Sonntag, 21. Dezember 2014

5 last-minute gifts + how to survive the Holidays.

Of course I am aware of the fact that all my readers are done selecting Christmas gifts for everyone by the end of September and have been at a loss, for these past days, as to how to use all this idle time until Christmas Day. 
So this post addresses the 3 readers who had a brief panic attack after glancing at the calendar.

Just for those:
Keep calm.
We have three whole days left – no problem still finding, making or ordering something truly beautiful, something that will actually bring joy. 

All products from my suggestions below can be purchased at department stores or drug stores, or can even be comfortably ordered from your couch (Amazon delivers until Christmas Eve, if you order until Monday noon). 

One of my favorite special tricks: 
I like giving (and being given) sets rather than single items. 
However, I assemble them myself, as I dislike the ready-made retail ones just as much. 

The easy principle behind it: 
If my gift is a baking book – I add an apron or a stylish whisk. 

If my gift is a beauty bag, I fill it with colorful nail polish and a pretty cosmetic brush, made of real hair. 

If my gift is a calendar, I add a pencil, an eraser and some post-its. 

You get the idea?

Here are a few similar ideas that I have either given or already received as gifts this year. 

1. Tea + teapot. 

Luckily my dad does not read my blog – and I am particularly happy to share this year’s new discovery with him. 
We both share a preference for black tea – this year he will receive some selected tea varieties with a matching tea pot. 

Of course I will give my dad Kusmi tea – I will still purchase a few tins at the shop at Bikini Berlin, as there is not enough time left for ordering from their online store. 

But you can find a simple teapot either at a department store or at Amazon.
Another great tea is, for example, Tea forte, either as black tea or herbal tea.

2. Book, bookmark + scented candle. 

In my opinion there is hardly anything more pleasant than reading a brand new book, fresh off the printing press, during the holidays – honestly, this is exactly the thing I almost look forward to the most! 
It gets cozy with a lovely scented candle – and a bookmark is the perfect addition

My book recommendations are all about suspense and espionage this year – 2 of them are from a friend of mine, who really loves reading and reads a lot, he passed on his top favorites. 

1. Breaking News by Frank Schätzing

An amazing thriller based on the conflict in the Middle East with a lot of interesting, historical background information viewed from an entirely neutral perspective. 

2. The Sebastian Bergmann series (only available in German).

I do enjoy reading these books a lot myself, and a new title was published recently – it will be under our Christmas tree and I am looking forward to it very much! 

Here is the order of appearance:

3. The Rembrandt Affair (Gabriel-Allon series, volume 10)

Tenth volume in the Gabriel Allon series, an Israeli secret agent who is retired by now, but does not manage to keep still. Wonderful espionage subject matter with a lot of information about paintings and their restauration. 

4. Geschlossene Gesellschaft (Private Function) by Denis Gastmann (only available in German)

Written  in an easy and entertaining manner – how to live completely without financial worries, and what effect being rich has on you. 
The author immersed himself in the  world of the rich, and reports about it free of envy and prejudice.

5. "Move and work" and "live and work" by Marlene Birger.

Both are my prettiest new discoveries in the world of interior design books. If you like reduced black-and-white interior decoration, these books will please you – a lovely idea, if you like giving something of higher value. 

My scented candle is by Diptyque, but you can also order pretty ones online, such as this one by Impuro or Parks.
If you like, you can make or order a nice book mark to add!

3. Pillow + mug.

The fashion illustrator, and my friend, Nicole sent me this pillow, lovely like a dream – printed with my initials and the meaning of my name. 
I can cuddle up with it while drinking my hot chocolate from the matching mug.

You can find the mug in a black-and-white version at Anthropologie – apart from many other magically beautiful things on sale, such as these pillows.

4. "40 Facts about you" list.

As mentioned a few times before, yet the most beautiful Christmas gift of all times – and at no cost to boot: 
Write down 40 facts in a list format about a person close to you. 
Or 20. 
Or 15. 
No matter how many: 
It is important that it is a mix of funny, weird and loving things – without the pressure of only noting fantastically wonderful things. 
Here is part of my 40 facts list, that my daughters wrote down for me last year. 

5. Personal photo book.

An idea for the very last moment: 
Design, instantly order and send the completed order for a personal photo book, a photo collage or some pretty greeting cards directly to a store near you, all within a few minutes, comfortably from your computer, tablet or smartphone. 
In not time at all, on the same day, you can go and pick up the order – in Kodak quality.

The whole thing works via the new Kodak Moments-App, with the help of which you can design your personal Christmas cards on your smartphone, as easily as even on the bus ride home, and pick them up the same day anywhere where they have a Kodak kiosk (most drug stores, etc.). 

This is how it works:
- you assemble everything in peace at home with the help of the  Kodak Moments-Software (instead of standing in front of the printing machine). 
- then you send off the order – and get a mail with your order number. 
- a short time later you can go to the nearest store (which will be suggested by the App) – and collect your completed order with your order number.
- you only pay for the pictures that you like. 

The Kodak Moments App is free, the photo book costs about $12.00. 
My advice: choose the landscape format for the book and definitely make sure to pick the picture detail beforehand, as you unfortunately cannot do that with the app. 

I did not only create the photo book like that, but also the square winter pictures that are pinned to the magnetic bulletin board – a simple and beautiful decorating idea. 
My advice here, too: crop the picture beforehand and then order via the app. 

OK, so we are good on the gifts. 

Any other Holiday-related last-minute issues, such as…

"... what shall I wear?" (well, something with sequins. If you don’t have anything with sequins in your closet, something which always works: a big statement necklace combined with a white blouse + jeans. Or a LBD.) 

"... and what shall I cook?" ( médaillons of pork fillets with mushrooms. Or fondue. And definitely the  cinnamon parfait for dessert, so that everyone will be deeply impressed by so much deliciousness.) 

"... how shall I decorate?" (Position a whole lot of candles everywhere. Small, big votive candles, everything randomly thrown together, main thing: plenty. Place some white baubles in different sizes on the table: done.) 

"... and what shall I bake?" (this small gingerbread cake. Get a ready-made cinnamon cookie dough from the refrigerated section of your grocery store and embellish the cake with them.) 

"... and what shall I do, if I only get very few or no gifts at all?” (you are utterly happy, that you did not get very few or no UGLY gifts at all. You would have had to pretend you’re happy – would have been way worse!) 

"... and what shall I do, if I feel lonely, cranky or simply blah on Christmas?” (Up yours. Your country, your rules.)

"... and what shall I do, if there will never ever be anything to eat again after December 25?” 
(just do what every other German person around you does: you buy as much food as is needed to feed a whole army for a whole year, if necessary. Just to be safe. You never know whether a famine will descend after the Holidays, do you? See.) 

My services are hereby complete, I can dismiss you into the Holidays with a clear conscience. 
Happy Holidays and see you soon!



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This post was translated by Ginnell Studio, thank you very much!

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