Posts Tagged ‘Gift’

Many, many years ago I was invited to a neighbor’s house to celebrate Boxing Day.  I thought this was a bit odd since I wasn’t a servant and I didn’t have any servants.  I was soon introduced to an Americanized version of Boxing Day.  The premise here was to bring a gift all wrapped up that was actually something you had previously received as a gift and either a) you didn’t want it because b) it was ugly or useless.  Oh there were really some strange and odious gifts exchanged that day.  The gift-giving was done in the manner of a Yankee Swap;  You picked a gift and you kept it or traded it.  Well, anyway that’s how that Boxing day went down.

This is how we began Boxing Day this year!  We were all tired from the late night of Christmas Eve and the long day of Christmas night so everyone slept just a little bit later on Thursday morning.  But right after breakfast without any formal plan set, it just began to unfold….The day after Christmas could only mean one thing!  We MUST CLEAN!  Perhaps it is some genetic pre-disposition or familial personality disorder, whatever it is, this is what happened.

Joel got the vacuum cleaner out and he began vacuuming  the rugs, I took out the swifter and did the kitchen floor and the hallways and the foyer.  I used about 6 swifter pads;  There has been a horde of people going inside and out, through the garage, in from the pool and all about.  The house was recently renovated and all the floors  are now a white-washed wood and the swifter did its thing over and over again.  I left piles for Joel to swoop up with the vacuum.   Meanwhile, Chiara packed up gifts and swept up pine needles.  I tackled the stairs next and was quite pleased to see the white of the treads re-appear.  Elsewhere, dishes were washed, clothes washed and folded and the dishwasher emptied.  It was a glorious morning, the house had been reclaimed and restored to its pristine beauty and we had taken on Boxing Day and given it an Italian twist.

There would be a Yankee Swap later that night after dinner.  But first we had to do some preparing for tonight’s party. Oh yes, there WOULD be a party tonight, albeit not quite so large as yesterday but this one would be here!  Only 15 adults and 6 kids.  Chiara decided to make several baking dishes of Eggplant Parmesan, we would serve the pork loin left over from Christmas Eve and make a big salad and a bowl of quinoa.

Susan and JR were coming for dinner with their 3 boys, the youngest is Hunter who is a classmate of Finley’s.  Susan brought a huge spiral cut ham and it’s a darn good thing she did since the pork loin did not cook through and we couldn’t serve it pink and cool.  This party spread itself out through the house!  We had kids (big and little) watching Elf and a couple other Christmas movies, adults out on the veranda, a couple of us in the dining room dishing on everything and everybody, Finley and a couple of the boys had a bow and arrows and were shooting at the front door and lots of wine drunk in all the rooms.

JR took the boys home, eventually both the girls went to bed and the die-hard game players gathered round in the living room to play some games.  Joel had gone out with Chiara in the afternoon to buy some new games.  Tonight we were going to play Quelf and Loaded Questions.  We are hardcore, laughing, yelling, arguing and all the time playing to win!  The wine kept flowing, there was some other mind-altering substances and as they say, “Let the games begin”!  Quelf was hysterical as we watched Joel stand and try not to bend his arms and legs, Dennis had to sit on his hands, Justin did the color for a basketball game in the voice of a parrot as well as mind-bending tasks, some which were subject to group analysis.  Overall one might observe it as familial blood-letting!

Loaded Questions is an adventure in delving into your fellow players psyche.  Since I’ve already portrayed our family as the crazy bunch they truly are, you can only imagine how this game was played!  I’d love to tell you about it but like the New York Times only all the news that’s fit to print.  And on that note I think it’s time to close the chapter on Boxing Day with the Bertis/Clarks/Presses and Pucci’s came to an end.

Except for the Yankee Swap which was wildly funny as the swapping, trading, stealing took place.  Those that participated seemed to have a grand time and I think perhaps the $50 bill was the prize of the evening!

English: Gift ideas for men - wrapping paper e...

English: Gift ideas for men – wrapping paper example. Please source http://www.giftideasformen.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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There are literally a couple thousand gifts, gift ideas, and/or catalogs devoted to gifts for Foodies on your Christmas gift list.  So every night I surf the net looking for the next  new and better thing out there and feature it in my count-down to Christmas posts.

I just came across a very cute and practical item.  I often serve olives as an appetizer before dinner or as an hors d’ouevre with drinks.   Eating olives can be a messy event if you use your fingers and I dare say most of do.  TOOTHPICKS are the answer.  You can always put the olives in one dish, then put out a small little bowl for the pits and place a whiskey shot glass filled with toothpicks alongside the bowl.  My main problem with this set-up is real estate.  Never enough room to put much out on my coffee table.

HEDGEHOGS to the rescue!  This little guy will hold the toothpicks for you, perched on the rim of the bowl of your choice.

Don't Worry - No Quills

Don’t Worry – No Quills

KLpik Toothpick Holder available at MOMA gift shop – $25.00

MOMA is short for The Museum of Modern Art, Manhattan NY.  You can buy online!


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BLACK FRIDAY is one crazy, clever retail gimmick.  Get up at 4:00am to push your way into an overheated department store so maybe you can snag what? – the sought-after toy of the moment? REALLY??  The day after Thanksgiving IS the day to go shopping for Christmas presents according to a popular manipulative tradition dreamed up by the retail community.  This day which is orchestrated to create consumer frenzy is a store’s way of making up money lost through the normally slower summer season.  Add the proximity to the Christmas gift-giving holiday and you have the makings of a retail perfect storm.  They hope to end up in the black and you might just end up in the red.

Personally, Black Friday holds no appeal to me and never has.  I haven’t shopped in a Mall for a present or for that matter myself in a very long, long time.  Of course when you live in New York City, going to a mall is not really an option but I stopped shopping for Christmas presents in a mall years ago.  I like to give either really unique personalized gifts or unusual gifts.  I don’t buy sweaters, hats, ties, shirts etc as gifts.  I assume most people buy their own clothes, their own perfume and for the most part their own jewelry.  However,  jewelry is the exception to the rule;  I might purchase a ring, necklace or bracelet for someone but it won’t come from a department store and it probably will be vintage.

Tomorrow, I’m going to Walmart ONLY because it seems to be the ONLY store in my area that carries an item I need, not want but actually need. It’s not a gift, it’s a repair item.  Other than that one foray into a retail store, I hope to avoid the maddening crowds. 

English: DC USA, Target, Black Friday

Target, Black Friday (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Ever wonder where some of the phrases we use in our everyday language?  I do and in this blog I have often featured phrases that once were common and now are obscure to generation X and Y.  Sometimes a phrase fades away because it’s no longer applicable or contains words that have dropped out of usage.

PULL OUT ALL THE STOPS has come to mean let it all go, or let it all out, or put the force of 100% effort into something.  This past Friday, Peter and I took our granddaughter, Finley, to the Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ.  We really wanted to see their collection of antique music machines and automata.  It is an amazing collection with gorgeous elaborate music boxes of every evolution and Living Dolls and Mechanical Musical Instruments ever since we saw the movie, HUGO.

Now you are wondering what does all that have to do with this blog post?  The early Music Machines operated on a bellows system.  The docent demonstrated several of the mechanical musical machines.  There was  large wooden instrument that worked with bellows and you could adjust the volume  by pulling out a row of stoppers

And there you have it -all the sound was let out, by pulling out all the stoppers!

Antique music box with brass cylinder

French Automaton - Lady Knitting

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Alright maybe giving candles is NOT so clever BUT think of it this way;  it certainly is a wonderful hostess gift, a Secret Santa gift, an office gift exchange, a sister-in-law, really anyone who entertains will love this idea.

Purchase a bunch of candles (tapers)the number is up to you.  However, I think 4 would be the minimum in either holiday colors or shades that would complement your giftee’s home.  On the other hand, everyone can use a few beautiful white tapers.  Wrap the candles in a linen napkin.  Again the color contrast or combination is up to you.  Tie with a ribbon and you have gift within a gift.

Now I know you are thinking, who wants just one linen napkin?  The answer is the hostess who wants to line her bread or cracker basket with a linen napkin but doesn’t have an extra or odd one.

green tapers, linen napkin gift wrap,
All Tied Up For Christmas

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I always found an orange in the toe of my Christmas stocking.  There were nuts, some candy, and maybe a small toy.  What was in  your Christmas stocking?  If you never had one, this could be the year you decide that there really is a Santa Claus and if you hang your stocking from the mantle…who knows what you might find!  These stockings are original and unique, even your dog and cat get their own.

Red Ribbon Velvet Stocking

A classic stocking with a whimsical touch. Red velvet is delicately complemented with white and green ribbon accents. Personalized monograms are available for an additional charge.

To buy: $20, potterybarnkids.com

personalized stocking, velvet ribbons

Velvet Ribbons On My True Love's Stocking

Thomas Paul Tweeter Stocking

This 100 percent cotton stocking has a timeless design with a sweet winter scene. Also available in violet.

To buy: $30, velocityartanddesign.com.

scenic stocking, felt birds,

Twitter Stocking

Needlepoint Christmas Stocking

Designed in intricate needlepoint with a wool front and soft cotton velvet back, this stocking is hand-detailed and can be personalized with up to 10 letters at no additional charge.

To buy: $24.50, landsend.com.

choo choo train, needlepoint stocking

Choo - Choo Christmas Stocking

Skate Around Stocking

A playful approach to the traditional stocking hanging on the mantel. Made of poly felt, the skate’s “blade” can be personalized in light blue with up to 11 letters for an additional charge.

To buy: $24, landofnod.com.

ice skate, personalized stocking

Go Figure

Meow Cat Stocking

Make room for Kitty on the mantel. There’s no confusing stockings with this soft heather grey pick that has a special message for that four-legged friend in your home.
To buy: $13, crateandbarrel.com

kitty stocking, meow, pet stocking

For A Cat Named Socks

Personalized Pet Stocking

Dog bones meet cheetah print for an unexpected design for the furriest member of your family. Personalize with up to 10 letters for no additional cost.

To buy: $25, ballarddesigns.com

pet stocking, doggie stocking

Give The Poor Doggy A Bone

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Invited to a holiday cocktail party? Or to a Hanukkah latke supper? Or a Christmas dinner party?  You know you gotta bring a hostess gift…of course you can always opt for the traditional (read boring and unimaginative) bottle of wine, perhaps even some Veuve Clicquot.  OR you could bring a jar of that strawberry jam you made this summer.  In the past I have made batches of seasoned nuts and given them as gifts – but we’re running out of time to shop for ingredients, find appropriate containers and then make the peppermint bark or spicy pecans, so take a look at this list and maybe a couple of the items will jump off the page for you or at least inspire you to think a bit creatively when picking out that Hostess Gift.

Apartment48.com, kitchen timer, retro timer

Retro Kitchen Timer

Retro Kitchen Timer

An aluminum timer buzzing with old-school charm will wake up any kitchen’s style. Available in six colors.

To buy: $18, apartment48.com


Still Hot From The Oven

Bread Warmer

Heat this terra-cotta plate, then tuck it into a bread basket to keep rolls soft and warm. Score brownie points by showing up with it packaged with a fresh-baked loaf of focaccia.

To buy: $15, uncommongoods.com

crate and barrel,

Say Cheese

These markers are a great gift for any hostess.  Perfect way to identify an assortment of cheeses for a cocktail party.

crate and barrel, kitchen soap and lotion

Sweet Clementine Soap & Hand Lotion

This refreshing scented duo is perfect for the hostess’s kitchen. 

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A picture is worth a thousand words and in this case the picture is a thousand words or so.  What a great Christmas gift for the gamester in your life.  I play Scrabble every day with some friends online through Facebook.  In my other life, (yes I had one) I used to play Scrabble every day in the summer with my friend Barbara Regan.  Sitting at the pool or in her kitchen, we whiled away hours of word smithing. I’ll bet you know a Scrabble player too.

coasters, Scrabble, gift ideas

Triple Word Wonderful

* available at spoonsisters.com

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It seems as if every year, Christmas and holiday wrapping paper gets more and more sophisticated.  One store in particular is a particular favorite of mine for wrapping paper, The Container Store.  I love how they showcase the papers by grouping them in various color categories and they have tons to pick from.

I like this particular choice of wrapping paper because it is a slightly-off-Christmas color and deer are so ecumenical!  Ha, ha, this from a Catholic wife of a Jewish husband.

Wrap the gift and tie it up with a piece of grosgrain ribbon with a couple of jingle bells on top and you can “jingle all the way” through the holiday!

Christmas wrapping paper,

Dashing Deer

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