The Elusive Husband Birthday Present

Ok. I have heard time and time again that men are apparently hard to shop for.

I disagree.

I think men overall are way easier to shop for than women. But, and a big but, any gender is hard to shop for period if you don’t know any of their likes and dislikes.

Well what happens when the opposite happens? When you know each other inside and out? When you’ve done all the usual dating style personalized gifts to there and back over the course of your marriage?

What then? Does the gift giving “WOW!” factor disappear when you go “Honey can I get a pair of Frye Veronica Slouch boots for my birthday?” I once asked my in-laws for a dust buster for Christmas because we really needed one and to this day it’s one of my favourite Christmas gifts we’ve ever gotten from them.

Did I also mention that my husband James and myself haven’t exchanged Christmas presents with each other since our oldest was born? At that point in our lives it was that moment of “You know, I work, I make money, if I want a sweater I’ll go buy a sweater.” We also now had a little one that we took much more joy in watching open her own presents. But it was more about the fact that our priorities had changed from material gifts to non material ones.

Emptying out the dishwasher. Taking out the garbage. Making sure the ice cube trays are filled with water so there was always ice. Coffee maker always ready in the morning. Holding each others hand when you go for a walk. Slicing 100 wood slices for your wife’s insane craft projects. Picking up milk on the way home so one of you doesn’t have to take your baby to the grocery store in the middle of winter.

It’s the little things. While they’re not great avant-garde gestures of romance and rose petals, they make a marriage work where you’re both partners in crime and that leaves you time to focus on each other vs one of you being exhausted doing it all. Seriously though who does the rose petal on the bed thing? Does anyone actually find that romantic? Don’t send me hate mail about that. I am just not that kind of romance girl. I didn’t even want an engagement ring. No really. I wanted a house down payment. That doesn’t mean I’d turn down an Eternity band for an anniversary…

Anyhow, every year for my husbands birthday I try to make something handmade.  Usually that’s a good card, a good meal and…oh right I share kids crafts on here, my bad.

This year I got a little more creative and I thought in the spirit of all the spouses out there who are going “What the hell do I get them?!!!” I can inspire you with an easy craft.

James favourite beer is Innis and Gunn. We were introduced to it on our Anniversary no less and it has become what we call his end of work week beer. Innis and Gunn is not the beer you should be taking to frat parties and guzzling. This is a beer that needs to be enjoyed and savoured. It is so damn good and so rich, if you haven’t tried it, go get the sampler pack this Holiday Season that they have out and introduce yourself.

So I made him this. A mini beer crate. For his favourite beer.

DIY beer gift

And yes I got him more beer – the Holiday Gift pack from Innis and Gunn – and wrapped that too.

Birthday Gift for Husband

Oh my God I used kraft paper.

That never happens.kraft paper gift wrap

kraft paper gift wrap with yarn

The tag on the front is a piece of leather from a vintage camera case that was literally falling apart and could not be saved because so many pieces of it were damaged beyond repair. Because I always love to re-use old things into new projects, I took my leather stamp set (which I really need to do a proper post on) and stamped it.

I was going to write “James’ Beer” but it wasn’t the feel I was going for. I wanted something a little classier so I went with “Est 1979” – the year he was born. FYI Innis and Gunn was 2002.

leather stamped tag

I’d like to tell you that I drilled in the bolts into the mini crate, but yeah. Those are brads. Paper Fasteners. I used E6000 glue to glue the whole thing on. Mainly because I’ve worked with this crate material before and if you’re not careful you can split it when you drill something into it.

Now would be an awesome time to tell you that I bought it at Dollarama and did not in any way shape or form drag out the mitre saw in our garage and do this on my own. Not that you can’t, I just don’t know how. So I bought one and stained it with Minwax Dark Walnut.

Minwax Dark Walnut

Personalized beer crate

Then our kids made and me baked him his favourite oatmeal chocolate chip cookie and they made their own gift bags for him, filled with the cookies. And yes I made him a card.

Because at the end of the day, what more can you ask for on your Birthday? Good beer, homemade cookies and your family.

The day off of work? Ok I’ll ask Santa for next year. Wait, what? That? Yeah I can’t pin that on Pinterest. Twitter on the other hand…

PS – James don’t read this post until after noon. Maybe I should have used that as the title. Happy Birthday! We Love You!

L & C


  • Reply
    [email protected]
    November 13, 2013 at 8:26 am

    Love that! Simple and really cute. I’m sure he’ll dig it!

  • Reply
    Victoria • Restoring our Victorian
    November 13, 2013 at 8:43 am

    It is obvious to me that you are going to reclaim that crate. It is way too adorable, and you will find a much better use for it than James.

    Wish him a happy birthday from all of us!!

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    November 13, 2013 at 9:17 am

    My husband would love this. He actually just posted on his Facebook yesterday the quote, “What do you mean, I am hard to shop for? Don’t you know where the liquor store is?”

  • Reply
    November 13, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Such a sweet & simple gift. It’s true that once you have kids the whole showering an adult loved one with gifts kind of goes out the window a bit. Love the execution on this, very stylish/crafty/awesome.

  • Reply
    now at home mom
    November 13, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    oh! the crate, the leather tag: everything is well done Alex! 🙂 this is a nice gift to give him, he will be happy I’m sure and please wish him a happy birthday 🙂

  • Reply
    November 13, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Great ideas all. It’s better to take time (alone) with your husband and go somewhere where you can just be a couple again for a few days. Wally and I used to do that a lot. Gave us a bread from parenting and all that comes with that. We got to reconnect as lovers and friends again.

  • Reply
    Danielle from Storypiece
    November 13, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    Such a gorgeous gift and one filled with stuff he’ll enjoy! You always come up with the most original ideas.

    And for the record, Frye Veronica Slouch boots come with the “Wow” factor, regardless of who buys them. 🙂

  • Reply
    November 13, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Such a cute idea! (And I LOVE Innis & Gunn. My fave beer by far.)

  • Reply
    November 13, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    I know EXACTLY what you mean about the gift giving and this is genius. Just genius.

  • Reply
    Neaten Your Nest
    November 14, 2013 at 12:06 am

    It’s awesome! I just love it. And I wish I could find adorable crates like that at my Dollar Store. I would buy a hundred of them!!!

  • Reply
    Tara @ Suburble
    November 14, 2013 at 2:25 am

    Look at your cuties! So sweet!

    Also, I have to say that men are WAY harder to get things for. Or maybe it’s just my men.

    That aside – I love how you and your hubby exchange “gifts”, and I also LOVE your boot choice! Good ones!

    The crate is gorgeous and I’m sure that James was thrilled to receive it. So creative and thoughtful.

  • Reply
    Thalita @ The Learner Observer
    November 17, 2013 at 7:45 am

    I love that you put “EST. 1979” on the leather! So good!!!! Also, the entire first half of your post had me nodding along with every word. Flower petals on the bed? Come on… no one really does that right?

  • Reply
    Tash @ The Dreamhouse Project
    February 7, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Jesus…Ok. I’ve officially fallen into a northstory hole & am now getting caught up on a bunch of the posts I missed.

    FYI I’m going to start a second blog called ‘Awesome stuff I made because I saw Alex do it’

    Also FYI – Rose petals on the bed. Guilty. But to be fair I was 21& it was our first Valentine’s day. I can admit now it was pretty corny – also TOTALLY stains the sheets. Don’t do it! LOL!

  • Reply
    July 3, 2015 at 10:42 am

    I know my dad would love this. Simple and cool! Thx for sharing

  • Reply
    October 22, 2015 at 1:15 am

    Hi, hey I am thinking of doing the crate gift idea for my brother. I am in the U.S. And wondering if you are or where you get that kind of beer? Thanks

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