Bee Holiday Hacks – My Go-To Gift

I’m going to fill you in on another little secret of mine, it’s the gift I give every year… and sometimes even to the same people! But trust me, it’s anything from lazy, unoriginal or impersonal.  My go-to gift is ornaments! Growing up, every year we would get an ornament before the holiday – my brother collected the Puppy Love series from Hallmark, and I was usually a mix-match but usually went for the Barbie series from Hallmark.  Regardless, every year unboxing the ornaments and carefully finding a place for them on the tree is one of my favorite parts of the holidays, so I like giving that gift to others as well.
Holiday Hack - Ornaments - bee life blogOrnaments hold special memories, can mark significant moments or important dates, places traveled or a moment in time.  From an engagement, wedding, anniversary, to a lost pet or a new house our lives are captured into sweet little keepsakes to trim our Christmas tree year after year.

How I Make My Ornaments: I like to switch up my base for my ornaments whether it’s a large clear glass globe, wooden circular ornament (I used real wood we cut), shaped wooden ornament, or a round plaster ornament.  From there I like to search my nearest and dearest friends social accounts and find a few perfect pictures from the year that could easily be translated onto an ornament and make copies at a print-in-seconds Kodak machine.  Mod Podge is my best friend when it comes to putting these photos onto the wooden ornaments or ceramic.   I’ll add gold glitter around the edges so you can’t see where the picture doesn’t overlap – most important part is adding the year!   With my wooden ornaments I drill a whole so the ribbon can string through to be hung.  For glass globes, I’ll fill with glitter or sequins, or even ribbon or string and write on the outside – from fun hashtags, to new homes addresses, these are classic ornaments that are so simple and fun and make a big statement.
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Creating special ornaments of friends kids or dogs, special events, or anniversaries – I use stickers, gold markers and fun ribbon to add the finishing touches to these unique ornaments year after year, and my favorite part of all of it all is seeing these ornaments on our friends trees each year.   On top of making ornaments I do love shopping Hallmark’s ornaments each year and finding fun keepsakes for my family or even for B and I to hang on our tree.

What’s your favorite ornament?

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Bee Holiday Hacks – Gifts on a Budget

Bee Holiday Hacks are back! And this is a fun one I am excited to share with all of you. One thing about the holidays that both B and I absolutely LOVE is to spoil and go over the top for presents, especially with each other. But there have been years,  that major life events happen like a new job,  buying a house, or getting married… so money hasn’t always flowed as much as we like and we need to budget, AKA reality.
Bee Holiday Hacks - Gift Giving - the bee lifeSo in years past we try to limit each other, and set expectations ahead of time. But how you may ask? Here are some hacks for saving cash while still spoiling your loved one and having a meaningful Christmas!

Talk about it. First things, first. You need to be on the same page with your people or person. Set the expectation that this Christmas isn’t going to be as extravagant as past Christmas’ and ask that they respect and reciprocate.  This goes with family too, I’m sure everyone would like to feel a little less pressure around the holidays especially financially.

Pick Gift Themes.  So this past Christmas B and I picked 5-categories of gifts that we each had to get for each other. One of them could be on the higher end, but the other ones had to be modestly priced.  Here were our categories (1) An Experience (2) Something for the House (3) An Inside Joke (4) A DIY (5) Something for the Wedding.  I bought half-marathon race registration for our experience, and B got us tickets for a sushi making class. For the DIY, B attempted to make me a sofa table and also made cookie trays – while I ended up making B do is own DIY for our laundry room, haha! It was really fun to see what each of us came up with, and had fun doing it and stories to share with each other after the fact.

Stocking Price Limit. I love stockings – but these can get a bit out of hand as well. So we put a price limit on these too; i.e. $50 or 10 gifts under $10. Again this is something you could put categories too or mini-checklists!

White Elephant. When it comes to the <extended> family; don’t be afraid to suggest a white elephant exchange OR the exact opposite, don’t be afraid to opt out of the family exchange.  We used to do a cousin exchange but as we’ve gotten older and schedules get jumbled we now just do a family wide white-elephant, totally optional, totally fun and no pressure!

We need to remember it’s OK to slow down, and take a back seat every once in a while, the great thing about Christmas is that it happens every year. Oh! And it’s not all about the gifts.

Photo Source: Extra Petite 

The Truth: Weddings & Registries

It’s that time of the year again, wedding season! And with every wedding season, comes the cycle of bridal showers, multiple registries to review, and the actual wedding gift…  As a bride-to-be this upcoming fall, and a guest to four-weddings before then, I feel your pain! But here are answers that will help ease some of those questions and help you conquer all your gifts with success this wedding season!
Weddings &amp; Registries Guide - the bee life
The Gift. If you’re like me, you’re often conflicted with wanting to give the couple something unique and not on the registry.  But I’ve also heard from many past brides/friends say; “I just want the stuff off my registry!” I always thought buying off the registry was boring! But, news flash, it’s not about you or me!

Ultimately it comes down to knowing the bride/couple.  Will they like something specific and personalized if you stray from the registry? Or are they picky and have a specific style, so it’s best to just buy off the registry?  When in doubt, buy off the registry.

Money. Yes, it is tacky to talk about money, but it’s a topic many people struggle with, myself included! How much is enough? Especially if you’re attending four or more weddings in one year!  So I did a little research, and asked my friends and fellow brides-to-be. The consensus for a bridal shower gift was around $50. Although, there is an exception if you’re in the wedding party/close family friend.

Okay, so now how much for the wedding? The going response was basically covering the cost per person/per plate. As you can imagine, this could vary depending on the city, venue, type of food, but a low, but safe baseline is about $50 per person. So between you and your hot date, grand total/minimum of $100. But again, this all depends if you’re in the wedding party, family, or simply just a guest!

The Wedding. So back to that $100 for the wedding gift.  Do you just write a fat check? Or do you head back to that registry for more goodies?  Well consider this; a box of envelopes is much easier to transport after the wedding for whoever gets stuck with gift duty vs. 50+ different sized presents. Also, logistically as the guest, lugging around a gift during the ceremony and cocktail hour might not be the most enjoyable! The couple will most likely buy items they didn’t get off their registry (with a discount) with that cash anyways. So when it comes to the wedding, stick with cash/check.

Before I dived into all my registries, I jokingly talked about creating an online fund for our kitchen remodel! But I found something better, Zola Registry! Zola is a one stop shop for planning the big day, registering for your standard gifts from a number of known/unique brands, but also allowing couples to register for experiences, trips, and personalized cash funds for a kitchen remodel or honeymoon!

As a bride-to-be that has spent many hours searching for the perfect pieces, I’m learning a new found respect for gifting off registries and knowing when it’s okay to just gift with cash.

Happy Wedding Season!

Baby Shower: Gift Guide

Sooo I don’t know about you, but there are a lot of babies coming into my 2017 world. Like a lot. And now that more friends are starting to have babies, I’ve started to think of more ways to give a special gift beyond the registry.
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Sources: Woodland Prints | Made in Cleveland Onesie | Tiffany’s Piggy Bank

Here are some different ideas to get you inspired to share the love and excitement for a sweet miracle coming into this world!

Nursery Decor: Figure out the theme for the babe’s new crib and find some wall art, clock or decor that’ll fit the space. A friend of mine is going for a woodland theme, so these watercolor animals from Society 6 are the perfect addition!

Local Onesie: This will be the perfect addition to this little ones new wardrobe and first clothes! Check Etsy if you don’t know any near you.

College Fund: If this is a close family member or friend, it might be great to go-in with some other family members and open up a college fund or get some savings bonds for the little one. Having this be an option for upcoming birthdays and holidays will not only help you but other family and friends in the future!

Of course buying a ton of adorable clothes, stuffed animals and cute little shoes, never gets old, but it’s fun to get more personalized, unique pieces that can make a personal touch to the space.

Gift Guide – Father’s Day

It’s less than a week away from Father’s Day! Here are some ideas in case you can’t think of something different or unique this year for your dad.Dad

  1. Booze – If you’re dad is like mine, he like’s a good scotch or whiskey.  Now is the time to indulge and buy something a little more expensive for him to enjoy! If you don’t live near your dad (but will be seeing him soon) you could also plan a sampler pack of local favorites near you. My dad is particularly fond of a whiskey made in Cleveland – so he wouldn’t be sad if I bought a few for his bar!
  2. Beer/Scotch Tasting – Part 2 of gift number one would, could be to plan a weekend trip to a favorite brewery and partake in the tasting festivities. Of course, you’ll pick up the check! It’s a fun way to enjoy one of Dad’s favs and create fun memories.
  3. Golf – Plan an outing or buy Dad lessons! To make this even more personal, make a golf gift basket filled with a new outfit, a sleeve of balls, new golf gloves, a new towel to get him looking snazzy this Father’s Day while he’s hitting the links.
  4. Manual Labor – Since my dad is always helping us around our house whenever he is in town, it’s time to offer up an opposite treat and give him a weekend pass to use our services to help get some projects done around his house! I am sure this would be a welcomed treat (not to mention, would make mom happy too!)
  5. Get Crafty – Think about something that your dad has been wanting or needing; and make it! Some ideas; a custom bottle opener (perfect for my Dad’s new garage), a decorative tie rack, or a fun piece for grill accessories!

Father’s day is this upcoming Sunday, June 19th – don’t forget to get Dad a card too!

5 Unique Wedding Gifts

With wedding season quickly here, I wanted to share some unique gift ideas for the bride and groom.  If you’re like me and in the wedding party, you seem to bring gifts to every occasion you go to, so coming up with fresh, unique ideas without just buying off the registry can get hard after awhile. Wedding Gift Guide - the bee lifeAlso to clarify; these gifts could be for any of the many wedding festivities from the bridal shower, bachelorette/bachelor parties, rehearsal and day of the wedding.

Make Something. Find a local shop/studios were you can create and make you’re own ceramic pieces, whether it be from scratch or painting a pre-made piece. My future MIL, owns a studio (Studio Clay) where you can create plates, bowls, dishes, ornaments, figurines… you name it, out of clay.  Visiting a place like this, not only gives you a fun experience but also allows you to create an original piece for the couple.

Remember Memories. You may need to get a little creative for this one, but this will help the couple remember all their memories, especially as they start their journey as husband and wife. You can make the couple a custom jar (decoupage), a box, or basket with instructions for the couple to fill it with love notes or memories throughout the year. Then on New Year’s Day each year, instruct the couple to take turns and read them to each other reflecting over the year. This is low cost, genuine and something the couple can use year after year.

The Honeymoon. Think about the honeymoon, especially if your in the bridal party, buy some special necessities or gear for the bride and groom. Whether it be matching swim suits, sunglasses, or even a honeymoon survival kit with sunscreen, condoms (or not!), lingerie, lip balm… you name it. Or just focus on the bride, a cute carry-on, new make-up bag or even a fun purse she can rock.  Just think of things that they couple may not be thinking of, but want/need!

Pitch-In. If you know the couple is saving up for a house, or big home renovation, find some family and friends to help pitch-in on a fund for their future projects as they start their life together. When you tie a meaning to the money, it can add that much sentiment and use for the couple. To make it a little more personal, accompany the money with a gift or trinket, like a toaster (if the couple desperately wants a new kitchen).

Photo Gifts. Here is a little plug for Shutterfly, simply because I just love them.  They’ve expanded their offerings immensely, you can customize table runners, candles, ornaments, mugs, pillows, blankets… shall I go on?  Use pictures from the couples engagement session to help customize these pieces for a unique and special gift for the Mr. + Mrs. (Not to mention there are always a few good promos going on to take advantage of!)

I think it’s easy to get lazy and just buy the couple a gift card or something off the registry (guilty), especially when you have multiple weddings to attend in one year, but going the little extra step will not only create something memorable for the bride and groom, but will also remind them of the special time you took for them.

Cheers to Wedding Season!

Gift Guide – Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is May 8th!

If you’re like me, I have a few different “moms” in my life, of course no one takes the cake over my actual mom, Sal, but they are near and dear to my heart. So every Mother’s Day I like to try and give them something different and unique each year, but without going completely overboard – because, let’s face it, I usually do that for my mom. Oh and as much as I love these moms, it’s always usually last minute, (oops!), so hopefully we change that this year, I just looked at the calendar and said, oh crap! It’s almost a week away!
A Gift Guide to Mother's Day! - the bee life
Flowers – Don’t get me wrong I am a huge advocate of flowers, however not your traditional bouquet, I prefer to give an actual plant or tulip bulbs that can be planted after the fact and will return year after year.

Framed Photo – This can be an easy and inexpensive, but still meaningful gift. Framing a picture of you with your mom (recent or old) or even an old photo of your grandma, can be very sentimental.  You can find a number of inexpensive frames at various stores, and make a copy or have an image printed in minutes at a number of stores, like Target, for pennies and cents.

Cards Always. No matter what gift you give, ALWAYS give a card, hand making one can make it that much more personal, but ALWAYS have a card. And go stock-up now, because if you’re last minute like me, they will be picked over when you actually need one.

Treat Yo Mom – I don’t know about your mom(s), but mine rarely treats herself, and if she does it’s not the best or often.  So providing her with a spa day or certificate to use for a mani/pedi, massage, or facial will most likely be a treat for her! Last year we were able to make a trip out of it, which was that much more fun! If you do try and make a trip out of it, be sure you make that clear when scheduling appointments so they can arrange services in line with each other.

Something She Wouldn’t Buy – Similar to the Spa/Nails, I like to try and get my mom something she wouldn’t normally buy herself. A more expensive top, a decorative piece for the house, kitchen appliances, a fancy purse… you get the drift.

Handcrafted – I’ve been big into DIY’s, especially reusing old wood from our house projects (I’m sure I sound like a broken record).  So making some handcrafted, custom signs that can be put up around the house is on my list this year. Of course if you have a particular craft or DIY you’ve been dying to try, do it for this Mother’s Day! I just pinned this adorable hand painted flower pot that would be perfect to pair with some flowers.

I’ve gotten to a point in my life, that I can give gifts and show my love and thanks to these special women in my life like I would like too… in college or even younger when money was a bit tight, I had to be clever and creative to give back, I still like being creative and unique with my gifts, but now I can just think a little more outside of the box!

What’re your favorite go-to gifts for Mother’s Day?