Now that fall is in full swing, October birthdays benefit from a fiery gemstone and deep golds and oranges for their floral palette.
Gift Idea #1: Flowers
Calendula is the October flower. That may sound familiar if you’ve ever used a calendula cream for a burn or skin irritation. But you may also know it as the marigold—that sometimes unassuming flower found by the pallet-full at garden centers. Rich in both color and history, the marigold was prized for centuries for both its medicinal and culinary uses.
Calendula got its nickname from early Christians who dubbed the flower “Mary’s Gold” and decorated statues of the Virgin Mary with the blooms. In Hindu culture, the marigold is still used in many festivals and religious ceremonies and is considered an auspicious flower. Symbolizing hopefulness and grace, calendula means “throughout the months” as its growing season is quite long, spanning spring through fall.
Ancient civilizations used calendula as a medicinal herb, and still today is it used for headaches, toothaches, stomachaches and as a fever reducer. It is an anti-inflammatory used on insect bites, sprains, sore eyes, wounds and skin irritations. Calendula/marigolds may be used in recipes as well, or the petals simply sprinkled on salads. Ancient Romans mixed calendula with vinegar to season meats, salads and preserves.
With this amazing history, it’s a bit sad that marigolds have been stereotyped as a ho-hum annual. They come in more than 50 varieties and some have fantastic aroma. All marigolds are good in containers and provide long-lasting cut flowers.
While it’s easy to find marigolds at a garden center, it’s hard to find them in a bouquet from a national retailer. If you must send flowers, find a bouquet that evokes the deep, rich oranges and golds of marigolds, such as Teleflora’s “Forever Fall” bouquet (starts at $47.95, www.teleflora.com).
If you can deliver birthday blossoms in person, plant a few varieties in a pretty earthenware pot. Or, give the flowers in their dried form as a tea! Calendula tea is available from amazon.com ($5.37). Pair the tea with a couple of Fiesta® dinnerware mugs—in the 75th anniversary color “marigold” (how perfect is that?)—for a simple but appropriate gift. (Mugs,about $8.50 to $15 each, www.amazon.com).
Gift Idea #2: Gemstone
October is blessed with a fiery, rare and mysterious gemstone: the opal. Believed to bring beauty, prosperity and good luck to one who wears it, opals can be expensive and it can be difficult to find a really good, fiery specimen.
With opals, the color is everything. Look for flashes of mini rainbows that seem to shoot from the stone’s center. More red flashes mean a more expensive stone, although the most precious opal is a black opal. Opals are generally not faceted but rather cut flat or in cabochon with a rounded, smooth top.
Opals tend to dry and crack, so be sure to take special care of these stones. Coating the opal (not soaking it) in olive oil when not in use will help preserve it.
For more affordable opal jewelry, check out Ross-Simons. The Pink Opal and Blue Chalcedony Earrings set in sterling silver are $135.00.
Gift Idea #3: Color Cues
Whether it’s the iridescence and fire of the opal or the fall tones of the marigold, finding gifts for October birthdays is easy when you put just a bit of thought into it. Be sure to include a gift note that personalizes your selection for your recipient. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” DVD is a feel-good movie, particularly for the over 50 set ($14.00, www.amazon.com).
- Pebble Bowl – Gold is a shimmering, glamorous touch ($44.95, Z Gallerie stores or www.zgallerie.com).
- Glint Crystal Topper Clutch in champagne is a sleek evening bag, perfect for holiday parties ($78, Nordstrom stores or www.nordstrom.com).
- MAC “Dazzlegloss” lipcolour reflects light in prosperity-like shades of Get Rich Quick, Money Honey, or Rags to Riches ($19.50 at department stores).
- Philosophy “Birthday Girl” set of Birthday Cake-scented shampoo/shower gel/bubble bath and a shiny lip gloss comes in a festive package ready to present ($18 at Ulta stores or www.ulta.com).