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The perfect present – blast it!

Proof that sometimes the best-laid plans can go awry


Helen Dyrbye is a published author, translator and former scout leader from East Anglia in England who relocated to Denmark a long time ago and loves it here as much as ‘back home’.

July 6, 2014
07:00

by Helen Dyrbye


Presents are great fun. But not always easy to find at the last minute. So I buy presents during the year and hide them ready for the right occasion. You’d think it would be a great idea, but it has backfired once or twice

Planning ahead

The first time was when I was about ten.

My mum loves gardening so I decided to buy her an exotic present at the local garden centre

.It was a fascinating place with peacocks that made strange squawking noises like babies being dropped off a cliff and a very old caravan with the furnishings stripped out, where guinea pigs of all shapes, sizes, shades, squiggles and swirly bits hurtled about tickling your feet the minute you walked in the door.

And closed it quick. It was heaven for a little kid, though I’m not sure what the RSPCA would say these days. 

Under wraps

Anyway, it was several weeks before mum’s birthday and the perfect present cost almost all my hard-earned pocket money. 

I was determined to keep it a surprise.

So I waited until mum was out with the aunties, carried it carefully indoors and hid it where she would never find it. It was a very good hiding place. Very good indeed.

In fact it was the kind of hiding place that is SO good that after a few hours you kind of forgot all about the fact that you’ve hidden anything in the first place.

Until a few weeks later, that is, when mum is out and your dad whips out the wrapping paper and the present he’s bought.

I happily explained that I’d need more paper and brought out the huge box I’d hidden away. We wrapped it up carefully, resorting to newspaper for underneath, and for the next day, mum’s birthday, we were ready.

Palmed off

Mum was excited. And very surprised. Especially when she opened the box and fished out what was inside.

Not the prize yucca plant in the prime of life that I had bought and cradled carefully home on my bike. No, what mum fished out of that box was more like a pot full of fossilised compost.

It was a case of Yuck! Not yucca. Well, I was only little. I hadn’t considered that plants need water and light.

And you don’t get much of either in a box stuffed under a desk. Poor thing.

Luckily mum managed to find one tiny side shoot that was still alive and managed to nurse it back to health. Clever mum.

And when we moved to the next village not long after, she planted it in the garden at the new house and it steadily took over the whole flower bed. A blooming miracle!

Feeling rejected

The second time my habit of ferretting away presents in advance misfired was decades later when I found a sweatshirt for Jake’s brother Alex several weeks before Christmas.

It actually said Alex on the front. I put it in the present drawer out of sight only to discover when wrapping it up that it had a big splodge on one sleeve.

When I took it back to the shop, the lady took one sniff and claimed it had been worn and washed and said she wouldn’t replace it.

The truth was it had sat in the present drawer pressed up next to the ‘smellies’ (perfumes and soaps) we’d bought Grandma for Christmas. How embarrassing.

I guess the shop assistant thought it smelled fishy!

The big 21

Next week, Jake’s big brother Alex is 21. Naturally, Jake wanted to make him a special present.

Homemade presents are best, after all. So we took a road trip to the Glass Universe in Gilleleje  (Møllegade 3B, Gilleleje; 3069 3950, info@glasuniverset.dk; glasuniverset.dk) and had a day out at the seaside with lunch at the harbour.

As you can see, Jake picked out a lovely green glass bowl, found just the right stickers for his lizard-loving brother and then sandblasted the entire work of art to create a container for guitar picks that his brother will love. You can see how he did it at helendyrbye.blogspot.com.

You buy a glass container – there are lots to choose from that cost 40kr or more – buy some stickers (or bring your own) and then design your very own work of art. Stock up for Christmas, even.


Arty inspiration

Check out the art exhibition at Gilleleje Harbour (20 June-10 August; kunstifileten.dk). You might win a fishy picture.

Jam jar jinks

For a penny-friendly alternative, check our blog and make a pretty nightlight holder. We used snippets and scraps from around the house. It’s a great activity for little kids and a bright idea for a gift.




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