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!

Gift guide: DIY

Let’s be honest, if you’re reading this blog you’re probably pretty darn crafty and you’re thinking about making some of your gifts yourself. Here are a few great ideas and tutorials to get you started!

First up: for your dad, uncle, brother or husband, a tie is always a great choice. But why not put a little extra love into this standard gift by making it yourself? Easy instructions are available at the Purl bee blog.

I’ve been spending some time at Higher Fire, a local ceramics studio, throwing mugs and bowls of all sizes. Most towns have a studio that offers this type of thing—or classes if you’re just starting out. If you’re not feeling ambitious or clay isn’t your thing, check out your local paint your own pottery place.

A few years ago, my sisters bought me a necklace pretty similar to the one above. Now, the Bayside Bride blog offers easy instructions for how to make it!

Gift guide: For the birds

Hello, my name is Kristin and I am addicted to bird-themed accessories. There’s a 12 step program for this, right? First step, admitting you have a problem. Truth be told, I have no less than two feather necklaces, one bird necklace, two pairs of feather earrings, a feather ring and a feather bracelet sitting on my dresser right now. Oh, and a feather-print dress in my closet. So anyway, I see no reason not to continue the theme!

We’ll start with something practical. This transparent resin bracelet by Rosella Resin features a polka dot feather from a spotted guinea fowl. It’s graphic enough to spice up any simple, modern ensemble, yet earthy enough to appeal to a granola girl as well.

Now for something a little more fanciful—amazing feather headpieces by Arturo Rios. I know hats are just starting to catch on over here in the U.S., but these are really just too beautiful to pass up. If you can’t imagine placing them on your head, what about on a table as your centerpiece or affixed to a light fixture in your home?

Feather hair extensions were very trendy this summer, but I think they’ll stick around for a couple more months. Many shops on etsy offer them, including this set from futska. I love the look, but I’m still trying to decide if they’re worth it! Luckily, these are so affordable it’s worth the gamble.

Gift guide: For the nerds

Let me just start out by saying, I do not mean ‘nerd’ to have any sort of negative connotation. I’m friends with lots of nerds (you know who you are) and most days, I’m one too! So, whether you’re really into books, computers, typography or whatever, rejoice! This guide’s for you.

First up, home decor. How do you let someone know the minute they enter your abode that you’re super into computers? (Unless, of course, your computer is the first thing you see when you walk in the front door… like me.) By PC-themed pillows courtesy of diffraction Fiber, of course. If you’re really really cool (…also like me) you’ll get the Mac version!

Cyberoptix shop offers nerdy neckties of all kinds: EEG brainwave patterns, circuit boards, topographical maps, Dadaist references… but my favorite of course features a typographical lorem ipsum pattern. Lorem ipsum is faux text designers use to fill copy space until the final edit is ready, one of those little things only another designer would get. Love it!

Ladies, don’t think I’ve forgotten about you. If you’re looking for a ladylike way to sport your nerdery, check out these necklaces from Baby Loves Pink (above) and Baubles by Jill (below).

Of course, since old-school is the new cool, no nerdery would be complete without custom letterpress stationery. Pick up these cards featuring an awesome glasses illustration in the shop!

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Whatever you do, make 2012 the year you own your nerdiness. You are who you are, you like what you like, and those you love will love you for it.