12.28.2011

a christmas miracle

At noon, on Friday, December 23, I received a gift inquiry...from my father. Like so many people, he had waited until the last minute to get a gift for his wife. I asked him the same questions that I ask my clients and on the busiest, let me repeat, the busiest (!) day of the year; I recruited my sister's expertise, and we headed to midtown Manhattan. From my father's perspective, he was thrilled - the "Dream Team" as he refers to us would come home with the perfect coat. We scoured what was left at many midtown locations, many times becoming frustrating with the picked-over sale racks, but finally came across a beautiful shearling coat at Bloomingdales. It was the last one and, in pure serendipity, it was her size. It was a very merry holiday in our household.  

12.27.2011

on the rocks

Now that all of the holiday gifts have been given, I wanted to share one of my favorite gifts that I gave that can be great for New Years. When heading to a Christmas Eve party, I wanted to bring the hosts something a little different since I knew that they already had endless bottles for the night. I came across the "two of a kind" engraved double Old Fashioned glasses from Kate Spade. The "his" and "hers" glasses are perfect for a couple that enjoys a little night cap together. I added a set of the whiskey rocks to make the gift complete. 

kate spade two of a kind glasses $50

12.21.2011

office gifting

It's often hard to understand the protocol for gifting at the office. Every office is different but I thought that I'd share my strategy with you. I am a big believer in purchasing something small for direct reports, and if you like, giving cards to others (like your boss). Wine and champagne are always great go-to's, but I'm also loving the cute, colorful, multi-purposes notebooks from Archie Grand. I recently purchased one in a bright hue with a clever saying on the front like this one from J. Crew. They have tons of options in store or you can find them on Amazon. Another great option is something for the office. If someone on your team is a coffee addict, get her the perfect everyday coffee mug. Anthropologie  has adorable monogrammed ones. 

Additionally, If you want to get something for everyone then you can bring in treats from a local bakery or something sweet that you've made for all to enjoy.  Happy employees, make happy bosses. 
archie grand notebooks

12.20.2011

last minute + no shipping

Recognizing that many of you may not have finished your list just yet, and guaranteed shipping is no longer an option, I wanted to provide some ideas that don't include shipping - just a little thought and creativity. One of the best gifts that I've ever received was a tasting menu at an incredibly renowned restaurant while on vacation. All of the arrangements were made in advance and I received a perfectly penned handwritten notecard that unveiled the gift. I was so touched. With a little bit of research, you can easily find a restaurant or experience that would be perfect for a friend, loved one or family member. In terms of restaurants, you can make the gesture whatever you want - from pre-purchasing a bottle of wine at their local spot to arranging for an entire culinary experience at a sought after restaurant such as Blue Hill. Ensure that you delivery the gift in a cute way. You can print out the menu or write out the gift on a notecard like this one from Paper Source

In terms of experiences, if the person you are purchasing for is a foodie, you can help teach them some techniques in the kitchen with a cooking class. Many local culinary schools offer these. You'll create a memorable and thoughtful experience. 
blue hill at stone barns 

12.19.2011

sought after beauty stocking stuffers

Yesterday I focused on stocking stuffers for the guys, so it's only fitting that today I focus on the ladies. Buying your fave makeup finds and sharing them is one of my favorite stocking stuffer ideas. From your newly discovered mascara to your life saving winter hand cream, your friends and family will be thrilled to receive these little goodies (and to try them!). For expert recommendations,I'd recommend that you tap into the fabulous team at Beauty Blitz that has compiled their top $20 and under gifts. My friends rave about the Eos Lip Sphere (and how easy it is to find in your bag!). I'll have to get my hands on these soon. Happy gifting! 
eos lip sphere holiday pack $8.99

12.18.2011

studly stocking stuffers

CNET is the go-to resource for the tech-savvy and tech-obsessed. That's why I wanted to share their top last minute tech finds that will make perfect stocking stuffers. I personally am a fan of the Mophie Juicepack Air, a case + battery pack for your iPhone - perfect for those who take long trips or use WiFi all of the time. For more inspiration, click here to review their top picks. 

Another fave stocking stuffer this season is the Moshi Moshi Retro POP Handset. These are FLYING off of the shelves. It works with most phone and tablet devices and touts that it eliminates up to 99 percentage of the radiation absorbed compared to a direct use of mobile phones. You still have time to get these items via Amazon in time for the holidays. If you're like me and order online all of the time, I'd highly recommend upgrading to Amazon Prime for a yearly fee to always get guaranteed 2 day shipping. It's pretty amazing. 
moshi moshi headset $30


12.15.2011

the white elephant gift

We had our holiday party a little early this year at work and I wanted to share with you the top three gifts for a white elephant gift swap so that you don’t need to waste your precious time thinking of what everyone will want. In case you’re not familiar with the concept, the white elephant gift swap is when everyone brings a wrapped gift in. You then  pick numbers. The first person picks a wrapped gift. The next person can then take the gift from the first person or take his chance on a remaining unwrapped gift. This process continues with lots of swapping along the way. If you pick first, you get to go again at the end and take anything that you want. We had a $10 limit. The clear winners that got people excited were (1) gift cards (for iTunes, Starbucks, etc.) (2) gifts for kids that parents fought over (kind of amazing to watch – an example would be a very cool and desirable lava lamp) and (3) WINE (bags were carefully examined to check for alcohol). If you go the wine or champagne route, I love the idea of including a note about the specific bottle’s rating. So even if it’s $10, show why it’s so amazing.  Of course, you can always go with the clever and funny gifts, but the above were definitely a hit and I’d highly recommend them. Cheers!  

12.13.2011

a little lab love

The other day, I was caught saying that I only had one more person to shop for. As it was pointed out, that person was my dog. If you're like me, then you also care deeply for your pooch (and maybe he even has his own stocking), and so, you want to ensure that you get some gifts for the dogs (and dog lovers) in your life. Planet Dog makes great toys and they give back some of their proceeds. For the holidays, the Orbee-Tuff® Mint is a perfect stocking stuffer. Harry Barker has some adorable gift buckets that include tons of holiday treats. 

If you're giving to a dog lover, Orvis makes a personalized dog food mat that traps water - it's genius (and blends in nicely with any home decor)! Another fun gift is a playful holiday collar from Harry Barker or even your favorite football team. Wag.com, a new online pet retailer from the brilliant people behind Soap.com have great deals on shipping and if it's your first order, you get a 15% discount. Get those tails wagging this holiday season! 

harry barker gift buckets

12.11.2011

toys for the tots

With the holidays around the corner, and my niece and nephew's birthday party this weekend, it's only fitting that I share some ideas for the little ones. I always seem to run into the same dilemma – what will be useful, and something that the parents are thrilled with. Parents seem to rave about most LeapFrog products. Kids enjoy them and they are very helpful with child development. The LeapFrog Tag Learn & Love to Read Set is great for the 4 year old set. Another incredibly desirable item is the LeapFrog product is the LeanPad Explorer Learning Tablet. It's for kids ages 4-9, but has a higher price point. This generation will be pros on tablet devices! Pretty amazing. 


If you're shopping for a younger tot, I've been told that a tunnel is perfect. Little ones absolutely love them and it provides hours of fun and exploration (I've fully witnessed this). Here is a great tunnel option for the toddlers in your life. Another gift for this age group is the Fisher-Price Go Baby Go! Poppity Pop Muscial Dino - it helps to introduce cause and effect.  
leapfrog tag reading system $30

12.10.2011

finds abroad

Often times with the holidays, comes travel. Lots of you may have trips coming up, or have friends and family members jetting away. If you are heading out of town, there is nothing like bringing back hard to find, sought after gifts from your destination. I recently went to Anacapri in Italy (and clearly loved it). Before I went, I was told about their specialty from many people - handmade leather sandals. I came across Antonio Viva. He is an expert in his craft and I loved getting a few pairs for myself, but also bring back some for friends and family. They made such a special and rememberable gift. Do some advanced research, and be on the lookout while you relax for perfect local finds. 


If you know that someone will be traveling, give items that will get them excited for the trip. Guide books are always great options. I also love Maptote, a company dedicated to creating a line of products decorated with maps of locales both domestic and exotic. A Napa wine bag, like the one below, is perfect for a jaunt to the vineyards. 
antonio viva hard at work - prices vary
napa valley wine tote $13


12.09.2011

loot for the lovely bridesmaids


I get this questions all of the time - what do you get for the ladies who you rely on for your big day? I wanted to share a few ideas at varying price points. First, I absolutely love when a bride gives a lusted after clutch such as one from Lauren Merkin. Her clutches are perfect for the essentials, and depending on the bag, can be used for date night, a night out on the town or for fancy events. You can never have too many of them. If you have some time, start looking at deal sites such as Gilt for the perfect ones at great prices (approx. $100 on Gilt). Not only will you be giving your gals something useful, you can get a different one for each person. Another great gift is a custom necklace by Danielle Stevens. Her stuff is cute and affordable. Check out her monogrammed necklaces. This way you’re giving customized items to everyone. 

Also, as you know by now, I love a custom tote from LL Bean as a fun, unexpected and thoughtful way to give gifts. If it’s a summer wedding, who wouldn’t want luxurious Tory Burch flip flops to wear around and a shawl for the wedding tucked inside the tote. You should fully indulge your bridesmaids. They do so much for you. If you want to go crazy, throw in some custom notecards as well. 

The last item that I am just loving right now is a monogrammed robe. Since you’re lounging all day with the ladies, make everyone feel beyond pampered and comfy (while keeping their hair perfected). Both Pottery Barn and Matouck (among others), make incredibly soft and cozy options.
lauren merkin georgie clutch originally $250


12.07.2011

give a little bit


At this time of year, it’s hard to not get caught up in all of the purchasing, but it’s important to remember that the season is also about giving for those in need. Why not combine the two? A friend shared a great site with me that allows you to bid on unique and fantastic gifts – best part is that your shopping is for a great cause! Bidding for Good is a small company with a big heart. You can bid on everything from dinner with your favorite celeb to tickets to a show to the must have toys of the season. 

Another great option is to give a very “cool” gift – the gift of wind power!  You can do this directly through New England Wind Fund. Currently they are running a $15 gifting special. I also love the option of supporting the Mayor’sFund to Advance New York City. You can find a list of the funds supported this year here

Little gifting tip: For every person that you purchase a gift for, think about spending a few dollars less (you can even make a pact among your family to do this) and putting the money aside. At the end, you'll have at least $25 to donate to a cause that you support! 


12.05.2011

city love

Everyone has friends or family members who live in a particular place that they absolutely love and will always have a natural affinity for, no matter where they ultimately end up. Getting a painting, drawing or poster that represents this, makes a perfect gift. There are two vendors that I love for this - Ork Posters and a new one that I just came across, Line Posters. Ork creates posters and screen prints that show the city by neighborhood and Line Posters, demonstrates the transport lines (hence the name). If you want to create a very special gift, you can even custom frame the item versus having the giftee do themselves.  We have two of these framed in our apartment (San Francisco and New York City) and we love them. If you have a Michael's craft store near you, I'd recommend going there for your framing needs. They have a "good" collection of frames that are affordable and there is something for everyone's style. 
ork posters $27
lineposter $28 (frame not included)


12.04.2011

arm candy

From cuffs to bangles to string bracelets, the layering look is very en vogue and rightfully so. This holiday season, take the friendship bracelet to a new level. You can purchase a variety of options for your friends (at varying prices). I love that you can look down at your wrist and your bracelet(s) will remind you of your amazing friendships or allow you to associate it with a memory or experience. You can get fun, chunky jewelry for festive occasions like the Lulu Frost collection for J.Crew. Or go the layered route with colorful bangles from Kate Spade. They come in so many different colors and playful patterns that you are guaranteed to find something perfect for each of your friends. The Idiom bracelets are my fave to layer. I came across a NY based designer, Iwona Ludyga, at a local event and she had very perfect every day bracelets that can are ideal for layering. At the same event, I was incredibly inspired by Same Sky. All of their bracelets are created by women in Rwanda who are rebuilding their lives. Purchasing these bracelets supports an amazing cause. 

For further inspiration, check out the best dressed wrists in New York, which was curated by Refinery 29. 
iwona ludyga skully wrap bracelet $90



11.29.2011

photos made easy

With the holidays only a few weeks away, this is a great opportunity to take advantage of the lingering Cyber Monday offers that last through the end of the day. I think that one of the most thoughtful and memorable gifts is a custom made photo album to document memories from across the year. I love the idea of starting a tradition and making this an annual gift to a loved one, family or friends. With photos mainly being digital these days (which I love), you truly have to make the effort to print your photos. Instead of printing them the traditional way, I’d recommend creating a keepsake that’s already complete once it arrives at your door plus you can add copy to create a story. I love, love, love tinyprints and they offer great deals on custom photo albums. They have a plethora of options for colors, paper type, cover material, etc. to make it fit with your style and needs. I also love the idea of creating a calendar with pictures of your new baby, your pet, etc. and giving them to friends and family. They make perfect stocking stuffers and are incredibly affordable.



11.28.2011

more bubbles please

No, I’m not talking about Veuve. I am taking about the amazing SodaStream. It's life changing and was one of my most sought after items on our wedding registry. I absolutely hated lugging seltzer bottles home from the store and the amount of space that they took up in our apartment. If you're looking for a functional housewarming gift, look no further. It’s easy to use, takes up barely any space, plus it’s environmentally friendly. There are a number of different options and a variety of colors. I'd recommend the Genesis or Fizz models. If you want to create a perfectly paired gift, add the Crate and Barrel Ona Pitcher - now you have a simple way to present your homemade seltzer (add a lime or lemon for visual perfection). This pitcher also looks great on display. 

If you act quickly, Crate and Barrel is offering 15% for Cyber Monday and if not, free shipping through December 21 for orders over $99. Bed Bath & Beyond is also offering free shipping for a limited time with purchases over $99. 
genesis model $100
large ona pitcher $26.95


11.22.2011

page turner

You can never have too many books. There is something so simple, yet so perfect about a thoughtful coffee table book. They not only serve as d├ęcor, but as conversation starters that represent an experience, a hobby, a love or passion, your personality or even your favorite restaurant. They are perfect for so many different occasions. For example, recently as a thank you gift for my in-laws, we gave them with the French Laundry cookbook – an experience in Napa that we had together that will never forget! There are tons of great options for restaurant cookbooks. If you have a favorite restaurant, do a quick search.  There is a high likelihood that they may have a book available. At our friend’s house the other night, we were immediately drawn to the book on their (amazing West Elm) coffee table. It was playful and perfect - Marcel the Shell With Shoes On, which is based on the online sensation. If you want to relive a memory with a friend from the 80s, you can go the fun route of the Bon Jovi: Blaze of Glory book. You will laugh and probably be thrilled to page through and remember the concerts that you went to (yes, my sister has this and loves it). Another great option is a book that revolves around a hobby or one that represents a passion or fave vacation spot (hiking, architecture, Italy, Brooklyn, etc.). As you can see, there are endless options for the direction that the gift can go. To make the book even more special and personalized, write a note in the front that relates to why you chose the book. I love that so many of my childhood books have adorable notes in them. When possible, go for a hardcover book and check out amazon for great deals! So maybe you can judge these books by their covers...
the meatball shop $28
  

11.21.2011

work it

As it gets colder outside, it starts to get harder to motivate to workout. One way to motivate is to ask for some must-haves from lululemon for the holidays. I’m telling you, I don’t know what it is, but their workout clothes are just amazing and not to mention, incredibly flattering and forgiving. I’m clearly a huge advocate. Once you wear one of their staple pants (I’m a big fan of the Groove or Wunder Under Crop), it’s hard to wear anything else. I’m not going to lie, sometimes I’m tempted to wear them to the office but I know that I can’t. You can sort-of justify the prices because technically, most of the items are 2-in-1 since they are reversible. I can honestly say that I use the reversible thing to rationalize my spending, but I have only once taken advantage of this. If you’re an avid runner, then I’d recommend the Cool Racerback tank for indoor gym days (this tank is great because it doesn’t ride up and even comes in an extra long length) and the Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve shirt for a base layer outside. It has a thumb loop which I love for a little more coverage. I tried it out this weekend and was very pleased. The tank can also be worn during pilates, yoga or spin class. The Swiftly can be taken directly into ski season as a base layer or can be worn while hanging out after a long day on the slopes. There are also a few sweatshirt/jackets that I have my eye on for the cold weather. They all scream warm and cozy after a workout and the best part, they cover your bum. The Live Simply Jacket, In Stride Jacket and Stride Jacket are my top picks.

All of the above items are thoughtful to gift because they directly tie back to your daily life and are beyond useful. They will bring instant gratification to a new level. I bought two things on Friday and have already worn both. My tip would be to only buy one or two things at a time, otherwise, the expense is just too crazy (hence, why you should ask for these items as a gift). While on the site today, I came across these adorable Love Notes – a simple and fun way to tell a friend just how much you care. Send one along!

Apparently, word on the street (and confirming with a lululemon sales associate) is that the Men's boxers are pretty amazing and incredibly popular. I clearly can't speak from experience though.

live simply jacket $98

11.20.2011

toys for the techies

It's that time of year again, for the ever-popular Wired magazine's pop-up store to open its doors in the heart of Times Square. If you want to get some ideas for the techies in your life, I highly suggest that you check it out. Here's a brief overview of what to expect and some more details if you're in Manhattan. Additionally, there are three tech related items that I'm currently loving. 

If you're like me, then when you travel, you want to bring as few chargers as possible. The PlugBug charger is life changing - it charges two devices at once. So simple, yet brilliant. Next, Apple sells a Camera Connection Kit that gives you two ways to import photos and videos from a digital camera: using your camera’s USB cable or directly from an SD card. This makes sharing pictures so easy and quick. Best part is that you don't need to wait on anyone to upload the photos. You can just grab them from friends in the moment. Lastly, I came across the DODOcases for tablet devises. They look as sleek as moleskin notebooks while perfectly protecting your device. J.Crew is currently partnering with DODOcase for some specially designed cases.
plugbug charger $34.99

patterned dodocase for kindle $64.95

11.16.2011

sniffles be gone

There is nothing worse than being sick. I feel as though everyone around me is sick at this time of year. It's the perfect excuse to show your friends that you care when they are stuck at home feeling terrible - show them some TLC. If you're the cooking type, make some homemade soup to bring over. You can bring it in a reusable container or go that extra step and get a nice, big soup bowl to heat up your creation. Fishs Eddy has some great, fun and cheerful options to hand deliver your soup in. If you don't cook, just pick some up at a local market on your way. You should bring over a large stack of magazines and old movies. The trashier, the better. The last thing that you want to do is think. You should also bring along a cozy blanket to make their spot on the couch more enjoyable and some must-haves such as tissues, water and tea to create a healing oasis. 
manhattan blue plate special bowl $10.95


11.15.2011

thanking the hostess with the mostest

If you're like me, then you're headed to family and friends for Thanksgiving. You'll show up with an empty stomach, but you'll want to ensure that you're not empty handed. What's appropriate to bring to the host? If you haven't already done so, reach out to the host to ensure that there is nothing that you can pick up or bring for the big day. Suggest things that they may not have thought of. Today when I was looking through the InStyle Gift Guide (which I highly recommend), I came across a very cool brass bottle opener. Since there are many bottles opened on Thanksgiving day, this is a perfect and thoughtful gift. A fun wine opener would also be a great gift. Similarly, unique serving pieces can be a nice complement to the meal. Try something like these metal and wood serving pieces from Nambe. An easy and thoughtful, gift is a beautiful Fall bouquet that can be placed around the house (leave the centerpiece to the host since it's their table). When you arrive, the last thing that you want to do is to create more work for the hostess so either bring it in a vase or take it upon yourself to arrange the flowers upon arrival. If you're going to a house that is always missing the same thing every year (such as a digital thermometer, bread basket, etc), then you can purchase that item and bring it along - the host will be delighted that you remembered!  


Another option is to bring a wonderful selection of teas for the end of the meal. Tea Forte and Mighty Leaf offer beautifully presented options that will go with your favorite pie! And if none of the above work, then pick up a bottle of wine or champagne to show the host how very thankful you are. 
brass japanese bottle opener $65
tea forte tea chest $45