Last Minute Holiday Gifts Under $35

judgemental santa

Don’t look at me like that, old man. You don’t know my life. Wait….

If you’re anything like me, you wait until the last minute… for anything. Writing papers, doing your makeup, and especially at this time of year, sending Christmas cards and getting my shopping done. From middle school all the way to my last week of graduate school, however, I was only rewarded for my last minute efforts with good grades, so I haven’t had much of an incentive to change my ways. Since that Mayan apocalypse didn’t happen, I guess Christmas (and my student loans) are still on. (Yay?) I only have a few things to pick up/finish making, but everything to wrap. Between work and commuting to work, or driving to whatever Christmas event where my presence is required, I don’t have a whole lot of time left. But, in all of that time I spend commuting to my new job as a bridal gown consultant, I have a great opportunity to think about any number of things. This includes anticipating (possibly unnecessarily) any wedding dilemmas my fiance and I might encounter, what I need to throw in the laundry, or, this blog post. So, here are some suggestions for last minute gifts or stocking stuffers for your friends and family. Yes, most of this is from Target, and yes, I do wish I was getting paid for my endorsement of these products, but doesn’t it just seem easier when you can find almost all of it in one store? Plus, Target did an amazing collaboration with over 20 designers to create exclusive products for this holiday season, and in these last few days leading up to Christmas, the entire line is 50% off!

holiday gifts for girls

1. For some holiday flair: OPI Nail Polish in Skyfall – $7.99 (wherever OPI Nail Polish is sold… try Sally Hansen Beauty Supply) This deep ruby red, inspired by the latest James Bond flick, adds a nice pop of color to the dark wardrobes of winter.

2. For the Woman with A Plan: Greenroom Planner  – $7.99 (from Target) Monthly planner with plenty of space for everything she needs to organize in 2012-2013 made from recycled paper, featuring a cute floral-patterned cover.

3. For the Hostess: ScentSationals Mini Fragrance Warmer  – $10 (from Wal-Mart) Melt scented wax cubes without a flame — plug this warmer in to release an aroma of Lemon Chiffon, Soft Cashmere, or any of the other great scents available.

4. For the Gym Fanatic: Goody QUIKSTYLE Paddle Brush – $11.99 (from Target) Super-absorbent microfiber bristles remove 30% of water as you blow dry or brush your hair, reducing styling time as you go from the locker room to the classroom, office, or wherever you’re heading.

5. For a touch of glamour: Multi Illusion Gold Short Necklace – $14.99 (from Target) This necklace adds a bit of polished elegance to any party outfit.

6. For the Funny GirlIs Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling – $11.20 (from Target) In addition to starring in her own TV show while The Office wraps up its last season, Mindy Kaling found time to write an autobiography, detailing her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood.

7. For the Girl on the Go: Carolina Herrera Travel Bags – $19.99 (WAS $39.99!, from Target)  Three bold prints adorn this Carolina Herrera travel cosmetic bag set. Each chic bag comes in a different size with a zip top and brass Carolina Herrera logo pull to ensure you always travel in style.

8. For the Label Lover: Oscar de la Renta Tote – $29.99 (WAS $59.99!, from Target) This spacious canvas tote, featuring a print by Oscar de la Renta, has a timeless shape and an affordable price.

9. For the Jersey Shore Guid-ette: Downton Abbey, Seasons 1 & 2 – $32.99 (from Target) Is one of your gal pals sad that Jersey Shore has been cancelled? Give her something new to love, featuring all the drama and scandal, but none of the spray tan or fist-pumping….

holiday gifts for guys

1. For the Kid at Heart: Nerf N-Strike Blaster Maverick – $9.97 (from Wal-Mart) C’mon. It’s a Nerf gun. Even I love Nerf guns.

2. For the Dude with Everything: Porcelain Gnome – $12 (from Target) This little guy is a fun guest in any room. He’s a bit fragile, so I suggest putting him somewhere up high… but that may add a “creepy gnome” factor…

3. To stay comfy and cozy: Printed PJ Pants – $12 (WAS $16.94, from Old Navy) Guys can always use a new pair of pj pants. Get him a pair to open on Christmas Eve so he can wear them to open gifts in the morning.

4. For your James Bond: rag & bone Flask – $14.99 (WAS $29.99, from Target) This slim, stainless steel flask is great for a sip of his favorite adult beverage on a cold winter day.

5. For the Bros: Band of Outsiders Set of 2 Toboggans  – $14.99 (WAS $29.99, from Target) He can keep one and give the other to a friend, but you may want to convince him to let you have it with its 70% wool/30% cashmere blend. I couldn’t stop touching the inside of these when I was in the store — so soft and warm.

6. For the ComicThe Onion Book of Known Knowledge: Mankind’s Final Encyclopedia (Hardcover) – $21.83 (from Target) Everyone has that friend who posts articles from The Onion, only to have someone take the headline “Obama Paranoid Government Coming for His Guns” seriously. This is the perfect book for that friend.

7. For a stylish topper: Men’s Sweater Cardigan – $22.50 (WAS $34.94, from Old Navy) Even the most ironic t-shirt can still look a little classier when he throws this cardigan over it. My fiance pairs his with a white button down and a skinny black tie for a dressier look.

8. For the Blockbuster Buff: The Dark Knight Trilogy – $27.29 (from Target) Was your brother at the midnight premiere of the final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s spin on Batman? Give him the complete set.

9. For the Mustachio-ed Gentleman: Silver-Plated 4 Piece Shave Set – $28.99 (from Target) Unfortunately, this one is online only, but you can give him an IOU. (Who hasn’t done that before?) This set makes his morning routine a little more special.

 

What’s on your wish list this year?

The Best DIY Project for Your Fall Wardobe: Infinity Scarf

Sweater weather. Those are my two favorite words to hear in late September. However, with the weather we’ve been having in northeast Ohio, real fall weather hasn’t really appeared until the last week or so, and it’s still not consistent. It’s supposed to be in the mid 70s this afternoon. I’m hoping the fall temperatures become more reliable soon. Fall is, hands down, the best season in my book, and it always has been. Even though January 1 traditionally rings in the new year, I always feel like fall brings a fresh start with a new school year, or a second try if your year didn’t begin as you’d hoped it would. (At least this year it did for me, since I wasn’t heading back to class for the first time in 20-some years this fall. I just really like buying school supplies and picking out my “first day of school” outfit, ok?) Fall means great September thunderstorms, mugs of hot chocolate or hot apple cider (apple anything, really), watching the leaves turn beautiful shades of red and orange, new seasons of my favorite television shows, pumpkin ice cream, football and marching bands, and cozy scarves. Actually, I love all staples of a fall wardrobe, but cardigans and scarves are really at the top of the list.

I’ve already shared super-simple tutorials for DIY makeovers for your summer and winter wardrobes, and now I’d like to give you one to top off your fall looks. Infinity scarves have been popular for a few years now, and while I love my cute floral patterned ones from Charming Charlie’s, this scarf will take you through fall and into winter, and is much cheaper than anything you can get in stores. You should be able to make two scarves for less than $6 — keep an eye out for JoAnn’s Fabrics and Crafts coupons! If you’re using a sewing machine, this project should only take you less than a half hour. If you’re hand-sewing like I did, get comfy with your Hulu Plus queue — I’d suggest 2-3 episodes of Downton Abbey. (Not “Downtown Abbie,” as Brian referred to it.) I started watching this a couple of weeks ago and I absolutely love it. Anyway, here’s what you’ll need to get started with your new accessory:

1.75 yds of medium-weight plaid/flannel fabric
Mine isn’t very thick and not very fleece-like. Consider that it will be doubled over and then wrapped around your neck twice.
Spool of thread
Any color that coordinates with your fabric will do.
Straight pins
These are so much more helpful than I ever realized… I wish I’d used them for other projects I did this summer.

Step 1.

Put on moccasin slippers and refresh your mug of cocoa. Lay the fabric out flat on the floor or a long table, lengthwise. Cut the fabric on the folded edge along the entire length, giving you two identical pieces. Toss one piece off the the side and use it to make a gift for a friend later! Fold your piece of fabric lengthwise with the right side of it facing in. It should be about 10-ish inches wide now.

Step 2.

Pin your fabric together on the “open” edges, leaving about 3/4″ for a hem. Sew along the entire length of the fabric to close the open edges and create a tube. For this part, it was nice to have a straight line on the fabric to follow with my stitches. Once you’re done sewing the edges together, be sure to remove all of the pins.

Step 3.

Turn the fabric right-side out and lay the tube out flat. (It will be the same way it was when you were sewing the open edges together, except now the edges have been hemmed inside. On one end of the tube, fold the edge down about 1″ to create an even hem. It should look like a shirt sleeve at this point.

Step 4.

This part is a little tricky to explain, so I drew a little diagram to make it easier to understand. (I promise it’s easy to do.) Keeping all of the fabric flat, insert the open edges (cut end) from the opposite end of the tube between the folded down edges (hem end). It will be helpful here to pin everything together. Now, you’ll sew through all 6 layers of fabric, as shown in my handy little drawing. Make sure you’re getting all of the layers, since this is how you join the edges and close up the loop.

Step 5.

It doesn’t exactly matter where you tie the knot at the end, since no one is going to see it anyway. For my scarf, however, just so I didn’t snag it on anything, I flipped over the little flap created by the hem and tied my knot underneath.

And you’re done! Wasn’t that easy? Now go show your new fall scarf off to your friends and see if they believe you only had to sew two straight lines. Make a mistake? That’s ok, these scarves are very forgiving. After all, it’s just a piece of fabric wrapped around your neck. 🙂

If you liked this post, be sure to check out:

DIY Braided Strap Tank Top

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a DIY tutorial on this blog. The last one was how to revamp a pair of plain Jane high heels into something a little more fabulous. This time, I’ll show you how to make an item from your t-shirt surplus a little cuter and much more suitable for hot summer days. (In Ohio, that’s all we’ve had lately.) If you’re anything like me, you have drawers full of “free” t-shirts from college or high school. I’m pretty sure that t-shirts were the currency of the realm during my undergrad, getting a new shirt for every major event in which I participated. Many of those t-shirts are being transformed into a quilt as a sort of souvenir for my years at YSU. I’d be further along in the project, but I didn’t realize how tedious it was to iron on interfacing to the backs of each of the quilt squares. I went through half of them and quit to start on a new craft project. It will be finished this summer, though, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

I also have a lot of t-shirts that I’ve picked up along the way from different things. Concerts, travel, or even a random wandering through Goodwill… I’ve found some pretty cool shirts. I really only wear t-shirts to work out, but lately, it’s been too hot to wear a t-shirt with sleeves, and it gets annoying to have to push them up every twenty steps or so. Sometimes, I like the graphic on the shirt, but wish I could wear it under a cardigan (the basic staple of my wardrobe) without the bulk of sleeves. Taking those t-shirts and making them into cute tank tops easily takes care of both of those problems.

This step-by-step tutorial should take about an hour or less, with very little sewing involved. You’ll want to use a baggy shirt in your size or a shirt one size larger than what you normally wear.

Step 1.

Lay the shirt out on a flat surface. Cut the sleeves off just outside of the seam. Measure about 2 inches down from the bottom of the collar, and make a small mark. Starting at the sides of the collar, cut down to the mark in a “V” shape through both sides of the t-shirt.

Step 2.

On the front of the t-shirt, use the bottom of the “V” as a guide. Draw a horizontal line straight across the bottom of the “V” from sleeve to sleeve. Flip the shirt over and cut each shoulder section into thirds. Stop when you reach the same level as the bottom of the “V” on this side (the back) of the shirt.

Step 3.

Pull on each of the strips to stretch it out. The edges will roll in a bit, but that’s ok. Braid one set of three strips and sew the strips together at the end to secure them. Repeat on the other side. At this point, I stretched the braids out a bit too, just to keep the length.

Step 4.

To do this step, I put on a tank top I already like and put this shirt on over that one so I could find where I like the straps to fall. On me, that’s about 10-11 inches apart. Pin the straps where you want them to be. Sew one strap securely onto the inside of the t-shirt towards the top. Repeat on the other side. It should look fairly tank-top-y by now.

Step 5.

Using scrap material from the “V”s you cut out or from the sleeves, cut a strip about an inch and a half wide by four inches long. Wrap this strip tightly around the area where you connected the strap to the t-shirt to cover it and make it look a bit neater. Sew the strip to itself on the back of the braid so it’s on the inside of the tank top and not easily visible. Do the same thing on the other braid. You’re done!

This is my sister, Carmen. Thanks, Carmen!

The top may roll a bit, and you can feel free to fold it over and hem it, but it’s not necessary. That’s the great thing about t-shirt material. The tank top does a cool drape-fold type thing in the back where the braids start.

Give this refashion a try and let me know how it goes for you! I’d love to see a picture of your refashion!