Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bringing Small Comforts Series ~ Part One

My friend was here the other day wrapping gifts. We usually talk about many things, but what we mostly talked about that day was her friend who has been diagnosed with cancer. My friend is torn between doing too little and not doing enough, what she really wants to do is make her friend's cancer go away right now and she can't do that. So what she does is everything she can think of to help her friend, pray, listen, cry, visit, organize friends, make food, and one other incredibly thoughtful thing I think you might want to do as well if you have a friend in need. She drops off a small little gift at her doorstep each and every day. She doesn't knock on the door, she doesn't drop in unexpectedly, she simply leaves it there to let her friend know she is thinking of her each and every day as her good friend faces this unfair journey.

In order to bring gifts to a person who has cancer or to someone who is grieving, you have to get past the thought that it seems somewhat frivolous to gift someone who has bigger things on their mind. Big as in fighting for their Life. Big as in a loved one has died. Gifts are normally given in times of celebration, so the first association is one of pleasure and joy. But gifts can be more than that, done in the proper spirit they can be incredibly healing. Bringing beauty when it seems like it has gone far away.

This has been on my mind for awhile, how to talk to you about when a gift is given in a time of sadness, not celebration. It isn't that we don't know we should do something, but many of us are somewhat skittish when it comes to sickness or death. Even when we have been on the other side and know how it feels, we tell ourselves we'll do something, we just don't know what yet. Sometimes we do nothing and let the time pass. Some will send flowers, some will donate to charity, but sometimes you need to do more and it needs to be more personal. I can only tell you what I know, what I see, and what I hear after sending customer gifts at these challenging times. This is not a time to be skittish. This is not about you feeling awkward. It is a time when it is all about them. Period.

Bringing Small Comforts is the first in a series that I will be posting about over the next month or two. Feel free to give me input, share the unique ways you have found to give support and I will be happy to share them with readers. We all need help with this. We all need to do something. Anything to make them feel better. Some ideas will cost money, some will cost time, but I hope to share as many ideas as I can because I think it is an important subject if I blog about gifting.

As the first idea, let's get back to my friend thoughtful doorstep idea. We spent some time talking about products that would comfort someone with cancer and I will share that list as we move along in this series. Today I am showing you four ideas that can be done with pretty teacups you may already have and can reuse. One filled with wax as a beautiful teacup candle (clickh here for how-to), one with a few fresh blooms, one with a tea and strainer, and one with powder and a powder puff. If you like this doorstep idea, know that you don't have to do this yourself. It doesn't even have to be every day, it can be once a week. You can get a group of friends together to contribute to a fund and delegate who will be the shopper, who will deliver each day or week, it doesn't matter how........ it matters that you do something. Period.

1st and 4th photo by Kate French - Sarah Kaye/ 2nd photo Anthropologie candle from Country Living/3rd and 5th photo by Kate French - Sarah Kaye

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

French Blue ~ French Blue

Show someone they are special this week.

Is there anything better than an unexpected gift?

One that is so perfect it takes your breath away?

One that just amazes you with it's thoughtfulness?

One that is just so you?


It's even better when it is from someone you adore.

If you know Janet at French Blue, her gorgeous blog, her website full of unique vintage finds , you will know how remarkable she is in her support of the women who surround her. She just has that unique gift of "seeing" women and the beauty that comes into our lives if we chose to embrace it. Her blog embraces beauty in a most magical way and with the most poetic words. Janet was one of my first blog supporters, the one with the most incredible comments that would lift your heart and inspire you to be more. Oh my!....... the goddess post, we all had so much fun with that! I am most certainly not a goddess, but I loved that Janet made me feel like one! For those of you who have visited her blog or had a comment from Janet, you know exactly what I mean.

Some people are like that aren't they? The type who rarely toot their own horn, always looking to toot it for others instead. Her gorgeous array of petite gifts landed on my doorstep at Christmas, something just for me, something so unexpected, something so perfect, something so me. Wrapped to perfection, they stayed unopened for days and days ..........I do love the anticipation.

When I opened the final box, I literally gasped. Laudree ribbons! How perfectly perfect.

Could anyone give me a more thoughtful gift?

Isn't it a good week to give someone a little something? Something thoughtful? Something you know is just for them? For no reason other than you adore them or that they really could use something pretty. I think Janet at French Blue,the most incredibly giving woman would love than more than anything. If you do gift someone this week and spread around some good feelings, go tell her here, she will be delighted.

All photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Feeling in the Mood for Glam

The best part of having a Giveaway may be finally meeting many of the followers and readers of this blog. Well........... Hello! How wonderful to hear from you and see where you are all coming from, a delight during this week of drywall, painting, floor sealing, cleaning, moving furniture, you do remember that flood we had in my studio 2 weeks before Christmas, this is the final repair. So I am a bit behind on blog posts ( I do have plenty of giveaway entries to write!) but am setting up a new photo area so I can get back on track with more gift wrapping ideas and more glam, more of everything. Nothing like a general re-do and clean-up of your physical space to make you rethink things. All I can say is this blog is going to be lots of fun in 2010 so stay with me and welcome, welcome to all the new followers. I am so glad you are here.

No, the giveaway is not these shoes, but it is pinkish and fabulous
so click here is you haven't entered.

Heading in a new direction...........

Ist photo from Paris Atelier/2nd photo from Coco & Kelley/3rd photo from Beautiful Things to Share.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The most fabulous Charlotte Moss Giveaway

There are two things that I am absolutely thrilled about right now. First is adding the Charlotte Moss ~ Left Bank Collection from Agraria to my website. Click here to read my Charlotte Moss post way back last spring. I am busy creating it's signature gift wrapping as we speak and you can imagine how inspired I am in wrapping these oval and round presentation boxes for customers. The Charlotte Moss ~ Left Bank products are now available for purchase on my gift website. It is without a doubt, the most elegant and exquisite of gifts. The packaging, the presentation, the chinoiserie details, and the fragrance is simply divine..........a swoon worthy gift for any woman. Sometimes one perfect gift say it all.

Left Bank ~ Votive Gift Set
Something about this Votive Gift Set makes me crazy with admiration for the taste and design ability of Charlotte Moss. The silver detailing on these petite votives, the pink marble liner, the shape of the keepsake box, the petite closure, the warm and sophisticated Left Bank fragrance.............I love it when clever designers and clever companies get together and make product magic happen. Yes, these products prove can buy beauty and good taste. Wouldn't you love to win one of these?

Or this? Left Bank ~ Perfume Candle

The second thing I am thrilled about is that I am very close to my first Blog anniversary. On Feb 14th I will be hitting the one year anniversary of my blog A Gift Wrapped Life. In fact, I just had a major flashback sitting here writing this on cold, winter day. Can you see where this is going? Yes! A Valentine Giveaway....... not one, but three gorgeous products and three winners.

Left Bank ~ AirEssence

I can not think of a more beautiful and elegant product line to thank my readers and followers for your amazing support during the past year. Since you may want to treat yourself or someone else with these exquisite products for Valentines Day , this Giveaway is going out a few weeks earlier than my actual anniversary date. On Feb 1st I will draw the three winners and ship the next day. If you are an international reader, you can still enter and have it shipped to someone special in North America. Here's how it works:

You must comment on this post for the 1st entry. Winners can choose their favorite product style when notified.

If you are already a follower you will automatically get a 2nd entry, but make sure you tell me this in your comment.

You will get a 2nd entry if you become a new follower.

Add a 3rd entry if you post or Twitter about this giveaway and send me the link.

It is a most fabulous Giveaway.

All photos from Agraria.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Making me links this week

Paris Boutique Hotel ~ Parasol Bar Wynn Hotel Las Vegas

One of the advantages of following wonderful blogs is that you get a steady stream of gorgeousness at any given time and this week was no exception. You blogger gals have been working the blogs the past few weeks and I noticed! I thought it the perfect time to share these gorgeous, fabulous, and sophisticated photos from a number of blogs I follow on a daily basis. If you don't know them, get over there and take a look and introduce yourself. A talented group of ladies. I hope to make this a monthly post so if you weren't mentioned, you will be. For many of us, it is cold and gray, so the burst of colour seen in these photos is meant to perk you up and brighten your day. Enjoy your weekend and go visit these blogs.

Habitually Chic ~ photo by Brian McCarthy

Fauchon Paris from French Blue ~ French Blue

Hermes Paris from This is Glamorous

A la Parisienne ~ Gift wrapping

Mimi Charmante ~ her Etsy profits go to Haiti

Lisa Porter ~ Winter

House of Turquoise ~ Brian McCarthy
All photos via blog linked.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Let it Snow...while I read

Our Home ~ Winter 2010

According to me, there are only two things you need when the snow starts falling.........groceries and a good book. Shovels are optional, I'm not going anywhere if I have some good fiction. It's the excuse I live for each winter, it almost as if someone is whispering go read..............let it snow, let it snow. I have the feeling this is going to be a particulary good winter for reading. With that in mind, some of my favorites from my 2009 Book List. They are all winter storm worthy...........the best kind. In the same note as my last post on A Bookish Gift, each book selection is accompanied by a quote , something to entice you to open their pages if you haven't already. This list should get you all the way to April, depending on the forecast of course. Let's start with my favorite 2009 read. The rest are in no particular order.

"My sisters and I have fought over shoes, over who's had a better life, and over who's smarter and prettier, but this time I don't have a chance. I know who will win. For so long I've wondered about my destiny. Now the tears of my greatest loss of my life roll down my cheeks." Shanghai Girls by Lisa See.

* I have omitted one line in the above quote that would have given away part of the story.

"The thought of what I needed to do in order to survive made me quite breathless at times; I'd have to sit and put my head between my news, like a grand lady overtaken by a spell of the vapours, like my Lady herself on one of her bed days. I had no time for such weakness. Time and time again, I forced myself back onto my feet." Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger.

"Children picked strawberries for the fun of it. Colored folks picked them for extra money, and for making jams. Farmers packed them morning, afternoon, and evening, and put them up in boxes to be drawn by horse to Toronto and to Hamilton. I didn't mind eating the strawberries, but I never picked them. Colored people had been bending over and picking things off farmers' fields for hundreds of years in the United States, and I sure as hell wasn't going to do it in Canada." Any Known Blood by Lawrence Hill

"She'll wake up soon and then be gone, so for awhile I'll watch her breathe and dream. So lovely. She's wearing a cotton nightgown, modest and opaque, but of course it reveals what isn't there, the breast she surrendered last year to save her life, and looking at her now, knowing the small secrets she's kept in her good heart, I feel a little better about my own. Perhaps we are all entitled to keep a small place that is our own." Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo.

"Even before I got to the front steps, I heard it. A wretched, unloosed, primeval keening. A sound I couldn't possibly be hearing from a human being, except that it was. I stood on the front porch, hearing the sound. I stood there. I even started to open the door. The knob was in my hand. Then I turned around and walked back home." Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos

"She wanted to be someone else. The old Claire seemed provincial, ignorant.She had been to a party at Goverment House, sipped champagne at the Gripps while women she knew twirled around in silky dresses. She had her nose pressed up against the glass and was watching a different world, one she hadn't known existed. She could not name it but she felt as if she were about to be revealed, as if there were another Claire inside, waiting to come out." The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. Lee

"When my share of the world's cruelty struck, I was nine years old. It would take a great portion of my time as an adult before I realized that tragedy was hurled freely into every one's life as though it were a cheap newspaper, advertising porn shops and strip shows thrown into a overgrown yard. I was an old man by the time I turned ten years old, and I caught the terrible drift of things many years before my number should have been called." South of Broad by Pat Conroy

All photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Bookish Gift.........and wrapping it too

photo by Kimberly Taylor ~ Mimi Charmante

It was this photo by talented blogger Kimberly Taylor at Mimi Charmante that got me to thinking about book gifts. First of all I love this photo she sells in her lovely, lovely Etsy shop and the other thought was she must be a reader too. You couldn't take this wonderful of a photo and not be, it has too much reverence in it. It's surprising really that I haven't talked about a simple book as a gift sooner especially since reading has been such a source of pleasure in my life. I can do anything, wait anywhere, endure most, as long as have a book in hand. When I was 9 years old I read all 52 Nancy Drew books in one year ( I told you I was intense) and I haven't stopped reading since. I read way too fast, have way too many books, spend too much, and don't see any of that changing in the years ahead. It is written into my marriage vows.......take me, take my books, their expense, and my nightly reading light...........sorry about that~xo

By January 1st, most people are gifted to the hilt and there likely isn't much more that they need or want. Which makes it the absolute best time of the year to give a book gift. It makes snow days positively welcome. Pick the absolute best book you have read the past year, or a stack of them even better, and indulge someone with the pleasure of reading. When I give a book gift there is a few things I do to make it more "bookish" so to speak.

My Bookish Details


Always a bookmark. In fact, keep a handy supply around and head over to Kimberly's Etsy shop (click here)and stock up. She has a gorgeous selection of new velvet bookmarks with charms and pearls that will add a thoughtful touch to any book gift at a very reasonable price of $8.00. Consider adding in her gorgeous print shown above, any reader would love this addition. You must visit her blog Mimi Charmante, you will be absolutely charmed by her, if you aren't already.

Hide the Price
Use little stickers or seals to cover the price. My friend always does this and I have adopted this most civilized habit.These tiny stamp stickers are the perfect size but if in a pinch a real one would do nicely as well. They know roughly what you've spent anyways but this looks so much better.

Always have a packet of decorative but blank bookplates handy. I place a single one loose inside the front cover. Let them decide if they want to use it or how they will label it.

Personal Book Plates
If working ahead of your gift giving date and dealing with a serious book lover, order in a set of these adorable personalized bookplates form the fabulous artist Felix Doolittle. 25 Ex Libras 2" self-adhesive labels for $50.00 and they come in the cutest little tin. Lots of image choices and other shapes as well.

Wrapping the Book Gift

Yes, you can use brown kraft paper. I am always a bit wrapped-out in the first few months of the year and like to explore more relaxed styles of gift wrapping. I have nothing against twine, what you usually see with kcraft paper, but much prefer a simple ribbon. Books are perfect for this understated wrap.

I prefer a double layer gift wrap for books. Maybe I am afraid sharp folds will bend the book cover. This method eliminates any need for tape and I just like the relaxed style. One layer in one direction(shown above) then another layer going the other way so all book edges are covered. This technique also works really well with tissue paper. I will show you how to pleat and wrap with tissue in an upcoming post.

Here you can see the two paper directions. I used a small off cut of this graphic black and white gift wrap as a base for the attached and layered card I made. White cotton ribbon from Kate Spade was recycled after a quick iron. Keep reading, that copy you see is my new favorite thing to do on book gifts.

Book Quotes

Make a gift tag with a quote from the book. A few lines of book copy handwritten or printed on a blank gift card adds a bit of mystery to the book gift. I like to entice them to open those pages and immerse themselves in a story I think might bring them great reading pleasure. I will tell you what book this quote is from in my next Reading List post. It was my favorite book from 2009.

Include a newspaper or online review of the book or links . I like to know how others thought of a book before I start a new one. Just fold and tuck into the rear cover.

Enjoy the story.........

Photos 1 to 3 from Mimi Charmante/Photo 7 from Felix Doolittle/All other photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life

Monday, January 4, 2010

The R in Regift

Touchy subject isn't it? Nobody likes a debate more than me but even I have been avoiding the R word for way too long. It is the first subject on my Blog Post list for 2010 and I figure the worse you can do if you don't like what I am saying regift me with your most tacky gift? The post-holiday timing couldn't be better, everyone has something left that makes you ask yourself............what do I do with this? Not everyone does it, certainly very few admit to it, but everyone knows the R word. Let's just talk about it once and for all.

Regift Style 1
There are two types of regifting, the first type being the one we are all most familiar with, you simply do not like the gift. You don't like the style, the colour, the subliminal message you see lurking behind it, it's obvious regift vibe, whatever, but you know somehow you need to get rid of it. This is where regifting gets it's bad this point you are actually considering it as a gift choice for someone else! A gift you actually don't like, don't want, don't want to see ever again. There is some kind of karma attached to passing along a unwanted gift, I swear people can tell when it is given in that kind of spirit. Then again, it might be the slightly guilty look on your face.

Regift Style 2
There is a second type of regifting, something that can be so tempting to do. Quite simply, you are looking to borrow someone else's exquisite taste. It's last-minute, you need an impressive gift to impress somebody and there it is right there in your grateful hands and It's absolutely gorgeous, that person always gives you the most tasteful gifts and you want to leave it gift wrapped too. Too easy isn't it? Your ego is getting in the way here, so much so that you are willing to deprive yourself. Let's be real here, regifting is basically a selfish act, one where you grab someone else's time and money and pass it off as your own effort. I can't make it pretty for you.

So why do it?
We do it because it is going to save us time or money, we secretly dislike the person, it's an obligatory gift, we are overwhelmed, we are out of gift-buying time, we need a reciprocal gift quick, we can't stand waste, the credit card is maxed out, maybe we are bad people? Let's face it , there are a million reasons it makes sense at the time, and only two to stop ourselves before all is said and done.

How are they going to feel if they find out you regifted their gift?

How are you going to feel if they find out you gave them a regifted gift?

So the question should always be when bad will I feel if this person finds out and does it matter to me? Think about it, if the answer is that it doesn't matter then maybe you shouldn't be exchanging gifts with this person in the first place. I am not saying regifting is the worse thing you can do or that it makes you a bad person. I am saying there is a probable and possible cost related to it and that isn't going to change no matter how we try to justify it. The probable and possible is forget you have regifted (which gives you a blank look when the recipient brings up your gift) or you can't forget about your shameful secret (which gives you that guilty look every time that person even says the word gift). Both are dead giveaways.

The Regift Rules

Do not regift an item you hate. If you consider it ugly as sin or just plain junk, treat it as such and throw itout. Junk is junk and no amount of new gift wrapping is going to hide that fact.

Do not regift because you hate waste and then attempt to tell yourself you are being noble and working toward a greater good for the eco-world at large. If you can't use it, give it away to a worthwhile charity. That is way more noble than regifting.

Do not regift in it's original wrapped version. At least rewrap it for heavens sake. I was once at a party where the hostess was given a bottle of wine and an old gift tag was inside the bottle bag. None of us have looked at this couple the same way again to say nothing about how it made the hard-working hostess feel that lovely evening. Obviously offended, she told us about it.

Do not regift or dispose of anything that has sentimental value to the person who gave it to you. If your great-aunt gives you her treasured vintage tablecloth and she can't see the stains, take it gratefully and then store it somewhere. You will get good karma points for being gracious and your mother will be exceptionally proud of you. Effusive thanks are part of the deal. Someday you might be doing the same.

Do not regift anything original. The lopsided pottery mug your friend made? The handknit scarf in all the wrong colours? If there is one thing we should all know, when someone expresses their creativity, the offense of regifting goes way up on the sensitivity scale. When it is handmade, it not just a gift, it is now a piece of their artistic soul and you should know how artists can be when it comes to that. Doesn't matter if you don't like it, doesn't matter if she made 200 of them for her closest friends, hold on to it and do not regift........ ever.

Do not think you can save it for your next garage sale. Garage sales are visited by bargain hunters and then your friends and family who stop in for moral support. Do you see what can happen here? And yes they will remember that they gave you that planter two years ago.

Do keep track of who gave you what gift. This prevents you from the obvious, bringing your secretary's gift to the office regift party. If you are going to regift, do so responsibly and kindly. This is the ultimate regift rule.

Do regift in an upfront manner. If you were given a pricey bottle of perfume that makes you sneeze then bring it along to the office or your next bookclub and ask who would enjoy a lovely gift that day. Than hand it over graciously. This is more sharing than regifting but you know what I mean.

Do keep a tasteful supply of gifts on hand for last minute repicorcal gift-giving. I order and wrap in advance an extra supply of my signature gift for every season. I always make sure my signature gift is in a style that can be given any time of year. This eliminates the need or desire to hunt through regift possibilities and potentially lose your normal good sense.

Do have a regift date at home or work. Set a date with like-minded people then bring it all in and let everyone take a pick. This does not include the junk, remember that has already gone in the garbage.

Do organize a regift day for your church or organization, attach a nominal price just like you would with a garage sale and then donate the funds.

Do regift anonymously. Wrap up the regift items and start dropping them off at doorsteps as a little treat. Only for the good stuff, nice body lotion, bath salts, gourmet tea, something that truly would make anyone's day a little bit nicer. Attach a little handwritten card saying " A special regift just for you. Enjoy or pass it along". No name needed and done in the right spirit it really is good gift karma.

Do eliminate the need to regift. Be a big girl and just tell them their gift needs to be returned or exchanged. No one expects their gift choices to be perfect every time and most would appreciate the opportunity to make the gift more perfect. Better to request than regift.

Do edit your gift giving list. If you are annually exchanging gifts with people who never get it right and never will, then maybe there is a better way. Sometimes the gifting has just gotten out of hand and you are expected to give to co-workers or relatives you really don't know very well. Be the clever one and suggest a better way for the whole group. Have everyone bring books (wine, cologne, or gift cards) and then let everyone exchange to their heart's content.

Do acknowledge some people in your life are never going to have good gift giving taste. Their gift choice is always going to disappoint you and there is nothing you can do about it (you need a few of these to appreciate the really good ones). Do not let this challenge make you revert to petty behavior and compromise your own tasteful gift giving. Be the one that still puts thought and beauty into your reciprocal gift. Not everyone has good taste, but they may have the best sense of humour and that is why you are friends. And they probably love your great taste and style.

Do know that you may get busted so be ready with your explanation. Let me know how that goes for you.

Now, if someone just happened to regift me with this Hermes bag I found over at the beauty blog Beautiful Things to Share .............ignore my above post. My loss of street cred would totally be worth it.

Photo 1, 2, and 4 via Flickr/3rd photo from Carolyne Roehm/5th photo from the blog Beautiful Things to Share


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