Tag Archives: christmas

My Holiday Gift Guide

ajsgiftguide2016

I love this time of year. I am a gift giver, and there are some really great ones on the market this year.

I wanted to share some of the things I will be gifting this year in my annual gift guide.

There’s something for everyone. Great gifts for your man, your kids’ teachers, your BFF, and of course, a little something for you.

1. For You! Style Photo Workshop in TuscanyBe sure to add one of my Style Photo Workshops in Tuscany to your wish list. You’ll get to visit the Fortress, drink wine in our vineyard, and learn from the best of the best. Treat yourself!

2. For Him! Men and Style Book by David Coggins: From Amazon: Men and Style reaches beyond standard “what to wear” advice: It is equal parts style guide and intriguing conversation about the masculine identity within the world of fashion. David Coggins explores the history of men’s style and learns from some of the most notable tastemakers in the industry and beyond. Its essays and interviews discuss the lessons men learned from their fathers, the mistakes they made as young men, and how they emerged to become better men. Some of the most dapper men in the world discuss bad mustaches, misguided cologne choices, and unfortunate prom tuxedos. All the men here have arrived at a place in the world and have a keen understanding about how they fit in it. Men and Style celebrates singular men who’ve lived well and can tell us about how they earned their worldview. They’re smart enough to absorb the wisdom that’s hidden in the world, and even smarter to wear that wisdom lightly.

3. For your BFF! Williams Sonoma Copper Corkscrew: Never underestimate the power of a well-made corkscrew in a beautiful finish. This one would be great for your BFF or make a wonderful hostess gift throughout the season. 

4. For the Teacher! Sling Shot Coffee Caramels: Give the teachers something sweet and something delicious. These are reasonably priced if your student has several teachers, or you can add them to a big basket of other goodies.

5. For your Hairdresser! Scandinavisk Candle: Girls, let’s be honest: our hairdressers are our lifelines; we couldn’t do life without them. When you’re making your list this year, pick up a candle or two for your beauty team.

6. For the Jet-Setter! Herbivore Rose Mist: Rose water is a fantastic pick-me-up, especially after a long day of travel. A little spritz of this will leave her feeling refreshed.

7. For the Business Owner! In the Company of Women: From Amazon: Across the globe, women are embracing the entrepreneurial spirit and starting creative businesses. In the Company of Women profiles over 100 of these influential and creative women from all ages, races, backgrounds, and industries. Chock-full of practical, inspirational advice for those looking to forge their own paths, these interviews detail the keys to success (for example, going with your gut; maintaining meaningful and lasting relationships), highlight the importance of everyday rituals (meditating; creating a daily to-do list), and dispense advice for the next generation of women entrepreneurs and makers (stay true to what you believe in; have patience). The book is rounded out with hundreds of lush, original photographs of the women in their work spaces.

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Tabletop {Masterclass} at Summerill and Bishop New School in London

S&B School

When Summerhill and Bishop asked me to come teach their first ever Masterclass at their new school in London last week, I was honored and thrilled. Summerill and Bishop is located in the most gorgeous neighborhood at 100 Portland Road near Notting Hill. If you’re in London, make a point of stopping by and if time allows, take a class.

S&B School

Okay so here’s the scoop:

When I arrived the day before my class, the school was, well, quite frankly a construction site. A beautiful space with patina walls, large industrial lighting but not quite finished. Talk about down to the wire…

However, once I met the amazing staff at S&B School, I knew everything would be in place and ready to roll by Thursday night at 6:30pm…and I was right.

Eliza and Marcelo made sure everything would be in place; what an amazing team!

S&B School S&B School

After an early morning trip to the New Covent Garden Flower Market for my floral craft project, we were ready to go. Btw, the wholesale flower market was a highlight and not unlike any other flower wholesaler. It was filled with beauty and very funny snarky vendors, but here in London they have adorable English accents.

S&B School

Summerhill and Bishop, quite honestly, has one of the most comprehensive selections of handmade linens I have ever seen, and every other chic thing you would need for your table. And yes, as you can only imagine, I went nuts. Let’s say that there will be some very very pretty props for my next workshop in Italy. The selection of tabletop is beautiful, chic, and approachable. Fair to say if I lived in London, it would be my go-to prop shop. The good news is I can order online and ship everything. Don’t you just love that?

S&B School

Thursday night, the school was filled with nibbles, wine, lovely ladies, and lots of lively banter about setting your table for the upcoming holidays. I talked about how to be prepared, basics of organization, how to produce your party like a pro, and how to create a beautiful flower arrangement in an unlikely vessel, like a juice glass. With our juice glasses in hand, we crafted a votive and vase project using seed paper and raffia. We filled the vase with a beautiful floral arrangement, and even made a place card and take home gift for guests. These are just a few clever solutions for the table using a simple juice glass. You all know that’s the way I like to do it!

S&B School

Punch holes with a hole puncher in a belly band of seed paper that is wrapped around the juice glass tied with raffia. This craft project is the perfect votive holder and vase to parade down the middle of your holiday table. Easy to make and so impressive.

S&B School S&B School

Everyone was so enthusiastic about making a floral arrangement, plus they got to take it home at the end of class. We finished up the class by making my no bake dessert: a Raspberry Cannoli in a glass using the same small juice glass we made our votive vase project with. Unlikely vessels with brilliant results. My basic juice glass project 3 ways was a big hit.

raspberry cannoli PPP S&B School S&B School IMG_4982

As you know, in my cookbook Picture Perfect Parties, I have tons of easy and brilliant craft ideas plus delicious recipes to make all your parties unique and special with that personal touch.

Thank you to everyone  at the S&B School; you all were so delightful, and I feel like we are a family. Thank you for making me feel so welcome in your home.  A special THANK YOU to Seb for coming-up with this brilliant way of connecting creatively. My prediction is that this school will be a HUGE success. Seb, Thanks for letting me be the first.  xx until next time…

S&B School

A bit about the School:

The S&B School:

The school is run by the charismatic chef, Marcelo de Campos.

Marcelo is West London’s best kept secret, and the man behind some of the most exclusive dinner parties and events in town, and he’s bringing his know-how exclusively to us here at School.  Having worked in some of the best kitchens in the world—from Gordon Ramsay’s, to Claus Meyer’s (of Noma fame), to the hallowed halls of Claridges, to some of the most exclusive private London residences—he’s not only a chef, but a trained expert in l’art de recevoir. And, with his Brazilian roots, he brings a sense of fun and warmth to everything he touches.

Sign up for the S&B School newsletter here:

All classes require booking, with a maximum of 12 people per class. We offer a range of class times, listed below:

Tuesdays
10:00 – 11:30 am
1:30 – 3:00 pm

Thursdays
10:00 – 11:30 am
1:30 – 3:00 pm
6:30 – 8:30 pm

Prices from £70 per class

Please contact school@summerillandbishop.com or call +44 (0) 20 0001 3415 for more information on classes.

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Home Depot Holiday Style Challenge Sneak Peek

IMG_6333 When Whitney from Home Depot Apron Blog, asked me if I would be interested in doing the Home Depot Holiday Style Challenge, I said I’m in!! I loved the idea of the mystery box. It’s kind of like when you want to cook dinner and have a few odd items in the fridge and the pantry, and you have to come up with something yummy. Not having any idea of what was coming from Home Depot was so exciting!

The boxes arrived, and I held off opening them because I love the idea of staring at them imagining what was in inside. When I cracked open the boxes, I was so pleased to find that all the holiday goodies were things I just love. It’s pretty much a secret until my challenge is posted on the Home Depot site, but I can reveal that I have an outdoor decorating challenge.

Here’s a little sneak peek. Look for the full blog post on the Home Depot Style Challenge Blog. In the meantime, follow our Home Depot “Holiday Style Challenge” pinterest board. Great ideas there!

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nordic christmas decor, a lesson in simple style

dc8f32521ebce3cdf36fb107e62afa75 Most of you know that I am obsessed with all things Italian, but what you probably don’t know is that I am actually in awe of Nordic style, specifically Norwegian.

One of my dearest friends in Italy is actually Norwegian and she brings me Norwegian shelter and cooking magazines for me to pour through in Italy all summer long. She’s the best. Here are some Nordic Christmas images I am crushing on… 0b8ef5afb19cb7d116ac4b6bcfbc3730 Simple black and white with warm wood spotted on Norwegian Blog: Gastbloggare. 3dd65e71c7cc24f262928081d6c1d4da-529x690 Julekake recipe from Sweet Paul Magazine. 3f16332306e7ec143ddf3c54e0d74623 A recipe for Butterbredels found on French Blog: b comme bon. 64b32b5453521a93c3f4ed8269aa9715 e49f7fa8ed048add2ea061fdc6892a3d 529e60a83e40021cd1ab079702a6cc6f More lovely images from Norwegian Blog: Gastbloggare. bb690862bd962a6c1453c40d955c5e51 Love this simple and stunning advent wreath featured on Style me pretty. e930dcb5685a99043cfc84b825f5ab6c A gorgeous trough of greenery and candles from Vibeke Designs. SONY DSC Beautifully decorated cookies from Polish blog: Baker Lady.This beautiful*** clean*** simple*** earthy*** rustic*** style is what really inspires me. The saying “less is more” is hard to achieve for most but Norwegians seem to do it so effortlessly. 05ef0416ffb7a6a6ed02b258b2efa911 I can’t talk about Norwegian style without mentioning one of my favorite Norwegian stylists, Sweet Paul. Paul’s stylish sensibilities and plain old good taste are a refreshing look on the horizon. In an era where everyone is replaying ideas and crafts on their blog with few new ideas to share, Paul is a fresh style/idea trailblazer. He’s a style viking in my eyes. Check out his magazine, Sweet Paul, right here.

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Holiday Office Party Tips and Tricks

Sometimes in the work place the holiday office party can be the most dreaded event of the year. Someone has to organize and pull it all together, make it bigger and better than the year before. Well hold on because help is on it’s way! As a professional, I am constantly being asked… what makes a party great? What makes people talk about what a great time they had? How do we organize a simple but fantastic affair?

Here are my hard and fast rules for making your office party (or any party) really picture perfect. I have taught you how to organize your holiday party pantry and toolbox with the help of Staples, now here’s how to use it to its full potential.

Here’s where the fun begins: Theme your party, everyone loves a theme. Here are a few ideas that I think will make everyone at the office actually want to go to the party… R172502.jpg.rendition.largest 1. Host a cookie party where every one brings their favorite holiday cookie with copies of the recipe. Use these cool labels to make name tags for all the cookies on a long table. Make sure everyone uses the same cards to download their recipes onto. This uniformity will make for a consistent look on the party table (ie it will look pretty). I would use these. Take photos of everyone with their cookie using an instant camera and put them in frame note cards. Set these cute cards on the table next to the cookies (with the recipe and the name of the cookie inside). It’s a great conversation starter! Have a tasting contest and award a prize to the winner. Use a ballot box to collect the votes, and make the ballots cute by using colored card stock! (above photo of pretty package cookies from better homes and gardens) White+Elephant+copy 2. Everyone loves a White Elephant Secret Santa – draw names and then bring a gift that is funny, clever, vintage, retro or even a quirky gift. This is always a great party. Supply everyone with wrap, gift bags, and ribbon from Staples keep the gift under 10 dollars. Encourage people to shop at flea markets and supply prizes for the funniest and most creative gifts.  Find fun award prizes, I really like a pretty journal or a wristlet bag or dessert like a delicious carrot cake. Who would not want to win that?? You can use a cool graphic for the invitation and print them on these invitations. cropparty
3. Party with a Cause. Adopt a family in need. Start by sending out all the important information about the family in an email to the entire staff. I would also use a message board in the office, post pictures of what the family would like and could use and have the staff bring their gifts on the day of the office party. It’s so fulfilling and a great team builder to pull together and to give to people in need during the holiday season.

Once you’ve determined the theme, it’s time to utilize your party pantry.

Here’s what to prep the day before your party:

*Set out thetables and cover them with a paper table cloth. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA *Roll out some wrapping paper for a simple table runner. This is an easy way to create a holiday mood.

*Stack the plates, napkins, cups and flatware.

*Lay out kraft labels to tag all the food items on the table. It’s always a fun idea to label food on a buffet table, the when the food arrives you just stick the labels right next to the platters and bowls on the paper tablecloth. Easy!

*Place empty bowls on the table as well as drinks and unopened snack bags. Make sure to leave room for the warm dishes you’ll be serving when setting everything in place. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA *I like to do some flower arranging the day before. Simple glass cylinder vases with washi tape and wrapping paper embellishments work great. Simply wrap the vase with wrap and tie some ribbon or washi tape to attach the wrap to the vase. Place your flowers in them and voila! a great centerpiece for your holiday party is done. *Note: simple flowers from the grocery store work perfectly for this purpose, just keep your flower choices on point by using red and white. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Use these fresh decorations from Staples to bring instant life and cheer to your workspace. tree Setting up a beautiful fresh tree not only smells great, but it can be a team building event by encouraging everyone to make an ornament and place it on the tree. Buy wreaths and hang them around the office place for an easy and lovely decorative touch.

You’re ready to party, the table is set and you have a theme. Now enjoy and Happy Holidays!

* make sure you pin along with me on Pinterest for Holiday Essentials from Staples hope to see you there.

*Everything you will need is at Staples (in stores or order online at Staples.com with free delivery for rewards members or for orders over $45 for non-members). This post is in partnership with staples. All opinions are my own.

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