First — I saw I, Tanya yesterday and it was EXCELLENT. Alison Janney is a genius, and the commentary on celebrity, perception, reality, and media was fascinating. A lot to think about. Have you seen it?
Second — I’ve received a number of fun email inquiries and direct messages about items seen on Instastory, so I’m answering them below! If you have similar inquiries, please know I LOVE hearing from my smart and stylish magpies; you can always drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: I am planning a girls’ trip weekend as a surprise birthday for my mom. What would you put in a swag bag for the guests?
A: Ooh la la! What a fun challenge! Here are a few items I’d consider — basically a roundup of my favorite products that many women in my life have also fallen in love with, and at various price-points depending on your budget.
+Diamond dazzle stick — I keep raving about this to everyone. The easiest way to keep your ring sparkly!
+Lavender-scented hand sanitizer spray. (The link is for a pack of 6!) So much chic-er and better-smelling than your run-of-the-mill Purell. Or you could buy a bag of these and toss a few in each gift bag.
+m61 facial peels — you could buy a pack of 10 and slip one in each gal’s bag!
+Screen-cleansing towelettes. I also use these on my glasses!
+Micellar water (comes in a mini size!)
Bigger ticket items (not sure about your budget!):
In terms of presentation, I’d get something like these cute little burlap bags or you can get these ones customized with the date/name of the event (i.e., “Babs’ Birthday!”) If you go the latter route and want to make sure your items aren’t just rolling around loosely in a jumble, buy some of this. I’ve given a few gift bags and some of that stuff really pulls everything together and make things look a little more…pulled-together. You might also consider wrapping each of your little gifts in cellophane and tying them off with a ribbon. It’s all about presentation! My mother-in-law is the queen of presentation/wrapping, and believe me — she makes even just a handful of pretzels look like a million bucks all wrapped up in cellophane with a dramatic grosgrain or satin ribbon.
P.S. More gift wrap ideas.
Q: My friend just had a baby and I want to give her something — not just something for the baby. Ideas?
A: So, so thoughtful of you. I feel like I’ve answered this somewhere but can’t find it. My favorite thing to do is to buy a bunch of high-end sliced cheese and sandwich meat from a good butcher (in Manhattan, a place like Citarella), some good bread from a bakery I love, and then a bunch of condiments that are nicely packaged in glass jars — Dijon mustard, Wickles, Sir Kensington’s Mayonnaise. Then I also throw in some chips, dried fruit, nuts, trail mixes, etc. My secret is to buy all of those items and then to put them in cellophane bags (these ones are also good depending on what you have — they’re perfect for nuts/trail mix) tied off with ribbon so that they look fun and pretty. Then I put everything in a big gift bag filled with this. Believe me — easy-to-eat sandwiches and snacks will be welcome during those first few weeks. I remember feeling like I had no time to make anything!
If you don’t live close by, some other lovely and thoughtful gifts I received as a new mom were this extravagant Tata Harper body balm, a gift card for a manicure, flowers, and a pretty water bottle. One of my mom friends also gave me this Gap nursing tank, and it turned out to be my favorite for lounging around the house in. Super soft and very long, so it covered EVERYTHING and could be worn with leggings.
Q: My birthday is next week and I’m trying to find something understated but fabulous to wear. For reference, I am hosting my friends for dinner at my home and then we are heading out for drinks afterwards. I also live in Seattle, so being warm is important! I’m at a loss of how to be both relaxed and fabulous at the same time. Any help is appreciated!
A: Happy birthday! I understand your conundrum — you want to step things up but not look overly fancy in a casual setting, or like you’re trying too hard. My strategy here is to pick one statement piece and then leave the rest fairly straight-forward. So I might do a statement shoe (still love these — get the look for less with these or any of these; I love these ones!) and then wear my favorite jeans and a blouse. Or, I might reach for a statement earring — these are amazing and on super sale!, and these are sitting in my shopping cart (also in a cool navy/gold combo) — but wear a dress in a solid color (I’m currently dying over this!). Finally — a statement blouse paired with simple studs and jeans is another festive option. I’m obsessing over all of the stunning Caroline Constas pieces that are on sale right now; she’s THE QUEEN of the statement blouse. I like this and this, both under $100!
ALL THAT SAID. Sometimes you just gotta pull out all the stops. Who cares if you’re overdressed? A fun dress like this or this (both on ridic sale) or a statement piece like this (great buy!) might be just what the doctor ordered…
Q: My fiancé and I are getting married in October and we’re in the process of creating our wedding registry before sending out save the dates. What items do you recommend for the registry? Are there items you regret putting on yours or that we should skip?
A: What a great provocation! I had to think on this for awhile. Some scattershot thoughts:
Finally I’ve received a bunch of direct messages about items seen in my home on Instastory — answering them here:
+On my couch, I have a mix of green velvet pillows from here, printed pillows from here and here (they are super similar and I need to pick one pattern and store the rest but haven’t gotten around to it yet, so you’ll see an awkward blend of both prints right now), and this monogram pillow. Pro-tip: when you buy the pillow insert, order a size up. So if you ordered 20″ pillowcases, buy 22″ pillow inserts. Otherwise, the pillow will look sad and loose in there.
+On my gallery wall, most of the pieces are vintage scores, things I’ve inherited, or one-of-a-kind Etsy discoveries, but the print that says “Old Dominion” with the state of Virginia beneath it is from The Old Try. Also, and I selfishly hesitated to share this information, but one of my favorite Etsy boutiques for amazing vintage scores is FloridaFound. Sometimes there’s not much, but — on occasion — there are absolutely insane finds at wonderful prices. I’ve purchased several items from her, including a stunning original oil on canvas of a snauzer dog that probably should have gone for a few thousand, but that I scored for $175. This is pretty epic!!!
+The green area rug in my living room is very old (maybe over a decade?) from Ballard Designs. They no longer have the exact style, but this is similar. It’s an indoor/outdoor rug, so it’s not as soft and plush, but it’s currently highly practical with a baby who throws everything on the floor — it’s easier to sweep/vacuum food up. I also really like this one.