December 11, 2012

A Dozen Holiday Gift Ideas

I'm a complete and utter whore for gifts...

...just not in the way you may think. 

See, I like getting gifts just as much as the next person...but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE giving them.  Sick, right? 

The annual arrival of Black Friday (when I begin my whirlwind Christmas shopping binge) fills me with child-like glee and giddy anticipation for when I get to play Santa to my nieces, friends and family.  I love finding that perfect present that's thoughtful and tailored to the recipient...and it doesn't even have to be expensive.  Some of my favorite gifts I've given over the years are small, simple and heartfelt.

In this spirit of gift-giving, I've listed a dozen ideas below to spark any last-minute shopping you may be doing...because CHRISTMAS IS ONLY 2 WEEKS AWAY!!!  I'm aiming to post another gift idea list over the next few days, so keep your eyes peeled!

1. Drybar Blowout. $35  This little luxury is one of my all-time favorite gifts to give.  It's such a nice, special, relaxing treat.  They'll even give you a glass of champagne and yummy cookies while you're there!

2. Trader Joe's Chocolate Passport. $10  A few weeks ago, I noticed this darling set of sweets sitting at the TJ's check-out counter. It's arranged like a row of encyclopedia books and boasts eight different dark chocolates from unique locales like Venezuela and Tanzania. 

3. Girls Season 1 DVD/Blu-ray. $22.99  I believe the exact line was: all adventurous women do...have HPV...and this show on DVD/Blu-ray.  But seriously, Girls is abso-fucking brilliant.  You know how every network has tried over and over again to recreate the phenomenon that was LOST and failed? (Alcatraz, Flashforward, Fringe, V, The Event)  Well, this show does that...except for Sex & The City...and it succeeds.

4. Anthropologie Christmas Ornaments.  Varies.  Anthropologie easily wins the Cutest Christmas Ornaments Ever award.  They're each so unique that they almost look one-of-a-kind.  Like this pair of bunny critters.  One is Chalet Bunny and one is Pollyana Bunny.  (head exploding from the cuteness)

5. Balsam & Cedar Yankee Jar Candle.  $15.99-$27.99  I've had this candle burning non-stop since Thanksgiving* and it makes my home smell just like a fresh-cut Christmas tree.  Who wouldn't love that!?  *Side note.  My rule-of-thumb for holiday candle scents is as follows:  October (pumpkin), November (apple cider/spices), December (pine/cedar).  

6. Ridge Wine.  Varies.  Ryan discovered this wine a few years ago when his boss gave him a bottle for a gift.  They're known for their Zinfandel blends and you'll probably want to bathe in it. 

7. Warby Parker Sunglasses. $95  Buy a pair and they donate a pair of eyeglasses to someone in need.  It's the gift that gives back and makes you look stylish!

8. Penguin Classic Books. $20-$25  These pretty books come clothbound and feature beautiful, original cover designs.  They even have Les Miserables, which would pair nicely with tickets to see the movie!

9.  Essie 'Leading Lady' $8  A festive, glittery garnet nail polish makes a great mini stocking stuffer!

10. JCrew Power Mate iPhone Charger.  $40  A practical present for your friend who loves to gab, Facebook and drain their battery!

11. A Charlie Brown Christmas Soundtrack. $7  Everything about these songs puts a smile on my face.  They're absolute classics.  Magical, beautiful and bright.

12. Baubles.  I love giving this type of jewelry as gifts for my girlfriends...anything sparkly, colorful or fun that you wouldn't necessarily buy for yourself.  Like these, these, or these.

December 1, 2012

Sugar & Spice...And All Things Nice

My nieces Olivia and Charlotte are two of the most important things in my life.  It has brought me immeasurable joy being their aunt and watching their unique little personalities develop.   

Olivia, 7,  is imaginative, precocious and oh-so-sensitive (like her auntie).  She's the consummate helper and a budding fashionista on the verge of losing her adorable 'baby' voice and becoming a full fledged, smart-as-a-whip girly girl.  Charlotte, 3,  is a little ball of energy and physical, playful, affectionate, wide-eyed and sweet.  Her favorite things are baby animals, My Little Pony's Pinkie Pie and cookies.   I want to stop time and bottle them both up exactly as they are.  They are utterly perfect. 

Though I digress, there is a crafting moral to this story. 

Last year, I started the tradition of making these two special little gals an annual cross stitch Christmas ornament.  I hope these are trinkets they will have for years to come and use to decorate their own Christmas trees one day.  

For 2012, I made them matching reindeer ornaments.  This year, I made them the jewel-toned companion pieces below based on the popular (albeit ironic) nursery rhyme 'What Are Little Boys Made Of.'  

I've uploaded the pattern I made here in case any of my fellow crafters feel like re-creating for the little girls in their lives. 

Embroidery Hoop Christmas Wreath

I've been binge crating (and shopping) for the holidays the past few weekends and finally got around to making the one quintessential Christmas craft that every home should have: a wreath!  

Instead of decorating one of the plain, artificial wreath bases, I grabbed one of the million embroidery hoops that I have in my craft closet, some loose holiday floral stems and a hot glue gun. 

After trimming down the floral stems in to smaller pieces, I arranged them on the embroidery hoop and simply hot glued everything down, accenting with holly berries and pine cones. 

I love the rustic look of the snow-frosted pine needles and the mini size - about 12" when finished.  It's the perfect piece to hang on your mantle or give as a gift!