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Monday, August 31, 2009

Thank You to all of my blog visitors!

I have been blogging as part of Thank You! I Love It! for the past month or so. I want to thank everyone for reading and for your comments. You are all blowing me away with your unique gifting ideas. I am learning a lot along the way.

Thank you as well to everyone who has told everyone about the Gift Geek, including the Menu Maniac (check out the small gift I sent her - she blogged about it) and Blanket Statements. I have said it several times on my blog. I love Admiral Road blankets and their blog "Blanket Statements" is fantastic!

I hope you are all enjoying the blog. If you find a unique gift, please tell me about it.

Keep the gifts unique -
The Gift Geek

Thursday, August 27, 2009

To wrap or to bag?

I am not big on wrapping gifts. Maybe because I am not good at it. I typically resort to bags (usually cute reusable shopping bags) and tissue paper, but recently I bought The Ultimate Gift Wrap Collection for under $12. The kit comes with 10 complete - 7 piece Coordinating gift wrap set comes in a great reusable box and includes.

Each gift wrap set includes:
-gift wrap (2 sheets - 20 x28 inches)
-tissue paper (2 sheets - 20 x 28 inches)
-satin ribbon (6 1/2 feet
-gift tag
-handcrafted greeting card.

The box the wrapping paper came in (magnetic closure)

An example of one of the 10 wrapping sets

The back of the box shows all 10 wrapping paper sets

This product is available through Readon Products, an Ontario based company. Some of the cards aren't as nice as others, but the wrapping paper and colour combinations are great!

I am making an effort to wrap more gifts, especially when I can find a wrapping paper deal like this, but for the most part I prefer reusable paper gift bags or reusable shopping bags - there are so many cute ones out there.

No matter how you wrap it, remember to think about the environment!
The Gift Geek

I want June Cleaver's wardrobe!

Some may think I am strange for this stationery purchase, but it is one of my favourite finds.

Remember when Ward and June Cleaver would get dressed up for a night on the town? I always loved June's outfits. I think this is why I purchased this last set of cards.

Vintage Delight Note card Set
20 Cards in five designs with coloured envelopes
Made by: Post Mark
Distributed by Masterpiece studios
Purchase Price: $7.99

With funny phrases like "I'll admit it ... I'm really tight with my fridge" and "I'm the one who put the kitsch in kitchen" these vintage greeting cards make me smile.

When is the last time you mailed a card for no reason?
The Gift Geek

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Not just greeting cards. Favourite Stationery Find #3

16 Cards
4 each of 4 designs
17 Envelopes
Retails For: $45 USD
Purchased For; $4.99 CND at HomeSense

I found these adorable cards at HomeSense. I picked them up thinking they would make fantastic birthday cards for my friends under four feet. At second glance, I also think they would make adorable wall art for a child's room.

I think a lot of stationery now a days can be made into expensive wall art. I once bought a box of vintage Vogue postcards and framed them. They looked great. So great in fact that a visitor to my condo loved the idea and asked if I could spare a few cards for her house.

Before discarding the greeting cards you receive from your friends, ask yourself - what else can I do with this card? You may be surprised - journal covers, wall art, scrap booking and much more!

Be creative,
The Gift Geek

4.49 per card? Outrageous! Favourite Find #2

Over the years I have watched my mom spend up to $5 for a card. I think it is incredibly special and sweet that she still spends time finding the perfect card for each and every person, but it is incredibly expensive in the long run.

My colleague Lara told me that she had once bought a box of Hallmark cards while at Costco. She showed me the cards she purchased and I was amazed and planned a trip to Costco. When I arrived the Hallmark card packs were no longer being sold, but I was able to get an awesome 30 pack of variety cards for $18.99. My favourite part of this purchase is the folio that the cards came in, which organizes the cards by occasion. I will continue to use the folio long after I have used the original 30 cards.

This is the folio that the cards came in.
The magnetic cover ensures it stays closed.

Here you can see the dividers by occasion, including:
Children's Birthday, General Birthday, Sympathy etc.

Here are a few of the handmade cards that were included.

My advice: The next time you are at Costco, pick-up a box of 30 cards. This way you won't have to worry about spending $4.49 for a card for a very long time.

Send a card to a friend for no reason. It will make you both smile.
The Gift Geek

My Favourite Stationery Finds #1

As I mentioned in a previous post, I love stationery. There is nothing better than receiving a card in the mail to lift your spirits or just make you smile. I always make sure I have a box of blank cards in my desk at my office. You never know when you will need a card to thank someone.

Over the next week I will share some of my favourite and inexpensive stationery and wrapping finds.

Today I came upon a great stationery find. I stopped by HomeSense to pick up a couple things and I had to check-out the stationery area - my favourite place to purchase cards and wrapping.

Favourite Find #1
My find: 9 Doodle Correspondence Cards with Yellow-Lined Envelopes - 3 Designs - Better Late Than Never, Wish You Were Here and Morning Sunshine
Designer: Kate Spade
Distributed by: Crane & Co.
Regular Price: $30
Purchase Price: $12.99 at HomeSense

I am going to keep these adorable cards at my desk. I think they will put a smile on the face of those receiving them.

Note: These would also make a great hostess gift. I am kicking myself. I should have picked up more.

Remember- you never need a reason to send a card. A "just because card" is often the nicest card of all.

The Gift Geek

Update: I had to go back to HomeSense to see if they brought in anymore Kate Spade stationery ... I lucked out and bought two boxes of really cute blank note cards which I will use as hostess gifts. I also did a little dance in the store when I found two packs of Kate Spade invite cards ... When is the last time you received a party invite in the mail?

Traveling with Jewelery?

As my sister is moving to China for six months, I wanted to get her a birthday gift that she could take with her. I knew she didn't have a travel jewelery case, so I decided to get her just that. Before I went to Paris last year I looked for one of these , with no luck. I then found out Avon offers/has offered several great jewelery travel cases:

1) Treasures Portfolio: (pg. 125) a very thin jewelery portfolio (pink) that comes with a travel jewelery roll inside (shown below). This is the case I bought for Emma. She likes that the portfolio is so thin, and has the option of taking the removable jewelery roll with her on weekend trips. $24.99

2) Avon once sold a jewelery holder that you can hang on the back of a door and includes a removeable travel pouch. I own this and love it!

3) Oriental Blossom Hanging Jewellery Organizer: has 75 plastic pockets and 9 necklace snap tabs to store all your jewellery! Hang in closet or on back of door. Folds up for easy storage. Open: 45.5 cm H x 71 cm W (18 x 28”). Closed: 45.5 cm H x 33 cm W (18 x 13”). Non-woven polypropylene and PVC. $19.99

Keep your gifts unique and your jewelery tangle free,
The Gift Geek

Tangled Jewelery?

I decided that after my friends turned 30, I would only give gifts on milestone birthdays - eg. 40th (I can't dare say the number 50 quite yet!)

My friend Amy on the other hand is someone that I typically always buy a gift for. I hope she enjoys receiving the gifts as much as I enjoy buying them for her.

Over the past year I have tried to keep a list of things Amy likes and doesn't have. During visits to my condo, there have been a few times where she has commented on my necklace stand, so I made the decision to get her one.

Gift Idea: Necklace Stand
Price: $42.99
Store: Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters has several variations of necklace holders, but I like this style the best. They often run out, so check back if the style you want is not there. I use my necklace holder for: necklaces, head bands and bracelets. Not only do these holders look great, you'll never have a tangled necklace ever again. My holder came in brass with colour accents, however Amy's, which is the same design, came in a muted silver tone. I recommend against the brass as it may mark your counter tops if it gets wet. I learned the hard way. Below is a photo of my stand.

Urban Outfitters also sells miniature holders for bracelets, (matching the design of the necklace holder) standing at approximately 2.5 inches. Very cute!

Another jewelry item that they sell is a ring dish. There are some really nice ones. You can use this holder for your rings, bobby pins, earrings, elastics ... really anything that is small.

Here are some other jewelry stand designs that Urban Outfitters offers online:

Visit Urban Outfitters Online or your local store for more jewelery stand designs.

Yours in gift giving,
The Gift Geek

Friday, August 21, 2009

Your favourite candies ... for your lips!

I found the cutest gift for my 11-year-old cousin. I hope she likes it! I think any girl, young or old would like this gift. I mean what female wouldn't love the combination of lip gloss and candy?

This 10 pack of PEZ flavoured lip gloss and lip balm retails for $20, however I was able to pick this gift pack up for $9.99 at Homesense. I also really like the nostalgia of the packaging. What isn't there to love?

I found similar lip balms and glosses in Bubalicious and various chocolate bar flavours. A true party on your lips!

If you have fun while buying gifts, both you and the recipient will enjoy the experience more.

I'll report back regarding Jocelyn's reaction to the gift. I have a feeling she will think it is cool.

Yours in gift giving -
The Gift Geek

UPDATE: Jocelyn loved the gift. She said the lip balm tasted very sweet and that the lip glosses smelled great!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Recap of my top 5 favourite baby shower gifts

5) Prince Lionheart Ultimate Wipes Warmer

4) Organic Baby Clothes by Parade

3) Sign with Your Baby Complete Learning Kit

2) Any present built around a theme eg. Pretty in Pink, a day with Mom etc.

1) Admiral Road blankets

... and for the big brother and sister, Out and About bags (see post below)

If you have a unique baby shower gift, leave me a comment. I would love to feature it in an upcoming post.

Yours in gift giving-
The Gift Geek

Remember the big Brothers and Sisters too!

You already know that my number 1 baby shower gift is a beautiful fleece blanket from Admiral Road, so I had to think of another post for today- keeping with the theme of the week.

I, like many (at least I hope other people do this) ensure that I always buy a gift for the older sibling of a new baby. I was nine when my first and only sister Emma entered the world and I still remember the jewelry box that my mom's friend Linda gave me. It was white with pastel coloured hot hair balloons on it. Emma was little and cute and I was a chatty and impatient. The gift from Linda reminded me that I was special too, but just much larger than a baby.

Over the years I have bought several gifts to keep the older siblings busy while mom and dad tended to the new baby, such as activity and sticker books, piggy banks and even jewelry boxes. None of the gifts were overly memorable, but all put a big smile on each of the kids faces.

When my friend Jill told me that she was selling Out and About Bags, I knew this would be a gift that any toddler (Jill suggests for ages 6 and under) would like.

The bags are great for overnight trips or for taking things to and from daycare. Some people even use them as diaper bags.

The bags are $35.00 (including tax)

My favourite? THE HORSE! It is adorable!

If you are interested in purchasing a bag, leave a comment and I will send you Jill's contact info. You won't be disappointed!

Keep on gift giving!
The Gift Geek

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Baby Shower Gift #2 - Find a theme and go with it!

Who wants to give the same gift that another shower guest has purchased? Not me!

My wonderful friend Amy and I hosted a baby shower for our dear friend Jill after she gave birth to her first baby Ava. I decided I wanted to create a theme gift. Think The Price is Right. You know how one showcase in the showcase show down is boring and the other one has awesome prizes and a cool theme to match? My plan was to make my shower gift, the cool gift and I think I succeeded. As Jill, Amy, Lindsay and I have been on a couple girls weekends away, I chose the theme, "On a trip you go!"

I got my inspiration from a decorative box I found at Home Sense for $12.99. The box was a beautiful girly print and shaped like a piece of luggage. The perfect starting point.

I then filled the "luggage" with everything any female, young or old would need for a weekend away with her friends, including:
  • a toy that plays music, so that she and her friends would have music to listen to while getting ready;
  • a cute outfit to wear while shopping at her favourite stores;
  • a swimsuit for the hotel hot tub - every girl needs to relax after a day walking around town.
  • a nice dress to wear for a delicious meal and a night out on the town;
  • a pair of comfortable pajamas and
  • a plush stuffed animal to cuddle with after the long day.
Inside the "luggage" I wrote a poem for Ava explaining why I purchased each of the items for her and how they would help her on any over-night trip.

Jill also used the luggage box for Ava's sleepover trips to Grandma & Papa's house.

TIP: Find one item and build your theme gift around it.

Be unique!
The Gift Geek

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Favourite Baby Shower Gift #3 - You want more?

The first company I worked for upon graduating from university was great! It had a great culture and the people were one-of-a-kind. When we learned clients were expecting a child, we often sent them the Sign with Your Baby Complete Learning Kit, which enables parents to communicate at new levels with their baby long before he/she can speak.

Baby Shower Gift #3
Gift - Sign with Your Baby Complete Learning Kit
Where to buy? Amazon.com
Note: Check other online retailers and bookstores as well. Just be sure you purchase the DVD version, unless you want VHS
Cost? $$32.97 (includes shipping and taxes)
How did I find it? A colleagues recommendation

I was fortunate enough to have several conversations with Dr. Joseph Garcia regarding his system and how it works. The package comes with a book, video, and reference guide that shows how kids can communicate many ideas such as "I'm hungry" or "help me."

I have seen first hand how well this product works. While visiting a cottage with my good friends one weekend, little Ava woke up and was hungry. She walked to the floor with her mom and was able to indicate she wanted "more" eggs by using the baby sign-language she had learned.

111 of 146 reviewers rated this product 5 Stars. Remember, always read the customer reviews. Reviews don't only tell you if the product is good or bad, they also give helpful hints on how to use the product to its full potential.

Good luck finding the perfect gift!
The Gift Geek

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Favourite Baby Shower Gift #2 - Baby Clothes are like Cupcake Sprinkles

I was talking to my colleague Kim about the best and the worst baby gifts she has received over the past couple months as she awaits the arrival of her baby boy. She made a good point. In her option, when the gender of a baby is known, people typically purchase clothes for the baby, rather that the necessities - eg. thermometers, baby monitors etc. While Kim makes a good point, I am hoping there is room for compromise?

My advice, if you find a reasonably priced baby/toddler outfit that "you just have to buy," don't make this the only gift. Keep in mind what new parents need most and perhaps even consider checking with your other friends to see if they are interested in pitching in on a larger scale gift, such as a baby swing, car seat or highchair.

I often buy an affordable outfit to go along with the main gift. Here are a few adorable clothing ideas that I love!

Vancouver based Parade sells 100% chemical free certified organic cotton onesies and tees, with nickle free closures. Each item comes in a tiny reusable bag - so you don't even have to wrap the gift. The monkey design is my favourite!

Parade was voted "Best Organic Line" by Canadian Family Magazine.

I found the next unique piece of baby clothing after my friend Krista posted this super cute photo. I couldn't stop laughing and had to know where she got this hilarious shirt. The answer CafePress Canada.
I have said before I am a bargain shopper! I have realized that buying cute gifts doesn't mean you have to pay full price. My first stop for any gift - Winners. I have purchased some of the cutest Ralph Lauren baby outfits from Winners for a fraction of the price. The last baby RL outfit I purchased was only $12 (regular pricing over $30)

Baby Clothes are like Sprinkles
My "mama" friends have taught me that clothes may not be the #1 gift to give, but think of them like the sprinkles on a cupcake. You don't always need sprinkles on a cupcake, but when you get them, you can't complain! Look how cute they are!

Keep searching for cute baby clothes. I'd love to hear about your finds.
The Gift Geek

Monday, August 10, 2009

It's Baby Week! Top 5 Gifts that will make Mommy & Baby :)

Every so often I will dedicate a week of blogging to a "gifting occasion". This week will be dedicated to baby shower gifts.

I have already shared my absolute favourite baby shower gift - personalized Admiral Road blankets, but over the years, I have been introduced to several other baby shower worthy gifts.

Baby Shower Gift #5
Gift - Wet Wipe Warmer
Where to buy? Babies R Us - Online
Cost? $49.66 (includes shipping and taxes)
How did I find it? A suggestion from my good friend Janine - mother of 3: Breann, Parnell & Camden

I have told many people about this gift and most have had the same reaction - "A WHAT?" When Janine and Trace welcomed their third child, I was stuck for what to buy little Camden. I know most people have almost everything they need once their third child arrives - but I couldn't let the birth of little Camden go uncelebrated. He is just too special and it isn't my style.

Janine told me little Camden was quivering each time he had his bottom wiped. The wipes were just too cold for his little bum. Some mom's who have successfully changed hundreds, if not thousands of diapers without the pleasure of owning the Prince Lionheart Ultimate Wipes Warmer may see this product as an unnecessary luxury, however times have changed and so have baby products. Remember when wet wipes didn't even exist? My question is - who says there is anything wrong with pampering your little ones? Janine has given the Prince Lionheart great reviews.

This product boasts the following features:
  • Will not brown or dry out wipes

  • Patented Ever-Fresh system keeps wipes fresh and moist

  • Works with pop-up or standard wipes

  • Uses low voltage adapter
Online, the average rating of this product is 4.5/5. Most importantly little Camden is enjoying his diaper changes more than ever! Doesn't he look happy?

TIP: Always read a variety of online reviews (both positive and negative) so that you can make an educated purchase. AND ... remember to leave your own review after each purchase. Smart consumers rely on them.

Happy gift giving and congratulations to all new and expectant mamas!

Yours in gift giving-
The Gift Geek

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Looking for an alternative to a delicious, yet calorie filled cake?

My mom turned 50 in July 2009 and since October 2008 she has been working towards a healthier lifestyle. She is eating better, joined a running class and a boot camp as well. She looks AMAZING! (shown on the left with my sister and I)

When her birthday was rolling around, we knew she wouldn't eat a cake, but we couldn't let her birthday come-and-go without one. As a cake alternative we ordered a non-edible "flower cake"

I originally found this example online ...

... and sent it to our Super FABULOUS florist Julie of Wye Knot Flowers by Julie, to see if she could recreate it. She didn't let me down.

Mom was thrilled to receive a fabulous flower cake (below), complete with real candles and although there was an edible cake for her party, it will be the flower cake that she will always remember. She thought it was "so cool."

Another fun flower option is the "flower gift." We may just have get this for mom to celebrate 51!

Make your gifts count!
The Gift Geek!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I had to make it his best birthday EVER!

My Dad (aka BIG MUR) turned 50 January 4, 2008. Growing up in a home with seven siblings, I don't think he experienced the big birthday celebrations that I experienced. My goal was to make his 50th one that he would never forget.

Two things you need to know about Big Mur:
1. He loves golf
2. He really, really, really loves golf

I started preparations for his birthday September 2007. My goal - to get the autographs of 50 of the world's top golfers. I sent out over 100 emails and letters hoping that I would be fortunate to even receive one. In the end I received 19 autographs from top golfers such as Phil Mickleson, Adam Scott, Greg Norman and the legend himself - a personalized photo from Arnold Palmer reading: "To Murry Best Wishes! Arnold Palmer" (shown below)

We presented the autographs to Dad in a portfolio book. He plans to have them all framed, although my mom is still curious where he plans to hang all 19 photos.

NOTE: Two or three golfers requested self-addressed stamped envelopes, which meant finding a stamp store with US stamps, otherwise all 19 autographs were free. Making this a fabulous yet inexpensive gift that still today amazes Dad. (There is a stamp store in Toronto that sells stamps for most countries - Adelaide St. East of Yonge)

TIP: Google golfers names to find email addresses and mailing addresses. Even if their sites indicate they don't provide autographs by mail, give it a try. I was successful in many cases.

The second gift that took a bit of planning was a golf club head cover resembling Big Mur.
For this I went to Whoopass enterprises, a company specializing in bobble heads. We were not disappointed. I simply uploaded a few pictures of my dad along with specifics about him - eg. he has a "bum" chin, he wears square frame glasses etc. Before painting the company sent me photos of the clay casting of the head. I could submit changes along the way. This was important as they didn't get his chin right at first.

Here is a sample of the unpainted photo they sent me as a first draft, along with the photos I sent to them.

I wasn't sure what to think after seeing the photo above, but the head cover turned out awesome. So much so that Big Mur calls it his "Mini Me".

This isn't the best photo of the final product, but I think you can get the idea.

Things to remember if you order a head cover - they are best for irons. Woods won't fit in the sock, so remember this when deciding which number to put on the back of the hat. (I made this mistake) Dad's "mini me" has his company logo on the front of the hat and the number 1 and Big Mur on the back.

Dad received other gifts from us on his birthday, but these were the two most memorable.

Keep your gift giving unique!
the gift geek

Ssshhhhh... don't tell my friends

... I keep buying them all the same gift! A large number of my friends who have been blessed with babies in the past year have received the same gift from me - a personalized blanket from Admiral Road. I fell in love with these blankets after a former colleague blogged about the one she received after the arrival of her baby Addison.

I have ordered several blankets as gifts since seeing Karma's blog posting and I am sure I will order many more in the future. I even ordered one for my baby big ethel. She doesn't go anywhere without her blanket.

Melody has also received compliments on her blankie.

I have been told these fleece blankets are the perfect size for the car seat or the stroller.

Sign-up for the Admiral Road newsletter and they will regularly send you updates on new designs and sometimes even $5 off coupons.

Including shipping the premium blankets cost just over $70 and they are well worth it and easy to care for. Just wash in Cold and throw in the dryer.

Yours in gift giving -
the Gift Geek

Handmade has never looked so good!

My find of the week comes courtesy of my good friend Krista. During a recent visit to North Bay, Krista asked me if I knew of a website called etsy.com. I replied no, but made sure I added it to my list of sites to visit. I'm glad I did. The site is filled with unique handmade gifts. Here are some of my favourites:
Text Color
For the photography Lover-

For the proud Mom or Grandma-

Need a unique shower gift?

The unique gift ideas are endless on etsy. Search around and you will surely find the perfect gift for the most perfect occasion.

Need the perfect gift? Message me and let me know what you are looking for. I enjoy the hunt!

Happy gift giving!
the Gift Geek