When I was about 20, I created a a Christmas tradition for myself. Every year a couple of days before Christmas, I sit in the airconditioning (because, Hoo Boy! Is it toasty this time of year!) and I watch either Love Actually or a DVD I have of a comedian Tim Minchin and wrap all of my presents for that year. A weird choice of viewing, I know. The year it started I was house sitting by myself over the Christmas period and they were the two DVD’s I had with me. That year was probably the first Christmas I went all out, finding the perfect gifts and wrapping them with all kinds of paper and ribbon. Ever since then, watching those two films never fails to put me in a Christmas mood! This year  I was armed with the Frankie magazine Gift Paper Book as well as my trusty kraft paper and I may have gotten a little carried away… They sure do look lovely under the tree though :)
(Don’t forget, you can win your own copy of these beautiful sheets of gift paper by entering the giveaway here!)

If there’s one thing I love about the blogging community, it is that everyone seems to love gift wrapping as much as I do! People don’t seem to understand my fascination, but I just love making a gift look beautiful for its recipient. It’s part of the whole experience to be able to receive something pretty and promptly tear through it to get to the goods.

I was fortunate enough to receive not one but two copies of Frankie magazine’s amazing new gift paper book. I have been wrapping all of my Christmas gifts in a combination of both plain brown paper and various combinations from this book (photos to come!) The paper is beautiful quality, I have some stored away for future DIY projects, my housemates are quite confused as to why I am so excited about a book of paper. Check out the beautiful video made by the folk at Sea Chan showcasing some of the designs.

The Gift Paper Book contains 10 sheets of unique 50’s inspired designs printed on perforated paper ready for you to rip, fold and tape to your heart’s content. To win a copy for yourself all you have to do is complete one (or all) of the following:
  • Follow kittenbear on Blogger or Bloglovin (1 entry for each)
  • Follow on Twitter or Facebook (1 entry for each)
  • Leave a comment below telling me what you would do with the Gift Paper if you won (1 entry)
Leave a comment for each entry. Don’t forget to leave your name and a email address in your entry so that I may contact you if you are the winner! Good Luck!
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Today is your last chance to sign up for the Christmas Gift Swap! If you would like to take part, drop me an email me ([email protected]) with your Full Name, Postal Address, Email address and if you have a preference for a local or international swap. As a lot of you guys are international, we’re going to keep it small – we are exchanging a Christmas Card and a gift should be small enough to fit in a small to medium sized envelope (for example; a small piece of art/drawing, stickers, small necklace etc)

This swap is all about making new friends spreading some Christmas cheer! Your gift and card doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, feel free to make something yourself or pick up something small from local artists and markets. Just a little something to make someone smile and get in the mood for the festive season!I hope you decide to join in on the fun!
The Fine Print:
  • I will send the details of your gift recipient by 26th November 2012
  • Your Card/Gift will need to be mailed by the 8th December to allow for international postage times.
  • You can expect to spend around $10+ on your card and gift (unless you crafty kids opt for a homemade option) Plus potentially postage costs.
  • All Contact details will only be provided to your swap partner. I  will keep these details private and will not use them nefariously (Ie: for self-promotion or annoying spam)
  • If for any reason you cannot send your card/gift, please let me know immediately so that no one misses out!
  • This swap is open to international readers!
[Image Via: Paper n Stitch]
With Christmas just around the corner (and maybe some office Secret Santa’s or Gift Swaps to start shopping for) I thought I’d share some tips that I have learnt for buying the perfect gift. Now, I don’t like to blow my own horn, but I’m pretty awesome at buying gifts. I would even go so far as to say that its kind of ‘my thing’. This certainly isn’t due to any hidden gift giving talents. I’m no more insightful than the next person, but I have some clever tricks to ensure you’re always buying your loved ones something they’ll really enjoy and not just candles or socks this Christmas.

So, this sounds pretty basic, but I know so many people who don’t do this. Listen to the people you care about; what do they like? What are their interests? And I don’t mean just around Christmas or birthdays, I mean all year round. If a loved one mentions that book they’ve been wanting to read or that hobby they’ve been wanting to get into, I open up the notebook app (or even a draft message) make a quick note in my phone. Something like “Tom - Carl Sagan book” and save it for later. The best thing about doing this is that it just looks like you are sending a text message so your target is none the wiser and you have a handy reminder for later.

Speaking of which…

2. Set Up Reminders
In your phone, on your computer, in your calendar. Put a reminder in for the most important people’s birthdays. Not just for the day itself, but a few weeks in advance. This way you will know that birthday is coming up and have ample time to plan what you want to buy for that special someone. Especially if you are like me and you do a lot of your shopping online, you will appreciate the extra time when there is a 2 week wait on shipping!

3. Use Online Searches
And I don’t mean Google; sites like Ebay and Amazon are a veritable treasure chest of items you’ve never even thought of! Whenever I am stuck for gift ideas I head over to Ebay and start searching topics that my recipient might enjoy. Try names of television programs, hobbies, favourite actors or even general items like ‘leather bag’ and see what comes up! I can’t count how many times this has saved me when I was out of inspiration!

4. Bookmark it!
So you come across the perfect art print for your mum on Society6 and you think, ‘oh I should buy this for her birthday!’ But her birthday is months away and you’re a bit poor until payday, so you decide you’ll come back later, closer to the date and get it then.

No, you wont. You’ll forget and then when it comes time to buy her a gift you’ll be sitting there thinking ‘now what was that thing I saw back in June…?’ Bookmark that shit! And don’t let your bookmarks get lost in between links to funny pictures of cats… I have a ‘Buy’ Folder set up, with sub-folders for each of my family members/housemates/close friends. I save anything cool I see in these folders over the year, so when it approaches Christmas or Birthdays I can just open up the relevant folder and browse a ready made list of gift ideas. Just remember to name your bookmarks as what they actually are, (ie: ‘Owl Measuring cups from Anthropology’) instead of the default name so that if you come across a broken link when you come back, you can Google the item and try to find it elsewhere.

5. The Final Test
Many people may disagree with this last tip but it’s my number one rule: Buy something that you would like to receive. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should buy something to your own taste, but if when you put yourself in the recipients shoes, would you be happy to receive this gift? This is my final test when deciding on gift purchases. Even though tastes may differ, when someone can see the thought and care that has gone into a present, even if it’s not something they would have bought for themselves, chances are they are going to enjoy it regardless. Some of the best gifts I have ever received were items that I would have never in a million years picked out for myself, but I could see the love and thought that went into the purchase and that made me cherish the gift all the more.

So there you have it. Nothing ground breaking or crazy, just some simple ideas that will hopefully help you get through this festive season.

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Today’s recipe is postponed until tomorrow because… Today is my Birthday! Hooray!

Birthday’s tend to get a little less fun once you exit childhood, especially when you edge towards some of those scarier numbers (something I’m still a couple of years away from), but I never want to stop enjoying my birthday. Really, whats not to love? Friends, family, cake and presents! All my favourite things! I share my birthday with a friend at work so we have been enjoying each others company with morning tea’s, lunches, afternoon teas… *phew* I think I have put on about 5kg’s and the day isn’t even over!

Please stay tuned until tomorrow for this week’s recipe post - I can’t even think about food right now! :)