Category Archives: gift ideas

my big fat birthday list

Friends, it’s my birthday week! (Yes, I get a whole week – I’m that girl, and I’m not even sorry.) This is a milestone birthday for me, and it’s the first one that’s made me squirm in my seat a little bit. Do I dare even tell you my age? Let’s just say I’m switching boxes on the ol’ “how old are you” survey question, and I am not at all happy about my new box.

Shoving aside the thoughts of impending age, a birthday is still big news in my house, and I’ll take any excuse to make a wishlist. Sure, it’s 90% pure fantasy, but you’ve got to dream big to win big, am I right?

For my bod: Printed pants are falling all over themselves to get into my closet, but I love that these Rag & Bone Raja jeans are a bit different than the standard-issue fare. I think they’ll last a bit longer, and be more wearable too. And it’s no big surprise that a Vince cardi would make its way onto my list, but this especially splurge-y, leather-trimmed version is making me so happy this fall. There are actually two styles floating around out there (here’s the second), and I’m torn. What’s your fave?

For my jewelry box: My earring collection has stagnated in a big way. I need some color in my life! Okay, these Pade Vavra druzy studs aren’t technically color, but I think sparkle should count, don’t you? If not, these sweet little gold-dipped studs from A Merry Mishap are an easy bargain and

For my arm: A major item on my list is a new bag for fall. Don’t get me wrong, I swoon for my Chanel. But she’s not exactly an everyday bag. I’m thinking either navy or grey for my fall addition. Dream version? Lanvin’s For Me, a navy/black combo I’ve been swooning over for months. Reality version? I’m still dreaming about Gryson’s Ruby satchel, and crossing my fingers a navy version will appear.

For my toes: Still stewing over the latest from Pied Juste (a new line by the ousted Sigerson & Morrison) – just can’t decide where to start. Oh-so-on-trend ankle strap oxblood flats, or a cutout suede mini-wedge? Decisions, decisions.

For my belly: What girl doesn’t want candy for her birthday? Vosges is so my jam when it comes to splurging on sweets – I’ll take a box of caramel marshmallows and one of their new Wink of the Rabbit caramels, please.

Happy (almost) birthday to me!

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get gifting: a happy housewarming

{Editor’s Note: Happy Labor Day, friends! I hope you’re off doing something exciting, and not stuck at the office, pretending to work but actually just reading SMC to pass the time. I’m so happy to introduce you to our new columnist, Jennefer, who’s about to be your best friend when you’re on the hunt for a gift. Bookmark these…I guarantee they’re going to come in handy!}

Jennefer ~ Welcome to the land of the gift-obsessed! I’m a compulsive gift-shopper, and what was once an innocent hobby has now turned into a full-fledged addiction…complete with a room in my home dedicated to all my “you never know when someone will have something to celebrate” purchases. I can’t wait to share a few of my favorites with you!

First up: housewarming gifts. This time of year always seems to bring on a bevy of housewarming parties. Friends spent the summer relocating, and are finally ready to show off their new digs. Moving into a new home is a big deal, and it deserves to be celebrated! As the dedicated friend/sister/employee of a lucky new homeowner, it’s your job to pony up with not only something fun and creative but useful. Here are a few of my absolute favorite housewarming gifts to give and receive:

1. I consider wine to be the fifth, and sometimes only, food group. And there is nothing better than sitting on the porch sipping vino without the worry of breakage. Which is why I love GoVino. A set of 8, especially when paired with your favorite bottle of wine (mine is The Prisoner – I should own stock in that winery) makes a great, affordable gift…and will come in handy until your pal unpacks her crystal. {GoVino Wine Glasses, $28/8}

2. A sassy, vintage-style apron is a perfect gift for a girl that likes to putter around the kitchen. On first glance, an eye-roll may ensue, however once they give it a spin, there’s something about that girly, retro vibe that always makes it a favorite gift. {Jessie Steele apron, $30 / 3-D Toile Full Apron, Anthropologie, $32}

3. For friends enamored with the culinary arts, an old-school, hand-cranked pasta machine is another go-to. This is one of those gifts everyone wants to try, but no one wants to splurge on for themselves. Plus, even if your friend never uses it, they look great sitting on a kitchen counter (much like the Kitchen-Aid mixer I got for my wedding and never use). {Marcato Altas Pasta Machine, $100}

4. If you’re a traditionalist, a beautiful bouquet is always a winner. Nobody has more beautiful flowers than Calyx, and their orchid bouquets are just breathtaking. Send one of these and you are assured to be invited for dinner again and again, so the return on your investment makes these a surefire winner. {Captiva Orchids, Calyx Flowers, $60+}

5. Monogrammed and personalized gifts amp up the thoughtfulness factor, and prove you didn’t pop into Target last-minute on your way to the housewarming party. It is the advance planning that really makes these gifts special. Two of my favorites for a housewarming are a monogrammed welcome mat or a personalized throw pillow. They can be more of a splurge, but they’ll be used every day and make great conversation starters. {Monogrammed Door Mat, Pottery Barn, $59+ / Custom Pillow, Uptown Artworks, $149}

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shop drop: best made company

Kind of freaking out over the awesomeness that is the Best Made Company.

You guys, they have a whole section devoted to axes. Really.

I know, I know, it’s a little bit hipster. But I live in Portland now…it’s my moral obligation to be a little bit hipster, no? One thing I know for sure: the next time I need a man gift, I know exactly where I’m headed.


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friday finds: olympic edition

For the first time in my life, I officially have Olympic fever! I’ve been watching the coverage (and dodging news about results) all week, and am absolutely loving the Games this year. So, I thought I’d add a little global flair to this week’s Finds. If nothing else, the Olympics is a great reminder that we’re not nearly as far apart as we sometimes imagine.

I have to start in London, obviously. One of my favorite British designers, Another Studio, has come up with yet another genius idea (remember her PostCardens?). It’s MONUmini, a flat model kit that transforms into a mini 3D steel model of one of several London landmarks – including my favorite, the Tower Bridge. Olympic Rings sold separately.

Tower Bridge model, Another Studio, $23

I bought the sweetest little clutch/carryall pouch last week at Beam and Anchor, and didn’t think much about its origin at the time. Turns out, it’s made by a collective of skilled women scattered around the globe, weaving with traditional methods and being paid a fair wage. Now that I know I’m doing a good deed by buying, I have to figure out which of their goodies to order next.

Zigzag clutch, Proud Mary, $28 – or you can find my pink version at Spartan, Beam & Anchor’s sister shop

Next, we’ll head East to Uganda (via Portland, if you can believe it). I met the most fantastic person last weekend: Liz, who created Sseko Designs with her husband. Not only are these sandals completely genius (one pair you can wear dozens of ways!), but they’re made by some very talented women in Uganda. I am dying to get my hands on a pair, if only so I can try making it through my next beach trip with just one pair of shoes in my bag.

Sandals (yep, that’s all the same pair!), Sseko Designs, starting at $48

And of course, I have to end up at the good ol’ US of A. But I’m going all political on you. I’ve been meaning to show you this fantastic collection of Obama tees designed by some of the best designers in the country – genius, if you ask me. I’ve worn my fair share of political garb in my day, and these take the patriotic cake!

Runway to Win, Obama 2012, starting at $55

I’ve been unbelievably negligent on Pinterest this week, but this photo of those gorgeous Olympic Rings headed for their spot on the Tower Bridge is pretty amazing. I only wish I knew the source. If you do, please share.

More photos of the rings on the Thames right here

That’s it for me! Have a great weekend, everyone…see you back here next week!

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just for mom: heather moore jewelry

I’m getting this in just under the wire, since most of these beauties are custom-made, but I couldn’t resist sharing these completely perfect Mother’s Day options with you. I visited Manor recently, one of my favorite home shops in Portland (they just launched e-commerce too!), and they mentioned they were having a trunk show next weekend (May 12) for a jewelry designer I love. Have you heard of Heather B. Moore? She designs the most amazing, entirely custom charms that are just exactly the thing for moms everywhere.

I know, I know…charms? But hear me out.

See?! Beautiful, right? Each and every one is completely custom – add names, dates, geographic coordinates, birthdates, maybe a line from your wedding vows or the first verse of your favorite lullaby…whatever strikes your fancy. I even saw one version in which the designer actually created a custom engraved stamp of the closing line of a letter from a client’s dad, so the result was a pendant in his handwriting. I’m already saving for that one.

The down side…they’re not cheap. Prices start at $300 per charm. But think of it this way – you have your Mother’s Day gift planned for the next 5 years at least! Just add a charm a year, and in no time, Mom will have a beautiful piece of custom jewelry, packed with memories. And you’ll be her favorite kid.

If you’re in Portland, definitely hit up the trunk show next weekend (if only for the free bubbly). I’m hoping to be there. And if you don’t make it, still give Manor a call to order – they tell me it’s actually cheaper to buy through them than directly from the designer. If you get in touch, tell them I said hello!

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the how-to: easter for grown-ups

I’ll be traveling for Easter this year, but it’s a crying shame. Lately, I’ve been seeing so many ideas for an adult-friendly Easter fête that I’m wishing I had the chance to host a swanky brunch soirée.

It all started when I spied these fantastic egg-shaped placemats from Chilewich (who else?). They say Easter without screaming it from the rooftops, and  would be the perfect nod to seasonal décor without going overboard: elegant, easy and still right on message for the season. Plus, they’re subtle enough to be useful throughout the summer, instead of being relegated to the back of a drawer.

I’d add an oversized bunny – in deep dark Vosges chocolate studded with pink Himalayan sea salt – as a centerpiece (just be prepared with a tiny hammer when it’s time for dessert)…

And maybe a grown-up version of an Easter treat for your guests (sold out online, but still plentiful in stores)…

That’s it – a celebration that’s perfect for all of your childless friends. To make my life even easier, I’d pick up a spiral-sliced ham, soft-boil some eggs (leave them in the shell, and they’ll also look gorgeous on the table), whip up an easy hollandaise (I spilled all my secrets at Shelterrific last year), and have everyone make their own Eggs Benedict. Add a bit of roasted asparagus and some bakery-grade English muffins, and you have the world’s easiest party in the bag.

Of course, if you’re up for a lower-key version of the festivities, you might consider wrapping up one of Creature Comforts’ spot-on Easter basket ideas for grown-ups. They’re exactly what I’m hoping the Easter Bunny brings me!

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get gifting: my funny valentine

Attention wayward men who have been sent to this page by your better half:

I’ve never understood the big challenge about Valentine’s Day. Make it sweet (candy or flowers are old-fashioned, but they never fail) or sexy (silk or lace), and it’s hard to go wrong. Lingerie is never a bad idea, as long as it’s the good stuff – pleather or polyester are never, ever okay. Nor is anything from 1-800-Flowers…or Kay Jewelers.

I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite picks (for men and women alike – what guy wouldn’t like a bouquet of cake?) that are most definitely in the spirit of the season.

1. Finn Heart and Arrow Studs, $595 / 2. Brulee Vamp teddy at byLangley, $180 / 3. Armani Dolci at Armani 5th Avenue (212-339-5950 to order), $35 /4. DCI heart earphone splitter, $11 / 5. Bevin bronze facet ring, $63 / 6. Forget-me-not Coral Girl scarf, $150 / 7. Bites Desserts cake pops bouquet, $28 / 8. Lilac mug cozy, $8.50 / 9. vkoo cashmere blazer, $408

By the way, whether you’re single or attached, you deserve a little extra love. So, as I advocate every year, be your own Valentine! Buy yourself something extraordinary (perhaps the most luxe pajama set I’ve ever seen). Lord knows you’ve earned it.


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get gifting: festival of the last minute

Santa’s sleigh is revving up, friends…are you ready?

Neither am I.

If all of the gift guides this month weren’t enough to rouse you from your procrastinating ways, chances are you’re in a bit of a pickle right about now. For the most part, overnight shipping is done, and it’s time to get something under the tree or risk the wrath of your loved ones.

Step away from the Starbucks gift cards, friends – I have options! Behold, a few of my favorite last-minute tips to check every name off your holiday list:

  • A certificate for a bespoke Hayden-Harnett scarf, paired with a copy of the photo you’d like to use, would be a wonderful (and incredibly thoughtful) gesture for anyone.
  • If she’s a fashion-forward girl who knows exactly what she wants, gift her the chance to design her own custom jewels at GemKitty. Or you can take it a step further – design the piece for her on their awesome website, print out a picture, and package her gift card with the design you have in mind. She can take your suggestion or change it out, without having to stand in a returns line on the 26th.
  • It’s hard to go wrong with a spa gift card. If you don’t know her favorite spot, pick yours. (Or if you’re local, pick mine – Portland Spa every time.) With price points from a manicure to a full day of bliss, this is a perfect fit for any budget and just about any girl. Plus, many local spas are running holiday package specials right now to help you out. Portland Spa, for example? 50% off any laser hair removal package for the holidays. Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like a lifetime without shaving.
  • If you must go with a retail gift card, steer clear of the mega-mart options (Target gift cards are so not festive) and for heaven’s sake, shop local. Head to their favorite boutique (or a store you know they’d love), and ask them to wrap the gift card up in a box, not an envelope – it feels more gift-y that way. A chic clothing boutique, a wine store or local distillery, even a video game arcade are all great ways to gift outside the box. If you’re in another city, enlist a messenger service (they’re everywhere) – the gift will be at their door today, probably for under $20.

Are there any last-minute finds you’ve given with wild success in years past? Or ideas you’re planning to test this year?

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