I'm a big believer in honoring the milestones in friends' lives with thoughtful gifts. I've written several posts about my go-to gifts for various occasions (from homemade croutons for the hostess, to personalized cards for any reason), but I'm always looking for fresh ideas. Here are my current five favorite ways to surprise friends with something special, for every occasion from a new job to a new home.
1. For the Hostess: Match Striker + Palo Santo
Going over to someone's house for a meal can happen so frequently that it doesn't make sense to spend big bucks on a hostess gift. It's good practice to have a small, simple, financially practical gift on hand for any invite that may arise, and my new go-to is a sweet little match striker with a bundle of Palo Santo. Palo Santo is an exotic wood that smells heavenly, and similar to ritual of burning sage to purify a new home, people burn it to cleanse a space and supposedly cure hangovers. In that sense, it's the perfect thing for a host to light the day after a night spent with friends, food, and wine. I love the presentation of the cute bundle of wood wrapped in leather, with a ceramic match striker, and a note explaining how and when to use the Palo Santo.
2. For Birthdays: Scent Memory Candle
I love the idea of commemorating a special time and place with a scent, so when I discovered the concept behind these Lola James Harper candles I was smitten. They're all based around nostalgic sensory experiences, like the first morning of spring, or walking through an old vinyl store. I selected the former for Alina's birthday, because it coincides with the start of spring and I thought it would be nice for her to associate that scent and that feeling with this age.
3. For Housewarming: Acrylic Tissue Box
It might sound random, but this is one of the best discoveries I've made and gifts I've given. It's something easily overlooked, but there are few legitimately attractive design solutions on the market for a tissue box. And nothing kills the look of a chic bathroom faster than a cardboard Kleenex logo. Beyond the practicality, we have one of these at home (that I lugged back from our honeymoon in Italy) and one in the office and it's one of the most complimented pieces of decor we own - almost everyone who comes through either space exits the bathroom asking where we got it; so I started giving it as a housewarming gift. I like that it's more unexpected than a bouquet of flowers or bottle of wine.
4. For Promotions: Customized Key Ring
Promotions are more easily forgotten category to recognize, but it means so much when a friend takes the time to congratulate a career advancement with a little something. I am obsessed with this website that makes customized key rings with any word or phrase you can imagine. Want to put the exact title of your friend's new role on it? Great. Want to have a little fun with it and say #BOSS, or Killing It? Go for it. A sweet affirmation such as "Great Job" works too. There are a ton of options to choose from on the site already, or you can get creative. Slipping one of these into an envelope with a handwritten card would make any recipient smile - small, sweet, personal, and unexpected.
5. For Any Occasion: Plant in a Personalized Pot
Fresh flowers are always a lovely gesture, but lately I've been gravitating towards gifting friends a non-delicate plant in a beautiful hand-painted pot instead. Unlike blooms that have a lifespan of about a week, a cactus can liven up a space with little upkeep for years, especially when it lives in a colorful planter that's more art form than function. The idea of a simple hand painted planter feels more personal and thought-out than a bouquet (we just used PopUpGreens' personalized plant holders to brighten up our office), especially when you choose the colors and design involved for the recipient.