Holy moly … it’s December!
The Four Phases of Fall Décor are behind us and I’ve spent the week decorating for the holidays.
It’s Snowberry’s first Christmas!
With gift guides flying around the inter-webs, I’m jumping into the fray and sharing some of my favorite things. Let’s call them Snowberry Essentials. Not only are they essential to my life … they also make great gifts.
Before we get into all that, I’m floating on cloud nine after being featured on The Vintage Contessa’s Ageless Style blog series. La Contessa, aka Elizabeth, of The Vintage Contessa is one of my favorite bloggers. She’s also my blogging champion. In fact, she announced my blog debut on The Vintage Contessa last summer.
Our favorite Contessa and her blogging pal, Cindy Hattersley, host Ageless Style, a monthly blog series featuring interviews with stylish woman over 50. I’m not sure how I ended up in the mix, but let’s not question a good thing.
Anyhoo …. I’m shameless thrilled and can’t stop talking about it. I hope you’ll visit The Vintage Contessa to check it out. You’ll also enjoy her past Ageless Style posts and everyday musings, which I promise are unique and fabulous.
So, back to my Snowberry Essentials Gift Guide. The list is long, but I narrowed it down to 18 holiday gift ideas. Let me just say, I’m a very practical gift giver … so with that disclaimer, let’s go.
Milk Frother. I start my day with hot chocolate. In lieu of coffee. Caffeine makes me jittery. Over the years, I’ve searched in vain for an at-home milk frother. And then … along came the Breville Hot Cocoa & Milk Frother. It’s easy to operate and it works!
Sound Machine. Insomnia be gone. After reading that sound machines help you fall asleep and stay asleep, I bought Snooz’ portable. I love it and bought another for our guest room. We’ve only had one overnight guest since Covid … our niece. She travels with her own sound device – but forgot it (as well as her toothbrush) and was thrilled to find it in her room. Wish I’d known about these miracle devices sooner.
Mask Chains. What’s the fashion accessory of 2020? The mask, of course. I don’t know about you, but I frequently find myself halfway across a parking lot before realizing I left my mask in the car. Tani, from Beltini Santa Monica, identified this issue early on and introduced the mask chain. I was so excited to get mine. She also carries the best accessories including her signature belt bags. She’s a fun Instagram follow.
Ugg Socks. I have cold feet … not the pre-wedding jitters kind. Just cold feet. Thick, fuzzy socks are essential to my existence. It can be the hottest day of the year and I still wear socks to bed. My nieces accuse me of obsessively trying to get them to put socks on. Apparently, they don’t suffer from cold feet. I have a feeling when they see these cute Ugg Fleece Lined slipper socks they’ll have a change of heart. I got a pair from Stitch Fix; Anthropology carries them too.
Minnetonka Slipper. While we’re on the subject of cold feet, not only do I wear socks in the house, but slippers too. I consider them a house shoe. I love these Chesney Mule Slippers. For years I wore the Ugg version, but I think these are more comfortable and they’re less than half the price. I guess slippers are kind of a cliché gift, but everyone loves and needs them.
Ocho Candies. My sweet tooth craves a little chocolate something after lunch and dinner. Ocho minis are the perfect thing. They come in several flavor combinations, but the one I can’t live without is dark chocolate filled with coconut. They can be hard to find at grocery stores because they sell out. Ocho also sells direct. This is the perfect stocking stuffer for a chocolate lover.
Watering Cans. House plants are the bane of my existence. I wasn’t thrilled when they hit the comeback trail. This year I succumbed and added a couple small plants and a tree to Snowberry. I either over or under water. A cute watering can that doubles as décor is an in-plain-sight reminder to water (but not too much). I adore a classic copper can, but this sage can is pretty darned cute. It comes in lots of other colors too.
Trays. Can you ever have too many trays? No. This is an exception to my less-is-more décor philosophy. Not only are trays great for entertaining, but you can group three unrelated items on a tray and viola … a vignette! For those of us challenged in the area of styling, the tray is a godsend.
Here are some of my favorites.
Candles. I like to have a good supply of pillar candles, in several sizes, on hand. Real, unscented, pillar candles. Usually in ivory. I use flameless candles for my outside lanterns or in any situation when the candle is out of my sight. Restoration Hardware makes the best flameless candles in my opinion, along with a remote. I love tea lights in votives, and I go through a lot of them. And, let’s not forget the classic taper. I’m not sure this makes for an exciting gift … but it’s practical and everybody needs them.
Scented Candles. Truth. I’m not a huge fan, but there are exceptions. Anything with a little citrus, eucalyptus or Christmas can be amazing. I love to burn a scented candle while soaking in the tub. These are a few recent favorites.
La Vela soy candle … the Fig Rhubarb scent is amazing.
Red Leaf Home in Citrus & Neroli.
We Took to The Coast in Coastal Christmas.
Not only is the packaging gift-worthy, but their scents are subtle and divine.
Throw Blankets. Like trays, you can never have too many. Are you starting to doubt my dedication to less-is-more?
I have two kinds of throws … decorative and workhorse. My favorite decorative throws come from Serena & Lily. I drape them over chair and sofa arms as well as benches … as a finishing touch.
I just bought this cute plaid and faux fur throw for our front porch Christmas decor.
As for the workhouse variety, I use them to cover sofa and chair cushions as protection from dirty paws and shedding. When I notice Jim’s backside is covered in dog hair, I toss them in the washing machine. Earlier this year I bought multiple ivory throws from Target for this purpose.
Workhorse throws are also the ones we cozy up underneath. My all-time favorite cozy throw is Pottery Barn’s cable knit throw lined with fleece. So good.
No Snowberry gift guide would be complete without wine accessories.
Wine Glasses. Those spritzers don’t contain themselves. A couple of years ago we got rid of our long-stemmed wine glasses. They’re beautiful, but a pain in the you-know-what to wash and store. For every day, we use stemless wine glasses … Riedle ‘O’ glasses … they’re easily tossed in the dishwasher. We have the red wine and white wine versions because I’m not completely immune to wine snobbery. Good wine glasses are a welcome gift for young couples and I have a few in mind.
Wine Bottle Coaster. Water rings are never a good thing. I like to use wine bottle coasters … they get the job done and make things look a little fancier.
Wine opener. Gadgets to open wine are getting more elaborate and crazier. Why? I love the classic Laguiole waiter corkscrew. Another great gift for those setting up housekeeping.
Let’s not forget our four-legged family members.
Chinoiserie Pet Bowls. When we were building our Fidalgo Island house I ordered these adorable blue and white chinoiserie food and water bowls from Indigo Home Shop. They look just as good at Snowberry. I have one personalized for each dog and a plain water bowl. They come in other colors too.
Outside Water Bowls. I keep additional water bowls for the dogs in the front and back yards. After completing our landscape renovation, I ordered these Yeti water bowls. Yes, Yeti. The bowls are the best quality and don’t have those weird rubber rings at the bottom that fall out get icky. Okay, they’re a bit of splurge, but they’re sturdy, keep water cool, look really good. Pippa and Maggie are worth it!
Last but not least … books!
Books. Books are my favorite thing to give or receive. Coffee table books, cookbooks …book books. Here are a few favorites from this year and a couple oldies but goodies.
“Modern Comfort Food” by Ina Garten – Ina’s known for her uncomplicated, foolproof recipes. I have every single one of her cookbooks. She has perfect timing, because comfort food is exactly what everyone’s craving right now.
“More Beautiful” by Mark D. Sikes – who doesn’t appreciate the timeless designs of Mark Sikes. Nirvana for blue and white lovers.
“The House on First Street” by Julia Reed – I was devastated to hear of Julia’s passing. She led a fascinating life much of which she chronicled in countless essays and brilliant books. Her love of food, entertaining, travel and the peculiarities (and hilarities) of life in the South are legendary. Of all her books “The House on First Street” documenting the trials and tribulations of renovating an older home in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina is my absolute favorite.
“Cocktails” from William Sonoma. Our son and his fiancé gave me this book for my birthday. It fell open to a perfect holiday cocktail which I’ll be sharing a little later this month.
“Style & Simplicity” by Ted Kennedy Watson – when we lived in Washington, I visited Watson Kennedy ‘s two home shops as often as I could get into Seattle. His book became my go-to gift, but I’ve run out of people to give it to. It’s a classic.
“The Home Edit Life” by Clea Shearer & Joanna Teplin – the follow up to their best seller “A Guide to Organizing and Realizing Your House Goals” does not disappoint. Neither do their Instagram stories or Netflix series. What did we ever do without these two organization gurus?
And, because the best gifts come from our kitchen …
Mystery Chocolate Toffee. Every year I make a several batches of Mystery Chocolate Toffee … by popular demand. It’s a simple, delicious and fun holiday treat and it’s easy to package as a gift. Believe me, it will be very welcome.
Mystery Chocolate Toffee
- 22 Soda Crackers with unsalted tops
- 1/2 cup Butter
- 2/3 cup Packed Brown Sugar
- 12 oz Milk Chocolate Chips
- 3/4 cup Sliced Almonds
- Preheat oven to 375
- Line a 9x13 inch pan with foil, bring foil up sides
- Cover bottom of foil lined pan with one layer of crackers
- Melt butter, stir in brown sugar and bring to a boil. Let boil for one minute, stirring constantly
- Pour syrup over crackers, spread evenly and bake for 7 minutes
- Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Spread melting chocolate evenly
- Sprinkle almonds over chocolate and press into chocolate gently
- Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, until firm
- Lift from pan and break into chunks
I’m having so much fun decorating for the holidays! After five years living in flux with most of my things in storage … I went all out! Well, as all out as my less-is-more-in-seasonal-décor philosophy will allow. I can’t wait to share it with you throughout the month … Snowberry’s holiday-palooza!
First Ever Holiday Gift Guide
And, last but not least, my Christmas Morning Breakfast Table Setting
As always, I appreciate your visit and would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Cheers from Snowberry!
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Unless otherwise noted, all photos in the post are by Monica Vargas Photography.