December 8, 2014 | by Cyd Converse
I know I’m not the only one who feels all levels of nostalgia come the holiday season. For me that nostalgia snuck up on me in full force as we spent the weekend doing so many of the things I remember doing as a kid. On Saturday we pulled out all of our boxes of decorations and ornaments and put up our tree. We baked cookies. We tortured the dog by dressing her up in garland. We blasted Christmas music for hours on end. Yesterday the boys and my mom helped me get a jump on a few upcoming posts. We spent the day in the kitchen and crafting and playing cards. All of those are things I always loved doing with my mom and my grandmother during the holidays and that nostalgic vibe definitely influences my personal taste in Christmas decor, too. My decorations are a collection of things I’ve picked up here and there over the years and a whole bunch of baubles and decorations I inherited when my grandmother passed. I tend to gravitate toward classic holiday decor with a touch of a woodland vibe, a bit of a Scandinavian influence and the occasional modern element. I don’t go out and buy a whole bunch of new things each year, opting to stick with the things I already own and love, but every year I usually find a new favorite to bring home and love. These are the things I’ve been eyeing this year in particular. The red candlesticks or the felt garland might just be my favorite. What’s your Christmas decor style? I’d love to hear all about it!
[Row 1: Cut glass jar candle | Gold star ornament set | Red Candlesticks | Row 2: Gold bottle brush tree | Monogram stocking | Ceramic Santa | Row 3: Christmas fabric tape | Gold stemware | Red glass ornaments | Row 4: Felt garland | Stag bust | Snowy spruce trees.]
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December 5, 2014 | by Cyd Converse
By now we all know that Fridays during the holiday season are reserved for talking about gift. And because they apparently picked up on the fact that I love giving awesome gifts, the folks at T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods sent me out shopping with the challenge of scoring three amazing gifts for those people on your holiday list that might be a little trickier to shop for each year. Maybe it’s the new neighbor who just moved into town that you’ve become close with or the best friend from high school with whom you’ve recently reconnected. I worked at T.J.Maxx back in my early college years and have continued to be a loyal shopper ever since, so I was pretty excited to take on this challenge. Now I’m here to share with you what I scored! While I won’t be sharing specifically who is getting what (because I would hate to spoil the surprise for them), I will definitely give you my thoughts on the people in your life that these gifts might be perfect for, cool? Cool. Let’s get gifting!
The Gift for the Foodie Dude Friend from HomeGoods
This gift is my pick for the dude who is into cooking and who, more specifically, is into all kinds of condiments, spices, rubs and things that are pickled. Frankly, this describes a number of the men in my life and this is the type of gift I’ve given far more than once. And it’s always a hit! People love trying out new things and they also love it when someone else comes along and stocks up their spice cabinet. (Or cooks and foodies do anyway!) Pair a collection of spices, condiments and staples (these ranged in price from $2.99 to $6.99 each) with an awesome cutting board ($16.99), which can also double as a serving board. This also makes an awesome gift for a neighbor or a killer hostess gift, too! It’s worth noting that we’re huge fans of McClure’s pickles in our house and we usually have a handful of the Victoria Gourmet spices in our cabinet, too, so these ones are tried and true in my world.
The Gift for Your Long Lost Best Friend from T.J.Maxx
I really want to spills the beans about who is getting this one, because it’s my favorite gift of the bunch for a couple of pretty obvious reasons. That said, this is the type of gift that’s super special and it’s reserved for really making a statement and treating someone to a bit of lady-like luxury. Think that aforementioned long lost best friend, a new friend you’ve found yourself really close with all of a sudden or the neighbor who has helped you out with this or that on what feels like a million different occasions. So here we’re pairing a gorgeous Michael Kors wallet ($79.99) with this pretty Vince Camuto scarf ($16.99) and really making Christmas awesome for someone who deserves to be treated like a queen. What I particularly love about these pieces is the gold hardware on the wallet and the leather detailing on the scarf because it just makes it even more lovely.
The Gift for the Teenage Girl from Marshalls
B and I have a special teenage girl in our life who, while technically not family, is someone we always add to our holiday shopping list. This gift is perfect for either a teenage girl who is really starting to come into her own when it comes to beauty and hair care, or the lady friend who is a YouTube beauty guru in the making. I absolutely love receiving gifts of this kind! Gifts that are functional and practical while still being super thoughtful, so in return I love giving this kind of gift, too. Big pump bottles of Joico K-Pak shampoo and conditioner ($16.99 each), a bottle of Batiste dry shampoo ($5.99), a detangling brush ($5.99) and a couple of Essie nail polishes ($3.99 each) and you’re gifting that lucky lass with a bit of everyday pampering. I got the inspiration for this one from my mom, who is the queen of making sure each Christmas that my sister and I are fully stocked up on our favorite lip glosses, eyeliner and heat protectant. It sounds so simple, but it’s basically the best gift ever and I love that I don’t have to dole out the money for that stuff myself. As in, I haven’t bought eyeliner in years and it’s amazing.
So there you have it! I hope you found a few ideas here that are fun or that might inspire you to pick up something special for that “extra” person in your life who might not otherwise be on your holiday shopping list this year. For my continued rambling about all things gifts, be sure to keep up with The Gift Guide each week. Share your favorite gift ideas from T.J.Maxx, Marshalls and/or HomeGoods with me on Instagram by tagging me and using the hashtag #bestgiftever. I’d love to see what you’re gifting this year!
[Photos by Cyd Converse for The Sweetest Occasion.]
I received no compensation for this post. All opinions are my own. TJX (T.J.Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods) did provide me with a gift card to cover the cost of the gifts purchased. Read more about our editorial policies.
December 5, 2014 | by Cyd Converse
I became an aunt at the ripe old age of 17 and Christmas shopping instantly took on a new meaning. Kids are undeniably the most fun to shop for, because they just get into the whole Christmas thing hard. My favorite gifts to give kids revolve around really beautifully made things that still have that touch of child-like wonder to them. So, no, I can’t claim to never end up in the toy aisle with a cart full of brightly colored plastic, but I much prefer something that feels a bit less disposable. So today we’re focusing on gifts for girls, all of which are beautifully designed and all of which are plastic-free. These are the special gifts that balance out all the princess paraphernalia without sacrificing even a bit of fun. From a truly lovely necklace for the teenager in your life to the prettiest wooden blocks you ever did see, I hope you’ll find something here that’s just perfect for one of the little ladies in your life.
p.s. If you missed them, be sure to check out my picks for fabulous hostess gifts, thoughtful gifts for inlaws and awesome gifts for guys!
[Gifts for Girls | 1: Kids apron set | 2: Yarn tassel mobile | 3: Kitty gloves | 4: Pastel tumbling tower | 5: Turquoise necklace | 6: Baby blanket | 7: Rifle Paper Co. classic books | 8: Little Friend rattle | 9: Party crasher headband | 10: Building block set | 11: You Are So Loved art print | 12: Oliver the Cat.]
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December 4, 2014 | by Cyd Converse
B and I daydream regularly about building a house in a couple of years. It’s a goal we’re in the very early stages of working toward right now, but of course it’s something that makes me excited just talking about. One thing I know is that a really fabulous front door is a must for me, whether we eventually build or buy and fix up a house. Should you need an explanation as to why, these beautiful holiday doors are about to set you free from all doubt. Is there anything prettier or more inviting than a gorgeous entry all decked out in holiday cheer? Whether it be a single stunning boxwood wreath or swags of fresh pine garland, I think we should all pledge not to forget to deck the doors this holiday season. Even if you don’t celebrate, a bit of greenery will have your front door looking cheerful and beautiful through the winter months! (p.s. There’s still time to enter the West Elm giveaway! Follow me on Instagram to get the scoop on each day’s giveaway throughout the entire 24 Merry Days extravaganza.)
In the Fields
December 3, 2014 | by Cyd Converse
In my undergrad years, my go-to cocktail of choice was always a vodka cranberry. While my palate has changed some and I’m more of a tonic girl now, there’s something undeniably awesome about cranberry paired with vodka. The two just go. So today we’re mixing a festive holiday season drink that brings a sophisticated twist to the staple of my college years. I call this one the cranberry smash. A couple of weeks ago Absolut sent along one of their pretty limited edition Andy Warhol designed bottles of vodka, which was the inspiration for today’s drink. As it were, I’ve been an Absolut drinker since back in my college days and it’s still my vodka of choice. So let’s get mixing!
- 1/4 cup fresh cranberries
- 1-1/2 ounces Absolut vodka
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- 6 ounces ginger ale
Muddle cranberries, orange juice and brown sugar in a cocktail shaker until the cranberries are sufficiently smashed but still somewhat lumpy. Add vodka and ice and shake until cold. Pour mixture over ice, top with ginger ale and stir gently to combine. Garnish with additional cranberries if desired.
Guys, this one is seriously yum! It’s tart and sweet, and just plain tasty. Also, I think the Absolut Andy Warhol bottle would make an awesome holiday hostess gift, too. It even comes in a really awesomely designed box. That’s a hostess gift I can get behind for sure! And this cocktail is one I can get behind, too.
[Photos, recipe + styling by Cyd Converse for The Sweetest Occasion.]
Andy Warhol bottle from Absolut
Coasters + twizzle sticks from The Pink Orange
Glasses from West Elm (no longer available, similar here)
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