Thursday, December 3, 2015

Hostess gifts from Uncommon Goods

One of the things I love about my job (and blogging!) is that I often come across brands, sites, and sources that I may not otherwise encounter.  I shop a lot for clients and search high and low for the perfect items, but also, interesting and cool brands contact me to write about them here.

Do you know about uncommon goods?  They are a brand with such a great story!  It all started in 1999 when the founder visited a museum craft show.  Over time, he realized that there were beautiful, unique goods out there as well as a growing audience for such items, but no great way to connect the artisans and the people who wanted their wares.  Uncommon goods was born to fill that niche.

Oh, and as a bonus?  They are pretty awesome in their business philosophy, with a focus on sustainability, a positive workplace, and giving.  (When you make a purchase they will donate $1 to a good cause--they've donated hundreds of thousands to the charities they support.)  Read all about their mission and sustainability measures here--I swear, it's pretty interesting.

I love a company that gives me warm fuzzies, but at the end of the day, if I don't like what you are actually selling me, I'm not coming back.  So I was DELIGHTED to find that uncommon goods truly has products I haven't seen anywhere else, and I love that you also get a little peek at the artist who created them.  In fact, I'm working my way through my own Christmas list, with perfect presents for my kids, mother-in-law, and even my hard-to-shop for husband.

I'll have to keep those picks secret for a few weeks, but I did want to give you some ideas from the uncommon goods collection.

This time of year, we all go to a lot of parties, and I've been thinking about housewarming gifts.

For hostess and housewarming gifts, I like three main categories:

Special versions of ordinary things
I think it's important not to give a gift that forces any real design decisions on the recipient.  So I try to keep gifts either small, disposable, or offer items that can be stashed in a drawer when not it use.  I love the crochet dishtowels (top right)--a perfect example of something that people don't usually think about, made special.

The "on the rocks glasses" are another great example-- a set of four small items, a visual "joke" and conversation starter, but small enough that most people should have the space to add them to their collection.

The fruit bowl (bottom left) is also stashable, and I love that it reconfigures, giving the recipient the chance to put their own spin on it.

Adventurous and/or artisan consumables
More interesting than the standard bottle of wine, a food treat is a great option since it gets used up.  Unless you know the recipient's tastes well, I love the food version of "special versions of ordinary things"--spicy syrup, apple brandy mustard, a raw honeycomb.  Bottled items are especially good because the host doesn't need to figure out what to do with them--they just go right into the pantry.

Another fun idea is a game that makes better use of what's already in the kitchen--like the "mixology dice" that allow you to create new and fun cocktails right out of the liquor cabinet.

Anything personalized
I love a gift that is personalized without being too personal. You know?  Uncommon goods has dishtowels for every state as well as major cities, countries, and colleges.  A fun way to connect to your host's heritage or current hometown.  There are also adorable personalized family mugs and a beautiful illustrated family tree.  If you want to know the companies politics in a snapshot, take a look at their example--a gorgeous biracial family (and pets included, too).

For diret links to any of the items above, go here.

And for more housewarming gift ideas, go here.

Now please excuse me--I have to decide whether my niece would prefer her unicorn horn in silver or rainbow.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Birthday Wish List 2015

'Tis the season of wanting.  We made the girls' Christmas lists last night, and it was kind of weird to watch my nine year old try to come up with things to put on it.  (The seven year old had no such trouble.)  The thing is, we are so lucky.  We have what we need, and frankly, lots of what we want, too.

I do think these lists become an interesting record of where we're at, year over year (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014).  It's kind of fun to look back on my own birthday wish lists over the years, and to see what I've chipped away at (wallpaper, a dining room rug) and what I have not (a leather totebag has been on my list every year!)

This year is even more pie in the sky than usual.  Frankly, I don't need anything but a pedicure.  Oh, and a new car.  But certainly not the land rover I'm showing here.

Clockwise from top:

I fell in love with artist Shelly Mosman's portraits when I met her at Art-a-Whirl last year.  I thought of buying a large print from the Animal Child series, but my husband suggested commissioning portraits of our kids.  I have been saving my pennies (aka my rewards on my business credit card) and am close to going for it.  The snag?  My girls don't want to participate.  For my real present, my husband's working on them.  We aren't "family portrait" people, and these high contrast and moody portraits against wild backdrops feel much more "us."

Dining chairs.  I said I wouldn't sell our vintage eames shells, but my husband kind of wants to.  The problem?  Everything I love is a zillion bucks.  right now I'm thinking Louis square back chairs in white with brown or black leather.

Brightly colored cashmere lined leather gloves.  Discontinued colors are a steal, here.  Pretty sure I'm a 6 1/2.

A new car.  I currently drive my husband's grandmother's 1998 Buick Century.  I don't really care about cars and I'm so grateful for the hand me down, but it has seen better days, and I have a feeling it's not projecting quite the right image to my clients.  The problem?  When it comes to buying a car, I only like a few.  And they'r not the cheap ones.  (Audi wagon, Passat wagon, Land Rover, and older Honda Pilots--I like my cars boxy.)

An all purpose tote!  This one from Zara is looking good, at a good price.

A simple, modern necklace.  Also a perennial on my list.  This one is super reasonable right now.

A new entryway set up.  Ever since I let this desk go to the girls, my entry has been getting me down.  I am in LOVE with this modern geometric inlay console from Crate and Barrel, but man, its a splurge.  I dressed it with a round mirror, gorgeous lamp, and big baskets for winter gear.  I also threw a horn bowl in there to cach keys etc.  I don't know why, but I have always wanted one.  This one looks good, or this oblong one.

Design books.  Always.  A few that are catching my interest right no are Commune, Eddie Ross Modern Mix, and Heart and Home: Rooms that tell stories.

Well, now I can go back to my regular life, and go back to feeling satisfied with all that I am lucky to have!


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