Just Checkin' In

Hey, friends! If you're wondering where I've gone, never fear. Posting has been light due to my final finals' week, job searching, and a surprisingly demanding apartment hunt. I'll be back soon with more fun gift wrap tips and a big surprise! In the meantime, check out this 4-some Bud Vase from CB2!


Diaper Cakes: almost as gross as they sound.

So, I don't have kids, nor do I plan on becoming a mom for quite some time. But when I do reach that stage of life, I'll tell you what I don't want: a diaper cake. Yes, that tasty looking creation above is not a wedding dessert, but rather, a decorative tower of baby underpants. And I don't get it.

I readily acknowledge that diapers are crazy expensive, and to purchase them for new parents is a big help. A great gesture. But in my mind, a cake constructed from diapers is the archetypal symbol of, "you are no longer cool, and all youth/aesthetic sense you ever had is now in the hands of a screaming infant." Not OK. Also, what are you supposed to do with that gaudy thing? Display it in your nursery? Nothing about a sheath of plastic that will soon be defecated in is attractive to look at!

If you know a mom-to-be, don't waste your money (upwards of 65 bucks!) on the diaper cake. Here's what to do instead. Run out and spend the money on a fabulous bag with tons of room and plenty of pockets. Like this here Marc Jacobs number:

Or this demure tote by Orla Kiely:

Or even this cutie by DwellStudio:

Once you've picked the perfect purse, stuff that monster full of diapers. And voila! The perfect gift essential for the care of a new baby, but it's really all about the mom. See how tricky I am? It's practical, beautiful, and way better than some 5 tier bloomer tart.


To Thank, or Not to Thank?

Have you read Alexandra Jacobs' article in the NYTimes Style section? It brings up an interesting debate over thank-you-notes, something we scratch the surface of a lot here at The Gift Wrap Blog.

Jacobs' conjecture is born of the idea of thanking someone in a 21st century fashion; what is the appropriate way to do it? Is it appropriate at all? Jacobs brings up the fact that thanking someone for a great party on Facebook is too casual, might slip past the receiver, and its public nature might make uninvited guests who see the post feel left out. I have to agree with the whole "out in the open" issue--I don't necessarily think a thanks needs to be on widespread display. But I do think it's a quick efficient way to reach someone, especially by private message. And as anyone with a Facebook page knows, it won't go unnoticed.

But an old-fashioned thank-you-note can be super generic and unoriginal, too. Dear BLANK, thank you for the BLANK! I have gotten many compliments on it. You are very generous. Goodbye. I can understand Jacobs's point on the need for a new millennium spin on the old thank you.

In my opinion, any thank you is better than no thank you, and you just need to make it a little original. Did someone sponsor you to go on a trip? Send a disc of photos with a card. Or did somebody get you a great outfit? Draw a cartoon in which you wear the ensemble and conquer the world. As far as I know, the best thanks for a fantastic party is a nice bottle of wine. This never goes overlooked.

And of course, a note on great stationary is a must.


Mother's Day Gift Guide

Mom's Day is right around the corner, and I don't want to remind you twice! Your mom is awesome. So go out right now and pick her up one of these beautiful but reasonably-priced keepsakes.

1) The only type of bomb you can appropriately give your mother. And she'll love the the resulting explosion.

Seed Bombs
$6.00 at Anthropologie

2) Bring her breakfast in bed with a twist.

Serving Tray by Liberty of London
$12.99 at Target

3) Her beloved Bible of interior decorating, Domino, has tragically folded. But the best tips have been bound into a veritable manifesto of home design--don't let mom miss out!

Domino: The Book of Decorating
$16.00 at Amazon

4) You might not have enough dough to pay for her day at the spa, but with this delicious bubble bath, everyday can hold a taste of luxury.

Fragrant Bubble Bath
$22 at Tokyo Milk

5) Claire Robertson is just one artist featured in the most recent collection of Cloudy Collection prints. Frame her mother/daughter piece and prepare for the waterworks.

Collection of 7 Assorted Prints
$35 at Cloudy Collection

6) You're a little too old for macaroni necklaces, and so is she. But that doesn't mean her jewelry must be matronly. Keep it fun with a flowered chain.

Floral Bib Necklace
$39.50 at Express
(Tip: There are tons of beautiful, handmade inexpensive versions of this necklace available on Etsy!)

7) April showers bring May flowers. But you should still be prepared for surprise spring storms.

Marimekko Umbrella
$40 at Finn Style


If only Rodarte had a gift wrap line...

I wasn't terribly interested in Laura and Kate Mulleavy's designs until I read this article in The New Yorker that explains the history of their couture brand, Rodarte. As much as I resisted fascination and didn't want to like them, I do. I really do.

The California born sisters aren't formally trained in fashion. But after graduating from college, equipped with an Art History and Literature degree respectively, the girls combined their intellects and eyes for beauty in unexpected things to develop their instantly popular lines.

Their design philosophy, in my words, is "bastardization of textiles." They literally burn, dye and shred fabrics until they hardly resemble their organic forms. Then they weave the materials into unbelievable fashion creations. I'd LOVE to see how they take this ideology and apply it to gift wrapping.

Their take on fishnet stockings are particularly haunting, and I'm not sure if my legs could properly execute this look with the finesse the Mulleavy sisters intended. But, this material would look awesome overlaying a gift wrapped in midnight black or slate gray or pewter wrapping paper. I hesitate in calling inanimate objects "sexy," but that gift would be SEXY.

Yes, Laura and Kate excell in creepy when it comes to their designs, but they also have a knack for collaborations of soft, flowy fabrics to form a hybrid of strange color and graceful movement. I can envision their gifts wrapped in cheesecloth dyed blue, maybe with a silver sash draped over the top and tied together with an emerald tulle bow.

Maybe if they do another Target line my prayers will be answered. I predict Rodarte Home with a great, big giftwrap section.


Gift Bags: Lovely or Lazy?

I have recently been accused by two trusted academics (my blogging professor and my mother) of being anti-gift bag. "Do you hate gift bags?" they asked me. "Because you never blog about them, and you always emphasize the importance that coincides putting effort into wrapping. You must detest gift bags."

Well. I was stymied.

Because I haven't ever given it much thought, honestly. On the one hand, bags can be a fast way to wrap easily, and they could look mighty pretty. On the other hand, it's the definition of lazy with a capital L. You know I love just a little more thought and effort than, let's say, tying your gift up in an ugly shroud of neon polyester. But who am I to criticize laziness anyway, huh? I'M LAZY! So that argument, I must dismiss.

All in all, I've decided, yes, I like gift bags. I really do! My reasons?

1) They are time savers. There are some birthdays that EVERYONE seems to have. September 9th? I know like five people with that exact birthday (I've since determined that New Year's comes nine months before that date, hmmm.....). Nevertheless, if you must wrap five separate tokens of affection, your feelings associated with those tokens might be considerably less affectionate after all that cutting and taping and folding. A gift bag can save the hassel.

2) They are easily reusable. Unless you get really pumped about opening presents like Nintendo 64 kid, it's much simpler to salvage a gift bag unscathed and pass it forward to future receivers of your generosity.

3) They CAN look really pretty. I have a friend who goes to the Fashion Institute downtown, and I feel like I'm treading on extreme turf whenever I give her a gift; it's probably not going to be cool enough, but I try. A couple summers ago for her birthday I found a nautical-themed gift bag in our wrapping closet. It had like, sailboats on it or something. Very Connecticut. But I stuffed it with clean, white tissue paper and draped a fresh hydrangea from my mother's garden over the edge. My friend was highly impressed. This is an example where I think that gift looked better than anything I could have wrapped that day.

4) Sometimes they have handles, and it makes the gift more portable. Does this really need explaining?

This gift bag is simple and well constructed. (Also, something about animals can always work). This particular bag is from Papyrus, a stationary store that I LOVE but I don't get to feature here very often because they don't sell a lot of gift wrap. They have a big selection of gift bags though; maybe I should be taking this as a cue.

So what's your take on gift bags? Lovely, or lazy?


Theme Wrap-Up: "Designer" Gift Wrap

In light of my Orla Kiely showcase of the other day, I started wondering if I could find gift wrap made by real, bona fide, educated designers. Like maybe Marc Jacobs had some secret paper store for hipsters or Karl Lagerfeld had a line of all black gift wrap. That would actually be awesome.

As it turns out though--like you really need me to tell you this--actual "designer" paper is not so easy to come by. The closest I was able to get was this alligator print by Lilly Pulitzer:

Print Available at Kate's Paperie

Yes, this is actually perfect for you preppy, yacht-party-going, sweater-draped-over-shoulders east coast types. I mean, I *am* from Connecticut, so in a way I really identify with this print. It also is a great gender-neutral design and suitable for the young and the old. Plus, this print stays very true to the designers bright color scheme and fresh, bold graphics. While Pulitzer's clothing only reaches a small demographic, anyone could fall in love with this paper.

Print Available at Hello! Lucky

The above print is by graphic designer Julia Rothman. While not necessarily the most popular name in aesthetics, she is one of my personal favorites and I wish she made more gift wrap. Her philosophy is clean and simple, as she says, "Ordinary items are the most exciting because it's unexpected--things people forget about. You know, everybody makes flower patterns." (Remember when I said how some florals suck?) So instead she makes a chandelier gift wrap. So unexpected, so cool. Cards Available at Fine Stationery

OK, so the thing I really learned on this hunt for prints is that if you want to find designer items in the gift giving cartel, look to greeting cards. You will find more meat there. The above card is by Vera Wang, who is renowned for her wedding gowns. Personally I think by now it's kind of dull to wear a Vera Wang but that's just me. Her cards, on the other hand, could be the perfect invitations or thank you notes. And they're a million times cheaper than a gown, right? So if you want the name, just stick with the paper accessories.

Cards Available at Saks Fifth Ave.

These Kate Spade cards are also super pretty for spring, albeit quite feminine, but that's Kate Spade for you. There was an interesting piece in the Times a couple weeks ago about her and her husband; they;re a very interesting couple and you should check it out, although neither one of them are associated with their brand names any longer.

If you're wondering about price points here, the gift wrap will only cost you about 7 buck a roll/st of sheets, but the cards are pricey. Vera Wang greeting cards run upwards of 2 dollars per card, and Kate Spade costs $35 for a box of 12 cards. So..err...yeah.

Well, that was fussy. I'll let you know if I dig up any news on the latest, greatest designer gift wrap in the coming months, but don't hold your breath.