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Finding the Perfect Wedding Gift for a Special Couple

June 8, 2012

Someone very important to me is getting married. Weddings are a big deal, and I’m thrilled, but I’m also a bit overwhelmed. Why am I overwhelmed when it isn’t my wedding? Because I’m now tasked with finding the PERFECT wedding gift.

Finding that gift that says it all shouldn’t be that hard, right? After all, I have known the guy his whole life. So before I get into the details of my quest to find that best-wedding-gift-ever gift, here’s a little background info.

Beau (soon-to-be groom), Cassie (me), and Luke (baby brother) sometime in the late ’80s

When I was almost 3 years old, my life changed–big time. I went from being an only child to the proud owner of my very own little brother. Luckily, since I’d only been on the planet a few short years, I hadn’t gotten too used too cozy in that only child role.

Growing up with a brother not much younger than me was great. We went to the same school, share friends, have similar interests, and–on account of the whole same parents thing–can really relate to each other. Somewhere along the way, we even got another little bro to share.

Fast-forward 20-something years. Now I have a husband my own and my brother, Beau, has a smart, charismatic, funny fiance. This wedding gift has to show Beau how much I care, that I’m happy for him, and that I can’t wait for Bobbi to be a part of our family.

Beau and Bobbi

First I made a list of things they like, in hopes of getting gifting inspiration. They both love fishing (they’re actually having a fishing-themed wedding) and other outdoor sports. They also both love cooking. Beau loves history and archaeology and he works for the railroad. Bobbi works in financial management and she loves crafting and DIY projects.

Vases for the candy buffet (fill with Swedish Fish, gummy worms, and Goldfish crackers) / Inspiration for the theme / Card basket and photo for the gift table/ Cattails for the centerpieces. Photos by Bobbi Dahnke

Starting with their professions, I thought Beau might like the Railroad Date Nail Cufflinks, and I could pair them with a necklace for Bobbi, like the Cymbal of Love Pendant or the Links of Love necklace.
Next, there’s Bobbi’s specialty. I could just give them a wad of cash with a nice card and a joke about how she’s in charge of the money. But, on second thought, while they might enjoy the dough, it’s probably not right for this special occasion.They do both like cooking, so something like the Artisanal Bamboo Salt Chest, an Elevate Carousel Utensil Set, or a Recipe Box and Card Kit, while not extremely personal, would be much-used by my brother and sister-in-law.

If I really wanted to focus on “personal” I could make them something myself. I would love to put together a scrapbook, create a quilt (if I knew how to quilt, of course), or paint their portrait (again with the “if I could do that sort of thing” thing). Unfortunately, me creating a beautiful handmade gift probably isn’t going to happen.

The next best thing is finding a lovely handmade gift handmade by someone else, but expressing what I want to say. Something that really says, “Welcome to the family.” A Wedding Wishes Vase is a great choice, because it’s a way for me to share how I feel about the happy couple and let others do the same. I also love the Personalized Tree Anniversary Plate and the tree fits nicely with their outdoorsy wedding theme. Another of my custom favorites is the Personalized Photo Wall Art. Since she’s choosing to change her last name, it would be a fun way to say “Now you’re a part of team Tweten.”

So, which of these wonderful gifts did I decide is perfect for my brother and his beautiful bride-to-be? I can’t say, because the wedding hasn’t happened yet (and because, to be honest, there’s a wee possibility that I haven’t decided). All stressing aside, though, I know they will love the gift no matter which product I choose, because it’s coming from me. (Not in a weird “I’m so great they’ll love anything I pick” way, but in the way that you hang indecipherable drawings from children on the fridge because they were made with love.)

I’m looking forward to celebrating their special day with them, wearing a fancy bridesmaid’s dress, and–like I watched my little brother grow up–watching two people in love grow old together.

Gift Guides

Wedding Decor Picks from Maggie of Rustic Wedding Chic

June 8, 2012

As the founder and editor of Rustic Wedding Chic I constantly hear from brides who are looking for fun, upbeat and unique items to add into their wedding decor. Trying to find the best wedding decor items is no easy task which is why I took the time to collect a few of my favorite uncommon wedding goods.

Squirelly Love
Perfect for a cake topper for a rustic wedding or I think this cute little item would look great on the head table or your sweetheart table right in front of you and your new spouse.

Ceramic Love Vase
A perfect vase to have on your special tables such as your cake table, guestbook table or line a few up along the place card display.

Bucket of Joy & Love
The name says it all. On your wedding day you should be filled with joy and love so why not showcase how you feel with these cute vases which would be really cute carried by your flower girls.

Family Tree Picture Frame
A wedding is all about merging two families together so why not showoff your new family tree. This would be really cute displayed for your guest to see as they eneter your wedding reception.

USA Scratch Map
How great would it be to have this fun map up next to your guestbook with a little sign that ask your guest to scratch off the state where they are from. This would be a fun way to see where all of your guest have travel from.

Lovebirds
Another great looking wood sculpture that could easily be used as a cake topper or just fun to have around on your wedding tables. This item would be super cute located close to welcome signs.

Mango Wood Bowl with Bark
The wood bowl makes for the perfect place to display items at your wedding. I used a similar style bowl to hold personalized napkins at my wedding or this would be a great ring bearer bowl.

State Pillows
Showcase the state where you and your spouse come from by displaying these state pillows at your wedding. At my own wedding I had a CT pillow placed on my chair and a NH pillow placed on my husband chair at our wedding reception.

Sustainable Picnic Plates & Cups
Having an outdoor wedding or rehearsal dinner often means searching for cute paper dining products. These picnic plates are super cute and eco-friendly.

Calla Lilly Drinkware Set
Add some wildflowers to this pitcher and drinking glass set and you have an instant country chic wedding decor item.

Moss Terrarium Bottle
If you are searching for a unique centerpiece idea look no further then these moss terrariums. These bring not only a very tranquil feeling to your table but they bring an eco-friendly feel as well.

Place Card Stamp
Part DIY, part pre-made this place card stamp is the perfect project for a rustic bride. Pick out some great recycled paper or shipping tags and stamp away.

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Father’s Day Puzzle Project

June 8, 2012

Every year for Father’s Day I get my dad the same thing – a store bought tie. This year I decided not to add to the mountain of ties in his closet, but instead give him a unique gift we could create together. The vinyl collection puzzle was that perfect unique gift – what’s better than some quality father-daughter time, while creating DIY wall art!?

Background Research:
Many a family game night during my childhood was spent working on puzzles. You would think that putting together puzzles would be a calm activity; however, in my family it is practically a competitive sport. Each piece was quickly put in place as we raced to see who could put in the most pieces in our 250, 500, even 1000 piece puzzles. It was a fun challenge that we could compete in together!

Hypothesis:
The Vinyl Collection Puzzle will be not only a great father-daughter activity, but also a great DIY Father’s Day gift.

The Experiment:
On a slightly overcast Saturday – perfect for a family afternoon indoors – my Dad and I set up an old folding table in the basement, opened the box, and got down to work*. Now, I am sure everyone has his or her own unique “puzzle-ing” style. My Dad insisted (like he always does) that we start with the edges, and then work our way in.

While working on the puzzle, I got to spend some quality time with my Dad! I heard about some of his records and we even took a break to look at some of them. (Disclaimer: The Bruce Springsteen Collection is actually my Mom’s…she had a New Jersey roommate in college.) The vinyl collection of the puzzle is quite unique and diverse, but my Dad found a tape version of one of the records in the puzzle (Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits)!

My Dad and I were not the only ones working on the puzzle – we had a little “helper.” She decided to walk through the center of the puzzle taking some of the pieces with her. Beware of these four-legged “helpers!” Despite this adorable distraction, after a few hours, my Dad and I finished the puzzle. (Disclaimer: My Dad is incredibly good at puzzles!)

The next step was to create the wall art that would become my Dad’s present. I set out to my local arts and crafts store to buy a picture frame. I chose to get a nice black frame that was 18” by 24” – the dimensions of the puzzle. The tight fit holds the puzzle between the glass and the backing, which means the puzzle can be mounted without being glued together. (You never know when you might want to take down the puzzle and put it back together again!)

When putting the puzzle into the frame, make sure to take extreme care. (You don’t want the puzzle to fall completely apart and you’d have to redo it, unless you are a master puzzler who enjoys the challenge.)

*Helpful Hint: When beginning the puzzle find a large poster board to do the puzzle on, the sturdier the better. When you frame the puzzle, the poster board makes it easier to slide the puzzle to the backing of the frame.

Finally, we attached the framed puzzle to the wall with standard picture frame hooks. Then stood back and admired our work!

Results:
The finished product is not only a beautifully completed puzzle, but also a piece of wall art. It now hangs in my family’s basement so that my Dad will see it every time he (and anyone else) hangs out down there, which is pretty often!

Conclusion:
The vinyl collection puzzle is a great family activity for anytime, but especially this Father’s Day. Even if you aren’t able to make it home to spend time with your Dad, a DIY activity like this puzzle is a great Father’s Day gift. To all the fathers in your life, I wish them and you all a Happy Father’s Day! I hope your day is full of memories and perhaps a few DIY craft presents!

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Summer Picnic

June 1, 2012

Background

The Picnic Backpack ($40) is a two person picnic backpack. The core of the backpack is fully insulated thermal lined pocket, while the smaller front pocket comes with storage for [also included] two: plates, cups, napkins, forks, spoons, knives. There is also one waiter’s tool bottle opener. It also has a cell phone pocket on the strap and side and front pockets for a bottle and accessories.

It comes just as expected!

Hypothesis

I love to go out to eat or entertain at home. I also like to combine the two by getting a couple friends together for a nice outing in the park (food included, of course!), but there’s always the hassle of lugging my picnic basket which gets way too heavy. The weight of the basket plus its components doesn’t even include my beverages. I usually have to carry an extra backpack with the beverage and utensils. By the time I get to the park–I’m exhausted.

I think having the weight on my back alone would be easier, and this backpack seems to have the right storage for my drink, food, and utensils. I think I’ll be more excited and willing to bring lunch from home to the park, or anywhere for that matter, with this backpack.

Experiment

Instead of picnicking with friends as planned, I opted to take my younger brother Naquan (14 years old) and cousin Mya (2 years old). Taking these two would be perfect in figuring if this product will turn my picnic horrors upside down. My brother willingly (shocker) carried the FULLY packed bag, while skateboarding!

Dealing with a teenager and toddler is not the easiest thing, so I aimed to keep them happy with plenty of snacks and games.

Conclusion

The picnic was a success! With this one backpack, I was able to fit 1 qt. of water, 2 bowls of salad, 2 yogurts, 2 pints of fruit, 2 canned beverages, an abundance of snacks, a full-sized sheet, beach mat, card games, hand sanitizer, a trash bag, iPod, and there’s probably other things I’m forgetting. This backpack kept all of my cold items chilled, and everything I wanted to keep dry dry. According to Naquan, it was easy to carry–even on wheels. It was easy to setup, cleanup, and everyone enjoyed the day out in the sun (well, mostly shade).

In conclusion, picnicking was made fun again and we can’t wait for our next outing!

Gift Guides

June Birthdays… now is your time!

June 1, 2012


You say it’s your birthday!? Then tell us about it on Twitter and Facebook.

Enter yourself and friends with June birthdays and this year their gift could be on us. Tag your friend in a comment on this photo on Facebook or Tweet at them with #UncommonBDay to enter them into our June Birthday Contest. Do both of those things for a double entry!

The winner will be contacted on June 30.