Unique Valentine’s Gift Ideas for Your Special Guy

The countdown to one of the most polarizing holidays continues – we’re a mere 3 weeks away from the simultaneously beloved and reviled Valentine’s Day. Whether you love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day can be a stressful holiday due to the number of romantic expectations it brings, so we’re here to dispel a bit of your stress. Allow us to make some Valentine’s Day gift suggestions for the special male in your life!

Jo's Candies Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Caramel Corn

Who says chocolates and other sweet gifts are just for the ladies? From gourmet popcorn to a decadent vintage port, these treats are sure to be a welcome addition to any kitchen:

HDMI Pocket Projector

If gadgets are the apple of his eye, here are some innovative electronics that will help him multitask, aerate or entertain:


A la our Valentine’s Day Gifts for Her post last week, we’d like to cap off this post with some gift experiences. Gifting an experience might take more planning and research than a more conventional material gift, but we think these are well worth it:

  • Winter sport adventure with REI Adventures
  • Gourmet meal deal, relaxed wine tasting or getaway package via Bloomspot (note: deals are updated daily, so if you don’t find anything you like one day, check back the next)
  • Luxurious weekend away via Jetsetter (note: Jetsetter sales are offered on a first come, first served basis)

The Shopilly Team

Photo credits: surlatable.com, brookstone.com, jetsetter.com

Valentine’s Day Gifts for Her

While some of you may still be in the process of taking down holiday decorations or sweeping away the remaining New Years confetti, the chocolate, roses and hearts have already come out in full force. That’s right, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner – in fact, it’s exactly one month away! Are you shopping for a special someone this year? We’ve compiled a guide of Valentine’s Day gift ideas to help you out. This week, we’re showcasing our picks for the special female in your life. Check back next week for gift ideas for the fellows.

Paloma Picasso Love & Kisses Mini Bracelet

While jewelry may not be the most original gift idea, there’s a reason it’s a Valentine’s Day standard. However, picking jewelry out for someone can be a tricky task since taste in jewelry can vary so much from person to person. Unless the woman in your life has dropped some not-so-subtle hints in the past few months or you’ve pinpointed her style, we suggest picking out a simple, classic piece rather than a trendy or extravagant (and therefore risky) piece. Here are some of our favorites:

Assorted Parisian Macaroons

What would Valentine’s Day be without sweets? While candy necklaces and conversation hearts might not cut it anymore, these gourmet treats will surely be a hit:


Now that we’ve covered the Valentine’s Day standards, let’s think outside of the box – experiences! Psychology research suggests that receiving experiences as gifts makes us happier than receiving material gifts. These Shopilly brands consistently offer great deals on experiences like upscale meals, getaways and hotel bookings:

The Shopilly Team

Photo credits: tiffany.com, surlatable.com, bloomspot.com

Say Cheese!

Three Months of American Cheese

The holidays may be over, but that doesn’t mean the celebrations have to be as well. In the spirit of continuous celebrations, today we’re talking cheese. That’s right, a full-blown investigation into how to create the perfect cheese plate for your next get-together:

As a general rule of thumb, plan to have an ounce or two of each type of cheese per person. Three to five different types of cheese should make an ample plate that allows each person to sample a nice variety. You may want to invest in some specialized cheese knives to make cutting and serving easy – the Dubost Cheese Knife Set provides a classic trio of cheese servers for a reasonable price.

Variety is the spice of life – especially when it comes to cheese! Here are a few cheese combinations you can try:

  • Cheeses made from different milk types: cow, goat and sheep. Check out food writer Janet Fletcher’s CheeseLibrary for examples of each.
  • Cheeses from different countries, such as France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.
  • Cheeses that represent various regions of the U.S., for example Wisconsin Cheddar, Point Reyes Blue Cheese and Humboldt Fog.
  • Cheeses of different textures: soft and creamy cheeses like Brie and Camemert, or hard and dry cheeses like Manchego and Pecorino Romano.

A well-planned cheese plate speaks for itself, so beyond selecting your cheeses and placing them on a simple cheese board, you don’t have to do much more in the way of presentation.

Wüsthof Gourmet Wine and Cheese Set

If you are not yet the proud owner of a cheese board, check out the Wüsthof Gourmet Wine and Cheese Set from Sur La Table. The set includes a bamboo board, cheese plane to create perfectly thin slices of cheese, cheese knife for slicing, and corkscrew for the all-important wine pairing. Williams Sonoma also sells a Slate Cheese Serving Board, complete with a soapstone pencil, which allows you to label each cheese for inquisitive guests. If you’re looking for a “higher-end” cheese board, take a look at the handsome Vintage French Cheese Board.

Vintage French Cheese Board

In terms of cheese placement, Joanna Goddard recommends placing your cheeses “in ‘clock order’—12 o’clock being the mildest and 11 o’clock being the strongest.’

The obvious pairing is wine, but beer has become an increasingly popular pairing beverage as well. Check out these American Cheese Society guides to pairing cheese and wine and pairing cheese and beer.

To accompany (but not overwhelm) the cheese, serve some light crackers or plain bread like a French baguette on the side. More flavorful breads, like sourdough or focaccia, are generally not recommended since they may interfere with the flavor of cheese, but there are some exceptions. For example, walnut bread pairs nicely with chèvre.

Some people also like to serve simple accompaniments like fresh or dried fruits, honey and nuts with their cheese plates.

The Shopilly Team

P.S. Need a gift for a cheese lover? Consider a delicious three-month American Cheese delivery service or DIY Cheese-Making Kit from Williams Sonoma.

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

Cheers, Prost, Saúde!

Ah, the holidays. Never is there a time of year with more to toast to: family, friends, gifts, never-ending holiday treats and the promise of a fresh start with the coming of a new year.

As you gear up to celebrate Christmas tomorrow and the New Year in just another week, we’ve compiled a mini guide on “toasting etiquette.” Read on to learn how to properly cheer in the holidays:

Use Proper Stemware

While we think (and we’re betting most people will agree) that sparkling wine is tasty whether served in a glass, mug or jar, the proper way to serve it is in a slender, flute-shaped glass. Schott Zwiesel Pure Champagne Flutes will do the job; for a less traditional look, the flared Zwiesel 1872 Enoteca Champagne Toasting Glass is a fun choice. Both are available at Sur La Table.

White wine should be served in a U-shaped wine glass like the Riedel Vinum Chardonnay Glass. An alternative is the DuraClear Osteria Stemless White Wineglass, which is great for butterfingers – it won’t crack, shatter, break, cloud or discolor. Both are available at Williams-Sonoma.

Red wine has more complex aromas and flavors than white wine, so it should be served in a glass with a larger surface area so that the wine can come into contact with more air.  If you’re toasting with red wine, serve it in a round wine glass that has a large opening – try Anthropologie’s Frosted Panes Red Wine Glass or Frosted Panes Tumbler, both of which feature beautiful etched patterns.

Serve Wine at the Correct Temperature
Most people know better than to put ice in their white wine (at least in public), but how much do you actually know about the temperatures at which different types of wine should be served?

Sparkling wine should be served well chilled. Put a bottle in the fridge 3 hours prior to serving, or a minimum of 30 minutes in ice water, if you’re running short on time.

White wines should also be served chilled, but not to the degree of sparkling wines. As a rule of thumb, refreshing white wines like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio should be chilled to 35 or 40 degrees before serving, while richer white wines like Chardonnay should be chilled slightly less, to about 55 degrees, before serving.

Lastly, red wines should be served at a cool 65 degrees. If you keep your reds in a cool, dry environment like a cellar or basement, you may be able to serve them immediately. If not, you can chill them in the fridge for about 20 minutes before serving.

Don’t Overfill Glasses
…at least not during the first round. This will help prevent spillage as everyone clinks glasses and, as a bonus, you’ll look like a true wine expert. Joanna Goddard, who blogs over at A Cup of Jo, wrote a great wine etiquette post (complete with illustrations!) to help clarify the do’s and don’ts of drinking wine. She writes that red wine glasses should be filled 1/3 full, white wine glasses ½ full, and sparkling wine glasses ¾ full.

Now that we’ve filled your mind with wine knowledge, we’re going to give you one last piece of contradictory advice – if all else fails, throw all etiquette out the window and just enjoy toasting with your loved ones this holiday. We promise we won’t judge.

Happy Holidays,
The Shopilly Team

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

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

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

Winterize Your Home

When the weather changes, it’s essential to update your closet but it can also be really fun to winterize your home with lush throws, spiced candles, and accents.  Here are some promotions that you can look to for inspiration ($$$$) and deals ($$) to snap up before they’re gone!

I don’t know if many of you consider Ethan Allen “affordable” but their financing plans make some of their investment pieces affordable, kinda.  Like I said, it’s good to look for inspiration sometimes!

Sur La Table is so fun (if you’re into cooking or entertaining) and they have all the kitchen and dining essentials for every season.  At 30% off, get yourself in the mood for fall.

$15 Tableware on sale at One Kings Lane, with these prices how can you not take a peak???

Finally, check out Fab.com, you can always find a plethora of modern, funky, sometimes off the wall products.  Plus it always comes at a pretty hefty discount.