Gift Giving: The Magic of Memories

Though a gift granted to us, life is not a thing we should take for granted.  The older I become, the more I understand how precious a gift this life really is.  Another year passed, another group of people that will only live on in memories, hearts and photos.  Be it friends, family, or family of friends, each time I hear of another life taken away, it’s another reminder that there is no guarantee of tomorrow.  That’s why it’s so important that we soak up all the time we do have with those we care for most.  Chances are when you lose someone, you don’t look back and remember the things they bought you.  You remember the things they taught you, the special moments you shared.  Things don’t matter, but people do.

A few years back, my mom got very sick before Thanksgiving and although one to never miss a Black Friday sunrise, reality set in and my priorities shifted.  That particular season was about catering to her, helping her recover, and not about finding the best deals and boxes to stack around the Christmas tree.  There was nothing my mother needed nor wanted more than to feel better and I realize nothing I put under the tree would make that happen.  I decided that instead of buying more “things” for my parents for Christmas, I would invest in memories.

As they get older, I’m not oblivious to the fact that there will come a day, eventually, when we can’t take trips together, when we can’t embark on adventures.  With that in mind, the only gift they received that year was a piece of paper – one that detailed the trip we would take together that spring to Savannah, GA.  From pictures of our accommodations to an agenda tailored to each of them, though not something they could physically use that Christmas morning, it gave them something to look forward to at a time when my mom would be able to enjoy it.  That April we took our trip (yes, ours, because of course I imposed on them).  We got to experience a play at one of the oldest theaters in America, rest our heads at Savannah Bed & Breakfast, tour the town on a sightseeing bus, shop the streets while sipping Mojitos and indulge in the most amazing meal at the Olde Pink House.  My dad and I even rode in a hearse for a nighttime ghost tour and still to this day laugh hysterically about a woman who chased it down.  Those are memories that will last well beyond the time all of us have together.

Following in tradition, this year’s adventure took us to back down I-95 to Charleston, South Carolina.  Again we caught a play at the local theater, took a private horse-drawn carriage around town, ate until we were stuffed and walked around a plantation (and the Swamp where Shrek is from)!

While I’ll still get a few small items for under the tree, I see far greater value in spending money on memorable moments.  If you’re still trying to find the perfect gift for someone you love, give this approach a try.  Don’t buy things just to buy things.  Clothes become dated, children grow out of toys, but memories will always remain.

Advertisements

Holiday Gift Ideas under $20

Believe it or not, there are only TWO shopping Saturdays left before Christmas.  As much as I love this time of year, I hate how fast it flies by.  Time is starting to run out for all of you on-line shoppers (unless you’re Amazon Prime members, of course).  If you still plan to place an order and/or snail mail gifts, just take into consideration that some modes of shipping still require 7-10 business days.

Chances are your calendar is also filling up with holiday parties and gatherings with your friends, meaning there is less time to shop around or wait in the never-ending lines at the register.  In need of a gift exchange item, small gifts for your girlfriends or just a little something extra for under the tree?  Here’s a few ideas under $20 from Ross & T.J. Maxx that will help you get in and get out of the store fast:

Blanket Scarf

We couldn’t get enough blanket scarf this season and that won’t change as the wind whips harder and temperature drops lower going into the winter months.  Typically, this cold-weather accessory will run you about $22+, unless of course, you check out a discount retailer.  The scarfs on the left are from TJ Maxx and go for $19.99, the one on the right is from Ross and costs $12.99.

Delicate Laying Necklace

layer necklaces

Another big trend this season is layering delicate necklaces, regardless of metal (i.e. a short silver necklace paired w/a rose gold drop).  I’m loving the selection at T.J. Maxx, like this Mia Fiore for $19.99.

Kate Spade Tumblers & Mugs

What girl doesn’t love Kate Spade?  This Tumbler, priced at $9.99 and retailed at $15.00 encourages ladies to make headlines; a gift especially appreciate for PR pros like myself (hint, hint friends).  The mug runs for $12.99, compared to $20.00.  Both were spotted at T.J. Maxx.

Monogram Everything: Candles & Cups

Look around on any fashionista’s IG page, and you’re bound to come across a gold-trimmed monogram cup like this one – found at T.J. Maxx for $3.99 (compared to $6.00).  These sweet-scented monogram candles are also a perfect gift (and price) for just $2.99 (compared to $6.00 at Ross.

Inspirational Notebooks

Notebooks

Know someone that likes to write, make lists, etc.?  Then consider one of these.  From scriptures to words of encouragement, this notebooks make a great gift and are super cheap ($3.99 at Ross compared to $6.00).

Picture Frames

frames

Another gift you can never go wrong with – a picture frame!  This particular selection from Ross are also adorned with positive sayings, giving your recipient the option to fill the frame or leave it as is.  Prices range from $4.99 – $7.99.

Clutches

Clutch

I’m obsessed with this gold clutch ($12.99) from T.J. Maxx but convinced myself to leave it on the shelf in case you wanted it instead:)  Great gift that can be used throughout the holiday season.

Slippers

Slippers

These Jessica Simpson slippers from Ross feel so comfortable, come in a variety of colors and styles, and only cost $12.99 (compared to $20.00).

Happy shopping!

XO,

CC

Shopping my own Closet

In anticipation of a move a few years back, I boxed up most of my life, including fall and winter clothes aside from a few staples and backed them away at my parents’ house.  Eventually, I forgot about all of the boxes and added to my cold seasonal wardrobe with new clothes (and more new clothes).

We had been storing the clothes at a second home that my parents own and just recently got word that it will be rented out, so it was time for me to finally move “out,” which meant going through everything and either keeping, donating, or chucking the items in storage.  Much to my surprise, I uncovered four huge bins of fall and winter clothes – items I had completely forgotten about over the past few years.

Going through the buckets felt like I was shopping in my own closet – being reunited with some of my favorite pieces and coming across items that still bore tags.  With all these “new” items back in my possession, I decided one way to curb the shopping habit (esp. during this holiday season when I’m constantly in the stores) would be to rediscover gems I already own.  So, starting today, I’m trying with all of my might to turn to clothes I already have instead of buying new clothes for the rest of the winter.  Let’s see how long this lasts!  I was able to get rid of bags full of clothes that will be donated, but I still have way too much clothing and there’s no sense buying new when I have perfectly good old!

Have you ever made it a point to “shop” your own closet instead of going to the store to buy things?

Polo

I bought this Polo sweater a few years back from the Polo outlet store. You can get some great deals on sweaters there if you wait until the holidays are over – typically Jan. or Feb. when the store is trying to make room for the Spring collection. I paired it with a gingham button-up purchased at TJ Maxx for $19.99.

DIY: Tacky Christmas Dress

A few years back I asked my mom if I could borrow one of her sweaters for RVA’s first SEC tacky sweater party.  Her response? “I don’t own any tacky sweaters.”  The reality?  She was a kindergarten teacher for 35-years so of course she has a closet full of tacky attire!  While the snowman sweater sufficed for the first year, I knew I could come up with something better the next time around.

I went to work making my now go-to tacky holiday party ensemble.  A trip to Ross and the Dollar Store gave me everything I needed.  I found a simple red dress on the clearance rack for about $5 and grabbed a few bags of bows and garland at the Dollar store.

I hot-glued each individual bow onto the skirt of the dress and then did the same with the garland along the base of the dress, sleeves and neckline down through the back.  A few hours and a bunch of burns later, the dress was complete.  Next, I took a plain headband and topped it off with a few bows.  To accessorize, I made a bracelet out of ornaments.  Side note: the first year I made the mistake of using glass ornaments, whoops!  Needless to say, I switched it up after that.  I found cute green, silver and red bow earrings and a ring at Charming Charlies, too.  For under $20 in total, my holiday outfit was complete.

Last year I even added light strings to the skirt for some extra flair.  Three years later, most of the bows have stayed on but I do tend to leave a small trail whenever sitting is involved: )

Tacky3

year 2

20151201_205842