Decorating for the Holidays

Although winter brings cold weather and drastically shorter days, it also brings one of my favorite morning rituals: starting my day with a run and seeing all of the holiday lights and decorations in the early morning calm. Some of the houses in my neighborhood go all out with decorations – lights synchronized with Christmas music; roofs topped with all of Santa’s reindeer; yards full of candy canes, waving Santas and inflatable snow globes. Then there are the less invested folk – me included – whose holiday “decorations” consist of store-made wreaths and pumpkin pie-scented candles (and, let’s be honest, those are actually leftovers from Thanksgiving).

Whether you fall into the former or latter group of holiday decorators, it’s not too late to spread a little holiday cheer. We’ve highlighted some of our favorite decorations below, so if you need some inspiration to decorate your place, ditch the Scrooge attitude and take a look at our picks!

Photo credits: horchow.com, homedepot.com, potterybarn.com

STOCKING STUFFERS

Decked out office halls, ubiquitous red Starbucks cups and this week’s lighting of the Rock Center tree means one thing: the holidays are in full swing! We know that the holiday rush can be overwhelming. If you haven’t started your Christmas shopping yet, ease into the spirit of things with our favorite bite-sized stocking stuffers. All are under 50 bucks and are as delightful to give as they are to receive!

FOR YOUR FASHIONABLE BEST FRIEND

Izak Mini Lip Gloss Set

Sephora Izak mini lip gloss set, $14

Hanky Panky lace thong

Hanky Panky lace thong, $20

Baublebar earrings

Baublebar earrings, $26

Fill her stocking with colorful treats, such as Sephora’s Izak Mini Lip Gloss Set ($14, free gift with code UNDERWRAPS)–5 glossy minis in wear-everywhere shades like Fiery Red and Tea Rose. Or, pretty panties by Hanky Panky ($20, score free shipping), packaged in a cute star-shaped box. We also think she’ll love Baublebar’s chic violet earrings ($26, play their 20 Days of Buried Bauble game and score jewels for under 20 bucks) because let’s face it, sometimes a girl needs sparkle.

FOR YOUR SOPHISTICATE SISTER

Jo Malone Grapefruit travel candle, $35

Jo Malone grapefruit travel candle, $35

Kate Spade New York USB drive, $50

Kate Spade New York USB drive, $50

C. Wonder monogram coasters, $10

C. Wonder monogram coasters, $10

Fresh and classic (just like your sis), Jo Malone’s grapefruit travel candle ($35 at Saks, get free shipping and gift wrap with code HOLIDAY) is an instant mood-booster on-the-go. She’ll also adore Kate Spade New York’s darling USB drive ($50 at Bloomingdales, enjoy free shipping) shaped like a cocktail ring and equipped with an ample 4GB. Or, consider C. Wonder’s monogram coasters ($10) to put a preppy twist on her next cocktail party.

FOR THE BEST MOM EVER

Tocca mini hand cream trio, $18

Tocca mini hand cream trio, $18

N. Peal cashmere gloves, on sale for $32

N. Peal cashmere gloves, on sale for $32

Herban Essentials lemon towelettes, $16 for 20

Herban Essentials lemon towelettes, $16 for 20

She’s always made sure you were in good hands—treat hers to a little luxury with Tocca’s mini hand cream set ($18 at Spack NK Apothecary, ships free!), a trio of their most popular scents made with shea butter and coconut oil. She can also keep them toasty in N. Peal’s chic, ultra soft cashmere gloves (on sale for $32 at the Outnet, refer a friend and earn $30). If she’s the kind of supermom who always has sanitizer at her fingertips, she’ll appreciate Herban Essentials Lemon antibacterial towelettes ($16 for pack of 20 at Beautybar.com, free shipping on your first order) made with all-natural essential oils in a fresh citrus scent.

FOR THE MEN IN YOUR LIFE

Areaware bottle opener, $14

Areaware bottle opener, $14

Corgi striped socks, $30

Corgi striped socks, $30

On The Rocks glass and ice mold set, $25

On The Rocks glass and ice mold set, $25

Skip the go-to necktie and give him something with more mileage, such as Areaware’s super cool bottle opener ($14 at West Elm, score free shipping), made of sustainably harvested beech wood with a hidden magnet to catch caps. He’ll also get a kick out of cozy cotton socks—just be sure to pick ones with personality, such as Corgi’s striped pair ($30 at Mr. Porter). Lastly, we don’t know a single guy who doesn’t love On The Rocks ice ball mold ($25 on Open Sky, get free shipping over $100), which produces jumbo slow-melting spheres so not to dilute his favorite whiskey.

FOR THE SMALL FRY

Rowdy Sprouts Nirvana onesie, $38

Rowdy Sprouts Nirvana onesie, $38

Old Navy critter hat, $11

Old Navy critter hat, $11

Giggle finger puppets, $15

Giggle finger puppets, $15

Your tiny tot will look too cool for nursery school dressed in Rowdy Sprout’s vintage Nirvana onesie ($38 at Kitson, receive free shipping over $75). Keep baby’s head nice and cozy with Old Navy’s too-cute monkey critter hat (on sale for $11, get 20% off with code ONHOLIDAY). Or, put on a show with these adorable Jungle Finger Puppets ($15 at Giggle, free shipping over $75 with FABFREE12), made of soft, 100% certified organic cotton.

2012 Holiday Gift Guide

If you were one of the brave souls who headed out in the wee hours of Black Friday (or even shortly after Thanksgiving dinner) to take advantage of the sales, our hats are off to you. If you chose to sleep in or just prefer shopping from the comfort of your couch, it’s not too late to catch up now – it’s Cyber Monday, after all!

As you navigate all of the great deals for your holiday gift shopping, take a look at this gift guide we’ve compiled for the special people in your life:

The Clothing Maven
Open anyone’s closet, and you’ll encounter a world of colors, patterns, fabrics and fashions. Rather than taking a (risky) stab at pinpointing a person’s style preferences, give him or her some peace of mind in the form of closet organization. The Container Store offers a plethora of closet organizers – the Milano 6-Compartment Hanging Sweater Bag keeps those pesky shoulder bumps caused by hangers away. Target sells a convenient Tie and Belt Hanger that keeps accessories organized, and for the jetsetters in your life, a GarmenTote Garment Bag (available via Bed Bath & Beyond) keeps dresses and suits wrinkle-free.

The Tech Lover
Thank your go-to tech expert for all of the times he or she saved your computer/phone/life with a cool accessory for his or her latest gadget. Amazon carries Speck’s line of eye-catching, protective and budget-friendly iPhone cases. A pair of Klipsch Noise-Cancelling Headphones from Brookstone is sure to make any audiophile’s ears happy, and Nike’s Jordan Gadget Gloves make it easy for your tech lover to fiddle with a touchscreen without risking frozen fingers.

The Foodie
‘Tis the season for good food, and lots of it. Treat your beloved gourmand to some seasonal delicacies. Williams-Sonoma makes a fantastic Peppermint Bark, and its Italian Food Lovers Gift Set makes throwing together a good pasta dinner easy as 1-2-3.  Cheese enthusiasts will appreciate one of Sur La Table’s many cheese samplers, and Wine.com makes it easy to ship a good bottle or two to any holiday table.

The Athlete
Nothing gets in the way of this person’s fitness goals – neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor overconsumption of holiday treats. Guarantee that your athlete doesn’t get caught in the elements unprepared. A proper baselayer is key for retaining body heat, and Patagonia has a good selection of baselayers for women and men. For those below-zero days when leaving the house seems like a workout in and of itself, your athlete can still get a good workout in with a video like Jillian Michaels: Ripped in 30 DVD, available from Gaiam. Lastly, the REI Outdoor School offers a wide selection of programs and classes for budding and experienced climbers, cyclers, kayakers and more.

The Artist
When displaying your artist’s work on the refrigerator just doesn’t cut it any more, show your appreciation with the gift of framing. Art.com’s Photos [to] Art program allows you to upload a photo and customize it into a work of art, such as a poster calendar, canvas print or mounted photograph. For the crafty, Papyrus does custom printing, so your artist can design and print his or her own stationary and cards. Lastly, Z Gallerie has a wide selection of art, and if you purchase a piece and enter the promo code GIVE20 today, you’ll receive 20% off your purchase.

Happy Shopping!

P.S. Is holiday shopping already causing your wallet grief? Here’s your chance to win $700 from Shopilly – invite your friends to join Shopilly by December 11th, and you’ll receive 5 entries into the holiday giveaway per invitee! Details here.

Photo credits: target.com, brookstone.com, surlatable.com, patagonia.com, art.com

T is for Thanksgiving and Table Setting

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner this week, chances are by now you’ve finalized the menu and perhaps even started prepping some of the dishes. Between the turkey roasting, potato mashing and pie making, you might not have much time to dedicate to table settings. But don’t neglect the tabletop – it’ll be one of the first things your guests notice when they sit down for dinner.

If you’ve had your nose nestled too deep in recipes to think about decorating your Thanksgiving table, fear not. We’ve compiled a little list to help you assemble a beautiful table setting before the first guest hits the doorbell:

Happy Thanksgiving from the Shopilly team!

Photo credits: cb2.com, williams-sonoma.com, anthropologie.com

CHIC THANKSGIVING ENTERTAINING

Thanksgiving is a week away and we can’t wait to tuck into all the goodies—mashed potatoes drowning in gravy, whip-topped pumpkin pie, and don’t get us started on all the delicious Black Friday sales! If you’re playing hostess with the mostess this year, we know things can get crazy in the kitchen (a tip: Tastespotting is an absolute gem for recipes), which is why we’ve made a list of easy ways to entertain with style. Our tips are quick, chic and pack major punch, so guests leave with a lasting impression while you can focus your energy on more important things, like that big bird in the oven.

COCKTAILS, ANYONE?


Iomoi Double Elephants Tray, $250

Greet friends & family with a très chic tray of cocktails as soon as they arrive to make them feel at ease. Iomoi makes these colorful Lucite confections (enjoy free shipping with code NMFALL) which you can personalize with your family’s name or initials.

PRE-DINNER WARMUP


Dean & Deluca classic hors d’oeuvres, $70 for 46 pieces 

Skip fussy homemade appetizers and serve up light, ready-made bites to hold guests over till dinner. Dean & Deluca’s Classic Hors D’oeuvres collection includes a yummy mix of crowd favorites, such as crab cakes and mini quiches. They ship frozen overnight, so all you have to do is pop in the oven a few minutes before arrivals.

TURN UP THE VOLUME


iTunes Thanksgiving Dinner Essentials, $28.95 for 25 songs

Set a festive vibe with the perfect dinner playlist. You can download ITunes’ Thanksgiving Dinner songs, which includes a warm mix of Michael Buble, Keith Urban and Bing Crosby.

THE SIDESHOW


Williams-Sonoma Three-Tiered oven rack, $22

Don’t let side dishes get cold while your turkey hogs the oven. Williams-Sonoma’s three-tiered rack (save 15% on all tabletop items with code TABLETOP15) maximizes space so you can serve warm, fresh-from-the-oven fare come showtime.

HAVE A SLICE (OR TWO)


Horchow Turkey Cake Stand, $76

Put that pecan pie you slaved over on a pretty pedestal, such as this season-perfect turkey cakestand from Horchow (take an extra 30% off for Friends & Family), sure to spark conversation during the dessert course.

DRESS THE PART


BCBG Runway Adelaide dress, $314

Lastly, don’t forget to dress up—look perfectly polished while maximizing comfort in a fluid floor-length dress, such as this one by BCBG Runway (get free three-day shipping!).  Colorblocking and pleats keep the look chic, while the relaxed fit and light-as-air fabric feels like you’re wearing pajamas.

Essentials for Hosting an Election Night Watch Party

Once every four years, politics is granted the same amount of excitement as a Super Bowl – and for good reason, as presidential candidates duke it out in a winner-takes-all contest on the national stage.

Tomorrow night, the world will be watching as the results come pouring in for the 2012 presidential election. With early polls showing that this election could go to either party, you won’t want to miss out on all of the action. Gather your good friends and these essentials for an election night watch party:

  • Festive decorations: No watch party is complete without decorations like tissue patriotic bunting or mini American flags.
  • State result tracker: Don’t lose track of the voting results – note them on a whiteboard or mark them on a map in real-time.
  • Patriotic-themed food: Celebrate American democracy with some red, white and blue treats. Serve them on colored plates, like these Sur La Table Terracotta Solid Tapas Plates, and check out this PBS feature for patriotic food ideas.
  • Drinks: Whip up some festive cocktails like red cosmos and blue martinis to accompany your patriotic-themed food. And to help your guests party into the wee hours of the morning, good coffee is a necessity – especially if this election is as close as predicted. Bouchon Bakery House Blend Coffee is a good pick (available via Williams Sonoma).
  • Support apparel: Wear your support with pride – assuming that all of the guests at your party have the same views. You wouldn’t want your party to turn into (yet another) heated debate, after all! Amazon.com has plenty of options for Obama supporters, Romney supporters…and everyone in between.
         

Photo credits: williams-sonoma.com, amazon.com