Hello, my name is Samara.
In case you didn’t think Sami was a unique enough name, many of you might not realize that my full name is in fact Samara J’aime (Strauss) Cone.
Samara means ‘guarded by God’ in Hebrew. My British mother originally liked the name ‘Samantha’ for me, but worried I may find it difficult to spell as a young child. So when she came across ‘Samara’ in a baby book, that cinched it for her: she thought it would not only make her Jewish mother-in-law happy, but she’d also ultimately make my life easier.
One out of two ain’t bad, right?
What’s been funny to me growing up is the overwhelming number of people who see my name and still call me Samantha anyway!
My mom also thought she’d help me out as a kid by giving me a short and sweet nickname. As you can imagine, not many people get ‘Sami’ right on the first try either (a little troublesome for a blogger whose website also happens to be her name ;).
You would think that after an upbringing like I had, I’d opt to name my children slightly more traditionally.
Nope. Not a chance.
Despite the daily butchering of my name and never being able to find a souvenir keychain with my name on it while on vacation, I appreciated being unique. After all, I’d venture to say the seven girls named ‘Jennifer’ in my high school class had it much harder than I did.
I actually chose my daughter’s name far before I even met my husband. I found her name while studying my Greek/Hebrew Keyword Bible as a new Christian in my 20’s. While doing keyword research on Luke 1:30, I discovered that when the angel of the Lord visited Mary and tells her, “You have found FAVOR in the eyes of the Lord”, ‘favor’ in Greek is ‘charis’ and also means ‘grace’ or a ‘gift from God’.
I was hooked.
It didn’t take much for me to convince my husband once we met, other than changing the spelling to make it slightly more feminine and phonetic: Kariss.
When we became pregnant with our second child just one year later, we decided to represent all four of our parents names in our son’s name: Britton (after my mother’s homeland), Jerick (blending both our fathers’ names) and Kingrea (my mother-in-law’s maiden name).
Of course, I completely empathize every time our kids’ search for a personalized mug or any sort of personalized trinket while on vacation.
When I was young, there were hardly any options to personalized clothes and gifts. The one prized possession I received at the age of seven was a stamp with my name on it my mother ordered from the office supply store next to the law office where she was a secretary (I still have that stamp to this day!).
These days, personalization is plentiful and, especially in the South, a rite of passage for many children and their parents.
In fact, one of the first questions we got from a good friend after she learned we’d gifted our son with four names was, “How on earth am I supposed to monogram that??”
I will say, some of the favorite gifts we’ve both received and given over the years have been personalized ones.
The minute I get a personalized gift, it’s like I can hear the giver saying, “Not only did this make me think of you, I wanted to take that extra step to let you know just how much you mean to me.”
With Christmas coming, I couldn’t think of a better time to share some ideas on how to make your gift giving just a little more personal this year:
Paint an ornament with a family name on it.
Every year, I’ll get wooden or paper ornaments at a local craft store for less than a dollar and paint our friends’ names on one side while a decoupage a picture of their family on the other. I’m not crafty by any stretch of the imagination, but these are a great way to communicate love without spending a lot of time or money on the project (they also make great gift tags to tie on to a larger gift!).
Purchase personalized clothing.
I’ve tried buying the iron-on printer paper to create unique personalized tees and such for friends, but without fail, these crack and peel after one wash. Instead, we love sites like Bright Star Kids where it’s quick and easy to order. Simply pick your design, add your child’s name and it’ll be printed and arrive to you within a few weeks!
Individualized gift baskets.
A great way we’ve found to surprise friends, especially for a wedding/anniversary gift, is by creating a basket with all their favorite things and dropping it on their doorstep. If you’re close with someone, chances are you know their favorite foods, drinks, snacks, magazines, etc. For less than $20 (including a basket we typically find at Goodwill), you can make a gift that will truly make an impact!
If you’re going to go through the trouble of giving someone a gift, why not put just a little extra effort into it to make it something the ones you love will never forget?
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Bright Star Kids. The opinions and text are all mine.