Tag Archives: picture frames

Thoughtful, Last Minute, Holiday Hostess Gifts..

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about……more thoughtful, last minute hostess gifts! It’s always a gift to be invited into someone’s home, but it is a particularly special treat this time of year when we’re all so busy. The best way to say thank you is with a small token of appreciation. It’s not necessary to give a great big extravagant gift. No, a thoughtful and meaningful gesture is much more appropriate and touching.

Boys will be boys, with absolutely no sense of urgency or need to accurately communicate their plans. Saturday morning, my Nick announced that he had just gotten a text from one of his hockey teammates informing him that they decided to have an impromptu game film review at the home of one of the boys in the afternoon. Wow! There is nothing like having 17, incessantly hungry, teenage boys (and their darling girl goalie) descend upon you at the very last minute. One boy could eat you out of house and home, much less a Varsity Hockey Team! Had I only known, I would have whipped up a homemade tray of cookies or brownies. On such short notice, cookies from the grocery store bakery department would have to do. Besides, as quickly as boys inhale snacks, I’m not sure they fully appreciate treats made with tender loving care anyway.


I made a quick trip to the grocery store for star shaped sugar cookies with red and green sprinkles. Last minute can still be festive! Next on my list was a fast Target run so I could pick up a little holiday platter. There is no reason to burden your hostess with the task of digging out a serving piece as she has guests descending upon her. You know my mantra is more of everything is always better, which includes festive, decorative ribbon. I have boxes of spools of ribbon for every conceivable occasion (I stock up at the worlds greatest stock up store; CostCo. They sell spool after spool of seasonal wire ribbon, which is amazing. The perfect ribbon is one of those small details that transforms your gift presentation from nice to spectacular. It even makes an ordinary item, like store bought cookies, a showpiece.). All wrapped together, the cookies and the platter, made for a lovely presentation. One Nick was completely embarrassed to bring into the game review get together. I knew I had done my job.

Another one of my favorite, quick and inexpensive, personalized hostess gifts is a serving piece, showcasing hand-dipped chocolate covered pretzels embellished with festive sprinkles.  This is sooooo easy. All you need is a bag of pretzel rods, 2 bags of chocolate chips (I prefer milk chocolate) and decorative sprinkles. I stock pile clear, flat plastic gift bags, which can be found at craft stores, party supply stores like Party City, or even Target. They are perfect for individual servings of chocolate covered pretzels and are great for showcasing gift cards as gifts. For the gift card, stuff the bottom of the bag with either crinkly shredded paper filling, or small candies (like M n M’s or Hershey’s Kisses). Tie a ribbon around the bag at the top and you have a charming gift presentation.


Chocolate Covered Pretzels


Chocolate Covered Pretzels in Clear Gift Bag Sleeves


Platter for the hostess, treats for the kids....

To make the pretzels, line a baking sheet or two with wax paper. In a deep microwave safe bowl, melt a bag of chocolate in the microwave for 1 ½-2 minutes. You’ll want to watch it so the chocolate is creamy and smooth, not over cooked and burnt. There is a very fine line. Stir until smooth. Dip a pretzel rod in the chocolate, using a spoon to drizzle the chocolate evenly over the rod. Over another bowl, shake sprinkles over the pretzel rod, turning until the rod is festive enough for your taste. Line the chocolate covered rods on the baking sheet, making sure they are not touching. Melt more chocolate as necessary. Put the baking sheet in the refrigerator until the chocolate sets.

I like to make up a gift bag of chocolate covered pretzels for each individual child in the home. College students totally count. Anywhere between 4-6 pretzel rods make for a nice treat. I tie each bag off with a gift card and a ribbon for each child. Using double-sided tape, I secure the bag to a serving piece that I have selected for my hostess. The tape prevents the bags from sliding around all over the place, and makes for a much more orderly and neat presentation. I then wrap the whole platter with ribbon from my treasure trove of decorative ribbon, making a gorgeous and sumptuous presentation.

Ornament embellished gift bag and picture frame with message of gratitude.....


Always a sucker for photographs of family and friends, I think that picture frames make a delightful gift. You’ll never go wrong with a classic and elegant silver frame. If you don’t have a picture to accompany the frame, insert a note of thanks behind the glass until you do. How easy is it to format the page size of a Word Document to the same size as the photo intended for the frame and type in a message expressing your appreciation for your host’s hospitality? Coordinate the ink to the ribbon you’ll be using to wrap it up and you’ll have a beautiful gift. To sweeten the deal, if you have an opportunity to snap a photo at the get together, print one to size and send it with a thank you note after the party is over. It will serve as a fond reminder of a great celebration.  

For friends that can’t possibly pack one more thing into their home, a CD is a great gift. Classic Christmas tunes or recording from a favorite performer or movie soundtrack is a thoughtful and personal gift. Slide the CD into a small gift bag, tying an ornament to the handle with pretty ribbon and note. The ornament could relate to the music, the particular event, or the interests of your hosts.

More thoughtful gifts, more entertaining, more celebrations…..


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Filed under Hostess Gifts, More is More Mom, Personal Style

Making My List And Checking It Twice….Gift Giving!

As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about……more Christmas shopping around town with the ladies! I made my list and checked it twice (some of the items were even gifts for people other than myself), and I am well aware of who was naughty and nice! To make the gift giving experience more festive and fun, my girlfriends and I headed to downtown Glen Ellyn for Ladies Night Out, on our quest for thoughtful and unique gifts for the holidays.


Sure, anyone can wrap up a gift card or a bottle of wine, but that’s just so ba-hum-bug boring. Good gift giving is an art form. Good gift giving reduces the potential of re-gifting. Good gift giving makes the recipient feel special and warm and happy and satisfied. Good gift giving requires hours of in-the-trenches-research. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it…….

Everybody appreciates a thoughtful and personal gift. It doesn’t take much effort to pay attention to the desires and dislikes of your family and friends. The most important element of the gift giving process is the consideration and the spirit in which a gift is chosen.

Ladies, little’s and teens are pretty easy to shop for. We love baubles that sparkle and shine; be they jewelry, handbags, accessories or tasteful items for our homes.


apothecary jars filled with ornaments


floral arrangement

glass, handblown ornaments

snowman figurines and lanterns

P.S. Flowers on Hillside has some of the most lovely home décor items around town. I was so inspired by the gorgeous floral arrangements! Keep in mind that you don’t need an enormous statement piece to add important detail. What makes a house a home is the layers and layers of beautiful and personal touches. A spray of greenery embellished with gorgeous ribbon finds a home on a lantern, a picture frame, a banister or anywhere else you can possibly envision. Candles, a simple bowl full of ornaments, picture frames, urns filled with natural elements, and petite apothecary jars with pretty little baubles that define the season are only a few elegant touches that would make lovely gifts for the important people in your lives.

serving pieces


decorative serving pieces

The AliKat Boutique has some of the most luscious personal items! Unless you know someone extremely well (or are willing to invest in diamonds), jewelry can be a bit intimate, but there are so many other possibilities. Whether we’re throwing a party, or simply serving our own little families, why not consider whimsical and festive serving pieces? These are items we should be using everyday to make our home lives a little bit more special.






doggie treats

Heavenly scented candles and infusers are a lovely gift. They can be incorporated in an Entryway, a Family Room, a Kitchen, a Powder Room. Anywhere! Of course there are a variety of soaps and lotions for use in the Kitchen, the Powder Room or to pamper yourself. Every girl likes a pretty hand bag, make up bag or jewelry roll. We don’t need just one; we need one for every occasion!



I love Christmas and cherish every ornament I lovingly hang from my many trees. One the best parts of Christmas is carefully unwrapping each ornament or decorative piece and reflecting upon the memory behind it. Are you gagging or weeping yet? Anyway, speaking of sentimental, if you have a dog lover on your list, there isn’t an owner in the world that wouldn’t appreciate a gift for their best pooch!


Vera Bradley


Mud Pie



Paisley on Main may be small, but they are mighty! It’s the place to go for the Vera Bradley lover in your life. Plus, Vera now carries skull caps! If you keep your head warm, the body will follow….. Paisley carries the cutest little line, Mud Pie, for all of your hostess gift needs; platters, chip and dip sets, appetizers plates, and cocktail napkins. Everything you might need to throw a fantastic soiree for you favorite friends over the holidays! Now, the best appointed homes are filled with thoughtful details that evoke a feeling. I was absolutely taken with the snow people and of course, Baby New Year!


women’s apparel



handmade knitwear



Now my most favorite stop in Glen Ellyn is always to see my friend Kim at M and Em’s. While she specializes in exquisite children’s clothing and accessories, she carries a number of amazing lines for women, specifically clothing, jewelry and accessories. You’ll find unique and stunning specialty apparel with high style, sparkles and ruffles. I absolutely love her lines of handmade knitwear; scarves, hats, gloves and mittens. However, nothing rivals M and Em’s selection of women’s costume jewelry. In a word; amazing. She features baubles, sparkles, statement pieces and a huge variety of groovy and stylish pieces.






Christmas ornaments



Holiday home décor would not be complete without a visit to Wheaton’s Paper House. There is something to be said for good old fashioned Christmas classics. I’m a total sucker for fun pillows that can be tossed anywhere to infuse a little cheer; Just Be Clause, Ho, Ho, Ho and Jingle. I adore their sassy aprons, dish and guest towels, which make charming gifts. We all appreciate delightful figurines that can be tucked into nooks and crannies, and of course personal ornaments that inspire reminiscing about our family and friends.

More thoughtfulness, more generosity, more giving, more celebrating important relationships…..

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Filed under Entertaining, Family Life, Friendship, More is More Mom, Personal Style

Obsessive Collections…..

As the More is More Mom®, I am all about displaying…..more collections! One of my favorite parts of being an Interior Designer is getting to know people through their art work, books, furnishings, color selections, and collectables. It’s like a great big science project to learn about what makes people happy…….

I am a huge fan of meaningful collections that are assembled over time, for collections are best when they tell a story. I love to learn the history of each piece; where they came from and what memory they represent. Collections don’t have to be expensive pieces of objects d’art, just something of personal interest. People collect all sorts of things, it’s they way they are displayed that makes them interesting.


Take, for instance, my collection of decorative tea-pots. I have no fewer than 19 tea-pots on display on a small console table in my Family Room. And I don’t even like tea! What appeals to me are their whimsical nature and the beauty of their unique details. I’m a sucker for texture and interesting patterns, so I’m particularly drawn to bamboo and basket weave. I have so many charming tea-pots depicting ordinary items crafted in extraordinary ways, but my very favorite is my bunny rabbit holding a lettuce leaf in its mouth.

What makes this display successful is an easy principle to apply; for greatest impact, group like items together in one location rather than scattering them about. The story is clearer and more interesting when your collection can be found in a bold grouping.


In keeping with my love for texture and pattern, I adore tortoise, fine burled wood and animal skins. A great way to corral your collections when displayed on a large table is to showcase them within the framework of something more definitive, like a tray. On my big square coffee table, I have placed an oversized tray with an aged patina to display a few of my favorite pieces. Two large tortoise hurricanes anchor the tray, which predominately showcase various small boxes with lids in a variety of shapes, sizes and textures. What works here is that the boxes are a unifying theme, and the texture of the tortoise boxes is a compliment to the tortoise hurricanes, which ties the whole thing together. Collections can be unified by form, function or color.


A great way to display family photographs is in one, impressive, location. They can be arranged by subject matter or tell the story from a variety of perspectives. The two most important things to remember when arranging your pictures are to unify the display by using frames of similar style and tone, and by featuring photos in a variety of sizes. If they are all the same size, they will be more difficult to enjoy, while layering your arrangement with larger pictures in the back and smaller in the front, will allow for a greater vantage point. In my Living Room, I have a round skirted table that features family photos unified by being displayed in silver frames. The frames are an interesting collection in their own right, of various sizes and styles, while maintaining that one common theme. Grouping photographs together is one of my favorite ways to tell the story of our lives.


The best thing about collections is that they can be of anything that we find interesting and makes us happy. My Amanda has an awesome collection on rubber bouncy balls. She must have close to 300 in a fabulous array of colors and patterns. We show case them in three large glass jars that she keeps on her dresser. She has gotten them from birthday parties, with tickets at the prize counter at places like Dave and Busters, from gumball type vending machines at the super market and from friends that have wanted to add to her collection. One time a boy from her class brought 14 in a Zip-loc baggie because he knew how much she liked them.

More collections, more memories, more personality, more meaning…..

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Filed under Interior Design, More is More Mom, Personal Style