Merry Christmas!

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Christmas in England holds many traditions for our family…

Christmas Eve begins with a candlelit supper and the swapping of small gifts. This began when my sister and I found it hard to wait till Christmas morning for the first of our presents, and has continued now there are children of the next generation.

Santa also visits all ages, so we were also lucky enough to find stockings with our names on this morning. I love the idea that everyone is remembered in this way, with small, thoughtful items that don’t cost the earth. It’s always as fun to take it in turns to unwrap these little parcels as it is the larger gifts under the tree.

Merry Christmas!

Holiday Cheer

Holiday cheer

Black and red provides a dramatic presentation.

I found this striking bottle bag recently, which allows the wine label to show through, and added some scarlet ribbon to create a gift for a holiday brunch. Our friend is a real foodie and always puts together a fabulous feast for her guests. We knew she would enjoy some red wine to accompany it.

Cheers!

Enjoy Life

Girls Gift Exchange

Work Less, Play More, Enjoy Life

That was the message on the mug that caught my eye. I was putting together a gift for a Holiday Gift Exchange that I do with some girlfriends each year. The recipient of my gift had just got back from a trip abroad so I thought this would remind her that there’s more to life than work – especially as she’d just returned to several issues that required her immediate attention. I added a traveller tin of holiday teas (seemed appropriate) and some Christmas tree cookies in a cute cellophane bag. This sophisticated pine branch bag and red ribbon and tissue pulled it all together with a holiday theme.

Enjoying life with girlfriends is a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning.

Countless Cookies… and Some Biscuits

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Cookies, cookies, cookies… and biscuits!

Friday night I was invited to a cookie exchange. I shared my selection (shortbread biscuits as we bake in the U.K.) and swapped them for pinwheels, sugar cookies, ginger snaps, mint-choc-chip circles, and many, many more. With sixteen participants this was enough of a sugar fix to last the whole year, all in one evening. I’m now looking forward to sharing some of my bounty with my work colleagues this week. There’s nothing better than tea and biscuits to refresh you in time for the holidays.

Birthday Buddies

Friendship card

About half of my friends, like me, have birthdays in January. I’ve pondered why this might be so, and have a theory… Capricorns are loyal types so maybe we’ve all gravitated together. We’re the ones that: accept an invite and stick to it, are there for each other in times of need, and remember one another’s birthdays.

With the commotion of the holiday season it’s always easy to forget those born at the beginning of the year. I know we’re going to be busy over the next few weeks so I’m scheduling birthday cards ahead of time. Using the templates on the Treat website (like the one above) I’ve created personalized greetings to be sent on the appropriate day. You should never forget a birthday buddy!

Made in America

Paul Stewart

The December Wall Street Journal magazine has a gift guide featuring things made in America. With items like a bespoke Paul Stuart suit it rather targets the upper echelons of the buying public. But it did make me think about gifts that are indeed home-grown. Here are four of my favorite brands/products that are made in the states:

North American Bear Company This company focuses on traditional yet modern cuddly creatures for the little folks, with imaginative names being their forte: Babe Tooth, Chrismouse and Flatjack would all appeal to a child. Founded by a New Yorker and run from Chicago, this is definitely a patriotic option, as the name suggests.

John Derian Company Inc. is also mentioned in the Wall Street Journal this month, but with a range of prices to choose from, this brand is definitely worth a mention. Taking a variety of motifs, many of them naturalistic such as insects, this American designer creates beautiful decoupage objects such as paperweights and trays, which make great hostess gifts.

Zingerman’s is legendary in its home town of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and its fan base is growing all the time. Starting out as a deli it has now grown to a group of business such as a Bakehouse and Coffee Company. Thanks to a mail order service these fabulous foodstuffs can also be shipped across the country. Cinnful Cinnamon Rolls or the Fancy Schmancy Holiday Cookie Box would make wonderful gifts for a foodie.

Room & Board prides itself on the fact that more than 90% of its products are made by American craftsmen. I like the clean design aesthetic and durability of the pieces; classics of the future. This Comic Pillow, hand-sewn in Chicago, caught my eye, as did the classic Eames Rocker, still made by Herman Miller in Michigan. Both of these would make fabulous presents for some lucky design aficionado.

Not only does it feel good to receive these American products, it feels good to buy American.