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Posts Tagged ‘gift-giving’

If you’re still shopping, consider stopping by a consignment shop to find unique gifts for just about anyone. Use platters and soup tureens to hold delicious homemade cookies, store-bought scones from  your favorite bakery, or wrap up a collection of your favorite jams.
A couple of weeks ago, I did some holiday shopping at one of my favorite stores here in town. Twin Elm Farm is a group shop that is filled with all kinds of goodies including antiques, vintage-inspired items, handmade items, and gifts of every size, color, and price tag. I had my eye on a beautiful black chest of drawers, a cloth purse, several glass blown ornaments, and a few other last minute stocking stuffers I can’t post about (Shhh). I walked out with the ornaments and stocking stuffers. We’ll see what Santa leaves me under the tree.

What I love most about this store is the ever changing displays.The mix of old and new is always a pleasing way to embellish various items. Throw in a few organic (whether real or faux) materials, and it all comes to life. Some consigners come and go, while my favorites keep stocking their shelves with interesting and unique finds. Not all rooms are alike, and just like in conventional retail stores, it really does make a difference in how you display merchandise. I was itching to get my hands on some of the displays just to spruce them up a bit.

Here are some of my favorites to inspire your holiday décor.

Containers of every kind make great holiday gifts. They can be used as vases for flowers, to hold candy canes, or even candles. And ornaments always make a great gift. Pillows and throws in mad about you plaid will look lovely in anyone’s winter home. Holiday decorations themselves make a great gift. A beautiful wreath, a small tree, even berry branches (real or faux) can be used all winter long. And don’t forget the container (like the boxes below and the silver pieces above, as mentioned) are gifts all on their own. Fill them with small goodies and tie them all up in ribbon-tied jingle bells.

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firefly-jar-x

One of the oddest things that I love, and I don’t quite understand why, is a jar (preferably with a lid). Yes, I’m inspired by art, nature, and everything else, but a jar to me is like the wardrobe that leads to Narnia; it is so ordinary, but its possibilities are infinite (and unknown).

I will often buy something at the grocery store just because I covet where it lives (we don’t really need the imported peaches, but the upturned sides on the small, round jar is hard to resist when the days are short and I need to grow a daffodil).

Crazy as it sounds, jars trigger my imagination, and I don’t even know why anyone would want to throw them away. Maybe if I ate a lot of jarred things I would feel differently, but for now it is a very manageable obsession, and I am always happy when I scrape out the last bit of whatever is stuck to the bottom of the glass.

To me, they are the perfect starting point to giving someone a present; the packaging is there without any effort, and all I have to do is fill them up with lots of goodies. On a practical note, it is also nice because I can put in smaller things that may get lost in a larger, more decorative bag. Somehow, a jar makes everything seem more important, and it is fun to look through the glass and see if there is anything that we didn’t notice the first time.

Because I don’t eat pickles (which come in really big, useful jars) I often buy new ones (jars, not pickles) at the store. Although they are meant for storing flour and dog treats, it shows that you really do like someone if you are giving them a present that is new, and not an old one that smells like something you ate with yesterday’s lunch.

By the way, when I was looking for a photograph, I Googled ‘things in jars”, which I wouldn’t recommend; my jar-filling ideas are definitely less macabre….

  • Winter Spa Jar – Lip-balm, Shea butter lotion, a bar of chocolate, and a body scrub.
  • Get Well Jar – Vitamin C drink sachet’s, fuzzy socks,  tissues and a mug.
  • Happy Birthday Jar – Some of their favorite things, plus a balloon and some candles.
  • Housewarming Jar – Things from your pantry, layered like colored sand, to wish them good luck in their new home e.g. Flour – so they may never go hungry, Sugar – so life is always sweet etc. Write a label on the outside to explain what they mean.
  • Firefly Catching Jar – A great last minute gift for a child (or grown-up) on a Summer’s night.
  • Teenage Girl Jar – Fancy spa things, popcorn, diary, sleep socks and nail polish.
  • Teenage Boy Jar – Lots and lots of snacks.
  • New Baby Jar – Cute outfit, chocolate for the parents, and a rattle or soft toy.
  • Gardener’s Jar – Flower seeds, trowel, gloves, and plant markers.
  • Just Because Jar – Anything you think someone would like that will fit inside the jar.

Wendy E. Wrzos  http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

p.s. Photograph of Firefly catcher, and instructions on how to make it, are from Southern Living.

 

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Ok, so this isn’t really about decorating with Fruitcake…I just thought it was a funny title.

But, in some countries, a Fruitcake is both a decoration and a gift; given with pride – a dense, rich, time-consuming cake, made lovingly, months in advance, and enjoyed as a special treat on Christmas day. However, where I live, it is a metaphor for something vile; given to people you really don’t like, and then passed on again – a gift that is perceived as old, inexpensive and filled with unidentified fruity objects.
My point being, that we are all different. If you spend a bit of time thinking before you buy, you will be less stressed, your gifts will be appropriate and the money you spend becomes more manageable.
Some people don’t celebrate the Holidays, and some just don’t like to give gifts, but sometimes you just need to do it…Call it whatever you like (obligation?) but at this time of year you will probably be invited somewhere where you need to take a gift.
If you are not going to drive to the mall, or bake a batch of your famous, best-ever cookies, then my solution is to hit the supermarket. The only caveat with this type of shopping is to wrap it with care; don’t take it in the plastic supermarket bag, with the receipt and price tag still attached. And, buy imported things if you can – the packaging is different, and it can make an ordinary item feel a bit more special.
With that out of the way, here are some good gifts that can be picked up on your way home for about $20.

Hostess Gift:
(tasteful, edible, re-giftable)
Sparkling, non-alcoholic, wine or cider and a box of truffles.
A Christmas plant (poinsettia etc).
If you know someone likes wine, find a bottle with an unusual, seasonal or funny label.
Specialty Christmas blend of Organic Coffee, or gift box of Teas (Twinings, Bigelow etc).

Friends/Family:
(personal, useful, indulgent)
Warm, fuzzy socks, cocoa and shortbread cookies (Walkers).
Moisturizer, lip balm, cuticle cream etc in a decorative tin/package that is more of a splurge than a regular buy (Burts Bees etc).
Nice gloves and a scarf.
Good quality scented candles in a jar (gingerbread, vanilla, apple etc) Soy candles are gentler, if you can find them.
Several large bars of Chocolate tied up with a big ribbon.

Children:
(fun/funny, colorful, creative)
Drawing pad, stickers and pencils/markers/crayons.
Brownie mix, bowl, toppings and mixing spoons.
Deck of cards/UNO and mini games from the stationery aisle.
A funny calendar or book.
Old fashioned Silly (or fart) putty.
Their favorite food, or candy.

No matter what you buy for people, it needn’t be expensive or stressful. Write some ideas before you go, allow yourself time to look around, and buy something that you really think they would like (fruitcake optional…)

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

Photograph and recipe from the ever beautiful and practical, BBC Good Food Magazine.

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