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GIFT GUIDE :: A GUIDE TO GIFTING

Congrats, you checked all the lists, bought all the gifts, made it through the holidays and into the start of a fabulous, new year. But don't get too comfy, we're 30 short days away from my absolute favorite holiday ever. Yep, Valentine's Day. I know, I know you've barely caught your breath but don't panic. I am here. for. you.

There were gift guides a plenty in every direction for the holidays and don't you worry there will be more and this is GREAT. However, with all these images, ideas and choices coming at you, it can get a little overwhelming. So, I'm here to share my personal guidelines for GIFTING. While I'd love to do the shopping and wrapping for you (you know that's a service I provide, right?), we're getting close and I want to help you get in the right frame of mind for giving your loved ones something they will truly love. (Cue Cupid.)

Keep in mind, just because we are celebrating Happy Hearts Day does not mean everything must be red, pink and covered in chocolate. Let's think beyond the holiday.

When I am shopping for a present personally or for a client, I really try to have the item fall into one or MORE of these categories: NOVEL, USEFUL, LASTING, PERSONAL or EXPERIENCE. I strongly feel if you can find something that falls into one of these themes, you're on your way to lots of warm hugs and thank yous. If you can hit 2 or even 3 themes rolled into one gift then I might have to hire you because you've hit the gifting jackpot. ;) So in the spirit of sharing, I've gathered a few ideas you can borrow and wrap up. You're welcome.

The clock is ticking so here we go, The Pink Pen's GUIDE TO GIFTING:

NOVEL :: Just what it sounds like, it's something new and unique you haven't seen everywhere yet. You see it, pick it up and say, "oh, this is cool."

1. Four Leaf Clover Necklace :: This local artist sets bits of nature, glitter and notions into resin and creates incredible pieces of jewelry. She also crafts spectacular resin pyramids which are one of a kind and sell out quickly. Consider for a nature lover, tween or goal-getter working towards achieving something big on your list. Follow her on Insta as well @remedydesignshop

2. Millenial Loteria :: I just can't with this updated old favorite. I have clear, fond memories of playing with uncooked pinto beans and pennies at my grandmother's table. Updates include El Yoga, La Feminist & El Fidget Spinner. Comes complete with bit coin markers. While you can grab this on Amazon (like everything else), you can also find it at Feliz Modern in San Antonio to give some love to a local shop.

USEFUL :: It's a wonderful feeling when you reach for something again and again that's been given to you and you instantly think of that person and smile. THAT's the feeling we are going for here.

3. Leather Charger Roll Up :: This nifty item neatly holds earbuds, chargers, dongles and whatever else your phone needs to keep you moving along in life. It comes in a variety of colors (that bright green for a Baylor graduate, or yellow because you know it's your BFF's favorite or go for RED in honor of love) and can be monogrammed. Free gift wrap too. Thanks, Mark & Graham.

4. Kleen Kanteen Metal Straws :: These just make so much sense. Show some love for your peeps and for Mother Earth with one easy change. My kiddos got these for Christmas and use them daily. The silicone tip avoids having your teeth hit the metal and comes with a handy brush cleaner. Pucker up and under $10. Done.

LASTING :: These are items your recipient will have for years and years. Side note, don't equate expensive with a great gift, you still need to be thoughtful and aware of your recipient's wants. There are some really not cute items out there for big bucks. I'm looking at you, Balenciaga.

5. Jon Hart Coachman Bag :: I can attest to the durability of Jon Hart's pieces after dragging one of their backpacks across all 40 Acres at the University of Texas for four years. You can score some smaller, equally useful items for around $50 too. Makeup pouches, shave kits, and wallets. Always add the monogram and you have an item that hits three of my themes: useful, lasting and personal (we're getting there).

6. CharmCo Charm Bracelet :: This one works for so many reasons and for so many people - moms, sisters, wives, daughters, friends. AND you have a built in go-to gift for many occasions. Start someone off with the bracelet and one charm and continue adding with each special event or birthday. Lots of quality and charming places to choose from when finding your perfect bracelet: CHARMCO, James Avery, Kendra Scott, and Tiffany & Co..

7. Tiffany Paper Cups :: These were on my list to Santa two years ago and they are still a winner. Fancy, but quirky. Bone china made to look like paper cups for your coffee, tea or hot cocoa, which is my personal preference. They are a set of 2 and come impeccably packaged to surprise and delight.

PERSONAL :: Taking the extra step to monogram, embroider, hot stamp (ahem, Jon Hart) or find something so perfectly matched to someone goes a long way. Personalization can add a little additional time to the ordering window so you'll need to get moving on these ideas soon to avoid a rush.

8. Hook'em Horns Hand Statue :: A great item for a recent UT graduate or a well-seasoned alum. It's not the usual burnt orange and can work in an office or as home decor. It's basically how Austinites say "I love you." Hook'em and shop local by finding this gem in downtown Austin at Prize.

9. Barrington Monogram Baggage Handle Wrap :: I am over the moon for this item. It hits so many marks - useful, personal & novel. It's ideal for a jet setting traveler on your list. Toss that raggedy red ribbon you had tied to your checked tag and quickly spot this sleek wrap in it's place. There are literally 101 ways to personalize this item with patterns, colors, and monogram options. Many local gift shops will carry this brand too.

EXPERIENCE :: This gift theme makes my heart so happy. All the presents in the world cannot replace your presence and giving someone time with you or for themselves is priceless.

10. CRAFT Workshops :: Take your sweetie or galentines to a workshop offered at CRAFT in Austin from sewing to soap making to screen printing for a creative, learning experience. I surprised my hubby with a class in chocolate making for his birthday last year. We learned the process, created our own chocolates and sampled the most delicious bites from a master chocolatier.

11. Splatter Paint Family Night at Smudge Studios :: Celebrate love day with a family date night at Smudge. Even the most un-Picasso like person on your guest list can create an incredible piece of artwork and have a wild time too. Wrap up a couple of paint brushes for kiddos to unwrap and reveal the surprise.

Alright, now get out there and hug your people. Still not sure? Drop me a SWAK note and I'll handle the details for you. Just consider me Cupid's sidekick.