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I dove head first into holiday festiveness this weekend. I finished my Christmas shopping and set up what looked like Santa’s workshop in my kitchen to wrap up all of my gifts. I addressed and mailed out a huge stack of Christmas cards. And celebrated the holidays with all of my best friends with perhaps one too many glasses of champagne on Saturday night, followed by a very chilly home through a snowstorm. If that whirlwind of holiday cheer didn’t get me into the Christmas spirit, I don’t know what else would! And now I’m cruising through the work week and counting down to some much-needed time off to close out the year. photo 1 (3) photo

This year, instead of sharing a week of gift guides I decided to mix things up and think a little more local! I’m sharing interviews with local Boston business owners to get their tips for holiday gift giving, entertaining, and attire! Today we’re getting the dish on what to wear for the holidays from the stylish Jessika of Holiday Boutique:

photo 1K: The holiday season is upon us, and with party  invitations piling up, I want to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe so I have something to wear! Any advice for how bring in new pieces that can update things you might already have in your closet? 

HB: I suppose the most obvious answer is accessories!  But think beyond jewelry… I love wearing colored opaque tights this time of year.  Instead of basic black, try red or cream with a staple dress you already own.  Try a vintage fur collars or scarves; a skinny scarf looks super chic folded and pinned —  I like to wear one in place of a necklace with a cashmere sweater.  I’m also mad for shoe clips — they can transform a boring pump into magic.  Also something as simple as a fabulous manicure or professional blow-out can make you feel just as great (sometimes better) than buying a new dress.

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K: In the age of email and text invites, it can often be less than clear what the attire recommendation is at different holiday events. What is your fail-proof outfit advice for holiday party dressing?

HB: Holiday party dressing should be festive and celebratory.  I’d much rather show up to an event slightly over-dressed than under-dressed.  I avoid leggings or denim for evening events and take full advantage of dresses and skirts.  My go-to is generally black this time of year, but I also LOVE mixing in a statement color via a clutch, shoe or even a simple barrette.  Red always pops on black, as does gold and leopard.  Another go-to for me is cream —  I’m a fan of winter whites– especially in lace.  It’s classic and feminine.  If you’re the hostess you’ll have even more freedom to experiment.  Vintage pieces can make an incredible one-of-a-kind statement… try a vintage kimono and ballet flats! Soooo chic!

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K: New Years Eve is my absolute favorite holiday, but I’m a little bored with the glittery cocktail dress look — what kind of looks do you recommend for counting down to midnight?

HB: New Years Eve is a fabulous excuse to do something slightly unexpected or even a little gutsy!  Try a headpiece, hat or turban!  If you want a little sparkle, a sequin beret is a darling choice — especially if the rest of your look is simple.

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K: Any fun trends you’re excited about bringing into Holiday for, well, the holidays? 

HB:   My shop never gets too into “trend”– though this year we are embracing tartan and pom-poms!  A classic plaid cashmere scarf and a knit hat with a giant pom-pom on top is both cute and cozy.  We also love our re-worked vintage fur vests.  For accessories, we’re all about a big, bold vintage inspired pin that can instantly make almost anything feel and look special.  Our hand beaded monogram clutches are uber popular and a major (personal) statement piece.

Thanks to Jessika for all of her great advice! Don’t forget to #shoplocal on this holiday season! 

This year, instead of sharing a week of gift guides I decided to mix things up and think a little more local! All this week I’m sharing interviews with local Boston business owners to get their tips for holiday gift giving and entertaining. Today we’re talking with Sofi, the darling owner of Olives and Grace:  

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K: The holidays mean lots and lots of parties — I’d love to know your advice on what to bring as hostess gift for parties big and small?

OG: I believe the greatest gifts are those that can be shared.  When heading to a party, I suggest bringing a gift box with an assortment of edible gifts that make great additions to a party. Some favorites are locally made Q’s nuts (try the Rosemary and Sea Salt.. perfect compliment to a cheese plate!), Morris Kitchen’s Ginger cocktail syrup (add a splash to a glass of Prosecco), and Lark Cookies of any flavor will be a hit. The Jam Stand has a delicious and unique Blackberry Jalapeño jam that I love, and we just got in a bacon popcorn which I can hardly keep on the shelves.  When you show up with a well-executed foodie-box, you’ll be a treasured guest!

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K: Any good gift ideas for the guys? I have a few tricky men on my list that are tough to buy for! 

OG:  Yes!  The Mason Shaker and Shake, their cocktail recipe book, have been a huge hit this year for men’s gifts.  Guys love a good drink, and now they can play around with muddling, shaking, and mixing up concoctions for at home cocktails.

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K: You have lots of tasty treats in your store — which items to you recommend make it into our baskets for holiday entertaining? 

OG: I get really excited when people buy the Kinfolk Table cookbook, it has about 400 pages of farm to table recipes, shared stories, family traditions, interviews and more.  It is one of my favorite products I’ve ever had the pleasure of carrying in the store.  

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K: What gifts in your shop are you most excited to share with customers this holiday season? Any hot sellers we should be adding to our Christmas shopping lists? 

OG: Tilly Doro jewelry — the designer uses various materials for her pieces, so in one bracelet you might have fabric, brass, and beads. I love all the textures and personalities in her work. Salt Cellars is a husband and wife run company that makes walnut serving boards, we love having them over for demos, and our customers have completely fallen for them. Neighborwoods coasters are another favorite of mine — they make map coasters that have the neighborhoods carved out in cedar.  We carry various cities, and those make incredible gifts.

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Thanks to Sofi for all of her great advice! Don’t forget to #shoplocal on this holiday season! 

This year, instead of sharing a week of gift guides I decided to mix things up and think a little more local! All this week I’ll be sharing interviews with local Boston business owners to get their tips for holiday gift giving and entertaining. Hopefully it’ll inspire you to hit Main Street for small business Saturday this weekend and support local business! First up, the fabulous duo, TJ & Hadley, owners of the Urban Grape:

K: I love to bring a bottle of wine to a holiday party, but sometimes I’m nervous I might bring something that people don’t like … what do you look for in a wine to bring to a party? 
UG:  We tell people who are looking for a wine to bring to a party to look for something that’s fruit-forward — fruity, juicy wines — and something that has a bit of acidity helps too, the acidity makes you want to drink more. It also helps to pick a bottle that’s not a well-known brand, you can learn a little bit about the specific wine and the region or vineyard that comes from, and tell the story of the wine to give the hostess a little background — it’ll make the wine a little more memorable. One other tip: if the wine is supposed to  be served chilled, bring it at the appropriate temperature so if your host wants to open it that evening it’s already ready to go.

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K: What do you look for in a bottle that’s going to make a holiday gift? 
UG: If you’re looking to give a bottle of wine as a gift, and you’re not completely sure what the person drinks, we usually ask people: do they travel to certain places? Do they like certain types of cuisines? That can usually help narrow down a region of wines to start with. It’s also fun to pick a theme, you can put together a sampler back of a few different wines from the same region, or of the same grape varietal to give them a tasting of different types. Or put together a cocktail box that has all the ingredients for a special mixed-drink (and don’t forget fun accessories like a shaker!).
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K: As owners of a wine shop , I assume you’re quite popular and get invited to lots of holiday parties — any good entertaining tips you can share for the holiday season? 
UG:  Our motto is: keep it simple. Focus on quality elements, but keep everything pared down — your guests will feel more comfortable  if they’re not presented with tons of options. We usually stick to serving one signature cocktail, and 2-3 types of wines. People also spend all this time working on a perfect menu or hiring a great caterer, and then they let wine be the afterthought and just buy whatever is on sale — think about the wine just as you would planning the food menu. We tell people to bring in their menu to the shop and we’ll help pick things are going to not just go well with the food, but even elevate it.

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K: My favorite holiday is New Years Eve — what do you tell people who are intimated by picking out champagnes for a New Years Eve soiree? 
UG: Look for sparkling wines made in the champagne method — it’ll give you the taste of a champagne but at a lower price point. Smaller producers will also give you more bang for your buck, their attention to detail will give you a better quality, and they tend to spend much less on marketing than bigger brands and those cost savings get passed on to you. If you find a brand you like, at the beginning of the holiday season, buy a case of it and split it up to bring to various parties, give as gifts, and save some for yourself to enjoy too!
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Thanks to TJ & Hadley for all of their great advice! Don’t forget to #shoplocal this holiday season! 

The lovely folks at Calypso St. Barth invited me this weekend to preview the new store in Chestnut Hill at The Street, and it’s absolutely darling. First off, they have a great collection of resort wear that had me craving a warm weather getaway. And it was  great to hear that despite being a national brand, they support local designers and has some beautiful jewelry pieces from local Boston artisans. They kindly helped me pick out a few things for myself, and to say I fell in love with the cashmere v-neck sweaters is an understatement — I mean, I might actually live in these in for the  rest of the winter.  Be sure to check them out if you’re in the neighborhood!

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 Sweaters gift c/o Calypso St. Barth, all opinions are my own. 

 

I’ve never been much of a winter boots girl — despite almost 10 years living in Boston. I’ve always opted for rain boots during New England winters because of the slushy mess I tend to trudge through during my commute. Recently, I got sent a pair of adorable Joules rain boots to take for a test run and I absolutely love the patterns they come in – stripes, florals, even a darling fox print (plus the mid-height boots are perfect for those who are vertically challenged like me!). The cheery floral pattern I chose makes having to weather a gray day just a little more tolerable. I’m eyeing a pair of the striped rain booties next!

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Wellies c/o Joules USA, all opinions are my own.

Last week I was lucky to join a group of other bloggers at the Ladies Home Journal #GetSocial conference in New York. It was a great day and I got to hear awesome speakers like Kendi, Joy, and Gaby. One of my favorite parts of the day was hearing Joy of Joy the Baker talked about her creative process, and her journey to how she got to where she is today. One thing that stuck out to me in her talk was that she was very candid about her success didn’t happen overnight, she downsized and cut back to make ends meet while working to pursue her passion, and through that hard work and dedication she was able to get her blog turned into a book. I think it’s so important to hear about those ‘behind the scenes’ stories because blogs can often only show the ‘shiny’ side of things — I’m guilty of it too, you rarely see photographs on here of the burnt cookies or failed DIY projects (and believe me, they exist!). It was a refreshing day and I left feeling super energized about my blog and the great community of other bloggers I’ve been able to meet along the way!

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Last week I was run down and had a terrible cold, so I was determined to use the weekend to recharge. To me, there is nothing more relaxing or comforting than being in the kitchen, so that’s where I spent my time. I stayed in Friday night and baked up lots of treats, including mini mason jar apple pies, and sea salt caramel apples — both for a little Saturday project I helped style with two my good friends (more pictures coming soon!). And Sunday I let a hearty kielbasa and white bean soup simmer in the slow cooker all day — which made our apartment smell delightful. It was a delicious and successful attempt at a relaxing weekend.

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Much like my affinity for leopard prints, I love tortoise shell for it’s neutral capabilities — it goes with everything. I’ve been eyeing a whole bunch of tortoise shell accessories lately to update my fall wardrobe — they go perfectly with classic black dresses to wear to work, and look great with casual grey sweaters and tees for the weekends. At the top of my list is that Tuckernuck clutch,  I can just envision it at lots of holiday parties this year! And that sweet little bow hair clip is from J.Crew’s Crewcuts — perfect for jazzing up a preppy ponytail, don’t you think?

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Sources: Necklace, Sunglasses, Ring, Earrings, Bracelet, Clutch, Cuff, Bow Hair Clip

Last night the gracious ladies of BeStyled, a blow dry bar in Chestnut Hill, invited a group of us from Boston Bloggers to have an evening of pampering — and what better way to shake off a mid-week slump than with blow-outs, make up styling, champagne and blogger chatter, right? I love going to get my hair done, and my stylist Kelly did such a great job of giving me some volume and movement.  I feel so relaxed when I’m getting it washed and dried, and it’s even more fun to do it with a group of girlfriends — we took over the salon and had a blast!

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Note: BeStyled gifted all of us free blow outs at their salon. All opinions are my own.