2019 Holiday Gift Guide: GENTS

Happy Thanksgiving Eve...again!

I'm so pleased y'all are already enjoying my Ladies Gift Guide!

I did an Insta poll earlier this afternoon to see if the Gents gift guide was worth it and y'all overwhelming voted "Yes please!" to a a guide for all the men in your life. As usual, this is skewed to the Southern Gent, and just like the Ladies guides, most of these items are things Bryce has and loves or wants for himself. In fact, most of the items in this guide were compiled by him for you!

Many links below are affiliate links meaning I earn a small commission if you click and make a purchase. More details on each item linked below the collage!

Leather Catchall20% off + free shipping with code FRIENDS; Bryce has a similar square version in a dark brown he keeps on his dresser, but I am loving the look of this "baseball leather" and shape and size; also love that the snaps on the corners enable you to flatten it; this catchall can make a collection of items (spare change, collar stays, etc) look tidy
Head Lamp: under $40; a favorite in our house - we have a bunch scattered about ready to grab at any moment; Bryce said to be sure to share it's not just for camping - think walking the dog, taking the trash out, grilling at night; this particular one is Bryce's very favorite!
Lip Balm: I gifted Bryce some of this lip balm last year and he loves it so much he recommended I include it on the guides; would make a great stocking stuffer!
Dot Socks: I gift Bryce socks in his stocking every year and also include them in my gents gift guide every year; these merino wool dotted socks are Bryce's favorite for dress up and I'll likely be choosing these for his stocking this year so he'll have a few fresh pairs; a bit on the pricey side, but sure to please; come in the black shown, plus 3 other colors
Personalized Stationery: under $30!; Bryce has some custom Crane stationery he was gifted that is so nice, but this stationery I found for the guides is equally handsome and a fraction of the price...plus I'm all for supporting a small American biz; I'm partial to the trout design pictured, but there are tons of other options sure to please any man in your life
Old South Hat: under $30; Bryce's recommendation - "Cool hat!"
South: under $30; if you follow Southern cuisine at all, you've heard of Sean Brock; he actually trained under Bryce's brother Chef Walter Bundy of Shagbark here in Richmond and we're big fans; this book is his newest cookbook and shares classic Southern recipes with a spin; if you haven't yet, also check out his first cookbook Heritage
Performance Button Down: I popped into Onward Reserve when in Georgetown last month and had to resist the urge to buy the whole store for Bryce for Christmas; I especially fell in love with these performance button downs that have the tailored look of a nice shirt, but the performance fabric of a fishing shirt; Santa may just have to bring one down the chimney for Bryce; run large - order one size down
Torch: under $50 and the satisfaction that will come using and showing off this torch is priceless; used to light a charcoal grill, one of our best friend's actually commented on Stories that I needed to include this - I mentioned it to Bryce, asking him to send the link, and he said "Oh yeah, Davis and Frank love the torch!" 
Almond Toffee Petites: the way to a man's heart is his stomach, and Bryce recommended these; I've never actually had them, which shows he keeps them all to himself, haha!
Nano Puff Jacket: Bryce has both this Patagonia puffer and the down version and prefers this one because it's lightweight, but still warm, and the nano puff is water resistant unlike the down; made of recycled materials; compressible and can stow in its own pocket; a little pricey, but quality, quality, quality and brand known for ethics; comes in 10 colors and true to size
Needlepoint Cuff Links: 20% off with code FRIENDS brings them to under $50; for the dapper guy in your life; these personalized black and white cuff links would look so good with a tux!
Letter Opener: under $40; this letter opener is made from the wood of tulip poplars Jefferson planted at Monticello; Bryce loves his!
Suede Loafers: under $100 and have 105 5-star reviews!; every man should have at least one good pair of loafers or driving mocs; these come in 6 colors and I also love the brown here on sale for just $60; Bryce has these crocodile ones I included in my guides last year; on sale for under $100; and, if you really want to spoil your man, I'd get these splurge suede driving mocs
Yeti Lowball: just $15 with code BRIGHT; Yeti products really are the best; we have a few of the tumblers and I'm continually amazed by just how cold they keep our drinks; love this lowball version for a cocktail on the go; would make a great stocking stuffer or white elephant gift
Camo Dopp Kit: 20% off + free shipping with code FRIENDS; a good dopp kit is another essential for every man and this camo printed leather really caught my eye; love that it's also lined with nylon for easy clean up and that the foil debossed monogram is included for free
Pheasant Lapel Pin: under $60; the best things come in small packages and this pin would make a great addition to a suit or blazer; also comes in lab, fly, and trout styles
ExOfficio Boxers: currently 40% off; these were the only thing Bryce asked for last year for Christmas; when I went to REI to get them, every salesperson in the place raved about them and when I shared on Stories and in my Prime last minute gift guide, many of you shared the men in your life are equally as obsessed as Bryce is; Bryce stocked up today while they're on sale, and you should too
Watch: on sale for $129 and has rave reviews; love the versatility of this classic watch and that it can be personalized with an engraved monogram on the back of the face 
Democracy Coasters: this set of 4 coasters feature the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, Constitution, and the Civil Rights Act; great reviews and sure to please the patriot or history buff; also love these coasters and my parents gifted these to Bryce years ago and we always get compliments
Charging Carabiner: 20% off making it under $25 with code FRIENDS; this tool is so handy; throw it on a backpack or use it carry your keys and always have a phone charger at hand
Hot Sauce Ornament: just $8 (or less) with code BRIGHT; perfect for the hot and spicy man in your life
Garment Folder: Bryce bought this in advance of a two week work trip to Germany a couple of years ago and insisted I include it in my gift guides- he raves about it!; helps to perfectly fold your shirts when packing and also is a space saver
Waxed Tote: Filson products are a splurge, but are made in America of the highest quality and are extremely rugged and durable; the waxed style is water repellent and this is also nylon lined; Bryce has an earlier version without the zipper and loves its versatility; I'll also remind you of this other favorite tote that y'all have loved in my gift guides the last 2 years that is just $55!
Throw Blanket: currently 30% off; made of recycled materials, this throw is stylish enough to please both gents and ladies...much better than the nylon camping camo throw Bryce loves, haha!
Pocket Saw: under $40; another Bryce recommendation - "my favorite saw" - he keeps it in his blind bag when hunting to brush blinds; also great for cutting small firewood when camping, or even just pruning in the yard
Ostrich Boots: these boots are definitely a splurge, but handmade and so so good; I am hoping to be able to pop into the Tecovas store when in Austin next week; also love these and these are Bryce's all-time favorite boots (that I love, too), but I couldn't find a shoppable link to include them in the guide above
Cigar: under $70 for a pack of 4; if you're guy's into cigars, Bryce highly recommends these; would be the perfect Christmas present that could be enjoyed on New Year's Eve
Shotgun Shell Belt & Rattlesnake Belt: these are Bryce's two favorite belts, and that's saying a lot because he has too many belts; the rattlesnake is more of a splurge (and not my favorite, honestly), but he loves it and always gets compliments on it!
Card Bottle Opener: under $20 with code BRIGHT; love that this bottle opener is the size of a credit card and can fit easily into a wallet or money clip; would make a great stocking stuffer!

What men are you shopping for this year?

Happy shopping!

Have a great Thanksgiving!

2019 Holiday Gift Guide: LADIES

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

I don't know about y'all, but I am READY for the holidays! Aside from shopping ahead, all things Christmas before Thanksgiving used to bother me. This year in particular, I pulled my Nest Holiday candle out immediately after Halloween, and have even found myself playing the occasional Christmas tune. Each year the holiday season seems to come and go even more quickly, so I no longer mind extending the festivities.

One holiday tradition I do look forward to is sharing gift guides with you! There is so much satisfaction in giving someone you care about the perfect gift, but amongst all the demands of the holiday season, shopping can become just one more stressor and there can be a lot of pressure to find the right gift. I aim to make that easier for you, and also to make it easier on your wallet by delivering my guides each year before Black Friday (which seems to come earlier each year, as you'll see that many of the items I'm sharing are already marked down by retailers for Black Friday).

As always, my guides are filled with things I own and love, or things on my personal wish list! Many of the items are linked with affiliate links, meaning I earn a small commission if you buy. Below the collage you'll find more details about each item (sale status, sizing, options at other price points, etc). Also, be sure to tune into Stories on Instagram today, and in the coming weeks, as I'll feature more details about favorites from the guides and will also share sale alerts!

Bamboo Bangle: under $20!; I've had this bangle over 10 years and live in it during the summer--it's lightweight and stacks well with other bracelets; this would make a great stocking stuffer or white elephant gift
Coin Necklace: I've been really loving the coin necklace trend, particularly when two are layered together, and have been ogling Jane Winchester's at the high end from Tuckernuck; so was pleased to find this quality gold-plated version for you at a much more approachable price point
Bamboo Flatware: under $30 with code SCORE; this bamboo flatware was on my Christmas list last year and my parents gifted it to me; for $30 you get four place settings as compared to the oh so lovely, oh so pricey Juliska version that sells for $188 for just one place setting; get lots of compliments on these which can be "dressed up" or "dressed down"; finally, as a bonus they're dishwasher safe!; see them styled on my table here and here
Faux Fur Scarf: Hands down one of my favorite winter accessories is my faux fur scarf; mine is no longer available, but this one has great reviews and the black is so chic; the pull through design also makes styling a cinch; also love this leopard one that's currently 60% off and under $20; this one comes in 4 colors including a fab hot pink and taupe that's similar to mine; and this one on sale for under $30 is more of a stole and would be fab paired with a sleeveless or strapless cocktail dress at a holiday party
Key Ring: under $10 and comes in 35 colors; this key ring would be the perfect gift for all your girlfriends, especially mamas, or would also make a great white elephant gift or stocking stuffer
Living Floral: under $30; this is on my wish list and might be my favorite entertaining coffee table book...ever!; my mother-in-law has it and I am slowly making my way through it studying and reading every page filled with events and tips from tastemakers like Charlotte Moss and Tara Guerard
Star Pajamas: on sale for under $100 thru December 2; I believe the best gifts are those that someone would want and love but not buy oneself and Lake Pajamas totally fit that bill; I shared with y'all on Stories this summer after purchasing a short set on sale, that while I love them, I don't think they're worth full price; I did however think they were perfect for my own wish list and am crossing my fingers Santa may bring me a pair...this Sister Parish red star set is perfect for Christmas; if even the sale price feels a little too steep, I have two sets of these that are about half the price while on sale now for 40% off and they are so soft and cozy; also love these festive ones on sale for under $40 and these Christmas cuties on sale for under $30
Tortoise Candle: under $30!; stylish candles that are affordable are hard to come by and this one is oh so chic!; I love that it comes in a wide range of scent options (mine is the clean scent Cotton Creek) and I plan to save the tortoise container once the candle is done - wouldn't it be pretty for flowers!?; would make a great hostess gift for a holiday party wrapped in a clear bag with a big red bow
Pearl Studs: under $100; I received these myself as a gift last year and reach for them multiple times a week; y'all love them too and ask me about them all the time on Insta; they're a classic that will never go out of style; I have the large size
Funny Bunny Polish: under $10; I choose this shade for gel manicures again and again - it is the perfect white polish; sometimes white nails look far too stark to me and this is a more subtle, slightly sheer white that is so beautiful, it's subtle shade also means it works better year-round; on the opposite end of the spectrum here is the perfect almost black polish from my guides last year
La Croix Ornament: because we all have at least 5 La Croix loving friends; I included the orange as that is my all time favorite flavor, but also comes in pink and green; selling out fast many places so as a back up, you can also find it here, here, and here
Cosmetic Bag: I'll be completely honest, I'm not entirely sure what all the hype for MZ Wallace is about- maybe because the quilted style is an homage to our beloved high school Vera Bradley?; that said, I am in the market for a new cosmetic bag and this rose gold one caught my eye in store recently and I do really like that the fabric is water- and stain- resistant; I also have had this Scout one since college and love it for less than half the price of the MZ Wallace
SlippersI've had these now for 7 years and absolutely love them and y'all do too because you always ask about them on Stories; come in 9 colors, so cozy, water resistant and have a rubber sole so they can be worn outside; I often slip them on when I'm headed to the barre studio at 0 dark 30 to teach 6:00 am class; run large, order one full size down; also love this more affordable monogrammed version (under $25 with code SPORT15)
Stationery Suite: on sale for under $50; I have this stationery suite in ivory which is a southern lady's dream!; comes with 25 each of flat notecards, folded notecards, and folded enclosure cards; I am also obsessing over this modern stationery
Bud Vase: under $50 + up to 30% off; I've eyed this bud vase in stores in the clear glass, but when I came across it in the pink for gift guides I was sold...swoon!; this would be a great gift for the gal who has everything and I love that it's beautiful enough to hold its own with or without flowers
Overnight Peel: 15% off through December 1; I started using this last year in anticipation of my 30th birthday and it has transformed my skin so much that within weeks of using it, y'all were commenting on Insta and asking for a skincare post (that I still haven't gotten to a year later, ha); I aim to use it nightly and it smooths and brightens skin after just one use; if you don't believe me check the 1,766 5 star reviews; note the packaging has changed and looks different from my collage above - the link is correct! (if you need a consultant, Kathleen Baker is the best!)
Pearl Barrette: under $30 with code BRIGHT; the best things come in little packages; this pretty pearl barrette adds glam to any outfit and would be perfect for the girly girl in your life; also love this similar Prime 4-pack for just $5.99 as a stocking stuffer
Clean Volumizing Mascara & Clean Lengthening Mascara: under $25 each; I've shared on Stories that I've slowly been trying to swap out my beauty products for more clean options and these clean mascaras are THE best..truly like them better than any other mascara I've used; I like to wear both, using the volumizing first with lengthening layered on top, but both are great on their own, too
Lip Gloss I actually wore this lip gloss at my wedding in the "Giza" shade (no longer available, but "Outrage" is a similar option); it can be worn as a pretty neutral gloss alone, but I love it most layered over lipstick, particularly red lipstick
Lip Salveunder $10; this Mint Rose balm is my absolute favorite; I've been using it for probably 10 years now and always have a jar on my bedside table and a tube in my bag so I'm not using germy fingers when out and about; would make a perfect stocking stuffer or teacher gift paired with some nice hand lotion and a holiday candle
Roll Neck Sweater: up to 60% off sale price; I purchased this sweater in the Dark Papaya color on Black Friday last year for a steal and it is a favorite; it's very comfy and "easy" to wear and the cut is both lengthening and slimming; true to size; sadly size options are sparse right now, but I'd watch for a restock and also check out this cotton version (also up to 60% off) with much more availability - I love the gray!
Soho Platter: a hostess's dream!; I received one of these platters for our wedding and use it so much I bought a second last year; can be put in oven up to 375F; versatile size which allows you to use it as a platter for food or as a pretty tray; at a lower price point, this is another piece I reach for again and again that y'all loved in my gift guide last year available through Amazon Prime; also check out the line's new "Giftables" items that are smaller and all under $50!
Leopard Headband: under $10!; I am here for the new headband trend and actually never stopped wearing headbands in the first place; I'm loving these new statement, knotted styles and y'all know I can't say no to leopard- for under $10, I think I'll be gifting this one to myself...and maybe every other gal on my list
Blue Scarf: under $50 + up to 30% off with code BRIGHT; I have this scarf in two other patterns and it exudes style...and looks way more expensive than it is- so much so that when getting tea at the swanky Sketch in London, the host commented on my Hermes! (I didn't correct him, rather said "Good eye, thank you!" Ha!); I am definitely adding this to my list or buying for myself because I wanted this print so badly last year, but it sold out
Glam Clutch: just $35 through Amazon Prime; I discovered this clutch through one of Holy City Chic's Amazon hauls and instantly fell in love; comes in 4 other colors and reminds me of this pricier one here; I also am obsessed with this $60 star one 
Vogue Puzzle: under $20 + up to 30% off with code BRIGHT; I love puzzles for vacations or extended visits with family and these chic ones (more here) are so fab!; I also really love this New Yorker Christmas one; would be perfect to gift to your family's holiday hostess and to pull out to complete by the tree with a fire blazing and Bing Crosby on the radio, ahhh!
Staffordshire Tote: ummm...can you believe how cute this is?; also love this tartan topiary one; I have one of these totes in the ginger jar print (with coral straps they sadly no longer make) and Millie has her very own in the camo dog print; can have them monogrammed by the company, but I prefer a more couture monogram and had mine and Millie's embroidered locally at Atlantic Embroidery Works
Pocket Tape Measure: I have one of these in my purse and reach for it all the time...far more often than I expected when I bought it; love the chic monogram; items like these make great gifts for the gal who has everything
Crossbody Bag: Linked the black which is currently 60% off, also available in 4 other colors for 60% off here and love this clear style for a college student; I have this in navy and it may have been my best purchase of 2018; it is big enough to hold a wallet, keys, phone, and more, but still sleek; I used it during our entire England trip; the strap is removable so it can be worn as a clutch or crossbody; dressed up and down; since getting my Goyard, I keep mine in my bag with my wallet in it at all times, so I can just slip it out if I don't want to carry my big tote somewhere
Snake Mules: so on trend right now - I ordered these mules about a month ago and have been wearing them non-stop since getting them and receive compliments every time; true to size and seriously so comfortable; come in 7 other colorways including a leopard that is to die for!

Who's on your list this year?

Are any of these products you have and love?

What's on your wish list?

Happy Shopping!


10 Tips for New Runners

Happy Tuesday friends!

This post is long overdue, as I had meant to post it in January with New Year's resolutions. That said, today marks 1 year since my running journey began and I can't think of a better time to share than September when fall and cooler weather is right around the corner!

Prior to last September, I always called myself a seasonal runner. I'd find myself hitting the pavement each fall when cool weather would creep in and the leaves would start changing. As soon as winter came, the leaves fell from the trees, and temperatures dropped below about 50° my runs would come to a halt until the first warm weather of spring would creep in and the leaves would begin emerging once again. Last year, for reasons still unbeknownst to me, that changed, though. I found myself craving my runs and discovered that cold weather runs are by far my favorite. After running the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, I made a goal to complete a 10 miler by the New Year. Since then, I've run the Shamrock Half Marathon and the Monument Avenue 10k. I've run each and every month - some months more than others - and have logged a total 327 miles.

I've shared snippets along the way on Instagram, as a way to keep myself accountable, and have gotten many requests from you to share my tips. Particularly tips to take those first steps, so am compiling my top 10 here today!

My number one tip is to just go! My biggest running cheerleader is a best friend who's both a physical therapist and marathon runner. She always says "The first mile is a liar" insinuating that it's harder than the rest. Set your own pace and set small goals and milestones to celebrate along the way.

I'll be the first to admit that the last couple of months I've failed at this one. Between sickness, work, and heat, making running a routine has been tough. That said, when you're just getting started a routine is key. Commit to running at least 2-3 times per week, with recovery days in between. You'll be amazed at how quickly you build endurance and stamina as you make running a habit. 

As I mentioned above, set your own pace at the beginning. To expand on that, don't be afraid to stop and walk if you need. Your first goal may be to work up to a mile without stopping, but if the first few runs you have to stop at half a mile, do it! It's amazing what just a short 30 seconds, 1 minute, or 1 block walking break will do to reenergize you. If giving yourself a walking break or two means you can run 3 miles instead of 2, it's well worth it! 

Once you've been running a few weeks, pinpoint what feels like an easy distance to run (this can, should, and will change as you run more). Use this "easy run" to negotiate with yourself. For me that's 3 miles. On days that I'm really not feeling motivated, I use my easy run as a negotiation. I tell myself "I'll just run an easy 3 miles." More often than not once I get started, I get in a groove and run 4, 5, or even 6 miles...again, the first steps are the hardest, so bargain with yourself if you need.

This tip stems from my Type A tendencies, but I do think makes a difference when you're working to increase your distance. I have my running app (I use Map My Run) set to alert me at half mile intervals. I always stop on the mile or half mile for my cool-down. Once you've worked your way up to running 2 or 3 miles with ease, adding a half mile, which is about 5 minutes, doesn't seem so tough. Sometimes you'll even get to that half mile point and realize you've got an extra 5 minutes in you and can push another half mile. Once you get to running even longer distances, it can become a mind game and I even will equate half miles to songs. 10 minutes more is about 2 songs (give or take), so I'll tell myself "You can run for just 2 more songs!" if I've got a mile left.

Keep in mind that every run is different. I've worked myself up to a "normal" run being around 5 miles, and that even feels easy sometimes. There are days, however (if it's really hot, or, I ate a big lunch, for example) when just 3 miles can be brutal. I never beat myself up for those runs, though, and always tell myself that running slow or a short distance is better than stopping or skipping the run altogether.

For me, scenery is huge! I beeline it out of my neighborhood as soon as I can making my way to Grove Avenue, where I can loop in and out of all of my favorite Richmond neighborhoods admiring the pretty houses. Being surrounded with beauty, as well as other people and activity, makes my runs so much more enjoyable. When I get in a rut, I'll also switch up my route slightly, or run down a street I've never run before to keep things fresh. Similarly, whenever I'm out of town and run in a new place, I'm amazed at how far I can go, because the excitement of exploring a new place is a distraction from fatigue.

I prefer to run outside, which does bring risks. Bryce says he literally worries about me the entire time I am gone on runs. First things first, put your phone away! I've fallen twice during runs: Once in March 2018 and once last September. During the first fall, I skinned my knee really badly and also scraped my hands. During the second, I crushed my phone and had Millie with me. Both times I was looking at my phone to adjust something on my running app. After the second tumble, I immediately ordered this running belt. It's essentially a fanny pack, and not chic, but it keeps me hands free and is also waterproof! Buying shoes at a running shop recommended for your feet and gait, giving yourself recovery days, stretching and strength training will all help avoid injury. Don't run at night, but do purchase clip on lights and reflective gear for dusk runs, or times you may get accidentally caught in the dark. Wear sunscreen, especially on your face and chest!

Never underestimate the power of a race to hold you accountable. As mentioned above, in my Turkey Trot 10k training last fall, I loved that I had caught what I called the running bug. I was so nervous I'd give up my runs over the cold winter, so signed up for the Shamrock Half Marathon on St. Patrick's Day, because I knew it would force me to stick with it through the winter. I'm so glad I did, because winter runs became my very favorite. Not to mention, there's no feeling quite like crossing the finish line...especially when it's for a distance you never thought possible!

If you're interested in running, just keep at it - never give up! As I shared, I was a seasonal runner for years, and every time I would start it was with the intention of going beyond the season. Until last fall, though, it just never stuck. I still am not sure what it is that hooked me last year, but once I was hooked, I decided to embrace it! When life happens and you fall out of the habit, do give yourself grace. For example, I only ran one time in May, then the next month in June, I ran more times than any other month during this year of running. August was a really demanding month, and likewise, I only ran once. This September is a new start, though! Never give up!

And on that note, I need to figure out my next race! My birthday falls on the Turkey Trot (also Thanksgiving) this year, but I'm not sure yet if we'll be spending Thanksgiving in town or the country this year. I'm been considering signing up for the Richmond Half Marathon, also in November, but am still working through some issues where my left hamstring meets my IT band, so am not sure 13.1 miles is the smartest, or safest (see Tip #8 above) choice at this point. Regardless, though, I know I'm not giving up!

Are you a runner?

If so, what are your tips for new runners?

Have a great day!


Thoughtful Baby Shower Gifts...even at the last minute!

Happy Hump Day...thank goodness for short work weeks!

Our season of life has changed and we've shifted from weddings to babies. We haven't been to a wedding since December and during that same time, I've been to probably five or six baby showers! A couple weekends ago, as I prepared for one such shower at the last minute, I posted on Instagram Stories sharing my tips for baby shower gifting, registry guidelines, and adding thoughtfulness to gifts. I received such good feedback, as well as additional good tips from followers, and also thought of a few more ideas myself since posting. All that said, I thought it may be helpful and worthwhile to post the content here, too, in a place where it's easier to reference later and for me to direct you to some great gifts online.

First things first, let's talk registries:

  1. They exist for a reason!
  2. When it comes to baby registries, in particular, new mamas spend a lot of time researching, asking friends and family, and choosing what they think is best for their new baby. So, be mindful of the registry and respect their choices.
  3. If you think a registry gift is impersonal or boring, my favorite tip is to select something to gift from the registry, and then select something off registry that complements it. More on this later, but it is the number one way to take your registry, especially last minute registry, gift to the next level and make it feel special.

There are a few exceptions to my "Respect the Registry" rules:

  1. Heirloom Baby Gifts: When you really want to go above and beyond with a baby shower gift (think, a gift for your expectant best friend or sister), you may want to choose an heirloom gift that will be cherished for years to come and even passed down in a family. Top picks for these would be a monogrammed Beaufort Bonnet Co. bonnet, an engraved baby cup, or pewter rattle.
  2. Those Gifts that "Scream" the Mama-to-Be: These gifts are again, reserved for those friends or family members you know so well. They're the gifts that you spy, get giddy about, and say to yourself "That is SO XYZ mama." 
  3. Your Own Tried & Trues: If you're a mama yourself, gifting your tried & true, can't live without baby items, is a great way to "pay it forward." At the most recent baby showers, I've been to, this has been the top "tried & true" gift.
  4. Gifts to Spoil the Mama-to-Be: You won't often find things for the mama on registries, but items that can bring comfort or joy to her during the moments where she feels least comfortable make for very thoughtful gifts.

To avoid completely boring you with more words, let's take a look at some examples, with more detail and explanation provided below.

To elaborate on the above, and provide more gift ideas:
Bonnet and Rattle: These are both great examples of the heirloom gifts I mentioned, and are worth the splurge because they stand the test of time. For something a little more fresh (and also affordable), but still very personalized and special, check out these plates for baby girl and baby boy.
Lamb Blabla Doll and Dalmatian Lovie: As mentioned above, a great way to elevate a registry gift is with a gift that complements, or just adds the cuteness factor, to an otherwise practical gift. I love how whimsical the Blabla Kids line is, and the lamb is a great gender neutral option.  At a lower price point, but still equally sweet, are Angel Dear lovies. We've gifted both of these as congratulatory gifts, as well, when friends have told us they're expecting. Sophie the Giraffe is another great option, here, as is this adorable Avocado Stroller Toy.
Welcome Little One and Birds of a Color Board Books: Similar to the animals above, board books are another great "cherry on top" to add to your otherwise practical gift. I avoid classics, because it's more likely the recipient will receive duplicates of classics. In addition to the two I love and mentioned above, I also really like Press HereI'd Know You Anywhere, My Love, and Jellycat's Touch and Feel board books which come in a whole zoo of animals to fit any theme!
Nose Frida: Practical items, while not always as fun to gift, are guaranteed to be not only used, but appreciated by new mamas! Consult the registry for these, or if you're a mom yourself, gift some of your go-to items! Moms swear by this Nose Frida, which is guaranteed to generate conversation and laughs at showers. Water Wipes are another recent favorite, and Boudreaux's Butt Paste is also quite popular. I like to mix a few inexpensive practical options like these from the registry in with more fun gifts, and they're pretty much always still available at the last minute.  
Baby's Initial Necklace, Charcoal Mask, and Pearl Headband: These gifts are all about spoiling mama! I love the delicate initial necklace that can be worn all the time and layered with other necklaces. I chose to include this one, in particular, because it comes in five length options, as well as in silver, gold and rose gold finishes; can be personalized with multiple initials and symbols like a heart; and also comes in metal options ranging in price from $29.75 to $238. A mask, or other "spa" items like this candle, encourage self care and relaxation during pregnancy. I've been enjoying this charcoal one myself lately, and am also still obsessed and using this rose face cream from my holiday gift guides. Finally, I chose the pearl headband (under $20!) as it has become my go-to for dirty hair days, or days when I just need a little pick-me-up...both days expectant and new mamas are likely to encounter!
Pom Pom Canvas Bin: Finally, presentation is everything. Home Goods is my go-to for gift wrap and bags, but with baby gifts, I often will opt for a basket or bin in lieu of wrapping...bonus points if it's from the registry! Pehr has tons of cute options like the pom pom bin above, which I've actually gifted in the rainbow version from a registry before, filled with "boring" practical registry items like wipes and diaper cream. I also love this woven pom pom option, this diaper caddy, and splurge cloud basket. At the most recent shower I attended, I used this pretty blush pink plastic bin that was just $3.99 and also have had good luck finding options at the Dollar Tree. Fill your basket with tissue paper, or (my personal favorite) crinkle filler, wrap it in a basket bag, and top with a pretty bow! Finally, if you don't have monogrammed enclosure cards, I highly recommend them to save yourself from having to buy cards!

Here's a photo of the formula above in action for the most recent shower I attended (all bought last minute the day of, no less)!

What are your go-to baby shower gifts?

Any dos and don'ts you abide by when gifting?

Have a great day!


Late Summer Supper Club

Hello friends, and happy Labor Day!

It's been quite some time since I've posted here on AlexandraBeeBlog.com, but my heart has been longing for more of a creative outlet, and the blog seems like the best place to flex my creative muscle at the moment.

If you'd like to read more on this, check out my "On Hospitality" highlight reel on Instagram. In short, though, I've been musing over this idea of Southern hospitality - or graciousness, warmth, welcome - in all aspects of life, not just entertaining. I'll be experimenting with some different ways to bring you content (with a good dose of my usual "lifestyle" content mixed in) in this area over the  next few months. As I find myself reading blogs less and less, I'm not sure where to strike the balance between here on the blog, and micro-blogging, a new term I learned which is essentially blogging via Instagram. (Any thoughts?) Stay tuned.

Being that Labor Day is the unofficial last day of Summer, I wanted to share a recent supper club dinner party before shifting gears to all things Fall. When it comes to entertaining, one detail is often the jumping off board for all others for me. For this particular evening, these beaded placemats "Millie" found at Home Goods and gifted me for Mother's Day were that one detail.

Because of their coral design, I knew a seafood meal was in order, and other coastal details like shells might have to play a part on the table. I also knew, I wanted pink to be the other main color on the table and toyed with the idea of pink candles, napkins, peonies, or glassware.

I really wanted pink peonies for the table, but wasn't able to track any down, so opted for my other go-to: white hydrangeas. They have such a simple elegance, require no floral arranging skills, and last forever (our party was 3 weeks ago, and they're still going strong on the table!). Pink glasses gave a dose of pink to the table, as did my tobacco leaf china. 

The Staffordshire dogs had been moved from our mantle to the table while we had painters in the living room earlier in the week, so ended up on this tablescape somewhat by accident. I loved the way they looked mixed in with the shells and other decor, though. 

With all the colors and other elements on the table, I decided to stick with classic white linen napkins. These from our wedding are a favorite to use at dinner parties. One napkin is embroidered with my monogram and another is embroidered with Bryce's. I put these at the heads of the table, and the remaining napkins are plain. I never bother to iron my napkins. I think the wrinkles have their own kind of understated elegance and put people at ease and keep things from getting too stuffy. 

For menu, we started with a simple cheese and charcuterie board, thanks to Trader Joe's. Their apricot stilton and marcona almonds are two of my musts for cheese boards!

For the entree, I knew grilled shrimp over twirly pasta would fit the coastal theme. One of our guests is dairy free, so we opted for this dairy free pesto over angel hair. We topped it with grilled shrimp, charred cherry tomatoes, and toasted pine nuts. We also served my go-to arugula salad and bread.

Finally, for dessert, we served this Molten Chocolate Cake with Coconut Whipped Cream and Pistachios. In addition to being dairy free, it was also gluten free, paleo, and oh so delicious!

A wonderful night was had by all, and the marvelous company and pretty table, made all the dishes the next day well worth it!

Are you in a Supper Club?

What are your favorite summer eats?

Have a great (short) week!