All posts tagged: shopping

Why costume jewellery is a better gift

We’ve been told over and over again that precious jewellery is timeless – it doesn’t lose value (or sometimes even goes up!), it never really goes out of fashion, and it can be worn for years and even be passed on to the next generation. The debate is somewhat flawed, in my opinion, as it misses one very important point – to qualify for all of the above, the jewellery has to be VERY expensive, from high-end brands and made with rare flawless stones. Does it sound like something you can afford? For those of you not in the top 1% (if you are, send me an email, I’d like to know how you’ve even found me!), read on. I am a big advocate of getting the most out of your gifting budget, even if it means redefining what you are after. So, if you’d like to get someone a piece of jewellery and you have a £400 upper limit, in the precious jewellery category you will likely get something very mediocre. Just look at …

Easy summer gifts: Holiday beauty

Holidays!!! If you don’t get excited by the prospect of spending some quality time on the beach (or whatever it is that you love doing during breaks!), you must be either a workaholic, or already living on an idyllic island somewhere in the Caribbean 🙂 I like giving holiday-inspired gifts. It’s a great theme to follow for all sorts of occasions, from birthdays to ‘thank you’ presents and even weddings (I once made a beauty hamper for a bride before the honeymoon…let’s just say she was very grateful, as with all of the wedding prep, she didn’t have time to pack properly). This one was a “Hi, haven’t seen you for ages!” type of gift, as one of my dearest friends has been working abroad for a while. She is shortly going for a well-deserved week off somewhere in Spain, so I’ve given her a few things to make holiday grooming a bit more fun. As you may know, I’m a huge fan of Tangle Teezer, and I’ve been supplying everyone with them (voluntary and …

Beautiful baby gifts: Chloe dress

You’ll see more and more of these posts from now on – my close friends have started having babies 🙂 It’s a very strange feeling: you still remember sharing your first alcohol together and talking about boys, and all of a sudden (or fast-forward 10 years…where does the time go?) they are mums! But hey, some of you will find these articles useful, so I’ll carry on sharing my baby gift tips until you start leaving comments like “Please, stop” (don’t do it, please!). I think this little dress from Chloe is simply stunning – not too girly, very tasteful and a little bit British thanks to the collaboration with Liberty of London. For those not familiar with Liberty, it’s a department store that’s synonymous with beautiful patterns and fabrics. Each season they collaborate with a designer to produce a special collection, this summer it’s Uniqlo. Check it out. The Chloe dress is from Yoox (unfortunately it’s now sold out, sorry),  an online shop that specialises in designer clothing and accessories from past collections. This means you …

Moleskine: nobody will ever say “no” to good stationery

Luxury stationery is definitely in revival. We spend so much time on our smartphones and desktop computers at work, that sometimes we simply want to handwrite. Just look at the evolution of Paperchase – they used to have sections for gadget accessories, which have now been replaced by old-school notebooks and fountain pens. And don’t even get me started on Smythson and Aspinal – I can spend hours browsing their leather-bound planners. So it’s no wonder that I’ve been spending more and more time figuring out the best stationery gifts. I think one of the universal crowdpleasers that is somewhere in between high-street and luxury is Moleskine. It’s an Italian brand at forefront of reviving the craftsmanship behind French paper notebooks of the 19th and 20th centuries that were used by such famous writers as Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway. In a way, Moleskine have created a successful business by showing us what experiences we’ve been missing in our always-connected lives. My boyfriend is the perfect illustration. He is a huge geek (in the best sense) …

Madrid: Where to go and what to bring back

It’s been a while since I had a destination review here. The last one was about Amsterdam (find it here) which many of you found useful (there are also gift guides about Paris, Marrakesh and Bali, if you have a bit of time). Today, I’m going to introduce Madrid with all its stunning architecture, culture and, of course, gifts to bring home. Places to visit Mercado de San Miguel (website) It’s featured in every recommendation/city guide I’ve read about Madrid, and it really is worth it. Head there for an early dinner – the typical dinner is after 9pm, but things do sell out fast there, especially sea food, so 7pm is better. The choice is limitless, so simply indulge. The portions are small enough to try quite a few things (well, we still ended up going there twice). My personal top recommendation would be oysters and champagne. Just opposite the oyster bar is a tiny stall where they serve vodka and caviar (insider tip: if you are Russian, they give you an extra shot). Real Jardín …

Origami bow: Having fun with gift wrapping

Most people dread gift wrapping. I get it – it’s much more fun selecting a gift than figuring out how to wrap it.  Took me a while to make my first decently-looking bow out of a silky ribbon that’s just not meant to stay in place (use two knots, not one), or to cut wrapping paper straight (there’s still no magic solution there!). But, it can be fun! If you have a bit of time (and if you like YouTube tutorials) – read on. This was my first attempt to create an origami paper bow. For that, I found some double sided wrapping paper (from Waterstones on Piccadilly, sadly they don’t sell it online) in funky summery colours, bright green and raspberry pink. You can happily use standard one-sided paper too, but having both sides gives you a bit more wiggle room to be creative. I didn’t take pictures of my progress (I was concentrating too hard on the task itself), but here’s the video that shows it perfectly step by step. For the extra …

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 ombré 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 £40 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 …