Friday, December 23, 2016

What I Gave This Christmas: 2016

Hlo everyone! I published a blog post on the gifts I gave to friends and family for Christmas last year and loved how it turned out. It's so nice to see the end result of all the effort I put into figuring everyone's gifts, and the pride that comes with reviewing my hand-chosen curated collection. So I've decided to make this an annual tradition! Here are the gifts I chose for loved ones this year:

1. Vivid Wrap White & Gold Recycled Box | Container Store

I was looking for a pretty container to house some of the smaller trinkets I picked up earlier in the season and fell in love with this little guy! This round box is from the Container Store and is primarily made of recycled cotton-paper. I figured it might make a nice gift box for my cousin Hannah, but I'm not totally decided yet.

2. Customizable Empty Holiday Micro Mini 4 Pc Carton | China Glaze & Ulta

How cute is this?! This year, China Glaze has a special display set up at Ulta where you can choose from twelve different mini holiday China Glaze polishes to create your custom four or six-piece set ($9 for the four-piece). It's a great idea for gifting to one person or splitting it up amongst friends. I chose these four festive shades with my coworkers in mind. I think I'm going to end up splitting these in goody bags but it's such a nice gift that part of me wants to keep it as a set.

3. 5 for $5 Stocking Stuffers | Ulta

Speaking of goody bags, at Ulta I found the perfect assortment of tiny treats to fill my coworkers' goody bags with. Currently they're having a 5 for $5 promotion that allows you to choose from mini gifts like mini hair treatments, nail files, mini eyeshadow duos, and more. So cute!

4. Aerie Nail Polish | Aerie

Fun fact, this is actually the first gift I purchased this year for my cousin Hannah. I spotted this bottle of nail polish at Aerie when they were having a 30% off everything promotion. It was such a pretty gold-taupe shade that I immediately seized the opportunity to buy it. I knew she'd appreciate this gorgeous shade!

5. Tarte Tarteist Creamy Matte & Glossy Lip Paint Duo | Ulta

Going into the holiday season I scrutinized beauty steals at both Ulta and Sephora for giftable items at an affordable price point. This Tarte duo hits my target at $12 and it has the luxe feeling and polish of a high-end product. I'm giving this to my friend Nicole, along with a tiny other gift you'll see later. 

6. bareMinerals Meet Gen Mini Matte Liquid LipColor & Matte Buttercream Gloss | Ulta

A similarly luxe mini stocking stuffer is this lip duo from bareMinerals which features two gorgeous neutral shades in a matte lipstick formula and a gloss. I think these are adorable and make for an instant sexy, nude lip paired together or alone. This set is going to my friend Nina, along with another gift you'll see below.

7. Boxed Gift Set | Papyrus

Papyrus was having a 30% off sale online and I took the opportunity to order a few items, one of them being this set of 20 holiday cards! There were nicer boxed sets but they contained less cards and cost more money. I thought this was the smartest choice and best value for money.

8. Letters to My Baby: A Paper Time Capsule | Papyrus

My older cousin Christina gave birth in March of this year, and she's been talking about creating a time capsule for her baby Madison -- basically amassing a collection of gifts that Madison can open and cherish when she turns 18. I saw this on Papyrus's site and knew it was the perfect gift to give with that in mind. Can't wait to see her reaction when she takes this out of her stocking!

9. Thankful & Grateful Glass Tray | Papyrus

I also purchased this beautiful glass tray from Papyrus. It's so pretty and I think it would make for an amazing catch-all tray for rings or jewelry. I felt like this piece was work perfectly with my cousin Hannah's style. She's currently in college so she doesn't have all the trappings someone older would have, so I think this would be a great addition to her dorm items.

10. NPW Xmas Party Selfie Photo Props | American Eagle Outfitters

This little selfie photo prop kit was too cute for me not to pick up! I was at American Eagle Outfitters when I saw this and I decided to get this for my sister Diana. I've already put it in her stocking :) Hopefully we can take some fun pictures on Christmas with our cousins.

11. 2017 Hot Dudes Reading Wall Calendar | Papyrus

Ha! I was on Papyrus when they were having 30% off the entire store (the sale I mentioned earlier), and I came across this ridiculous calendar - Hot Dudes Reading. Wow. One friend came to mind in particular when I pondered who would get the biggest kick out of it. I hope my friend Nina enjoys.

12. Jewelry Set | Six

So I don't exactly know the name of this jewelry sheet but I purchased it as Six, an accessories store at my local mall. I thought this was such a thoughtfully designed set because the sheet is perforated for easy tearing and in the perfect format to break up and give out to friends. I don't love all the earrings but I plan on giving out the three nicest to my coworkers.

13. Essence How to Make Nude Eyes Palette | Ulta

I was at Ulta browsing for gifts and I stumbled upon this gorgeous eyeshadow palette. The colors are so lovely and perfect for a smokey eye. I think this is a great little neutral palette, and I love that it doesn't try to copy off other palettes. I think I'll give this to my friend/coworker Erica, along with one of the gift bags I put together for the girls at work.

14. Stud Earrings | Six 

This is a bit of a guilty purchase for me. I was at Six and they had the cutest studs! I really wanted a pave looking style and I figured these don't really look silver (although they do here). Sadly I've lost one half of a couple of my favorite studs over the past year somehow :( I'm not surprised, it's signature me. But these I'm happy with and I think they were around $14. 

15. ColourPop Holiday 2016 Blues Baby Kit | ColourPop 

At some point in November I asked my cousin Christina what she wanted for Christmas and she told me she was thinking of getting a brown lipstick because of this Snapchat filter that complemented her really well. I freaked out because I had tried it just that morning and I liked it too! I told her I would go to Mac and ask a salesperson there what they felt was the closest match but when I went in there was no one available to help and I also scoured all the lip products and didn't find anything that I really felt looked like it. So I did some online shopping and made a whole pinterest board of similar colors which you can see here

In the end, I went for this ColourPop full-sized five piece kit that was only $20! I think I had a $5 off coupon. It has a dark browny shade but it also has some berry shades. I kind of regret the buy, just because I want to deliver the perfect dupe for the Snapchat brown color and I'm not sure this was the best I could do, but it's certainly the best value. 

16. 5 for $5 Stocking Stuffers | Ulta

I went back to Ulta to get a few more extra stocking stuffers and I chose three eyeshadow trios for each girl, a nail file, and then because there were no more mini hair treatments (figures those would sell out) I also picked up a dual pencil with one side for brows and the other for a highlight. 

17. Mini Fragrance Gift Set | Victoria's Secret

I picked up this holiday cracker of all ten of Victoria's Secret's perfumes! It was a great value because it was buy one get one free. I'm gifting this to my cousin Christina because she told me she loved the perfume her coworker was wearing and that it was from Victoria's Secret but she couldn't remember the name. I figured this would be the perfect way to let her try all of them! In the picture online I must admit the mini fragrance bottles looked bigger. I was surprised they were so small. But at least I'll be giving her both to make up for it.

18. Essence French Glam Nail Stickers | Ulta

This is another naughty purchase for me but it would make a great stocking stuffer. I picked up this cute little sheet of nail stickers at Ulta. The perfect tiny treat :)

19. Bliss Sparkles & Shine Hand Cream Set | Ulta

I slightly failed in this regard. I got this for my grandma because she seems to use lotions and creams a fair amount, but I didn't realize these creams are sparkly. Eeep! Definitely not age appropriate. Haha :) But I kept this in here because it'd be a nice gift for a teen or tween. 

20. DVD time! Each year at some random point I think "Oh these movies would be great to surprise Diana at Christmas" but I never actually remember come Christmas time. So this year, I remembered and brainstormed for the best DVDs I could give and I came up with a few pretty awesome ones. 

Galaxy Quest: YES!!!!
There's Something About Mary: Just a damn good movie.

Heavyweights: A band of overweight kids are forced to endure the decisions of new ownership at a fat camp with a sterling silver reputation. Enter musclehead Ben Stiller and chaos ensues. 
First Kid: Sinbad is a terrible Secret Service agent assigned to protect the President's son. I won't give anything else away! 

21. Personalized Chocolate Bars | Dylan's Candy Bar

Dylan's Candy bar, an iconic candy store in New York City, offers so many grab-and-go personalized items that are perfect for tucking into stockings! I purchased one to put in my sister's stocking and another for my friend Nicole, which I'm pairing with the mini beauty gift I got her. 

The girls at work are each receiving two squares of chocolate in their gift bag. Each square was $.75 - rather expensive. 

22. 52 Lists for Happiness Weekly Journaling Inspiration for Positivity, Balance, and Joy | Anthropologie 

I recently met up with my college friend Judy, who I only get to see a few times a year. During "story time" she was catching me up on life and introduced lists she had made of positives/negatives of certain people in her life. She told me she was a list person, so when I found this treasure at Anthropologie it kind of struck me as perfect. The idea behind it is so nice and I think she'll really appreciate it because she loves quotes, notes, etc. 

23: Portlandia | Amazon 

If you haven't yet heard of Portlandia, it's this completely ridiculous sketch comedy series set in Portland, Oregon. Comedians Fred Armisten and Carrie Brownstein play a constantly rotating cast of characters with stories that differ each episode. Essentially, the show is a spoof on the sort of weird, hippie-esque, oddball characters who live in Portland, Oregon. My sister and I cackle whenever we catch the show on TV, so I purchased her one of our favorite seasons. If I hadn't already bought her 9347830131 DVDs this Christmas I would have bought her the whole series. 

24. Groovi Beauty Triple Round Cosmetic Organizer | Ulta

My mom turns household products into inventions to fit her needs. Instead of storing her qtips in a tiny medicine cap, I wanted to upgrade her to a real storage solution. This one is from Ulta! To make it more gift-like, I filled it with the items I thought belonged in the different compartments based on the shape of the cotton rounds, q-tips, etc. Ulta sells. (I was wrong lol) 

25. Glasses Set | Urban Outfitters

I got this super cute set of glasses from Urban Outfitters for my friend Nick. He's a liquor connoisseur and as a guy, I felt this set was gender neutral enough to proudly showcase in his apartment. I tried to find it online but it's not listed :( I'll link two similar pairs, one that's marked as "Afternoon Delight" and the other as "Moon Shine" which is actually really cute. 

26. Pirate Unisex Waxed Cotton Cord Bracelet | UniversalTime

I was scrolling through my Instagram feed on the train and an ad popped up for bracelets from this company, UniversalTime. The second I saw it I was done. The bracelets SCREAMED my sister, Diana. She's not one for jewelry but she likes low-key, unisex, classic pieces and especially has an affinity for cord bracelets. She also loves nautically themed items. 

27. Selfie Ring Light | Lavince 

I ordered my sister a selfie light to stick on her iPhone because she once told me that she tried one at her friend's house and it made their selfie infinitely better. I tried to research my options as much as possible, but I still ended up with a no-name selfie brand that sent me a cheaply packaged, dented box. The listing was so professional and there was Amazon Prime on it. Sigh. All I can say is, I hope it works well. 

28. Mascara Kit | Ulta

So if you're familiar with Sephora, they offer many "best of" type value kits that package multiple high-rated, top-selling products in one sampler pack. So it should come as no surprise that Ulta jumped on the bandwagon with this kit of best-selling mascaras. What's interesting is, all the mascaras include are drugstore/affordable and the kit was only $14.99. That's definitely a great value! It's going to my mom - she appreciates a good bargain, and lately she's been telling me all about the mascaras she's using so it seemed like a fitting choice. 

29. Nail Decals | Forever 21

Nail decals are such a great stocking stuffer! I love nail art but am horrible with anything DIY, so this immediately excited me. I stuck some in my cousin Christina's stocking :)

30. First 100 Words |  Amazon

I got this as an Amazon Lightning Deal for my baby niece (well, my cousin's baby) Madison. It was only $3 and change and it was rated really highly. However, I'll admit I expected more. All the book is are different pages of images and words. Oh well! Hope she likes it.

31. Christmas Emoji Candy Purse | The Container Store

Last year I decided to grab a super cute little candy purse from The Container Store for my baby niece (my uncle's baby) Viola, and I believe I included some candy and a $25 Target gift card for her parents/her. It was such a hit! She carried it around all night. This year, The Container Store has a cute emoji-themed purse.

32. Assorted candies | Dylan's Candy Bar

Here's the candy I selected for Viola! I think I went overboard... I really wanted her to have a full selection, but the candy sack is so big I really have to stick the velcro down for the lid to close shut. Grr! 

33. Vermeil Charm Necklace | Madewell

I was at Madewell to get my cousin Hannah a gift card, and while perusing the sale section I saw these pretty little charm necklaces on sale! I'm planning on giving one to my coworker Erica, because she loves Madewell as much as I do (and we both have never purchased a single item from them).

34. Madewell Gift Card

Here is the gift card for my cousin Hannah from Madewell!

35. Mini notebook | A. I. Friedman

There's something so special and personalized about stationary. I tucked this pretty little notebook into my cousin Hannah's gift bag, which I first saw online at Ohh Deer and then found it in a local art supply store called A.I. Friedman. It's so girly and pretty! I think she'll like it.

36. 5x7 White Enamel Frame | Papyrus

I bought my grandma this beautiful cream and gold gilded picture frame from Papyrus, which I plan on using to frame a photo of my cousin's baby, Madison. My grandma absolutely loves that baby, and has been asking for pictures of her for the longest time, so I think this is going to be a really nice sentimental gift.

37. New York Lottery Scratch-Off Games

This is such a great stocking stuffer. Not only is it readily available at most newsstands/delis, there's so much fun in grabbing a quarter and rubbing off each scratch-off, hoping you'll make some money. Fingers crossed that either my mom, dad, or sister make some moolah!

38. Dunkin Donut Gift Card

My coworker Ian always lends an ear if I have to vent or just want some friendly office chat, so I decided to grab a $15 Dunkin Donuts gift card at Rite Aid. I wrapped it up for him, along with a personalized candy bar (the one shown above) with his name on it.

39. Trio Pack of Planters

Also at Rite Aide, I grabbed this fancy festive pack of planters peanuts for my grandma, who is incredibly difficult to shop for. Luckily I know she likes peanuts and they're usually too expensive for her to buy when they aren't on sale, so I felt this was perfect!

40. Modell's Gift Card

This one is going to my cousin Wilson, who is super athletic. My cousin Hannah (his sister) told me this is a store he'll get great use out of.

41. Cheesecake Factory Gift Card

A new Cheesecake Factory opened near my house, and it is a big deal. Previously there were no Cheesecake Factories at all in New York City, plus this one is huge and several stores at Queens Center Mall were consolidated just to make it! I'm giving my mom this $50 gift card to go out sometime with my dad.

42. Cellophane Bags | Container Store

These are the cellophane bags I purchased from the Container Store to use as gift bags for my coworkers' Christmas goodies :)

43. Men's Clothing | Etnies, Hollister

I bought my friend Nick two sweatshirts/hoodies he had his eye on at Etnies, and picked out two items from Hollister for him. I hope he likes them! He's in need of a wardrobe update.

44. Penguin Ornament | Crate and Barrel

My sister's girlfriend Maureen came to Christmas Eve last-minute this year, and I didn't want her to go empty-handed. So two days before Christmas, I went shopping in Soho and found the most darling penguin ornament at Crate and Barrel. How cute is he? I instantly thought of her because she really likes penguins!

45. Zoya Nail Set | Ulta

My next stop was Ulta, where I found this chic Zoya nail set for about $20. Maureen loves wearing different nail polishes, and nail sets are always perfect gifts. It also was one of the only nail kits left (Ulta is a fairly recent addition in New York, so the place gets cleaned out like a robbery).

46. Double Headrest Hook | Starcrest of California

My aunt and grandma have always shopped out of catalogs, and there is one specific catalog that comes regularly in the mail that literally has inventions for everything you never knew you needed. I was browsing their online website for some gift ideas, and I got my dad this handy storage tool that holds bags in the car.

47. Adventure Awaits Money Jar | Etsy

For the longest time I was searching for an adult version of the Moonjar Classic Moneybox Save Spend Share to give my sister, but my search was going nowhere. I was typing every keyword that came to mind, and the internet was making recommendations to me based on the criteria I was searching. I came across some cool personalized money jars on Etsy, and I really liked this one I from the shop SimplyFoldedRoses. I liked the idea that Adventure Awaits :) I think it will inspire her to see her adventure fund grow.

49. Pain-Reliving Liniment | Starcrest of California

This is another gift I ordered from Starcrest. It's pain relieving ointment that contains Capsaicin, Vitamin E, Emu Oil, and Glucosamine. My grandma suffers from every ache and pain in the book, so I wanted to give her something new to try. It sure is funny looking though, isn't it? I don't think she's even opened it yet, and I semi-wouldn't blame her.

50. Hershey Kisses Stocking Stuffers | Walgreens

I popped into the Walgreens by my job and I hit a gold mine! Some Walgreens are better than others (this goes for every drugstore) and the one by Broadway & Boerum had the most amazing aisle chock-full of fantastic stocking stuffers, especially edibles! I bought these three giant Hershey kisses as stocking stuffers for my dad, mom, and grandma.

51. Filled Candles | Walgreens

I also bought this lovely candle set for my grandma which was only $9.99. She gravitates toward simple white candles, and these are white vanilla-scented candles in gold votives. I love that this set has a surprisingly nice, elegant, polished look to it.

52. Craft Shot Glasses | Crafted Imports at Walgreens

My final gift from Walgreens is this similarly elegant packaged set of beer shot glasses. Nick is a beer enthusiast so when I saw this for only $9.99, I felt it was destiny. It's personalized but affordable, and packaged in a very nice presentation.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my humble post! I hope you enjoyed it. Also, note that not all my family members are listed here - for instance, my sister did the majority of the shopping for our dad. I also bought other items that aren't here, such as clothing for my sister, because she simply started wearing them right when they arrived and I didn't even get to wrap/photograph them.

Happy holidays to you and your loved ones!

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