Simple DIY Packaging

This year, I’m being super disciplined about gift shopping.  No more last minute scramble, thank you!  My favorite part of gift giving is the packaging itself.  Thoughtful packaging goes a long way in making the gift opening experience that much more special.  So over coffee, I searched around for some simple DIY ideas that won’t take too long or require too many supplies.  These little tricks will help your gift stand out under the tree!

Click on each image to see more details

For Small Knick Knacks
(you won’t believe what it’s made of!)

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Colorful Tags

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Polka Dots

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Pin It

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Skip the Paper

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The Ring That Started It All

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The first piece of jewelry that I ever made, using traditional lost wax casting technique, was this mountain ring.  Okay, maybe not this exact one (it took me awhile to get here!).  The design is inspired by possibly my favorite quote of all times:

“Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire…then when you’re no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn’t just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. This leaf has jagged edges. This rock looks loose…these are things you should notice anyway. To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here’s where things grow.”  – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I remember reading this and feeling overcome with a sense of lightness, like a heavy pack had been lifted off my shoulders.  In one simple analogy, it captured the kind of life that I want to lead.  I want to soak in and enjoy the little moments that make up my life.  I want to place emphasis on learning and growing and less on achieving.  And I want to have fun while doing it!

If you have a favorite quote, please do share!

A Ball of Yarn

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When I went home for Thanksgiving this year, my dad told me a fascinating story:

When he was just a baby, my grandmother saved up enough money and ration tickets (this was in Communist China) to buy a kilogram of virgin wool in a rich shade of maroon red.   Using this rare and fine material, she knit him a body suit that kept him warm in the cold winter.  When he outgrew it, it was taken apart, re-spun, boiled and ironed straight, to be knit into a bigger top.  And so this ritual continued, until he was 22 and it finally reincarnated as a sweater vest.

My dad has vivid memories of the transformations that this ball of yarn went through: feeling its wavy, ramen like texture when the sweater was taken apart; spinning the yarn around the four legs of an upturned chair; steeping it in boiled water; watching it straighten again under the steam of a hot iron; feeling the wears and tears that marked the passage of years…

Unfortunately somewhere along the line, that sweater vest was lost.  I wish I could see it today and feel its history in my fingers.  I find it so comforting that an object could truly be used to its fullest capacity, with not an ounce of waste.  I also feel hopeful, that I could live my life with less waste by consuming thoughtfully, taking good care of what I own, appreciating the beauty in their wear and tear, and making them a reflection of me.

{Photo by: Yokoo}

Gift Less but Gift More

That’s my motto for this holiday season.  I know that sounds somewhat contradictory.  What I mean by it is that I’d like to buy less “stuff” and focus on getting each person something that speaks to them, connects with their lifestyle and that will be treasured for a long time to come.  And there is no better place to look for this kind of story-telling products than on Etsy, where you can find a vast array of handmade and vintage goods by talented artists.

In the spirit of today being Small Business Saturday, I’ve curated a small selection of gift ideas for you to consider!  Just click on the image to read more details.

For the sleepyhead (Clare Elsaesser print, $20)

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For those with a love/hate relationship with plants (Waterstone Succulents sculpture, $40)

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For those who can’t stand the cold (Gift Shop Brooklyn cozy wrap, $48)

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For the hostess with the mostest (up in the air somewhere tray, $108)

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For the book lover who spends many hours on the couch (YearnforYarn, $130)

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For the ailurophile (Bitchknits holiday costume, $20)

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For the cutie pie (Homako hair clips, $22)

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For the world traveler (Vintage Child Shop leather backpack, $104)

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For the photography enthusiast (Gallivanting Girls vintage polaroid, $65)

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For the fashionista or francophile (Garance Dore Les Femmes calendar, $26)

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For the optimist (Kerrie Yeung Jewelry positive bangle, $129)

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Shop Small

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Have you heard of Small Business Saturday?  It’s a special day wedged between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  The goal is to support shopping with small businesses in your local neighborhood.  You know, the cozy boutiques, cute cafes, fantastic restaurants that make your neighborhood a beautiful place to live.   Or the local artisans whose labor of love stock the stores around you.  If you’re planning to get an early start to holiday shopping, please keep in mind all your local small businesses!

For the New Yorkers out there, here are some markets & fairs, where you can shop local artisans:

Artists & Fleas (Chelsea Market, Williamsburg): 
http://www.artistsandfleas.com
Astoria Holiday Market: http://www.astoriamarket.com
Brooklyn Pop-Up Holiday Market: http://www.brooklynpopupmarket.com
Etsy Holiday Handmade Cavalcade: http://www.handmadecavalcade.com
Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar: http://brooklynholidaybazaar.com

Happy Shopping!
{Photo by: Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar}