceramics that say 'welcome to being an adult, I hope you like ibuprofen'

Welcome To Being An Adult, by Martha Freud

How on earth is my baby son Harry now 18?! HOW?? And how on earth do you find meaningful gifts for 18 year olds anyway?! One minute he was strapped to my chest as I was building notonthehighstreet and now he’s a guitar-playing, sushi eating (and I shudder to think what other activities he spends his spare time doing!) young adult, with beliefs and ideas and a million different choices lying ahead of him.

What a privilege it’s been to watch him grow into the kind, bright young man he is today though. He actually makes it very easy to love him. What‘s been a lot harder however is finding original birthday gifts he’ll like — and if any of you have young adults to buy for, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Plus it doesn’t help that I asked what he wanted and he said ‘paperclips!’…

So if you’ve got a special 18th coming up and want to find something truly ‘them’, that they genuinely will really love, here are some unique ideas from brilliantly creative small businesses…

phone stand that says 'call your mum'

‘Call Your Mum’ phone stand, by The Oak & Rope Company

I like to call this a ‘joint gift’ lol. But really, how’s this for a clever bit of personalisation? You can get any message or initial, skillfully hand carved but I know this will raise a smile (and I’m actually really hoping it works when he moves out!!). It’s solid oak, and designed to fit every model of iPhone (as well as many others). I’ll probably need one that says, “Stop calling him. He’s fine” but anyway…

Cocktail making kit with personalised Teppi Living tag

‘Cocktail Making Set’, by PAVOCI and personalised ceramic tag, by Teppi

This was actually a gift Harry was lucky enough to receive from my dear co-founder Gabi and what a gift it is! A handmade, 11 piece cocktail set with stainless steel items tucked in rustic wood that will set any self-respecting bartender up for life. Of course, Gabi made it all the more thoughtful and personal by adding the ceramic ‘Harry’s Bar’ tag which also means he’ll cherish it for life.

Sweets for a hangover cure

‘Rescue Jelly Bean Jars’, by Candyhouse

…And if the 18 year old you’re shopping for is as passionate about exploring the wonderful world of alcohol as my Harry seems to be, then this will likely be a well-received gift too. I’m sure while he is nursing a Freshers’ Week hangover from hell later this year, a little sugar might give a much-needed lift, and this will likely cheer his spirits and remind him of home. No wonder they’ve been stocked in The Conran Shop. 

Get your own gift card

‘Get Your Own Gift’ cash card, by Text From A Friend

Now here’s a gift that no self-respecting 18 year old would ever return — money! Sometimes they do know best what they would like though and at least you can wrap it up in this fun, dry humoured card — individually hand-printed using a traditional printing press, and foil blocked to perfection no less.

Leather keyring

Starling personalised leather keyring, by Konoc

At 18, you are handed the keys to the world (or for anyone going off to university or moving out, the keys to a room or flat of your own too). This is a great way to remind them that you’re right there with them on their new adventures, every step of the way. Whether it’s their special nickname, the date they moved out or timely reminders like MIW (Mum Is Watching!), these make lovely gifts that will be used every day.

Stained glass trainer

Stained glass trainer, by Tara Collette

They’ll only be 18 once. So for this special milestone, why not customise something they’re passionate about in a piece they’ll never forget? This is the sort of gift I can imagine Harry keeping for decades to come — his unique style, customised in glass and immortalised forever. I can see him looking at this in 2048 and saying, “I bloody loved those trainers.”, as you smile and remember the shopping trip together when you bought them.

Map that says 'adventure is always a good idea'

Scratch map artist’s edition featuring Dave Buonaguidi, by Luckies of London

I can’t think of a cooler way to help them plan their backpacking adventures or gap year jaunt than in this scratch map wall art. As well as it becoming something they’ll keep forever, it will likely be a talking point in any student house too as they remove the top layer of gold foil for each country they visit (summer job wages permitting). The best part is that it features original work by my brilliant friend Dave (AKA artist, Dave Buonaguidi which I’m hoping will earn me extra cool points too). 

Light soy portable lamp, by Heliograf

My Harry’s love of sushi started from a very young age and if any of you know of anyone who also knows their Nigiri from their Temaki, then what a great gift! This award-winning lamp was actually designed to stop ocean pollution at the ‘sauce’ with a recycled, ocean-bound plastic shade — so it’s every bit as helpful as it is good looking.

Monogram notebooks

Textured personalised notebook, by Not-Another-Bill

Whether it’s emergency song lyrics that need noting down, plans for their latest money making scheme or even just the next pub crawl route, this personalised notebook will hit the spot — and as it says on the website, will ensure they, “…don’t get caught short when that moment of genius strikes.” I love finding my old scribbles from years gone by and this might just pass on the favour.

Ceramic travel mug

White travel cup, by Old Brewhouse Pottery

As the saying goes, “But first coffee.” Especially when you’re 18, have had three hours sleep and have a class on the pros and cons of using non-quantitative data in business decision making including the interpretation of ratio-driven calculation (that was an actual topic btw)… This speckled clay travel cup comes with a silicone lid for travel (you can pick the colour) and two cardboard sleeves — ideal for saving money in fancy coffee shops and helping to save the planet too.   

For more gift ideas for teens, birthdays or the women in your life, visit my Inspiration Hub.

Share this article

Back to Occasions done differently