when it comes time for gift giving, i think we can strive to provide our loved ones with new ways of seeing the world, and i think there's a lot of value in the idea of expanding one's vision and seeing more of the world than we all normally do. to me, there are several directions in which you can take that from a gifting perspective, and i'm going to do just that and take you with me.
if you like the idea of giving a kaleidoscope, check out the kaleidostore at emerson for the most beautiful and varied collection you'll ever find, anywhere. if you like the idea, but you're already shopped out, pier 1 has a cute one as a little stocking stuffer.
here are some things from restoration hardware that are great, moderately priced tools for seeing the world:
celestial seeker navigator:
along similar lines, i love the cloud b twilight constellation nightlight which turns a child's bedroom (or an adult's, i guess!) into a planetarium. i've given this a few times as a gift and it's always a hit.
and remember viewmasters? toys r us has an updated selection.
i also love the idea of giving a globe, like this one from pier 1 (above) or the floating desktop globe from red envelope. also, homegoods always seems to have really nice ones that are well-priced.
another very special way to see the world is great books with photos and information that helps us put our own existence and home in perspective.
one of my favorite books i've ever received as a gift is the huge coffee table version of earth from above, a stunning collection of photographs by french photographer yann arthus-bertrand. there is now an additional version of the book called earth from above: 365 days, revised edition, that was created with conservationists and leans more towards the impact of humankind on the planet.
it has been reviewed as revealing "the unity of life on earth in all its glorious symmetry, contrasts, and complexity." as you can see from this tiny sampling of photos, they are sights to behold. i have found myself gazing at the pages of my copy, transfixed by the fact that these are in fact, real places in this world.
perhaps the most influential purchases we can make not only result in our loved ones receiving great gifts, but also aid in making the world a better, more fair place. at macy's, you can shop for a better world, from their collection of one-of-a-kind masterworks made by women in recovernig nations. they include handwoven baskets, textiles and other artisan housewares made in rwanda and indonesia. the program seeks to "nurture local production, employ rural populations, preserve artistic traditions provide income & education and create a sustainable business." and the pieces themselves are beautiful and unique works of art.
i love the idea of giving something that is a reminder of how big the world is, which each of these gift ideas do. it's humbling but inspiring at the same time. to me, that feeling alone -- the awareness of our small but significant place in the world -- is quite a gift in itself, and i love the idea of giving our loved ones tools to discover or rediscover it throughout their lives.
viewmaster photo from http://www.thechestnut.com/, earth from above photos from http://www.chanchow.blogspot.com/, http://www.smashingapps.com/, http://www.michael01612.spaces.live.com/, http://www.martianchronicles.wordpress.com/, all other photos from linked sites