Tuesday, November 24, 2015

w!t and wonder

I'm always on the hunt for meaningful, unexpected gifts, with the perfect mix of charm and character, fun and function, wit and wonder, without being cheap, campy, or something that the recipient will never use.  I try to pair the gift with the recipient's personality, lifestyle, and sense of styling and tastes.

This year I'm particularly loving Nordstrom's selection of novelty gifts - perfectly called "w!t and wonder", they've found the perfect mix of fun, unexpected gift ideas, with a certain spark of whimsy, class, and style.

Here's a small sampling for the 12 Days of Christmas, or at least nearly everyone on your nice list. 

faux real

For the class clown of the office, that nephew you never know what to get, or the wiseguy in your life - I can't help but laugh at this "faux real" ugly Christmas sweater long sleeved tshirt.  Just US$30 and with free shipping, this supersoft long-sleeve T-shirt is designed to look like a super-cheesy Christmas cardigan. Featuring a busy mashup of cardinals, gingerbread confections and candy canes, this T-shirt is sure to score points among ugly Christmas connoiseurs.

water bottle

For your favorite yoga instructor or the kids' sports coaches, I love this beautiful champagne colored reusable bottle by S'well.  This double-walled, stainless steel vessel brings style + class to any beverage, and features the very impressive ThermaSwell construction, keeping cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours, and hot drinks hot for up to 12 hours.  The mouth is extra wide, easily accommodating ice cubes or pouring, and fits snugly into your automobile cup holders.  Best of all, the bottle is made of food grade stainless steel, is BPA-free, and a portion of all the proceeds go to UNICEF, providing clean drinking water to children around the world.

coin purse
For the shopaholic in our lives, I love this canvas zip coin purse from Two's Company.  The gilded coin zip pull closure adds the perfect touch to this oh-so-true statement piece.  And just US$8, it's the perfect stocking stuffer or finishing touch for the shop-till-you-drop friend you can't live without.


For the person who is always plugged in: the PowerCube adapter is absolutely genius.  If you're planning on traveling out of the country soon, I'd pack this and one adapter - instantly allowing you to charge multiple items with ease.  It's great for permanent home or office use, as well, with five outlets, a five foot extension cord, and special locking mechanism for convenient placement.  Includes everything you need to get started, and less than US$13. Available in many colors.

For the home entertainer, these Kate Spade New York glittery gold coasters add the perfect pop of color, glitz, and glam to any dinner party or cocktail table.  Good as gold, the set of 4 acrylic coasters are just US$40.   They also make the perfect housewarming present or hostess gift, year round.  

coloring book

Adult coloring books have been popular for quite some time, and this Tattoo Coloring Book is sure to win the heart and attention of the wild child in your life.  From hearts and sailors to roses and wild animals, this book features an array of tattoo styles and trends.  Pair with some colored pencils, markers, or crayons, and enjoy hours of entertaining stress relief.  US$14,95.

trivia game
 Give the gift of gab or break the ice at your holiday party with this nostalgic blast from the past.  Gift Republic's 80s trivia game will bring a blast from the past for the whole family when you test your TV smarts, with everything from Alf to the A-team.  Makes a great stocking stuffer, Secret Santa, or office gift.

Mr. Messy 
I'm probably one of the most nostalgic people on the planet.  I save little momentos from special events, send greeting cards randomly, and remember the most minute details.  When I was a little kid, I loved reading - especially Roger Hargreaves' Mr. Men collection of stories.  One of my favorites was Mr. Messy.  Coffee is more than just a drink - it's a culture.  Pink and gray are two of my favorite colors.  Smash them all together, and relish in the delight of this magnificent mug by Wild & Wolf.  They offer many other characters, including Little Miss Chatterbox, Little Miss Fun, and Little Miss Giggles.  

record player
For the audiophiles in your life (or even for yourself!), Crosley's Keepsake portable USB turntable is the perfect gift.  This gorgeous gold travel case easily converts your vinyl tunes to digital, for both Apple and Windows based platforms in high quality sound.  For music purists—a three-speed turntable lets you play 7", 10" and 12" LPs for an old-school listening experience, complete with all the audible nuances you know and love.  Includes built-in speakers for quick play, RCA jack, headphone jack, and power adapter.  US$180, with free shipping.

M.Aram bottle opener
Michael Aram makes some of the most incredible pieces - like jewelry and art for your home.  From gorgeous trays and vases to frame and glassware, Michael Aram is sure to add a bit of style + class to any space.  Splash some glitz and glam over your next soirĂ©e with this gorgeous gold bottle opener.  Makes a great gift for any occasion, too.  US$35.

cake tray
I am my Grandfather's grandchild, 100% - because I love cake!  Cup cakes, small cakes, big cakes, birthday cakes - I don't care, I love it all.  You can see why I love this whimsically wonderful acrylic tray, boldly stating the Gospel truth - "a party without cake is just a meeting".  Love that the tray inverts to reveal a gorgeous gold geometrical design.  Generously sized, made in the USA, US$78 with free shipping.  

banana flask
This has the recipe for disaster in so many ways.  "Is that a banana in your pocket..." "There's a party in my pants..." Wow wow wow.  Absolutely loving the hilarity and humor of this banana shaped flask.  Stainless steel, bright yellow, holds 4 oz. of your favorite liquid courage, US$19,95 with free shipping.

There are so many things I'm loving in this shop.  You'll find the suggestions are edited, high quality, and offer something for all budgets and recipients.  Well done, Nordstrom.  Well done. 

unexpected retail surprises

Tailoring, meaningful details, and nice fabrics.  Fine fragrances and quality ingredients.  These two groupings of descriptions are usually reserved for luxury brands.  Over the last few years, some companies have tried their hands at elevated products - Abercrombie & Fitch offered Ruehl No. 925 for nearly 5 years, while American Eagle spun their classier, grown up Martin + Osa.  Both brands targeted the "after college crowd" and featured luxe leathers, tailored fits, and fine fabrics, but neither found traction in the marketplace.

Lately I've noticed some brands stepping up their game.  While the products aren't competing with what luxury houses stock, they are definitely stepping up their game and capturing my interest.  Here's a few that I'm really loving:

Elixir white link

-- Bath & Body Works features a pocket collection from NYC's famed C.O. Bigelow apothecary.  I'm loving their Elixir White - crisp with citrus notes of bergamot, grapefruit, and mandarin orange, with a peppery, spicy twist.  Just a tiny bit goes a long way, making mounds of suds and leaving behind just a hint of fresh fragrance without overpowering.  And at only US$10 a tube, what's not to love?!  Pairs really well with Tom Ford's Venetian Bergamot or Oud Wood.

AEO Cotton Parka

-- American Eagle offers a surprisingly beautiful and well done jacket in their AEO Cotton Parka, and at just US$199 (with discounts and offers featured throughout the Christmas season), I couldn't be more impressed.  Waxed cotton canvas, a treatment usually seen in luxe brands like Filson and Barbour, with military inspired patch pockets, quilted lining and interior pockets, function storm cuffs, and both zippered and button closures, this jacket is sure to keep you warm.  The faux fur lining is eco conscious and removable as well.  Even better than the price - it's machine washable and easy to care for.  

Mrs. Meyers

-- Target and Whole Foods (and many other places) offer Mrs. Meyer's candles, and I'm loving the Crisp Iowa Pine.  Imagine fresh cut Christmas tree, with a dash of clove and cedar - so fresh, so clean, and perfectly Christmas.  All of Mrs. Meyer's candles are soy based, burning cleanly for up to 25 hours.  And at just under US$7, you can afford to burn them throughout the day.  I love popping a candle into a gift basket for any occasion, or even on it's own as a small thank you token.

Quality doesn't have to break the bank.  What're some affordable products you're loving at the moment?