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Creative Hostess Gift Ideas: Easy DIYs Offering Gratitude at Summer Dinner Parties

Creative Hostess Gift Ideas: Easy DIYs Offering Gratitude at Summer Dinner Parties

“I have only to break into the tightness of a strawberry, and I see summer—its dust and lowering skies.” – Toni Morrison

dinner party summer spread
Savory summer bites | Photo courtesy Unsplash user Brooke Lark

As the sensations of summer loom on the horizon—the blooming of roses, strawberries making their way to the stands at the farmers’ market, spring sweaters staying put in the closet and being replaced by sundresses—I begin to daydream of summer dinner parties.

As with each new season, my favorite part of summer tends to revolve around gatherings, time spent sharing meals and stories with friends and family. In the warmer months, the options for dinner party dining are plentiful, from tables inside adorned with fresh flowers, to picnic blankets on the lawn, to twinkle-lit decks and patios.

When I receive a summer dinner party invite, I like to be prepared with some creative hostess gift ideas that feel genuinely thoughtful. From a s’mores kit, to a treat yourself lounging bucket, to a picnic basket filled with goodies, here are three of my favorite gifts I like to bring along with me to summer parties. But, more important than the gifts themselves, are the feelings I hope they leave behind: contentment, gratitude, and a little bit of self-indulgence.

A Make Your Own S’mores Kit for the Sweetest Hostess

The tradition of s’mores is one I’ve loved and looked forward to every summer since I was a kid. Whether I’m roasting marshmallows at the beach or around a backyard bonfire, it’s still the sweetest-smelling dessert I’ve ever made. And, as they’re usually reserved for the summertime, they’ll forever remind me of the season of sand, sea, and sun.

s'more summer treats
S’more summer, please | Photo courtesy Etsy seller FavorBoxParty

I love putting together seasonal cookie kits as gifts (a mason jar filled with layers of flour, sugar, and Halloween sprinkles in the fall, anything green and red for winter, and pastel colored M&M’s in the spring), but in summer, I step out of the box, and the jar, and wrap up the makings for ooey-gooey s’mores.

They’re fun to have on hand for last minute camping or beach trips, and they don’t require any time on the recipient’s end spent measuring ingredients or sweating over an oven when it’s hot outside.

The Ingredients List:

  • 1 chocolate bar
  • 2 big marshmallows
  • 2 graham crackers
  • A piece of clear cellophane
  • A length of cute baker’s twine or raffia

To put the kit together, break the chocolate bar and graham crackers in half. Then, on an open piece of cellophane, place two pieces of graham cracker, followed by a piece of chocolate, then the marshmallows, then another piece of chocolate. Top it all off with the last two halves of graham cracker and there you have it! Now just wrap it all up and gift to a lucky hostess.

Hostess Sand Bucket, er… Gift Basket… Ideas

gift basket for summer
Poolside lounging in style | Photo courtesy Etsy seller InfinityLOVECo

This hostess gift is for your friends and family who could use some rest, relaxation, and a bit of lounging. It was inspired by my sister who chases three kids around daily and always feels like a million bucks when she’s able to paint her toenails, slather on some sunscreen, and lay her head back to lounge in the sun with a good book.

Sometimes, summer calls us all to take a few simple moments to unwind and enjoy being by some form of water—and that is exactly what this gift is offering your favorite hostess.

What to Put in a Beach Bag Gift:

  • A pair of flip flops
  • Nail polish
  • Sunglasses
  • Magazines or a new book
  • Sunscreen or lotion
  • A new beach towel

Stuff all these goodies in a sand bucket or woven tote and gift it to a hostess who may be in need of some summer poolside rest and relaxation. Remember, if you don’t want to go with this detailed of a gift, any one of these single items will make a beautiful hostess gift on their own. You know your hostess best and what will encourage her to get footloose and fancy free this summer!

Picnic Basket Gift Ideas for Summer

a summer picnic gift
A picnic ‘neath the shady trees | Photo courtesy Unsplash user Bonnie Kittle

My love for summer picnic baskets started a few years ago and now it knows no limit. Summer evenings spent in Portland always meant packing a basket with favorite things from the local market down the street before venturing to concerts in the park or outdoor gatherings with picnic party foods. We’d grab a baguette, a few selections of cheeses (like bacon cheddar or dill Havarti), a bottle of San Pellegrino, and top it all off with some kind of sweet or tangy spread, like tomato jam homemade from the spring or summer season’s bounty. Throw in some raw vegetables and salumi and you have all everything you need for an easily transportable meal.

This gift is wonderful to bring your hostess in the summer; perhaps it will spark the idea of getting together as a group to venture to some neighborhood outdoor activities. Even if a live concert isn’t on the calendar, there’s still something so nice about spreading a picnic blanket down on the grass, opening a basket, and spending a few hours of the day chatting and eating bit by bit as the summer sun goes down.

To properly pull this hostess gift off, you’ll need:

  • A vintage-style picnic basket (check your local thrift stores)
  • A fresh loaf of bread from a local market or bakery
  • Some specialty cheeses available at high-end marketplaces or local cheese shops
  • Bubbles, like a bottle of San Pellegrino or a light sparkling lemonade
  • Homemade tomato jam, or a locally crafted option from your farmers’ market

A Homemade Tomato Jam Recipe to Preserve Summer’s Bounty

While I like to include my homemade tomato jam in a picnic gift basket, your hostess would be equally delighted with a couple jars of this as a stand alone present as well. Here’s my go-to recipe for preserving summer’s fresh tomato bounty:

summer tomatoes make jam as a gift
Sweet and savory summer tomatoes | Photo courtesy Unsplash user Vince Lee

The Ingredients List:

  • 2 pounds of ripe Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne

The Recipe:

  1. Add the ingredients to a large saucepan and bring it to a boil, stirring consistently so that the bottom does not burn.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer. Stir until the mixture thickens into a jam. Remove from heat and cool.
  3. Transfer to well-sealed jars and enjoy!

Arrange your jam alongside your other items in your hostess gift basket, or simply add some twine for a rustic bow, then gift as a show of your gratitude for the gathering.

Whether you’re making a sweet treat s’mores kit or pairing a cute pair of flips flops with a brand new towel, I hope these homemade hostess gifts have given you creative tidbits of inspiration for the season of summer dinner parties ahead.

The warm and sunny weather seems to bring along with it the best excuses to gather together and share a meal with those you love. And, it’s always more fun to arrive with full arms and a full heart, offering your own unique token of appreciation to friends and family who generously open their homes and kitchens to you each summer.

For more ideas on hostess gift giving for summertime soirees, explore our summer gift guide. Or, connect with us on our Facebook page, on Twitter @Elfster, or Instagram @Elfstergram.

Last Minute DIY Mother’s Day Gifts: Elegant Breakfast in Bed Ideas for Mom

Last Minute DIY Mother’s Day Gifts: Elegant Breakfast in Bed Ideas for Mom

breakfast in bed
Life’s little luxuries | Image courtesy Unsplash user Toa Heftiba

The smell of coffee, morning sun streaming in through the window, the tang of freshly squeezed orange juice—there’s nothing quite as special as a thoughtfully prepared breakfast in bed to fill a soul up with happy content.

The older I get, the more I can comprehend why moms enjoy—and very much deserve—a luxurious sleep-in every so often. They get to stretch out, ignore the alarm clock, and not have to think twice about cracking an egg, flipping a pancake, or pouring their own coffee. That’s why I’ve put together all the necessary ingredients for a delicious last minute DIY Mother’s Day gift surprise.

Here are my favorite breakfast in bed ideas for mom. From the vase that holds the flowers to the mug that holds the coffee to the tray that holds it all, make it handmade for to embrace minimalist giving while still offering gifts that feel extravagant—and straight from the heart.

DIY Dot Mugs That Are Dishwasher Safe

My mom still keeps a ceramic coffee cup on her kitchen counter that I made in elementary school. To this day, I watch her refill that coveted homemade mug up with pride. And when she’s not using it, it sits alongside one that my niece made her with photos of some of their favorite shared memories plastered to the side.

dot mugs dishwasher safe
Dot, dot, dot | Image courtesy Etsy seller LucySuiSF

The idea of a mug decorated with acrylic paint is a simple one, but it never goes out of style. When it comes to creating this gift at the last minute, I’ve found a gold dotted mug is the perfect balance between crafty and quick.

The Supply List:

  • An oven safe white mug
  • Gold acrylic paint (oven, dishwasher, and microwave safe)
  • Multi-sized circle sponges

Crafting Instructions:

  1. Make sure your mug is clean of any stickers, dirt, or fingerprints.
  2. Next, dip your sponge in your gold paint and stamp your polka dots.
  3. Bake the mug in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then let sit for 24 hours to set.
  4. Wash, then gift while mom lounges with breakfast in bed!

If your mom is a true coffee lover of Friends proportions, present the mug to her alongside her own pot of locally roasted French press coffee. A dollop of whipped cream on top and a sprinkle of cinnamon make this an extra sweet treat.

Twine-Wrapped Glass Vase Gift Ideas

Flower bouquets are a classic Mother’s Day gift, though they can sometimes feel impersonal. To give them your own twist, try these DIY twine-wrapped vases. They’re a super simple present for mom that will let your fresh cut flowers take on a refreshingly custom spin.

twine wrapped vases
Twine is divine | Image courtesy Etsy seller 4thAvenueWoodworking

You can leave the decor simple and rustic, or you can see what sort of things you find around the house, on Etsy, or at your local craft store. If your mom loves the beach, glue on some seashells that you pocketed on a recent trip. If she likes jewelry, pick out some artful beads to add a bit of color. Possibilities abound with this crafty homemade gift that even toddlers can help out with.

The Supply List:

  • A glass bottle, anything from a wine bottle to a leftover jam jar
  • Rustic twine or string
  • A hot glue gun
  • Decorations (optional)
  • Fresh cut spring flowers

Crafting Instructions:

Starting at the bottom of the vase, add a drop of glue and press the end of the twine into it. Add more glue, wrapping twine as you go around the vase from the bottom up. Wrap and glue, wrap and glue, wrap and glue—a little bit at a time. Once you get in the rhythm of this craft, you’ll realize how simple it is. Hot glue your decor over the twine, if you’d like, then arrange your flowers inside, maybe also adding some greenery for extra color. Whether you fill your vase with wildflowers you picked in your backyard or a bouquet of red roses you picked up at the store, they’re sure to shine wrapped in twine!

An Easy DIY Wooden Serving Tray

The sight of a beautiful wooden breakfast serving tray being carried into a bedroom doesn’t have to be reserved for Pinterest accounts and home magazines; there are tons of creative ways to put together your own handmade trays simply and in a short amount of time.

rustic serving tray
Simple, rustic elegance | Image courtesy Etsy seller TheStationHome

I love when folks use chalk paint to personalize their trays, or tiles to create interesting mosaics. But for a quick and easy reclaimed scrap wood gift, I’ve found this tray to be the easiest one to create. And, if you’re super short on time, you don’t even have to paint it at all—just add handles. It will be beautiful however you make it.

The Supply List:

  • A piece of reclaimed wood approx. 19 ½” long x 13 ¾” wide
  • Simple steel handles
  • Paint or wood finish
  • A drill

Crafting Instructions:

  1. Salvage a tray-sized piece of wood, or have one cut to size at a hardware store.
  2. Paint—or don’t!
  3. When the paint is dry, attach your handles. I’d suggest going with handles that have visible screws from the top so you can easy screw them down.
  4. You’ve just DIY’ed a breakfast tray fit for a Mother’s Day queen!

A Homemade Butter Croissants Recipe

The idea of making croissants tends to scare some of us away; they look so elaborate and detailed. But, in reality, beautiful, buttery homemade croissants require less than ten ingredients—many of which you probably have on hand in your kitchen already. Plus, once you get the technique down, the art of croissant making will become second nature to you. You just may find yourself in your kitchen weekend after weekend, windows open, the smells of a French bakery enveloping your every sense. Here’s how to whip up a buttery batch for your mom’s breakfast in bed.

homemade buttery croissants
Beautiful and buttery | Image courtesy Unsplash user Alisa Anton

The Ingredients List:

For the Butter Mixture

  • 1 ½ cups butter, softened
  • ⅓ cup flour

For the Dough

  • ¼ oz active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1 cup warmed whole milk
  • ¼ cup cane sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 ½ cups flour



Baking Instructions:

  1. Beat your butter and flour until combined in a small bowl.
  2. On a piece of parchment paper, spread the mixture into a 6 x 12” rectangle. Cover this with an additional piece of parchment and pop into the fridge for about an hour and 15 minutes.
  3. In a big bowl, dissolve your yeast in warm water, then add the milk, sugar, egg, salt, and 2 cups of the flour. Mix until smooth. Stir in the remaining flour to form a dough.
  4. Move the dough onto a floured surface and knead with your hands for about 7 minutes or until it becomes smooth and elastic. Roll it into a 12-14” square.
  5. Take your butter mix from the fridge and remove the top layer of parchment paper. Place it top-side down over half of the dough, then remove the additional piece of parchment. Fold the remaining dough over the butter and seal the edges.
  6. Roll the dough into a rectangle of about 12 x 20” then fold the rectangle in half by bringing each side to meet in the middle. Repeat this rolling and folding action two more times. Then wrap it in plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge overnight.
  7. The next day, unwrap the dough and, on a lightly floured surface, roll it into a 20 x 25” rectangle. Cut that rectangle into 5” squares, then cut each square diagonally in half to form two triangles.
  8. Finally, shape your croissants! Roll the triangles up beginning from the wide end then place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If you’d like them to have the traditional croissant crescent shape, curve the ends down. Cover and let rise until doubled (about 45 minutes to 1 hour).
  9. Bake for 12 minutes at 375 degrees.
  10. Serve them to your mother warm, alongside her steaming hot coffee!

Whether you’ve been planning an elaborate Mother’s Day for a month, or you end up throwing something together the day before, we have a sneaking suspicion here at Elfster that your mom (or any mom you may be celebrating) will love it just the same.

From croissants to gold-dotted mugs, the components of a special breakfast in bed are made whimsical and wonderful by what they represent from the gift-giver—love, appreciation, and the desire to say, Unwind. Relax. Enjoy the slow pace of your morning—you deserve it.” Gifts to encourage a calm and serene mind are always well-loved, especially by moms.

From all of us here at Elfster, a happy Mother’s Day to you and yours! May it be lovely and love-filled.

For more gift-giving inspiration for your mom, visit our Mother’s Day gift guide. Or join the Elfster world on our Facebook page, on Twitter @Elfster, and on Instagram @Elfstergram. We can’t wait to meet you!

DIY Mother’s Day Flower Arrangements Picked Fresh to Surprise Mom with a Classic

DIY Mother’s Day Flower Arrangements Picked Fresh to Surprise Mom with a Classic

“A mother is one who fills your heart in the first place.” Amy Tan

DIY floral bouquet
A bouquet of beauty | Image courtesy Unsplash user Sweet Ice Cream Photography

Flowers are so naturally and intrinsically linked to Mother’s Day gifts. When I was a kid, I can recall using every last piece of pink and red colored tissue paper in the house to create a special faux flower bouquet for my mom, Nini. One year I tried to perfect the art of piping frosting in the shape of her favorite flower, plumerias, on top of a double chocolate cake. I also have memories of wrapping green tape around her most-used pen to secure a rose at the top and presenting it to her while she sat at her desk organizing her stationary.

Flowers, celebrating the bounty of the spring season, and my mom are all irrevocably linked in my memories. This saying often comes to mind, “I’d rather wear flowers around my hair than diamonds around my neck.” If it brings a vision of your mom to mind as well, these DIY Mother’s Day flower arrangements are freshly picked for her.

Happy Mother’s Day, to my mom and all the moms who appreciate the beauty of the natural world—and the ways in which it inspires their daughters.

An M-O-M Floral Alphabet

Once you’ve seen how fun creating these colorful floral letters can be, you may just find yourself doing it for everyone, from your mother to the mail lady. I like to simply spell out MOM with my letters, but you could also choose a nickname or short family saying. Then I wrap the letters individually to create more of a surprise element—what are the letters going to spell? Interspersed within my layers of eco-friendly wrapping paper or tissue, I’ll hide Hershey’s kisses, photographs, and even seashells I’ve picked up from various beaches while traveling. I think opening a gift should be part of the fun!

floral alphabet letter
F is for flower | Image courtesy Etsy seller HelloLittleBear

Many friends I know love using silk flowers on this craft so their floral alphabet stays lovely forever. I personally enjoy the look and smell of fresh mini roses, so often use those instead, even though they wilt in a day or two. Either way, your gift will be naturally beautiful—and your mother will love it.

The Supply List:

  • Silk (or fresh) flowers
  • Cardboard letters
  • Glue gun


  1. First, cut the flowers as close to the stem as you can.
  2. Next, arrange the flowers starting from one end of the letter and working up or down from there. Sometimes, an ombre hued color scheme can be fun. Or, start with the smallest buds at the top and the largest at the bottom.
  3. Try not to let the flowers droop too much over the edge. A little extra is fine, but keeping them in line with the letters will make your alphabet appear more uniform. I’m normally one for organic shapes, but in this case, neatness works in your favor.
  4. Once you have the flowers where you want them, glue them into place on the letter and watch your floral alphabet take shape.

A Photo Flower Pot Bouquet

flower pot bouquet
Terracotta whimsy | Image Unsplash seller Gemma Evans

Even a simple floral arrangement can make a bold statement. But, if you’re looking to change things up for Mom this year, opt for a flower pot bouquet that uniquely integrates photos of the two of you. It’s super simple and sure to please. I like to choose pictures that conjure up old memories and stir up conversations. The best part? This is a therapeutic craft that can be done while sitting outside and sipping iced tea in the sunshine.

The Supply List:

  • Mod Podge (I prefer matte finish over gloss)
  • A foam or sponge brush
  • Your favorite photos
  • A hot glue gun
  • A terracotta pot


  1. First, print out your image or images. Make sure the size fits on the pot you’re using. I find the simplicity of one photo in the center looks minimal but beautiful, though you can work with multiple photos if you’d like.
  2. Cut the photos and decoupage them onto your planter. Decoupage, if you’re new to this whole thing, is simply the art of decorating an object by gluing colored paper cutouts onto it.
  3. Once they’re decoupaged down, seal them in with 3 coats of Mod Podge, the wonder worker. Let each coat dry on its own before applying the next.
  4. And that’s it! It’s one of the simplest and best looking floral mother’s day gifts out there. Just add flowers!

DIY Dried Flower Candles

floral candle
DIY dried flower candles | Image courtesy Etsy seller CuteThingsOnEtsy

This sweet craft combines two of my mom’s favorites—flowers and candles! You will have to prepare this one ahead of time though, or buy dried flowers if this is a last minute gift for mom.

The Supply List:

  • Pressed flowers (directions below)
  • Pillar candles
  • Paraffin wax
  • A double boiler
  • A metal spoon
  • A paintbrush


  1. First, you’ll want to preserve your flowers. The easiest way to do this is by placing them between two pieces of wax paper, then between the pages of a heavy book. Add pressure by placing a large rock on top. Let sit for two weeks.
  2. Next, use a metal spoon and a double boiler to heat your paraffin wax over low heat, continuously stirring.
  3. Dip a paintbrush into the wax and form a coat over the part of the candle that you want to decorate. Press the flowers into this coat of wax, then apply a second coat. Let cool for 25 minutes.
  4. Using a dry cloth, softly buff the candle before gifting.

A Hanging Flower Chandelier

This flower chandelier is delicate, unique, and perfect for all of the truly special moms out there. You only need a few items to create whimsy and a spring flourish of color—and maybe a DIY spirit.

floral hanging chandelier
A sky full of flowers | Image courtesy Etsy seller BegoniaRoseCo

Put on a playlist of your mother’s favorite songs, hang this over the dining room table, and plan a spring-inspired dinner or picnic party for you and your family. It’s simple. It’s creative. It’s so very special.

The Supply List:

  • Long floral stems, like snapdragons
  • A 10-inch embroidery hoop
  • Washi tape
  • Clear thread
  • A metal ring
  • A needle


  1. Begin by wrapping your embroidery hoop with washi tape.
  2. Then, thread a needle through the stems of your snapdragons, pulling it all the way through.
  3. Next, bring both ends of the thread around the embroidery hoop, letting your snapdragons hang below it so that stem isn’t smashed up against the washi tape—about an inch or two. Tie the thread in a double knot and trim the remaining loose end of the thread.
  4. To make the chandelier easy to hang, tie three pieces of thread equal distances from one another. Then, bring them together at the top and tie them onto a metal ring.

Like the wonderful Maya Angelou once said, “I will look after you and I will look after anybody you say needs to be looked after, any way you say. I am here. I brought my whole self to you. I am your mother.”

Whether you’re using fresh flowers or felt ones, creating a timeless floral gift for your mom or someone who embodies everything the title of mom means to you, is bound to create special moments and memories this Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day from the entire Elfster family. May your day be filled with flowers and magic, friends.

For more floral gift-giving inspiration for mom, visit our Mother’s Day gift guide. Or join the Elfster world on our Facebook page, on Twitter @Elfster, and on Instagram @Elfstergram. We can’t wait to meet you!

Motivational Gift Ideas: Inspiring Friends to Keep Their 2017 New Year’s Resolutions

Motivational Gift Ideas: Inspiring Friends to Keep Their 2017 New Year’s Resolutions

motivational gift ideas
Wrap up some inspiration for 2017 | Image courtesy Etsy seller Wrappily

March is how far I got in 2016. Come to think of it, March is about how long I can maintain my New Year’s resolutions most years. But wouldn’t it feel amazing to see a New Year’s resolution through for an entire calendar year? I’m determined to tough it out in 2017—I’m in it for the long haul and I know my friends are, too.

From 12-step programs with support groups to exercise buddies counting on you to show up at the trailhead, having someone to meet with and report back to can keep you on the focused path towards achieving any goal. So this year I hosted a gift exchange to help launch a year-long accountability buddy system amongst my besties.

On the morning of December 31st, right as people in the Eastern Hemisphere were beginning to ring in the new year, my three closest friends and I got together to swap motivational gifts with our 2017 accountability buddy—and gear up for a year of achieving our goals together.

Positivity Gives You Super Strength

positive affirmations
Stay positive and capable | Image courtesy Amazon seller Sunny Dawn Johnson

Sometimes we forget how strong we really are. But that’s what our friends are for: to remind us how far we’ve come, what we’ve been able to accomplish, and how much of an impression we’ve left on the world.

Jackie and I have been friends for about three years, and I’ve seen her accomplish some amazing things, from her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology to having a baby. She’s one of those phenomenal gals we all secretly believe might be Wonder Woman, though she doesn’t always see the resemblance herself.

Now, with 2017 staring her in the face, Jackie is having doubts about whether she’ll be able to achieve her New Year’s resolution of getting accepted into a top Ph.D. program. With a new career to nurture and the sweetest baby son to care for, her confidence sometimes wavers. Luckily, I got to kick off our New Year’s gift exchange by gifting this remarkable woman with a fountain of positivity to keep her spirits high—an audio CD of positive affirmations she can listen to on her commute every day. She loved the CD, but was especially touched by my endless faith in her.

Daily Reminders to Power Through

Daily Inspiration
Maintain your focus | Image courtesy Amazon seller Workman Publishing

We all have bad days, but sometimes those bad days can seep in and become bad weeks. That’s when our New Year’s resolutions are the most at risk of falling by the wayside. For people who suffer from depression, keeping a bad day in check can feel like an impossible feat.

My friend Sara is a married mom with big aspirations for the future, but has struggled with major depressive disorder. Though she’s always been the epitome of hard work and determination, there are times when her depression makes her want to give up.

Knowing that Sara’s resolution this year is to score a big upcoming promotion, Jackie gave her something to help lighten the burden on those bad days: a daily motivational calendar to help her stay positive even when her internal struggles are working against her.

Remember Your Own Strength

life is tough poster
Life’s tough, but you’re tougher | Image courtesy Etsy user PrintableSky

Moms are a special breed of superhero, in my opinion. They spend their lives doing everything they can to make other people happy, nurturing the success of their children and sacrificing for them without hesitation. That’s why I have a profound respect for my friend Diana, a stay-at-home mom of four brilliant children.

Her eldest is 17 and her youngest just 3. Whether she’s searching for a beloved plush toy so the toddler can take her nap or helping her eldest son with his college applications, she’s constantly worrying about and caring for others—she’s given up a lot and postponed her own goals to make sure her children achieve theirs.

But, for once, Diana is doing something just for herself, resolving to lose weight, get in shape, and run a half-marathon by the end of 2017, even though she hasn’t run a mile since high school gym class. It’s going to be a huge challenge, but she has a plan and, most importantly, the endless support of her husband, kids, and friends. To keep Diana motivated, Sara gifted her an inspirational poster, beautifully framed.

Using a calligraphy set her husband got her for Christmas, Sara created a beautifully scripted placard that reads, “Life is tough, my darling, but so are you.” She then framed it to match the style of Diana’s home. Diana plans to hang it in her bedroom so it’s one of the first things she sees in the morning when she wakes up and puts on her new running shoes.

What You Think, You Become

For all of us career women—and those unbelievable ladies who somehow manage to swing a career and mommyhood—our profession is like a monument that we work our entire lives to build. Each year it gets a bit stronger and nicer to look at, but it also becomes more difficult to reach those new heights. As an entrepreneur, I actually worked 44 out of 52 weekends in 2016!

the power of positive thinking
Mind over matter gets you to the finish line | Image courtesy Amazon seller Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

So one of my resolutions is to take better care of myself by giving myself vacation days. I love my job, but I also miss being able to travel, so I’m planning a much-dreamed-of vacation to New York at the end of 2017.

Being the supportive career cheerleader she is, Diana gave me the perfect present: The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. I’ve already begun reading my gift and it’s giving me some wonderful tips on how to be kinder to myself while still striving for success. And I know Diana will be there holding me accountable in 2017, helping me reflect on Peale’s motivational lessons so I make it to New York and nurture the non-professional side of my life as well.

Not only did our supportive gift exchange get me even more motivated to meet 2017 head on, but it made me realize that I have a pretty incredible group of friends. I’m lucky to be surrounded by strong, smart women who know what they want in life—and are always willing to help someone else reach their goals, too.

New Year’s resolutions used to feel like a solitary endeavor, making them far more challenging to uphold. This year, I’m not alone. I have an accountability buddy and an entire team of inspiring friends behind me to make sure my New Year’s resolution becomes a reality. So bring it on, 2017! My girls and I are ready to make this our best year yet.

Want more ideas on how to make your 2017 resolutions stick? Let the Elves inspire you with motivational gifts. Get even more ideas on our Facebook page, Instagram @Elfstergram, and Twitter @Elfster

A Carry-On Christmas: Travel-Friendly Gifts That Pack a Punch, Not Your Luggage

A Carry-On Christmas: Travel-Friendly Gifts That Pack a Punch, Not Your Luggage

“Above the river and over the woods, to Grandmother’s house I’ll fly…” I can’t help but laugh at my own goofy rendition of the familiar holiday tune, all the while puzzling on how I can possibly fit everything I’d love to gift my family into my carry-on suitcase—without needing to oust my favorite outfit of worn-in jeans and a cozy flannel top.

Then it dawns on me. I don’t need to forgo my fireside comfies, nor will I have to check an enormous suitcase for an astronomical baggage fee. I just need to think a little outside the box—the gift box, that is—and I’ll have no problem fitting all my Christmas presents into the overhead compartment this year.

Big Things Can Travel in Small Suitcases

There are some petite, yet meaningful presents that can be tucked under rolled-up socks and folded tees—and I made sure to use every square inch of my carry-on to squeeze in as much Christmas cheer as possible, no matter the size of the parcel.

My sister-in-law will love her delicate, raw Aquamarine pendant necklace that matches a bracelet she dons at every holiday event—and this gift fit right into my purse for safe keeping on the flight. She definitely deserves a little sparkle for putting up with my brother and their busy brood all year.

raw aquamarine necklace
Sparkling Aquamarine adornments | Image courtesy Etsy seller AbizaJewelry

And, speaking of busy broods, Grandma will rave for months over the personalized photo book I had printed for her and Grandpa featuring all the antics our family has gotten into over the years. After searching photo bins stashed in closets and filtering through files on PCs, my siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles all emailed me their favorites family photos, along with explanations of the memories so I could properly caption each one.

Once I had the photos assembled, I:

  1. Meticulously sorted the pictures in chronological order, giving each of Grandma’s kids their own section to show off their own branch of the family tree.
  2. Uploaded the photos to an online photo shop where they were automatically filled into a beautiful template, arranged precisely how I wanted them—complete with silly inside jokes and family quotes.
  3. Finalized the order and, in about a week, had a gorgeously bound, but not bulky, photo book to lovingly wrap and tuck into my suitcase.

Lots of reminiscing will ensue as the family looks through the photo book on Christmas day between sips of eggnog and nibbles of turkey. I know I can’t wait to hear Grandpa retell the tale behind a picture of my cousin Aaron and me as children, caught climbing shelves in Grandma’s pantry, the ground covered in flour and cereal crumbs.  

Experiences That Last Long After the Return Flight

Living a couple states away means I don’t get to share in my family’s day-to-day lives, but that doesn’t mean I can’t always be there in spirit. A gift certificate for a new experience allows me to be part of an exciting adventure—even when I’m a plane ride away.

online photography class
Picture perfect photog supplies | Image courtesy Amazon seller Creative Live

Given his flair for adventure that’s continued well past our flour-coated, pantry-climbing days of old, I made sure to get Aaron a gift that would appease his inner adrenaline junkie. With a certificate for a rock climbing excursion, he can pick out his next climbing feat, and I know when he books that adventure he’ll think back to the pantry scaling we did together as kids.

Aaron’s wild ways are (usually) kept in check by his wife, who prefers calm crafting projects to daredevil outings, so, to soothe her nerves after his thrill-seeking endeavors, I bought her a certificate to a local spa, including a facial and 90-minute massage. That way, she can unwind and take a few deep breaths after Aaron returns safely from his climb.

And then there’s my Uncle Bill, who’s tinkered with his old cameras for years and has really developed a knack for capturing the perfect picture. Last year, one of his beloved cameras broke and, while he keeps it on display in his office, I happen to know that Aunt Helen upgraded him this year to a digital Nikon so he can get back to documenting life via his photographs. He loves learning about lighting techniques and which angles are ideal for each shot, so the gift of an online photography course will keep him up-to-date on the latest tricks of the trade.

Subscriptions Boxes Bring Christmas Joy Year Round

felt doll diy kit
Cute felt doll DIY kit | Image courtesy Etsy seller DelilahIris

Whether it’s photography, crafting, or collecting, everyone has a hobby that delights them. The gift of a subscription box means I get to inspire that joy multiple times throughout the upcoming year!

My sister, a true bookworm, will squirm with delight when gifted a subscription box of a monthly vintage read, with little extras like handmade bookmarks, cards, and a sweet treat of candy from the year the featured book was published. I think I’ve finally found a way to give her book stack a chance against her nightly binge-reading sessions!

Little Sis isn’t the only one that gets to revel in happy monthly mailings, though. Even the fluffy pomeranian pooch my Mom adores will get spoiled by goodies, pampered with a monthly gourmet dog treat box—I’m sure my Mom will be as tickled as her precious fur baby each month.

Memberships That Carry on the Cheer

As I readily check family off my list, I come to the pair that keeps me challenged, but, this year, I have the perfect present in mind. Since Dad is forever traveling for work, and Mom typically tags along to lounge at the hotel or nearby shops during his meetings, I thought of a way to make their trips a bit more luxurious and relaxing.

By getting my parents a membership for lower rates and exclusive upgrades on luxury hotels, each business trip they take next year will feel more like a vacation! They’ll be thanking me until next Christmas—it’s truly a gift that keeps on giving and a total parent present win!

Presents That Make the Trip Before Takeoff

Now that I have nearly everyone covered, with room to spare for my pair of sparkly holiday heels, there are just a couple more pint-sized members of my family I just have to go big for: my nephews Zachary and Zander. So, with a little heads up to my Sister-in-law to watch for the delivery guy, I made sure to order and ship their oversized gifts ahead of my arrival.

upgraded hotel room
Enjoying the suite view | Courtesy flick’r user Roderick Eime,Traveloscopy

Express shipping, and a little sneaky communicating with their mom, enables me to send the boys toys featuring their current character obsessions: a Mickey Mouse ride-on toy for Zack and a Thomas the Train Engine one for little Zander. I’ll wrap them up when I land, and they’ll never know the packages arrived before their auntie did.

It’s my favorite thing about the holidays, to leave lasting smiles on the faces of those I love well into the new year, so I went for gifts that make big impressions without taking up huge chunks of real estate in my luggage.

No matter if I am coming around the mountain—or flying over it—I know that when I reach my destination, singing my own merry little remix, I’ll be loaded up with plenty of Christmas cheer to share with all those I hold dear.

Trying to pack your suitcase with the perfect gift for everyone on your list? Let the Elves help you arrive prepared with our Christmas Gift Guides! Travel over to our Facebook, Twitter @Elfster, and Instagram @Elfstergram for tons of inspiration to carry with you this holiday season.

Get Cozy… It’s Sweater Weather!

Get Cozy… It’s Sweater Weather!





Like it or not, it’s time to pack up the warm weather gear and get ready for the cool, crisp days to come. It’s finally fall. Time for warm drinks, pretty colors and comfy clothes. Hooray! It’s sweater weather! At Elfster, we look forward to the change of seasons and our gift guides are ready with our top picks for your fall fashion must-haves for Him and Her.





Time To Layer Up, Guys

This time of year, it’s all about the layers. Be ready for the ever-changing fall weather with Elfster’s Wardrobe REFRESH guide , featuring great sweaters, jackets and long-sleeved shirts for Him. Whether you are dressing for the office or enjoying a fall adventure with family and friends, our guide has you covered. Looking for the perfect gift for your guy? Check out all of our For Him gift guides for our top selections for the season.







Get Comfy, Girls

The beautiful autumn days bring with them plenty of pumpkins, glorious colors, and the perfect excuse to bulk up your wardrobe. Get comfy in this year’s fall fashion picks featured in Elfster’s Fashion For Her gift guide. Our sweaters, jackets and pants will keep you warm and toasty all season long.






Cozy Up In Style

Nothing perks up your fall wardrobe better than the perfect statement accessory. Elfster’s featured Scarves gift guide is specifically designed with this in mind. Set yourself apart with a stylish scarf, from the bold and bright to the soft and subtle. And a comfy scarf is the perfect gift for anyone on your list this season!

Be sure to keep your Elfster wish list up-to-date with these great ideas for build your fall wardrobe. Looking for a great way to share the season with the ones you love? Organize a fall-fashion themed gift exchange with friends. Elfster’s secret Santa style gift exchanges are a great (and free!) way to connect, no matter what the occasion. And Elfster’s great fashion gift guides have something for everyone and just what you need for inspiration for your own wish list. Need help? You can reach us via Facebook here. Tweet us @elfster or catch us on Instagram at #elfstergram.


Wish. Gift. Shop. Share.

Here’s To Mom

Here’s To Mom


April showers bring May flowers and spring is in full bloom. That means Mother’s Day is just around the corner on May 10 — a day to celebrate and appreciate your wonderful mom, and all the special moms near and dear to your heart. Let them know how much you care with the perfect gifts for their unique personality. Since no two moms are the same, Elfster’s Mother’s Day Gift Guide features suggestions from a diverse offering of gifts sure to please everyone.

Need some inspiration to find just the right gift for your special mom?

Here are some of Elfster’s top picks…



For The Green Thumb


Does your mom love to spend her springtime days in the garden? Our helpful tools and one-of-a-kind gifts featured in our Gardening Gift Guide are sure to brighten her day.












Our dazzling Jewelry Gift Guide features beautiful ideas, as unique as your mom. She’ll fall in love with these earrings, necklaces, bracelets and watches to suit any taste.







Gifts for the Home






Your mom made your house a home. Now it’s her turn to enjoy the special comforts of the home she created with something from our Home Decor Gift Guide.


Elfster has already been busy this spring helping many deserving moms celebrate each other with secret santa style gift exchanges for Mother’s Day, harnessing the shared interests of the group members. Themed Mother’s Day exchanges include cards, natural and organic bath products, fitness inspired gifts and beauty items, just to name a few. Are you part of a group that shares a common interest? Why not celebrate each other with an Elfster gift exchange — for any occasion!

And don’t forget to add our gift guide ideas to your own wish list or use them as inspiration for gifts you are sending.

Wish. Gift. Shop. Share.

Celebrating You… Elfster Style!

Celebrating You… Elfster Style!

Your birthday happens just once a year, but when it comes we hope it’s a great one. Get inspired by our gift guides and add your favorites to your wishlist to share with friends and family. Be ready and keep on wishing all year long!


Gift Ideas for Her


For Her Gift Guide



Browse the For Her gift guides to see the latest gift ideas for women.  Our ideas include something for everyone, whether her interest is beauty, health and fitness, or jewelry.  We love this Tory Burch for Fitbit bracelet, it is a beautiful way to incorporate a fitness and sleep tracker into your daily routine.







Gift Ideas for Him

gifts for him


We make it easy to shop for every guy on your list.  Our For Him gift guides are chock full of terrific ideas.  Whether you are looking for clothing, gadget gifts, or items for the guy that likes to entertain, we have just the thing.  This pencil that can be used with an iPad looks and feels just like the real thing.







Baby’s First Birthday




There are few things as fun and special as celebrating a first birthday.  Our just launched Baby’s First Birthday gift guide includes fun toys, special apparel and cute party supplies.  This teepee promises to provide hours of fun for your little ones. 







happy birthday



When it is time to celebrate, be sure to check out our Happy Birthday guide so that you can plan to perfect celebration.   Wishing you and yours many happy birthdays

All You Need Is Love

All You Need Is Love

Valentine's Day Gift Idea II



Looking for just the right gift to put a smile on the face of your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day?  You’ll fall in love with Elfster’s Valentine’s Day Gift Guides, which offer that perfect something for your perfect someone.  Remember Elfster isn’t just for Secret Santa gift exchanges, there’s still just enough time to squeeze in a Secret Cupid exchange with friends or co-workers! Our inspirational gift guides are a sure thing.  Take a peek – we know you’ll love them too!



The Perfect Gift for Her



Hey Guys – need help finding just the right thing for your valentine? Don’t worry, we have you covered. Elfster’s Gifts for Her guide has the latest and greatest. If your special someone loves to work out, we have great fitness gifts to keep her going strong all year long.  And ladies, don’t forget to add that “must-have” gift idea to your wishlist to help your sweetheart share the love.






Guy Gifts


Valentine's Day gift for him


Need the perfect gift for him?  We’ve found great ideas to show him you card.  Our Gifts for Him has everything for your favorite guy.  From the practical gift for Tool Lover guide to the ideas for the well dressed guy, our guides have just want every guy wants.








Valentine's Day Sweets

Sweets for your Sweetie


All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.   —   Charles M. Schulz


And we couldn’t agree more! Treat your sweetie to the delectable delights featured in our Sweets, etc. gift guide. From the traditional box of chocolates to conversation heart cookies, we have just what you need to please any sweet tooth.




Valentine's Day Flowers

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue…

… And these blooming beauties will surely please you!

Adding a little romance to your Valentine’s Day? The exquisite arrangements featured in our Flowers gift guide are an unforgettable gift from the heart. Our guide features the most dazzling array of the sweetest bouquets to show your love.

Don’t forget, it’s always a great time to host a gift exchange with Elfster, no matter what the occasion! See a great idea you’d love for yourself? Be sure to add it to your own wishlist to give your sweetheart a little help.  XOXO

New Year, New You- Top Wishlist Ideas

New Year, New You- Top Wishlist Ideas

New Year's Wishlist Ideas




We absolutely love this time of year- a chance to start fresh, set new goals and make the year ahead your best yet. Looking for the best way to get started? Have you made any resolutions for 2015?

We’ve found great ‘New Year, New You’ Wishlist ideas to inspire and motivate you to stick to your resolutions.







Get in Shape

If getting in shape is your healthy resolution for the New Year, you’re in luck: our Get in Shape- for Her and Get in Shape-for Him gift guides will help jump-start your goal and start your 2015 off on a healthy high note!  We have found all the gear you need to create the perfect wishlist to realize your goals.








Get Organized

Hopefully you’ve found a spot to stash all of your holiday decorations, and were able to put away the gifts you received from your Secret Santa.  One of the easiest ways to improve your home is to clear the clutter and get organized.  Our helpful Get Organized gift guide has just what you need to have your home be the beautiful, efficient and clean space you are looking for.






Positive Thinking


Make 2015 the best year ever.  As you work to stay on track with your resolutions, be sure to remind yourself of all that you have already accomplished.  Are you involved in a gift exchange?  These ideas are sure to brighten up any wishlist, and make great gifts for anyone, or a well deserved treat for yourself.