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! 

I’m off to New York today to wrap up the year and head home for the holidays, so I have a festive little guest post to share with you from Navya of The Little Flower Cottage:

When Kate mentioned that she wanted to do a guest post on gift wrap styling,  I jumped at the chance to share what I’ve been whipping up in my own little workshop this season! I don’t know about you, but for me, receiving a beautifully wrapped package is almost as exciting as what’s inside.  This year I went with some simple polka dot kraft wrapping paper (a TJMaxx score!)  that I embellished with sprigs of pine, cinnamon sticks and gold glitter. I didn’t feel like the white dots were festive enough so I brushed on a thin layer of glue and dusted away with some Martha Stewart glitter. Presto!  An instant touch of glam to otherwise rustic packaging.  I can’t wait to hand them off to friends and family next week!

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My mailman hates me, for sure, because I’ve ordered about a dozen dresses that have all been tried on and returned — my hunt has been a disappointment. I’ve been thinking perhaps I just need to scratch my idea of the perfect holiday dress altogether and try something new this year.Enter some pretty festive pants I’ve been eyeing — maybe a sharp pair of cropped party pants is just what I need to get me through the holiday season? Would you wear patterned pants in lieu of a holiday dress?

Party PantsSources: 1, 2, 3, 4

 

I spent this weekend working up a little holiday cheer — from addressing stacks of Christmas cards, to tackling hours upon hours of gift-wrapping I can say that the Christmas spirit has finally arrived at our house. And now I’m super excited about heading home for the holidays — did you tackle any holiday tasks this weekend?

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I know that this is a major faux-paus, but while everyone is excited about decorating their tree, my mind zooms straight past Christmas and to my favorite holiday: New Years Eve. While my annual New Year’s shindig may be a month away, I already have my wheels turning gathering inspiration for some fun little touches. Tinsel and drink toppers are on the DIY to-do-list, and I’m seriously eyeing those numbered  rocks glasses — aren’t they cute?

nyeSources: countdown glassware, curly-q DIY, caspari party crackers, tinsel drink stirrer, party hats

The snow started falling in Boston on Saturday and it made me feel like the holidays were officially here. I snagged some really cute metallic wrapping paper and tinsel bows while I was out shopping — I can’t wait to start wrapping presents with these. And Sunday I found the holy grail at Trader Joes: Peppermint Mocha macarons in a bright shocking pink — this box was just a ‘test’ to make sure they lived up to expectations for some holiday entertaining — and they certainly did!

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Ready for the last installment of Handmade Holidays? There is no sweeter gift than homemade treats! 

Remember when I said this was the easiest DIY holiday present? I lied — it gets easier! Grab a package of Tollhouse chocolate chips from the grocery store and using the recipe on the back measure out all of the dry ingredients, layering them one by one in a mason jar. Next, write the recipe out on a pretty piece of paper and stick it on top of the jar, and finally, adorn the front with a personalized message and some ribbon (I printed my message out on Martha Stewart Avery Labels). How easy was that? Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Handmade Holidays Gift ideas here, here, here, and here!

Next up in the Handmade Holidays series is a set of glitter coated hangers, the perfect gift for a stylish friend!

In my opinion, you can’t go wrong when you coat something in glitter — am I right? I started this project with inexpensive wooden hangers, and painted them with a layer of mod podge. Quickly, before the glue dries, sprinkle glitter until you coat the wood.  After this layer dries, go back over with another layer of mod podge to coat the hangers and seal in the glitter — you might need more than one coat depending on the thickness of your application. And there you have it, some sparkly gifts for your favorite clothes horse! (I love these so much that I might save one to hang my wedding dress on this Spring!)