Out of the Basket Easter Ideas

Here’s a complete list of the products shown on Wake Up with the CW on March 24, 2016.

FOR KIDS

This basket is full of fun and flavorful (and healthier) alternatives to chocolate rabbits and sugary marshmallow chicks.

AquaballAquaballs

  • Sugar-free, naturally flavored water
  • A healthy alternative to sugary sodas and drinks
  • Available in four flavors, Fruit Punch, Orange, Berry Frost and Grape,
  • Features fan favorite characters from Disney’s Frozen, Disney Princesses, Marvel Avengers, and Disney Classic Characters.
  • ($1-$1.19/bottle)

Bauli Chocolate Mini CroissantsChoc

  • Looking to fill Easter baskets with something other than candy?
  • 50 calories a pop, they’re the perfect, guilt-free basket filler
  • Made in a REAL oven with no preservatives and naturally leavened dough
  • Available at select retailers for $1.99/2.64 oz bag (6 mini croissants per bag).

 

 

Viki’s GranolaVikis Granola

  • Replace the sugary treats that often come in Easter baskets with delicious snacks kids will love
  • Great tasting, GLUTEN-FREE, and made with 100% ALL NATURAL ingredients
  • Available in Original, Blueberry Almond, Maple Cranberry, (NEW!) Banana Walnut & (NEW!) Apple Cinnamon.
  • Available at retailers nationwide and online at VikisFoods.com

Welch’s® Fruit SnacksWelchs

  • Perfect for Easter Baskets and stuffing eggs.
  • Custom Easter-themed graphics with fun shapes which include a Chick, Egg, Flower and Bunny
  • Every pack is made with REAL Fruit, is Fat Free, Gluten Free, and contains No Preservatives

 

 

FOR THE FOODIE

This basket is perfect for the foodie in your life who loves to cook and enjoys delicious foods.

Veestro Veestro

  • Tired of cooking or love to cook, but don’t have the time with all the hustle and bustle of everyday life and events?
  • All-natural, preservative-free food, packed with nutrients and high in protein and fiber.
  • Virtually no prep time! Meals are fully cooked, ready to heat-and-eat when you are, shipped frozen, and able to last in your freezer for up to 8 weeks.
  • Visit Veestro.com for more info

T-fal OptiCook Non-Stick Skillet Tfal pan

  • Foodies love this non-stick fry pan by T-fal
  • With Thermospot technology, your meal will be cooked to perfection every time
  • The Thermospot indicates when the pan is perfectly preheated to seal in flavor and prevents burning
  • T-fal’s Non-Stick skillet makes the cleanup even easier, to ensure more time spent with your friends and family!
  • To learn more, visit tfalusa.com

Explore Cuisine Chickpea Fusilli Explore pasta

  • Perfect for the pasta-lover in your life!
  • Healthy alternative to white pasta with a soft, supple texture and mild taste
  • In just one serving, Chickpea Fusilli has:
    • 11 grams of protein
    • 5 grams of fiber
    • 15% of your daily recommended iron intake
  • Vegan, certified gluten-free, non-GMO, made with organic ingredients
  • Available at supermarkets nationwide for $4.99

Omega – Fresh Juice and Healthful Recipes CookbookOmega Juices

  • Carefully handpicked and arranged
  • Comes with a remarkable assortment of recipes
  • Make a variety of fresh fruit juices, vegetable and green drinks, a medley of smoothie sorbets, creamy nut milks and nut butters, dips and purees, and many more practical and delicious recipes.
  • $14.99 at http://www.omegajuicers.com/books/a-juice-boost-274.html

 

 

FOR THE ADULT

Make sure to spoil your loved ones with an Easter basket full of relaxing and rejuvenating products.  

Coyuchi  Women’s Sateen Terry Robe Coyuchi Robe

  • Perfect addition for a relaxing Easter morning
  • Available in Alpine White and Pale Gray
  • Robe lined with velvety micro terry, it’s soft, absorbent and cozy
  • Retails for $128; Coyuchi can be found at fine retailers across the US and Canada, as well as available for purchase online at coyuchi.com

 

Hotel Collection Ultimate Micro Cotton Bath Towels Macys Towels

  • Add these high-quality, ring spun cotton towels for the ultimate spa basket
  • Durable and ultra-absorbent
  • Extra-soft and plush feel
  • Available exclusively at Macy’s; $31 per bath towel

 

 

Santa Margherita Prosecco SuperioreSanta M Prosecco

  • Celebrate Easter with Santa Margherita’s Prosecco Superiore
  • Perfect base for a variety of bubbly cocktails at your Easter brunch such as mimosas or bellinis.
  • Additional brand varietals include Pinot Grigio Alto Adige and Chianti Classico Riserva ($17.99-26.99)

 

 

 

 

 

Merle Norman Revitalizing Bubbly MaskMN Mask

  • With soft towels at your feet, a warm robe wrapped around your body and a glass of wine in hand, be sure to treat yourself even more with this sensational mask
  • Brightening bubbles recharge skin and take dull to dazzling with this new multi-sensory formula that transforms from a gel to a foam while on the face.
  • $30; Merle Norman Studios MerleNorman.com

 

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November Birthday Gifts Made Easy

©racamani - Fotolia.com

©racamani – Fotolia.com

As the temperature cools down, November gifts keep things warm with rich gold and amber tones in its associated flower and gemstones.

 

Inspiration: Floral

The flower of the month is the chrysanthemum, which comes in no less than 40 species, 13 different bloom forms and literally hundreds of varietals. Its colors range from white to purple, with yellow and gold being the most recognizable this time of year. Indeed “chrysanthemum” comes from the Greek words chrysos (gold) and anthemon (flower).

Chrysanthemums have been cultivated in China since at least the 15th century BC as an herb. They entered American gardens in the late 18th century when a dark purple variety was imported from England.

To celebrate the chrysanthemum and honor your November recipient, consider the Autumn Romance Bouquet from Teleflora. This bouquet features two types of chrysanthemums with peach roses and seeded eucalyptus. (3 sizes starting at $49.95; Teleflora.com)

 

Inspiration: Gems

November bears the distinction of having two gemstones traditionally associated with it. Both topaz and citrine claim November as their signature month, according to the American Gem Society (http://www.americangemsociety.org/november-birthstones). The amber brown variety of citrine is often carelessly referred to as “topaz” so this could account for the dual gemstone.

Personally, I associate citrine with November because of its golden hues, from pale yellow to deep ambers. Citrine is a relatively inexpensive gemstone from the quartz family, and is widely available in all sizes. For an almost dizzying array of citrine gemstone jewelry at every price point, head over to Ross-Simons (www.ross-simons.com).

For about $40, you could pick up a luxe-looking torsade necklace with strands and strands of yellow citrine.   I love citrine set in 14k yellow gold (they just seem made for each other), and these dangle earrings feature 14 carats of citrine with diamond accents. ($371.25)

 

Inspiration: Color

If neither jewelry nor flowers are your style, you can still take inspiration from their color cues when looking for the perfect gift. Caramels, golds, warm browns and ambers are just the ticket.

For example, iridescent glass hurricane candle holders cast a lovely glow. (3 sizes, $34 to $69; www.westelm.com) Complete the look with amber pillar candles.

A leather wristlet in a caramel tone is perfect for keeping a phone, cash, cards and an ID while on the go. ($55; www.macys.com)

Stay on your recipient’s mind when you slip a photo into this frame encrusted with glass gems that beautifully mimic citrine. Dazzling! ($22.95 at Pier 1)

Wrap up your recipient in a classic camel-colored cashmere muffler, or cashmere-lined brown leather gloves.

Finally, consider body products in warm and luxurious scents like Cashmere Glow, Aspen Caramel Woods, Sensual Amber, or for him—Dark Amber (various price points, Bath and Body Works, www.bathandbodyworks.com).

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One Stop Holiday Shopping at The Tree Lot

One of my top tips for gift giving is to shop “where” you are. Of course, it helps if where you are has a variety of departments or merchandise!

And that is definitely the case with The Tree Lot at Crate and Barrel, a pop-up shop that opened Oct. 29 at Town Square. The 6,700 square foot space is located just behind Brio, adjacent to the central park.

The Tree Lot is filled with items from Crate and Barrel’s Holiday 2013 collection and features a wide selection of globally sourced, exclusive home decor, gift items, entertaining/tabletop wares, tree trimming essentials and confections. Oh, the confections!!

“This year, we were inspired by the tradition of Christmas tree lots and we wanted to bring the joy and sentiment of that experience with our holiday product and visual display,” said Marta Calle, President and Chief Merchant of Crate and Barrel.

Calle’s Columbian roots bring a fresh, new perspective to Crate and Barrel and that is evident in The Tree Lot, with many rustic textures and ethnic elements from stuffed wool critter tree ornaments to garlands made from sari fabric. One of my personal favorites from the tabletop collection is this ceramic serving tray with a woodgrain texture ($19.95).

 Tray

Tree Trimming

Many ornaments have a handmade quality. The store’s selection includes penguins, deer, dachshunds and foxes along with glittering bells, balls and snowflakes.

Ornaments 2

Ornametns

One hot new trend is a tree ring. These oversized rings ($59.95), available in galvanized metal or hand-braided native palm, slip over the tree stand and eliminate the need for a skirt. (Although the store still offers tree skirts as well.)

Rings

Gift Wrap

Customers who purchase rolls of Crate and Barrel wrapping paper ($7.95) may have their purchases wrapped by a store associate at no additional charge. This year’s washi tape craze hits holiday wrapping with a selection of “ribbon tape” ($4.95 to $9.95) from Japan in a variety of widths and designs from a cute mouse to “no peeking.” Wrap your boxes with tape instead of traditional ribbon!

Tape

Confections

I’ve been buying C&B Christmas confections for many years, so I was pleased to see that The Tree Lot has a good selection of this year’s sweet treats, from traditional hard candy to homemade marshmallows from the Butter Baked Goods bakery in Vancouver. (Try the gingerbread marshmallows!) Bourbon balls, peppermint bark, English toffee, organic hot chocolate mix and the popular mini melts are just a few of the tempting offerings.

Hard candy

Marshmallow

Home Accessories

Shoppers at the The Tree Lot will find plenty of holiday home accessories, including an array of bright pillows, cozy throws, vases and  candle holders. The Jingleberry bowl filler ($9.95) caught my eye, and would be perfect mixed in with my usual pinecone display.

Pinecones

Gift Ideas

Many of the items highlighted here would be a wonderful holiday gift (and I’ll put together my top 5 hostess gift ideas in another article), but The Tree Lot has a dedicated display of interesting, unique and downright quirky gift items for everyone on your holiday shopping list. Even things for your pets! But what interested me was a stack of Japanese notepads. I thought, why on earth would there be a stack of notepads? Well, I felt the paper and it’s sumptuous — like no paper I’ve ever felt, and it’s graph paper.

Paper

Now, who on my list is a paper aficionado? There has to be someone!

The Tree Lot will be open through Dec. 31. The pop-up concept is a first for Crate and Barrel, who is trying the holiday stores in three other locations that do not have a Crate and Barrel retail store. While there’s no concrete plans to bring a permanent store to Las Vegas, we can cross our fingers that The Tree Lot is a good market test!

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How to Shop for Gift Baskets: From Plain to Personalized

One of my friends is having a baby (yay!). For her shower gift, I shopped from her registry at Babies R Us and selected items for baby’s bath and personal care. But rather than dump them into a box or wrap them individually, I decided to create a gift basket. So, off to Michaels craft store I went in search of the right basket.

I felt a little like Goldilocks in the basket aisle. Some baskets were too large, others were too small. Some were too expensive, while others were too, well, baby specific. I wanted something that would be useful and could either grow with the baby or be used in another room of mom and dad’s house.

Baby baskets

There, in the back of a shelf nearly hidden from view was a simple navy blue woven basket. At $10, it was priced right (less expensive than baby-specific containers), but it was a little plain I had to admit. Hmmm. What if I could embellish it somehow?

Baby basket and Hween 1013 002

I headed over the wood craft aisle where, lo and behold, I found painted wood shapes of palm trees, flowers, dolphins, dinosaurs … and rubber duckies. As many of the items on the gift registry featured whales and sea creatures, I had hoped for a whale, but thought the yellow duck looked great against the blue. At 59 cents, it was a no brainer. Sold!

To attach the duck and make it easy removable, I used one 3M Command® picture hanging strip (size small) and cut it in half. I placed it so the half with the removable tab would be on the basket, and the other part on the duck. So cute!

Duck basket

Next, I removed the whale bath towel and washcloths from their packaging but put the packaging in the bottom of the basket, just in case mom wants to return the items (I included a gift receipt in the card).

Baby basket and Hween 1013 010

Then, I added a layer of excelsior (you could use shredded paper) to fill the basket and provide height to the items.

Baby basket and Hween 1013 014

I arranged all of the items, and added a rubber duck and some travel-size toiletries to round out the gift.

Baby basket and Hween 1013 013

Finally, I used a cellophane gift basket bag (99 cents at Michaels) rather than trying to wrap it in a sheet of cellophane. Although this basket was on the small size, I needed a large bag; these bags seem to run small.

I used almost every color of curling ribbon I had to create a bow, and tied it on with the card to top off the gift basket.

It was super easy and very fun to create!

Baby basket and Hween 1013 021

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Witchy Woman Treat Box

Witch treat box collage

So adorable and so easy to make, this Witchy Woman Treat Box has been rambling around my brain for a couple of years, so I’m glad it finally was realized for this year’s “Macbeth Witches” Halloween theme.

Have you seen the stacked boxes for Christmas treats, printed to look like a snowman or Santa? Well, a few years ago I found this paper mache tall round box at a craft store (Joann, $4.99), and thought it would be perfect for the face on a stacked witch treat box set. I even had the round hat boxes on hand to make her body. But then I got stuck trying to figure out what kind of clothes she would be wearing, and how would I even make them? I couldn’t paint them all on (I’m so not an artist!), so would I use fabric, paper, what? I couldn’t find pre-printed witches costumes, and how could I make that on the computer? And the hat?! I thought of covering a foam cone with black fabric.

Ugh!

Enough!

If a craft isn’t dead simple, I’m not likely to do it–end of story. I put away all the pieces and with them, the idea.

Until this year … I found a paper mache witch hat (Michaels, $2.99) and thought, hmmm, could this be the perfect proportion for that tall round hat box? Yes it was! And then I SIMPLIFIED the project and decided the face and hat would be a super cute, easy project with little or no drawing required.

Supplies:

  • Tall round paper mache hat box (6” by 6”)
  • Paper mache witch hat (10” diameter)
  • Lime green acrylic craft paint
  • Black acrylic craft paint
  • Black permanent marker
  • Black self-adhesive felt
  • 2 wiggle eyes
  • Red rick rack trim
  • Hot glue gun
  • Double-sided tape

Optional:

  • Black feather trim
  • Rhinestone button
  • Black and white scrapbook paper or gift wrap

1. Paint the hat all over with the black acrylic paint. Allow to dry and apply another coat of black paint. Because I knew I would cover the bottom of the hat with decorative paper, I only painted a 1 inch band around the underside of the brim. If you’re not using decorative paper, be sure to paint the bottom of the hat completely.

2. If desired, trim the hat with black feathers using hot glue and add a rhinestone button. You may substitute whatever trims you like, using whatever you have on hand or whatever catches your eye at the craft store. Try grosgrain ribbon and a buckle, or a ruffle and a moon-shaped pin.

3. If desired, cut a piece of decorative paper to fit the bottom of the hat and adhere with double-sided tape .

4. Paint the entire lid of the box, and the outside and bottom of the box with the green craft paint. I mixed Apple Green and Light Foliage Green, both by Delta Ceramcoat, for my box/face. Apply two coats, allowing the paint to dry in between coats.

5. If desired, cut decorative paper to line the underside of the box lid and the bottom inside of the box. Adhere with double-sided tape.

6. Decide where the center-front and center-back of your face will be and mark reference points lightly in pencil, making the mark across both the lid and the base so you can match them up later.

7. Using the center-front reference as a guide, create a face for your witch. (If you like, you can draw all the features on with black and red markers.) I used self-adhesive black felt for eyebrows. Simply draw a basic curve shape and cut it out; use the cut out, flipped over, to trace out the other eyebrow. Apply the eyebrows.

8. Apply wiggle eyes under the eyebrows using hot glue.

9. I debated how to create the nose, and noticed that some off cuts of the black felt were gently curved, so those became the nose. One long and one short piece did the trick.

10. Make a mouth with red rick rack.

11. Draw on hair in pencil first. Starting at the center back, draw a spiral for a bun. Then, turn the piece around and determine where the hairline will start on the front of the face, marking the starting point roughly equally spaced from the facial features. With the lid in place, begin drawing (in pencil) rows of sweeping lines from the top of the lid to the bottom of the box, curving until the lines meet the bun in the back. Repeat on the other side of the box. When you’re happy with your witch’s hairstyle, draw over the pencil lines with black marker. Erase any obvious pencil lines and the reference markings.

12. Draw in bangs on the forehead with black marker. I repeated the number “6” to make curls.

13. Hot glue the hat onto the head.

Your Witch Treat Box is now ready to be filled with treats!! I suggest crispy rice bats and ghosts, peanut butter eyeballs and ogre fingers. This makes a great gift for a teacher, neighbor, or grandparent.

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8 Tips for Personalizing Gifts

Recently a reader of Gift Giving for Busy People sent me a great testimonial and a photo of a gift he selected and had engraved for his friends’ 25th wedding anniversary. It’s a bottle opener by Nambé, so the silver color is perfect for the silver wedding anniversary. He had it personalized with “Cheers to 25 years” which I think is brilliant! He said the bottle opener made sense because the couple entertains a great deal, and thought the personalization would make it more special. He is right!

Nambe bottle opener, Nambe gifts, Nambe anniversary gift, Nambe personalized gifts

Inspired by this creative and thoughtful gift, I thought I’d give some tips for purchasing and personalizing gifts.

Personalization is the process of adding words, numbers, logos or other characters onto products through engraving, embroidery, or other techniques. Anything from names and dates to poems, sentiments, or any other message can make a gift unique and memorable. Retailers like Things Remembered have an entire showroom full of customizable gift items. Local trophy shops can also help create personalized gifts, including small engraved plates that are a snap to add to items such as portfolios, clocks, or photo albums.

I love giving (and receiving) personalized gifts. One year I was stumped for a Christmas gift for my mom. Then I stumbled upon a photo ofPersonalized 002 her with a guitar one Christmas morning in the ‘50s (long before my brother and I were born). And I remembered a photo of my brother receiving a guitar for Christmas in the ‘80s in nearly the same pose. And voila! Two gifts were checked off my list as I had identical personalized frames made for each of them. I purchased inexpensive frames at a discount department store and had silver plates engraved at the mall saying, “Like Mother” and “Like Son.” Completely customized and they both loved it!

1. Plan ahead. No matter what method of personalization you choose, chances are it’s going to take some time. Some stores do engraving in-house; others send the items off site. Particularly around the holidays (not just Christmas, but Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day) and in the early summer (think about graduations and weddings), chances are you’re not walking out of the store with your item. Allow at least two weeks, perhaps more at peak times, to avoid additional fees for rush orders.

2. Give something useful, practical and beautiful. Is the item something that can be used or displayed now, and into the future? Or will it be clutter? I love the idea of the bottle opener. It’s useful and will remind the couple of their friend and their anniversary trip every time they use it. I have an ice cream scoop engraved with a bank’s logo from my hometown; I still remember the picnic where my mom won it as a door prize. Memories like this are priceless!

3. Use a legible font. Simple fonts like Times and Helvetica are classic and easy to read in both upper and lower case. Some script fonts become very confusing and nearly illegible, particularly the capital letters, when used for anything more than a monogram. Therefore, always ask for a proof of your engraving as it will appear on the item before it’s finalized to ensure it’s readable. I remember one event I worked on where the invitation used a font (which was carried over onto the program and menu) that had a “C” that looked like a “P.” My boss and I had quite a laugh over the “Phicken Ponsommé” for years after the event.

4. Be creative. Personalized gifts aren’t just plaques for a “job well done” anymore. Nearly anything can be personalized. Textiles may bePersonalized gift mug, personalized gifts, Father's day gifts embroidered; metal objects may be engraved; and nearly any flat surface may have an engraved plate adhered to it. Think about something unique to your recipient such as a signature saying they’re known for. For example, when feeling grateful for abundance, my dad would often say, “My cup runneth over.” So I found a silver mug reminiscent of a Medieval grog mug and had it engraved on one side, “My cup had overfloweth” and on the other, “So I got a new cup.” He used it as a pencil cup on his desk. (And now I use it!)

5. Be clear and avoid shorthand. I’m going to try and stay off my soapbox here, but our instant message mentality is destroying our ability to speak and write! “CUL8R” may be efficient in some contexts, but it is not proper English. (Hopefully that’s not news to anyone.) Unless it’s a special circumstance, such as a meaningful acronym or an actual award for texting, use normal language. Remember, you want this to be everlasting. Will the message make sense today and in 20 years?

6. Proofread, proofread, proofread! Whether it’s three simple initials or a soliloquy, it is vital that everything be spelled correctly. The adage “it’s not written in stone” is not true in this instance—it is written in stone (or its modern-day equivalent) and it could be costly and inconvenient to have the piece redone.

7. Follow the rules for monograms. When engraving a monogram for one person, place the first initial of the last name in the center (and make it larger) with the first initial of the first name to the left and first initial of middle name to the right. So “Mary Sue Carlton” would appear asInitials 1When engraving a couple’s monogram for a wedding or anniversary gift, the first initial of the couple’s last name should appear in the center, with first initial of the woman’s first name to the left and first initial of the man’s first name to the right. So “Mary Carlton and David Carlton” would appear as

Initials 28. Understand the engraver’s pricing structure. Every retailer is different, so be sure to understand how much your personalization will cost. Remember The Brady Bunch episode where the kids wanted to surprise their parents with an engraved silver platter? Jan thought the engraving was 50 cents more than the price of the platter, but it was 50 cents per letter, forcing the kids to raise the money by singing on a talent show for a cash prize. (Their act was called “The Silver Platters” and they lost to a prancing poodle.) Prices are more in the range of a few dollars per letter these days, so craft your message accordingly and get a final price before completing your order.

Personalized gifts are perfect for holidays, birthdays, milestones, graduations, births, weddings and anniversaries. And that’s pretty much the entire universe of potential gift-giving scenarios!

In other words, the next time you need a special gift, think about getting personal.

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