Category Archives: gift guides

christmas gifts under $30

Holiday shopping: Etsy gifts under $30

18th November 2014

It’s that time of year, you guys. If you partake in any kind of holiday gift giving, you have probably started thinking about who you want to give gifts to, making lists, and doing some shopping and crafting! On Dan’s side of the family we do secret santa (by generation), and on my side we do handmade gifts. It means that things stay pretty reasonable in the expense department, and there isn’t too much pressure to go out and buy or make a million things.

I do, however, LOVE to put together a good stocking. I do one for Dan, one for each of my parents, and for the first time this year, one for Maya. I am so pumped! I think that stockings are so much fun, don’t you? Putting together a package of little items that you have really thought about for that loved one – things that will make them smile, and know that you were paying attention throughout the year – is probably one of my favourite things ever.

Etsy is one of my go-to spots for holiday shopping because not only are items from small business owners, but you can find some really original stuff. Here is my roundup of favourite gifts under $30.

christmas gifts under $301 // I love the chunky and natural vibe of this quartz ring. This would be a favourite in my jewellery collection for sure.

2 // I love the way you can personalize these leather luggage tags. Add initials or a saying to make them perfectly suited to your loved one. Plus, would look way nicer than the paper tags on a suitcase.

3 // I am dying over these temporary gold tattoos. One of my BFFs posted a bunch of pics on Instagram of her using them in Mexico on the beach, and daaaamn they looked good.

4 // What gal doesn’t love an infinity scarf ?? I like the subtle colours in this one.

5 // I throw my hair up in a ponytail probably 2-3 days a week. These aztec hair ties would make that pony look way more stylish, don’t you think?

6 // This jewel soap set is just so pretty. Would be a perfect hostess gift.

7 // I have always loved these pencil sets that have little sayings on them. This particular set of “favourite things” is really cute. I’m thinking they would be perfect in my future office.

8 // These lavender satchels remind me of the south of France. They are darling and are that perfect small gift for someone you don’t know what to get.

9 // I’m looooving the colours in this abstract print. Summery and sweet.

10 // Kind of like the soap set above, this all natural lip balm and bath salt gift set is a great hostess gift or stocking stuffer. Who doesn’t love getting a new lip balm?

11 // These customized spice tins are retro and fun, don’t you think? I’d love them for my spice cabinet. Fill them up for an even nicer gift. Would be great for someone moving into a new house, or a cook.

12 // I’m obsessed with these black 8×10 botanical prints. I love their graphic nature and vintage vibe.

13 // These light weight turkish hand towels are great in a bathroom. Not only are they light weight and attractive, but they are super on trend right now, too.

14 // How glitzy and gorgeous is this raindrop crystal necklace? Come to mama.

15 // I love this retro paint by number art block. A really fun and different art piece.

16 // This mini hanging planter is so sweet, don’t you think? Put a plant in it and add a a few gardening accessories for a more fulsome gift basket.

17 // This long sleeve tee is to die for. Even though I don’t live in the North West (where the shop hails from, and all the sayings are in reference to), it still resonates with me. Got an outdoorsy guy or gal on your list? Check out their shop for more really unique clothing items.

18 // This minimalist wool felt wallet is great for holding business cards or for someone who likes a more slim wallet. I love wool texture.

19 // I have a lace collared necklace like this one and wear it all the time. Really versatile and sweet piece.

20 // I would be remiss not to mention my own little Etsy shop in the under $30 category. I sell art prints (all my original designs) for $15 a piece. Very reasonably priced and I have quite a few up on the site, so there should be a little something for everybody. This one is my ‘you, me, oui’ black and white print. Oh, and don’t forget to enter ‘HOLIDAY’ upon checkout to receive 25% off your entire order (until Dec 1)!!

21 // How gorgeous is this layered druzy necklace? Do I need to even say more?

22 // For any photographer on your list, this camera strap would be such a good gift. They have a bunch of other patterns in their shop, so I’m sure you’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Well there you have it! A roundup of my favourite things under $30 on Etsy. You totally don’t have to spent too much money to get really great gifts, plus support small businesses while you’re doing it. Dan and other family/friends, feel free to use this as my own Christmas wishlist (hint, hint!).

Do you have a lot of Christmas presents to figure out? It’s funny how everyone feels really differently about it. Some folks hate the pressure of having to buy at Christmas, others love hunting down that perfect thing for someone. Some make all of their gifts, and some just love to go on big sprees and buy for everyone. What do you do at the holidays?


father’s day gift guide + a giveaway

28th May 2014

Father’s Day is fast approaching, and you know me, I love to hunt around on Etsy for my favourite gift ideas. Sadly, Dan is going to be away on business in Europe for his first Father’s Day (I was away for my first Mother’s Day too!), so we’ll be making it up for him when he gets home. That buys me a little extra time, but if I’m going to order anything off Etsy I need to do it soon to make sure it gets here in time.

Here are a few things that caught my eye…

Dan loves to fly fish – even though he doesn’t get to do it too often. I thought these handmade wooden rod cases were pretty spectacular!


If the Dad in your life is into music, this is a nice genuine leather wallet come guitar pick holderil_570xN.381531554_hcds

For a dapper dude – some whiskey stones. I could see the guys on ‘Suits’ using these. Do you watch that show? So good.  il_570xN.444311624_3mvp

Maybe more into wine? This wine and glass holder is gorge. I love the reclaimed wood.

Hmm there is a bit of a booze theme going on here. These at-home beer kits are sweet (except be warned that your guy might turn your basement into a home brewery). There are a bunch of options at different price points in the Etsy shop. il_570xN.478639516_acoz

Got a handyman in your life? This engraved hammer is pretty clever. il_570xN.462091190_5ro4

Similarly, some customized BBQ tools are cute if the Dad in your life is into grilling.il_570xN.465589037_gdia

Dan isn’t into sports memorabilia, but I could see this being a sweet gift for a baseball-loving fella.il_570xN.463197447_2x0n

This felt and leather ipad sleeve is pretty stunning.


What about some fun tee-shirts? There is this Dad one


And a ‘Grandpa’ version too. il_570xN.545190862_gpmi

I LOVE this leather passport holder that you can have monogrammed. This might need to go on my future mother’s day list…il_570xN.574264898_rdjj

This watch made out of wood is seriously lovely. Apparently it is light and comfortable to wear – and even water resistant. So neat.

And lastly, this satchel bag is a beaut. Especially for a fella who might bike to work but doesn’t want to use a sporty backpack.  il_570xN.606674986_mn1v

What do you think? Love any of these items? Don’t tell Dan, but I’m definitely thinking of ordering one of these… can’t spill all my secrets on here though in case he checks in!

Okay so the best part? Etsy is offering a $50Cdn gift card to one of you lucky readers to spend however you please. So sweet, right? I wish I could enter! Just submit your entries using rafflecopter below. Open to residents worldwide. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



word to your mama: a mother’s day gift guide

30th April 2014

You guys – mother’s day is coming up. My first official one! I’m pumped. The only bummer is that we are going to be traveling during that time and so Maya and I will be away from Dan. He has promised to give me a surprise mother’s day at some point when we’re back from our trip… but still! At least I’ll be with my wee lovebug. Man, the day she can draw me little cards and pictures I’m going to die. I think I’ll probably want to frame every single little thing.

I have been happily browsing etsy mother’s day gift ideas. I think I’ll be sending a few of these to Dan as a bit of a hint. ha!

I think what I love most are the personalized stuff. Jewellery with your kiddos name on it, personalized art work, a throw pillow with the grandparents nicknames, etc. Click on the thumbnail of each item to go to the etsy shop, or check out all of my favourites boards here.


I still need to think about what to get my mum, too. What have you given in the past for mother’s day? Got any special plans for this year? You mamas out there – what has been your fave mother’s day gift? 

*Etsy affiliate links used. Thank you for supporting the blog!*


how to make a diaper “cake”

18th February 2014

The other weekend I was going to a friends’ baby shower (well actually, a “welcome to the world” celebration, as the baby has already been born). My girlfriend has a lot of stuff for baby already and didn’t register for anything in particular, so I decided to have a little fun with her gift. Have you ever seen those “cakes” that people make out of diapers? They are totally cheesy, but I thought it might be kind of fun to try making one myself.

First step was to roll up a bunch of diapers. I had some decorative washi-style tape from the dollar store, so decided to use it instead of elastics (mostly because I didn’t actually have enough elastics at my place). I did a test one first to make sure that the stickiness of the tape didn’t ruin the diaper, and since it’s a pretty low-tack tape, it wasn’t an issue.

You want to roll up the diaper like in this pic, and then just wrap a piece of tape around the middle of it.


After a while, you’ll start to have a big stack…


I knew I wanted to make three tiers, so I counted out how many diapers I had and then split them into three groups. I can’t remember the exact number, but it was something like 60 for the bottom tier, 40 for the middle, and 20 for the top.

I took a cardboard tube leftover from a roll of paper towel to use as the middle of the cake. Then I would place rolled up diapers upright around the tube, and tie a piece of ribbon around them quite securely.


After that, it was just a matter of doing another layer on top of another layer, etc etc, until you end up with the size of base that you want. You need to make sure they are quite tightly tied on so that the shape really stays in place, and you don’t have rogue diapers dropping out from below.


I made a second tier on top of that one in the same way, and then the top tier. I stuck a single diaper in the top of the cardboard tube so that it wouldn’t show, and then took a wood skewer and popped it in the top. Cut out a little flag out of cardboard, taped it around the top of the skewer, tied some fancy ribbon around the three tiers to dress it up, and it was looking cute and festive!DSC_1084


I wanted to include a few other goodies as well, so squeezed in a few of my favourite baby products around the cake.


A piece of cardboard from the recycling bin cut to size made the perfect tray to hold the cake on. DSC_1092


It ended up being a big hit! And hopefully all of those diapers will hold her over for a little while. Diapers are one of those things that are so annoying to constantly buy, so getting a bunch for free is always nice.

Ever made a “diaper cake”, or received one? Any other favourite creative baby gifts? 


love day: an etsy roundup

24th January 2014

You guys… it’s almost February. And besides more cold days to look forward to (ugh.. just don’t tell me if you live somewhere warm… so jealous!) there is valentine’s day. I know a lot of people think of it as a cheesy “hallmark holiday”, but you know what? I love it. A day to just celebrate love. Love for your partner, friends, family, kids, whatever. A little reminder to do something sweet and special for someone.

And you guys know by now that my fave spot for getting gifts is etsy. All of those handmade goodies.. you’re bound to find just the right thing. Here is a little heart-inspired round up. Just click on the thumbnail to go to the product.

Will you be getting anyone a little gift or doing something special over valentine’s day? Time to start prepping! 


one of a kind gifts: an etsy guide

2nd December 2013

We are officially into December… time to really start putting on those holiday pants (remember that episode of Friends where Phoebe wears Santa pants as “maternity” pants? Man that cracks me up. I also wish I had a pair…).

I have teamed up with some of my fellow Ottawa bloggers to bring you a ‘613 holiday special’ series (613 is the Ottawa area code – ottawa gals up in the house!). Every Monday in December we’re going to be jointly posting according to a theme, and today is all about gifts.

Have you started doing any shopping or crafting yet? Well, you know I’m one for handmade gifts, but that doesn’t mean that they always have to be handmade by me. Enter etsy. If you’re not able to get out to your local craft shows, etsy is the perfect spot to order handmade items from sellers across the world. It doesn’t get much sweeter than these as Christmas pressies.


For her - I have been totally crushing on these items lately. I don’t know about you, but I would be thrilled to be gifted any of these beauties. From jewellery to scarves (you know I had to throw a few in, right? i’m obsessed), to knitted goods, bags, and more… there is just so. much. pretty.

(Click on the photo to go to the associated etsy shop)

For him - I don’t really love the whole “for him/for her” separation, as I would like a lot of these more masculine gifts too (that wooden phone dock is so gorge!). But anyway… here they are!

And for the littles. These are definitely the most fun!

So many great options, right?

613 holiday special

Now join us five Ottawa bloggers as we set our tables, deck our halls & try to survive the holiday season with style & cheer. Grab your eggnog and toast to the season with us every Monday until Dec 23rd. Happy Holidays! 
Gemma @ (me!)
Meredith & Sue @

Happy browsing!


gearing up for the holidays: gifts made easy

25th November 2013


Ever since Maya came along, I have been spending money in two places: the coffee shop (for you Ottawa folks out there, I’m a diehard Bridgehead lover) and Shoppers Drug Mart. Lucky for me, there is a block in my ‘hood that houses both of these shops. My routine? I pack Maya up in the stroller, walk down, grab my decaf Americano, and more times than not hit up Shoppers to grab bottle supplies, vitamins, shampoo/deodorant/toothpaste/etc, or some quick groceries.

Are you guys Shoppers Drug Mart people? If you haven’t been there recently, you should go. From makeup, to healthcare products, to kids stuff, and household supplies, they carry a huge selection. There are even tons of options for gift giving – perfect for the upcoming holiday season. Here are a few of my fave gift options that are in stores now.

For Her - Who doesn’t love getting perfume and nice lotions? I never buy perfume for myself, so it’s always a nice treat to receive it as a gift. I haven’t tested out this Marc Jacobs one, but I love the packaging! It’s the Marc Jacobs Honey Holiday Set which includes perfume, lotion, and shower gel.

Joshua Scott Photography

For the kiddo - Play-Doh is one of those no-brainer kid gifts. Hours of play and creativity with this stuff. Check out the cute colours in this Play-Doh Candy Cane Set.16751

For Him - I always forget that Shoppers Drug Mart has a section with electronics. These Sony Wireless Headphones look pretty swish and I know my man would love ‘em.16754


One of the other perks of shopping at Shoppers? They have a rewards system (Optimum) that lets you collect points, which transfers into dollar value. I signed up for their newsletter, so I get their emails letting me know when they have promotions going on like 20x the points or cash back. Mama has saved up some serious optimum points lately… I think some fancy new makeup is in my future!

If you’re looking for a convenient place to get some great gifts for this holiday season, Shoppers might just be the place! Now through December, select beauty products will have a free gift with purchase, so visit your local Shoppers Drug Mart while quantities last.

Visit too browse their holiday catalogue, visit their Facebook page to join their holiday contest on December 2nd, to win some fab prizes, and join the conversation on twitter for great gift ideas (#giftsmadeeasy).


*Disclaimer: This post was brought to you by Shoppers Drug Mart, but all opinions are my own. Seriously, I shop there ALL the time! 


second wedding anniversary: gift guide

15th July 2013

Our second wedding anniversary is quickly approaching (it also happens to be my due date – I’m secretly hoping Baby Sprout doesn’t actually come that day… it would be nice to keep those two events separate!), so I’m starting to think about some gift ideas. Cotton is the traditional second anniversary gift. Apparently it is supposed to represent durability and the ability to adapt? I’m not always a traditional kind of gal, but I sort of like the idea of following the wedding anniversary one. It’s like an extra challenge to find a great gift that is in line with that year’s theme.

And cotton? Well, there are tons of ideas out there.

A tea/dish towel might seem really boring, but there are such cute designs that take these everyday items to a whole different level. On etsy you can find tons of creative options and get them customized with names, fave recipes, etc. A lot of my favourites come from Anthropologie – from vintage inspired ones to wedding themed like this guy. So sweet.

dish towel

via here

If your partner is into baking, cooking, or BBQing, an apron might be the perfect choice. I totally swoon over the ones at Anthro, but again you can find tons of great options on etsy or out shopping.anthro apron

via here

Towels are another standby. You can get them monogrammed to add a certain sophisticated and personalized touch, or go for something a bit different. I have been keen to try these Turkish towels for a while – they aren’t as luxe and soft as the ones we’re used to, but apparently they dry really quickly (good for small bathrooms where you don’t have room for huge towel bars). Plus, I love the look.


via here

You can add a little something to your decor by going with a throw pillow. Again, this is an easy one to personalize perfectly to your partner’s taste.


via here

How about a bow tie? They are cotton, and oh-so-fun.


via here

I love tapestries on the wall – such a great way to add texture and often some global flare to a room. There are lots of stores where you can find fairly-traded goods from other countries, so maybe check those out for some ideas. Loads of great options online too. Or maybe you have brought something home from a trip that needs to be framed or hung? This is the perfect opportunity!


via here

Some other cotton ideas – new bedding, a plush robe, a throw blanket, some clothing, etc. It’s a pretty easy one actually.. the list could go on!

Do you guys have any great second anniversary wedding gift ideas? Do you have a fave gift you have ever received or given? Got any great handmade gift ideas? I’d love to hear them! 

the DIY files: an easy housewarming gift

29th April 2013

Happy Monday, guys! Hope you had a good weekend. Ours was filled with social evenings with family and friends, and two days of work around the house. Yesterday it was gorgeous here (so sunny and warm), so we were out in the garden and cleaning out the garage. I may have even got a bit of a tan! Happy days.

Anyway, here is a super simple idea that I thought I would share. A few friends of ours bought their first house recently, and so when we popped by for our tour I wanted to bring a little “congratulations!” gift. I thought back on when we moved into our place, and remembered how many trips to the store and how much money leaked out of our pockets in those first few weeks buying boring supplies. Things for cleaning, painting, outdoor work, etc.

So, I headed on over to the dollar store and filled my basket with a bunch of useful stuff. Dishclothes, sponges, matches, gardening gloves, painting drop sheets, a bucket, etc.


I also wanted to throw in a few pretty things, so grabbed these fun trellis placemats from HomeSense (in one of my gal pal’s fave colours – orange!), and threw in some of the coasters I DIY’ed here a while ago (I had made a few extra sets to have in my “gift drawer”).




Then I managed to squeeze everything into the bucket, except for those placemats. It looks cute all tucked in there, eh?

DSC_0586 (2)

Wrapped it up with some brown kraft paper and threw some ribbon and twine around it – and we had ourselves a present. So easy.DSC_0588 (2)

DSC_0587 (2)

DSC_0590 (2)The gift went over super well, and I heard this weekend that those gloves have already been put to use. There was nothing terribly fancy or expensive about the gift, but just a little token of “we’re so excited for you!!” sentiment and some useful stuff so that they can hopefully save a few pennies along the way.

What about you guys? Have any go-to housewarming presents? Did you receive any that you particularly loved? Any other gift giving tips? I always have a stack of handmade and store bought (the sale ones!) cards on hand so that I can easily throw them onto a gift or into an envelope in no time. Saves me time if I don’t have to go out searching for the perfect card for every occasion, you know?

an etsy valentine’s day

1st February 2013

Valentine’s day is just a few weeks away, so thought I would go check out etsy and see what little sweet goodies crafters had brewing.

I know a lot of folks aren’t into Valentine’s day – that it’s a “hallmark” created holiday with no significance that just forces buying of mass produced junk. But you know what? I love love, and I love celebrating it. Whether it’s a love note for your partner, a sweet gift for your best friend, a little token for your parents, I think it’s just nice to do something special for those special people in your life.

First up are some cards. There probably isn’t anything I love more than a funny, sweet card. I love handmade ones, but these etsy finds crack me up and could become little pieces of artwork.



$4 from CDesignIllustration



I love me some lemon cake, so this one is very gemma-appropriate.


$4.62 from YourMumRang


This cracks me up. A lot.


$3.50 from dewlawdees


Got a little crush on someone? This is a pretty darn funny way of letting them know.


$4 from emilymcdowelldraws


A print is always a great gift. Nice to add to your art collection, and they can be really personalized. This ‘London’ one has a bit of sentimental thing going on for me since we lived in London in 2010-11.


$20 from HopSkipJumpPaper

And one of my fave bloggers, Julia from Chrislovesjulia (if you haven’t read her blog before, go check it out – she’s one funny gal) sells this chalkboard print of a heart. Amore.


$15 from Chrislovesjulia


Another print. This one is based on a watercolour of two moose. I am totally crazy in love with it.


$22 from LouiseArtStudio

If you are in a long-distance love affair, a custom mug with your two states or provinces would be so sweet. I would totally get one of these for my best gal pals who live in Vancouver.


$20 from GreySkiesBlue

How about a little shabby chic handmade pillow? This bunting one fits the bill.


$23 from Simply1Stitched

I have noticed arrows and triangles are super trendy right now. The gold version of this ring has been swooning.


$14 from applelatte

A little keychain love note…


$30 from PearlieGirl

This flipper had me at hello. Or at ‘We Flippin’ Love You!’. So cute for the chef in your life.


$15 from SassyBrassyCharms

Got someone artsy you want to get a little something for? This palette phone cover is ridiculously fun.


$3.88 from CaseCastle

And that’s it! My 2013 roundup. Hint, hint, hubby. Do you guys do anything special for valentine’s day? Make cards or little presents? Go on a date night, or girls night out? Remember those fun little valentine’s cards you would bring to class in elementary school and share with your friends? I remember keeping all of the ones I got each year in a little box and totally treasuring them. Fun, fun.