The Best Hostess Gifts: 30 Gifts for the Domestic Goddess

The Best Hostess Gifts for the Domestic GoddessPictured (clockwise from top left): marble serving platter // brass ‘hello’ ornament // monogrammed tumbler // copper tray // gold-rimmed glasses // cut glass cocktail mixing jug // gold fortune cookie // kitchen towel // brass apple candle // ‘perfection’ dish // large candle c/- // small candle // conversational side plates // gold cheese knives

It’s hard to believe that 2016 is nearly over, but here we are at the end of November already. Of course, with the arrival of December comes the wonderful festivities of the holiday season. My own diary is rapidly filling up with holiday parties and events galore (and we’ll be hosting a few events for friends and neighbours at our place, too).

I was always taught to never show up at someone’s home empty-handed, and whether I’m just staying for cocktails or the whole weekend, I always like to take a small but lovely gift for my hosts. While flowers or a bottle of wine are always excellent standbys, I personally like to put a little more thought into a token I know they’ll be able to enjoy long after the party is over (but which needn’t cost much more than that predictable bottle of wine).

Because everyone has different tastes when it comes to their home, it’s best to stick to items which will work no matter the recipient’s taste or decor. I find it hard to go wrong with some classic cut glass or brass, or a touch or marble or copper. And I don’t know a single woman who wouldn’t be thrilled to unwrap a beautifully scented candle, for any occasion. So below, a few ideas for the perfect gift; whether it be a thoughtful gesture for the party host, or just a beautiful present for the glamorous homebody.

For the gracious hostess: a set of chic tea towels and an offer to help with the post-party cleanup, a bottle of the most luxurious hand wash, or a guide to every entertaining scenario for the modern-day hostess.

For the bidding mixologist: a bar cart-worthy cocktail set, a pair of gold-rimmed champagne coupes, a cut-glass mixing jug, or a set of monogrammed tumblers.

For the passionate foodie: a handsome box of the very best chocolates, a gingerbread candle (which doubles as a cookie-cutter once finished), a pair of marble platters, or a wedge of French brie and a set of cheese knives.

For the glamorous homebody: a golden monogrammed mug and a tin of salted caramel hot chocolate, the ultimate guide to a stylish home, a whimsical lucky charm for the coffee table, or the most beautifully-scented candle.

Let the holidays commence!

P.S. Stay tuned for a few more gift guides in the next two weeks (and as always, let me know if there’s anything in particular you want to see on here). 

Love, Miss B xx

7 Things for the Weekend

a-girl-a-style-_-autumn-in-cambridge

Happy Friday! This week has been especially hectic, so I’m looking forward to some much-needed time away from my desk this weekend. We have family visiting from Australia, and are headed to Amsterdam for a long weekend away (I went earlier this year for a day for work and loved it so much I vowed to return in the autumn). I can’t wait to explore those gorgeous streets again! Let me know if you have any suggestions for things to see/do/eat in the city.

1. My friend Alex is visiting today and I’m SO excited to see her! We’re going to have lunch, go punting on the river, and wander around the colleges in all their autumnal glory. I adore this time of year but feel like the window for glorious autumn weather is so short, we have to play tourist in our own city while the weather is still lovely.

2. Come autumn, I’m all about that classic collegiate preppy look (I’m pretty sure I say the exact same thing every year, but I know what I like…), and this is exactly the skirt I’ve been searching for for years (it also comes in a cute mustard colour). I’m teaming it with a crisp white shirt and ballet pumps for now, and tan knee-high boots and a cashmere sweater once the weather gets cooler.

3. October’s arrival means it’s officially boot weather. It’s time to pack away your summer sandals and do a fall footwear stocktake. I was in need of a new pair of ankle boots (I live in them for autumn), so just bought this cute pair from Topshop until I’m ready to commit to the Rag & Bone version.

4. I’m a year-round bright lipstick lover, but lately I’ve been wearing a deep burgundy red on repeat. I added this one to my collection a few weeks ago and it’s so perfect for these crisp autumn days (the ‘Charlotte‘ shade is dark and glamorous without veering into gothic territory).

5. The days are suddenly getting rapidly shorter, and the resulting temptation to spend cosy evenings tucked at home has set in. The joy of getting home from work, lighting a candle (this is my current favourite), climbing into fresh pyjamas (I just bought this pair; they look like Kate Spade but are a total bargain) and curling up with a book (I just started this one) / Gilmore Girls marathon is real. Whatever your cosy pleasures are, embrace them guilt-free before the party season fatigue sets in!

6. For some reason, I hate using the word ‘Fiancé’. Even though I’m engaged, it feels somehow smug and pretentious; like I’m saying “I found a man, aren’t I clever?”. I always thought I was being slightly irrational, but the New York Times is here to tell me I’m not alone: the term is officially out of fashion.

7. If you haven’t already, this is the perfect weekend to switch over your seasonal wardrobe (sadly, the summer weather is now behind us). I’m still teaming many of my favourite summer dresses with ankle boots and a leather jacket or trench coat, but the rest gets packed away to make room for lovely new-season sweaters (these are my favourites), coats and cosy scarves.

P.S. Don’t forget you can follow me over on InstagramTwitterPinterest and Facebook for daily updates + catch my latest posts (in case you missed them) here: 

Style: How I dress for a week in my double life (politics-meets-blogging and everything in between)
Travel: A weekend in Vienna
Style: On wardrobe staples + that back-to-school feeling

As always, please do let me know what you’re buying, doing or enjoying this week in the comments below (I always love reading your favourites).  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Love, Miss B xx

 

7 Things for the Weekend

A Girl, A Style _ Brooklyn New YorkWearing: By Malene Birger dress (old, but similar style here) // Valentino bag // Karen Walker sunglasses // Kenneth Jay Lane bracelets (similar style here) // Dune sandals.

Hello lovelies! The past two weeks have absolutely flown by around here. I’ve been trying to make the most of the sunshine and have been cramming in as many hours outdoors as possible (hours spent reading in the park, having picnics, and weekend brunch outdoors with friends). This Sunday I’m so excited to be heading back to New York for a week! I’m actually going for a press trip with a few fellow bloggers to see Michael Buble (*faints with excitement*) and then I’ve extended my stay by a few days to catch up with my friends and just soak up the city. If you have any suggestions for great new cafes to try, your favourite things to do in the city, or how to score tickets to Hamilton, please leave me a comment below!

1. Is the weather going to be nice where you are? There’s only a month left of summer so make sure you get out and enjoy it. Last weekend y cousin came to stay and we got ice cream, lazed by the river, had a picnic and saw an excellent performance of Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ in the Kings College Fellows’ garden at sunset. It was just perfect. If you’re in Cambridge in the next couple of weeks, try to get to one of the productions of the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival (they perform a different play in each of the college gardens and it’s one of our very favourite annual summer traditions).

2. I have lots of beautiful perfumes, but when I wear this fragrance, I literally get stopped on the street to ask what I’m wearing. I’ve never been to the Mediterranean Riviera, but I imagine this is how summer holidays there must smell. I have a major thing for Aerin (both the woman and the brand), but this is by far my favourite from her perfume collection.

3. I had a bit of a pre-emptive packing panic ahead of New York this morning and ordered a couple of new summer dresses, including this cu-ute little white number. I’m really not ready to say goodbye to summer dressing just yet, and thankfully it’s meant to be scorching hot everyday that I’m there, so I only want to wear dresses that pack well and that I can just throw on with sandals, sunglasses and little more.

4. Filling my home with art and prints I love is proving to be a very slow process (mostly because it takes me forever to get around to framing everything), but I’m gradually getting there. I just added this marvellous print to my collection and can’t wait to hang it by my desk (I also love the ‘London‘ and ‘Paris‘ prints).

5. Lipstick is one of my ultimate treats, and I recently indulged in two of the new ‘Hot Lips’ collection by Charlotte Tilbury (the 60s pink Bosworth’s Beauty + the perfect nude Kim KW) and they’re just as good as the hype. So good in fact that I’m going to go back for the fuchsia Electric Poppy.

6. When I travel, I always try and take a book set in the same city as the one I’m visiting. I bought this book from Strand Books (one of my favourite bookstores in the world) when I was in New York last May, and was so enthralled I’d finished it by the time my return flight touched down at Heathrow. It was so good, I’ve just ordered the second book for this trip (and will pick up another New York-themed book while I’m out there).

7. Every September I get that ‘back to school’ feeling and become obsessed with organising everything; life admin, working through my absurdly bulging ‘to do’ lists, and getting back on track with my New Year’s resolutions. Although I put all my appointments in my phone calendar, I still love keeping a proper agenda for scribbling all my thoughts, ideas and daily lists. I’ve just ordered this 16 month 2016-17 Kate Spade version (my annual favourite), but I also love this striped version.

P.S. Don’t forget you can follow me over on InstagramTwitterPinterest and Facebook for daily updates + catch my latest posts (in case you missed them) here: 

Life: On seeking (and finding) that summer mindset + how I’ve been having the best summer yet
Travel: A weekend spent exploring beautiful Brussels
Style: A technicolour rainbow on the amazing island of Burano, Venice
Style: Weekend brunch dates in Notting Hill + the perfect little white dress for summer

As always, please do let me know what you’re buying, doing or enjoying this week in the comments below (I always love reading your favourites).  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Love, Miss B xx

 

How to Have the Best Summer Ever: on Seeking (and Finding) that Summer State of Mind

A Girl, A Style _ Summer State of Mind

Remember those heady days of our youth when school would break up for the year and we’d have the whole summer stretched out before us like a sea of possibilities? Honestly, I had forgotten what that feeling was like.

Between my university years (when I’d spend the entire summer holidays either working or getting as many internships under my belt as I could), and adulthood (when years of being a type-A workaholic had tricked me into thinking I couldn’t possibly take a proper vacation or things would fall apart at work in my absence), summer had a habit of slipping by before I had even paused to take a moment to enjoy it. Other than a few lovely Sunday adventures and afternoon picnics in the park, too often I’d over-schedule my life to such a degree or feel so guilty taking any downtime just for me that ‘summer’ became something I merely admired from my office window at work (I must sound like a bundle of fun right about now…)

So this summer, rather than planning my weekends and evenings to within an inch of my life, I did precisely the opposite: with the exception of work, I have virtually cleared my diary for the entire duration of summer. My usual ‘bucket list’ (you can see last year’s list here, should you need a little inspiration for your own adventures) was this year replaced by just three simple goals:

1) when the weather is nice, get outside and enjoy it (instead of spending entire weekends doing battle with my inbox and life admin ‘to do’ list); 
2) give yourself permission to take time away from work to travel and explore new places;
3) do things I enjoy when I feel like it with people I love. 

And you know what happened? I’ve been having the very best summer of my life.

Because rather than carefully organising my free time to maximise the fun (there’s nothing that says ‘fun’ quite like military-level planning…) but then being horribly disappointed when it inevitably rained that day or friends had to cancel, I am learning to be truly impromptu and listen to what I need or feel like that week. When the stress of ‘Brexit‘ got all too much a couple of months ago, I escaped to Italy on a whim (I couldn’t seem to relax at home so joined my boyfriend in Bologna where he had a conference, and we turned it into a mini vacation); it was neither expensive or planned-out and yet it turned out to be one of the best trips of my life. The other day we saw the weather forecast looked good and found a great deal on a hotel, so booked a last-minute weekend in Brussels (and again had such a fun time).

Closer to home, having my evenings free has also meant saying ‘yes’ to things like punting on the river, impromptu dinner parties, or dates with friends (that I normally have to schedule months in advance because we’re all so busy). I found myself blowing off sunny Friday afternoons (which these days are ordinarily reserved for working on my blog) to get ice cream and sit by the river talking for hours on end with Caroline. The other day I met my dear friend Sasha for a last-minute trip to the theatre (after trying unsuccessfully to coordinate our schedules for about a year) and when we were having such a fun time that I literally missed my last train home, rather than suffering first-grade anxiety (as would be my usual response), I just went back to her place for a sleepover followed by brunch and a long walk through Regents Park the next morning.

And just today, when all my afternoon blog meetings were cancelled at the very last-minute, rather than getting stressed about the wasted time and journey to London, I met my friend Charlotte for a walk in St James’s Park (we were meant to go to an exhibition at the Tate but the weather was so glorious we both decided it would have been rude to be indoors and so changed our plans). When she had to dash off to get her train, I carried on lazing in the park beneath the shade of a an enormous fig tree to just watch the clouds float by and write this post (rather than racing home to work from my desk or having an internal meltdown that my post wasn’t up by lunchtime, as I usually would have done).

And so it was while sitting beneath this very tree, giving myself permission to just spend a couple of hours relaxing, that I realised I had accidentally struck upon that summer state of mind I spent years trying to find (or in my business, forgetting to even look for).

Whilst I still spend many a sunny day admiring the blue sky through the window at my office rather than on the beach, I’ve learned that the elusive goal of having ‘the best summer ever’ is not just about working through a ‘to do’ list of fun (or worse, being so busy I forget to make any time for fun at all).

But rather, as I have discovered this year, it’s about a state of mind: that vacation feeling of having a vague idea of what we want to see and do, but generally going where we like – at our own pace – when the mood strikes us. It’s saying ‘yes’ to new experiences when the opportunity presents itself, making new memories and exploring new places (or familiar places, from a new perspective, and playing tourist in our own city), having impromptu adventures whenever the sun is shining, or simply just spending the entire day lazing in the park if what we really feel like doing is nothing at all. In the first instance that means having the schedule that allows freedom (none of my usual type-A tendencies allowed, and of course it helps that we don’t have children to throw into the scheduling equation). But more inportantly, it is about giving ourselves the permission to just have fun and do as we please.

A concept I’d long-since forgotten from the days of my youth, but which I’m so happy to have rediscovered at last.

Here’s to the maintaining that vacation mindset, all summer long!

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend. And however you find yourself spending the rest of your summer, I hope it’s the best one yet!

Love, Miss B xx