Author: About Ilona

V&A Museum Shop: Treats for your jewellery box

I have a peculiar relationship with my jewellery boxes. There is a small leather box on my bedside table for things I wear daily, like diamond studs and a few pendants. But then I own a “secret” (and rather large!) brightly-coloured wooden box, hidden in my wardrobe, dedicated to different pieces I purchased during my travels or while out and about in London. I open it from time to time to simply relive those happy moments. And despite not wearing these “secret” jewels very often, I like looking at them and knowing they belong to me 🙂 My girlfriends also have similar hidden treasure boxes, so I’m not alone – I remember spending entire evenings dressing up together and sharing stories about our possessions during our teenage years (well, back then those were mostly plastic bracelets and an occasional silver necklace from grandparents). The one place I come back over and over again to get inspired and buy something new for my collection and as gifts for my girls is Victoria & Albert Museum. Known …

How I got my gift wrapped by Jane Means

Last week Paperchase organised a gifting event at their flagship store in London – free Valentine’s Day gift wrapping by Jane Means. In case you don’t know, she’s one of the most prominent trend setters in the gifting world, and has wrapped presents for the Royal family and countless celebrities. Her journey in gifting began 20 years ago, designing cards and wedding stationery. Fast-forward two decades of hard work,  and she now manages her own line of wrapping accessories (think luxurious ribbons, tissue paper and boxes), regularly presents on television, travels around the world for masterclasses and has even written a book titled “Giftwrapped”. Here are a few things I learnt from her that day: 1. Get a decent pair of scissors Cutting paper and especially silk ribbons is an unrewarding experience if you don’t own a decent pair of scissors. Now that I wrap my gifts more regularly – and most importantly share it with you – I think it’s time for an upgrade. Jane recommended these Scotch titanium scissors which apparently are up …

Valentine’s gift ideas: Classics with a twist

I will probably surprise you here a bit – I don’t actually mind Valentine’s. Yes, it’s overly commercial (like every other holiday), a bit pretentious and sometimes awkward, as brilliantly summarised by Debrett’s. But hey, it’s there, and it’s big, so avoiding it all together seems as much of a statement as embracing it, and I’m always an advocate of embracing everything that makes people happier. With us girls, it’s such simple things as flowers and chocolates (which we’d take any day, if given the opportunity!) that have the power to make us feel wonderful. What I am going to advocate here is to approach this celebration with a small dose of creativity – it’s silly to deny that something can beat flowers and sweets. What you can do, however, is to go for gifts beyond red roses and chocolate truffles. Flowers I like roses. I really do. But red roses won’t impress your woman (unless it’s a 1,000 of them, but that’s more of a shock, really). Instead, go for trendy ombrĂ© roses, like …

Underwear for Valentine’s: Your man deserves an upgrade too

I see this post as my humble attempt to bring equality to gifting. It’s very common to see all sorts of promotions for female underwear around Valentine’s Day. Men spend hundreds of pounds on bras, babydolls and stockings, inspiring their women to embrace this overhyped romantic holiday. I think it’s about time we treat our men too. You can get fantastic male underwear from such established designers as Versace and Hugo Boss for a fraction of what women’s items from the same brands would cost. That’s because this market is not as developed as luxury lingerie – after all, very few sane men would splash out ÂŁ40 on a pair of boxers. It’s simply not fair we get to look and feel fabulous every year without allowing our boyfriends and husbands to parade in front of the mirror in shiny new trunks. Let’s change that! Head to Mr Porter or Harvey Nichols for a selection of premium quality underwear that will make your man feel desired too. Obviously there are other websites that sell fancy …

Avoid: The most obscure gifts out there

I try to keep my blog a source of joy and inspiration, encouraging people to embrace gifting in all its shapes and forms, from budget presents under a fiver to high-end designer items. But I just have to share the other side of gifting with you – the greedy merchants from gift shops who want to flog horrendous stuff. My local shopping centre has just rented an empty spot to a store called Petals: For Gift Lovers – promising, right? I walked straight in, curious and a bit excited to see what’s inside. This truly was the first time I saw so much tacky stuff together in one space! Just take a look at these 🙂 Duo of drinking glasses: one for beer and one for wine. I suppose it’s meant to be a Valentine’s gift. Even as a prank this is seriously cringeworthy. Take the cheapest glasses you can find, put a rude sticker on top (don’t bother to make it straight) and voilĂ  – ready to be sold to someone with obvious humour issues. “Grumpy old …

A great gift for all uni graduates

January/February is the time when final year students at universities start to seriously think about what to do when they’re “out”. It used to be so much more relaxed, but for the past couple of years the best grad schemes and interships have had very strict application deadlines early in the year. Which means right now is the time to sit down and figure out what’s next, in the “real world”. I’d say if you have a friend or a relative who is about to graduate, this book can do a lot of good. I read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg in 2013, a few weeks after it came out. I was just starting out in Marketing , and I needed something to reassure me that I didn’t have to get it right from Day 1 (the pressure many of us felt). And it’s not just the lives of a few lucky readers this book has had impact on. Three years in, and there’s a global movement that changes company policies and inspires lawmakers across the …

“Tiny drone, giant power”? Agreed!

The description of this fun toy on the Red5 website is quite a statement – “TINY DRONE. GIANT POWER.”. For something costing under ÂŁ30, that’s a lot attitude. But hey, it’s actually true, you can take my word for it. During one of my latest gift hunts, I was seriously lacking inspiration (it happens to me ever so often) – “What do I get a 9-year old boy?!”. You see, I’m completely detached from their world of mobile games and swimming lessons, so I really struggle to relate. One good place that seems to always work for me is Selfridges on Oxford Street in London. There’s always something happening: new brands to discover, fancy sweets to taste and promising face creams to sample. Resisting the temptation of their beauty hall, I headed straight downstairs to the Red5 stall, which claims to be “the ultimate gadget shop” (they really aren’t modest, are they!). Packed with quirky stuff, from Minion toys to army watches, there are tons of ideas for everyone who loves technology. I almost got these …

Jewellery gifts: Who says pearls are old-fashioned?!

Pearls have a reputation for being old-fashioned (if not dated), with many magazines that target older women praising chunky pearl necklaces for their ability “to bring light to the face”  (is there any truth in this?). Which is why I was so pleasantly surprised when I came across trendy and inexpensive pearl jewellery from Jersey Pearl whilst gift hunting for my closest girlfriends. Now, what do you need from a piece of jewellery to become a great gift? First and foremost, it has to match the age of the receiver or be slightly younger in style. A perfect illustration would be Swarovski jewellery: quite acceptable for a 16-year old, but don’t attempt to give it to anyone past 30. It will look ridiculously cheap and out of place. Miranda Kerr can just about pull it off because of her dimples 🙂 Another factor is price,  which again is indirectly linked to age. A young woman wearing a massive diamond can be perceived as vulgar, whilst larger, more precious jewellery on a mature woman can tastefully …

How to choose a gift for stationery lovers

Maybe my view is slightly skewed (I work with a lot of creative people) but the world is full of stationery lovers. How do you know when someone is obsessed with stationery? Here are some definite signs: They collect every free pen at events, and then debate with you on its durability and quality of ink They have a secret stash of notepads, many unopened or with just a few pages written in them (just before the next “perfect” notepad arrives) They prefer handwritten diaries and planners over smartphone reminders And they subscribe to  Moleskine and Smythson sales alerts  🙂 (Please note: This description is full of love towards all my stationery-loving friends, so don’t take any offence if you score 4 out of 4!) Anyway, I’m off topic again… Once you know you’re indeed dealing with a stationery fan, there are a few fairly simple rules you can follow to “delight and surprise”. For example, try to go for trendy patterns versus plain colours (unless it’s a very expensive leather organiser). Stationery fashion rarely …

My favourite traditional Christmas decorations

Every year I stock up on small inexpensive gifts to give out to friends, colleagues and neighbours in the run up to Christmas. It saves a lot of time and effort compared to picking something urgently on the day, when you’re invited to a party and there are no decent shops nearby to buy a gift. This year my theme is porcelain decorations, as they bring a bit of traditional Christmas spirit that plastic tree toys can never achieve. Villeroy & Boch, a 260-year old German brand, does a stellar job at designing quality ceramic decorations at a reasonable price, so I thoroughly recommend you check out their website and pick a few items from their festive collections (it’s also about 30% off now!). Just to get you going, here are a few of my favourites: Cupcake tree decoration Star-shaped table lantern Advent wreath candle holder Check out their Christmas shop for inspiration and gift ideas. They deliver pretty quickly, so you still have time before Christmas. And don’t forget to gift wrap  – all Villeroy & …