Gift Guide: It’s Wedding Season!

Despite the snow on the ground, wedding season must be nearly upon us—I just received my first pearlized envelope in the mail. So what’s a gracious guest to do? Start planning the gift now instead of grabbing whatever’s left on the registry on the way to the reception.

Let’s just get this out of the way right now: Many modern couple just want cash. It’s easy for you, it leaves them free to spend it on whatever they need. Rare is the bride and groom who don’t already live together and really need to stock a new home. I’m not saying don’t go out and get something to wrap up, but if you don’t? Hey, that’s ok. Get a nice card (ahem, we have a few suggestions), throw in some cash and call it a day.

Now on to the more three-dimensional presents! (This is a gift guide after all.) First up: Registries are there for a reason! Believe it or not, nobody wants the $5 set of fish-shaped serving bowls you found at TJ Maxx (true story). Choose something from the couple’s registry, then find a way to make it more fun. Do they want a wok? Fill it with hoisin, soy sauce, rice noodles and a cookbook. Did they register for always-exciting new flatware? Package them up with a napkin and funky napkin ring for each place setting. A box of plates can come wrapped in a tablecloth. You get the idea.

If—and this is a big if—you know the couple really, really well, you may [pause for dramatic effect]… go off registry.

Make sure you’re gift is something they couldn’t register for—maybe something completely custom like the “Story of Us” wall hanging above, or a product handmade by a local artisan, like any of the cast iron pans shaped like Midwestern states below.

Another great option? Find something the couple can do together. Fund a date night (a gift card to their favorite restaurant or wine bar and concert tickets ought to do the trick), give vouchers for a cooking class or start a new hobby (beer or wine-making kit anyone?).

Best friends with the bride?  Give her something truly special: a custom fashion illustration of her dress. Local artist Jen Thompson of Illustrate the Dress created this beauty below (modeled by Miss Mollie Busby on her wedding day).

Whatever you give, do so with love and know that your presence on the dance floor well past 11pm means just as much—if not more—than whatever you set on the gift table 5 hours prior. Happy wedding season!

Gift Guide: Valentine’s

Do you do Valentine’s Day? It’s never been a big deal to me: I’ve never had a rom-com style woe-is-me evening spent solo, nor did I expect to be whisked off for the most romantic evening of my life when I was dating someone. Really all anyone ever wants is to be reminded that they are loved—that making them happy is important to you.

Since we’re just a few weeks away, here are a few sweet nothings to remind those you love that you’re thinking of them. Whether it’s your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, mom or grandma, show someone they’re loved with an inexpensive handmade treat.

Let’s be honest: You just can’t go wrong with chocolate. These from Cocoa and Honey are organic and fair trade—and a pretty good price for artisanal chocolates! Handmade chocolate shops are popping up all over the country—chances are there’s one just a few minutes’ drive from your home. Chocolates are always best fresh, so shop local!

Not a chocolate fan? What about a festive cookie or 12 instead? Bake Me Pretty offers a variety of cookies and cupcakes, but I like the simplicity of simple raspberry and shortbread Linzer Heart Cookies.

This sweet screenprinted and embroidered pillow from cozyblue is perfect for a couple celebrating their first year together.

How sweet are these Handful of Heart gloves by yastik izi? Such a cute idea and available in a variety of color combinations.

Now I don’t know if I mentioned this already, but chocolate? Chocolate is always good. These salted caramel goodies from Marshmallow Heaven look downright amazing!

Christmas 101: Colorful Mod Décor

The simplicity and clean lines of minimalist décor can certainly make a statement, but for the holidays why not turn up the volume with a little color? I love creating a palette beyond the expected red and green to include light blues, jewel tones and lots of metallics.

There’s something wonderful about being greeted by a wreath on a friend’s front door. This one is available here, or make your own with shatter-proof plastic ornaments and a hot glue gun.

These three-dimensional felt ornaments—which could also certainly be made from colorful paper—are interesting from every angle and look incredibly complicated. However, with a few simple cuts and a couple dots of glue, they seem to simply pop up from a flat pane! Instructions are available here.

I love the idea of hanging ornaments off the tree: In front of a window, from a light fixture, from the ceiling over your dining room table. The paper option above is super easy to make, instructions available here or here!

Easily worked into any theme, these laser-cut coasters are the latest addition to my own Christmas list! Love the phrase, love typography, love the felt!

Beyond stringing up a row of lights, it’s easy to forget about decorating the exterior of your home. These colored “glass” balls—dreamed up by Hurrayic—make for a fun pop against white snow and a great project to get your kids off the couch.

Gift guide: For the foodie

One of the most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received was a wok filled with all the equipment and ingredients to make a variety of Asian meals—all packaged up with a cook book to tell me how to make them. The giver of this gift not only gave me something I’d been wanting—the wok—they gave me the gift of a hassle-free cooking experience by doing all the legwork for me. It didn’t cost a lot of money, but her thoughtfulness really made a difference.

I’m planning to present a variety of gift guides filled with beautiful handmade things your loved ones will enjoy. I encourage you to plan ahead, put a little extra thought into your gifts this holiday season and make your gifts truly matter to those you’re giving them to! Happy Giving!

I love having unique recipe cards. They help me remember exactly when and where I came across the recipe every time I make it. I recently made these sets of Buzzing Bee recipe cards—and I created them so each individual card is unique. The bees are placed in a different position on each and every card.

The way I would love to receive this gift, especially from my mom or another family member, would be to get two sets: One that’s filled with the giver’s favorite dishes, and one that’s blank to fill with my own! There is something so special about having a recipe from someone you love written in their own handwriting. Package up your recipes with some of the supplies below!

These sweet measuring spoons from Beehive Kitchenware make doling out the right amount of salt much more fun!

These mixing bowls by Charm LA are an original design that makes pouring a breeze. What’s more, the beautiful ceramic pieces are both microwave and dishwasher safe!

Once you’ve measured and mixed, you’ll need something to bake those goodies in. These adorable vintage bundt pans from Curate & Love are just the thing!