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Posts Tagged ‘gifts’

If you are setting up your wedding gift list then you are probably on the look out for exciting, contemporary, greener home wares, decorating materials and home basics.

Greener Abode is an online retailer offering products which are handmade or manufactured by small, independent designers and companies that are committed to creating modern, innovative designs with greener credentials. From small utensils to benches, beds and desks, you could furnish your entire new home here.

Choosing only the most stylish pieces, there is none of the hair-shirt image of previous eco design. As many of the pieces are handmade or unusual, each one has a story to tell and will make your home unique and styled with imagination.

Other pieces don’t wear their eco credentials on their sleeve. These stealth sustainability supporters include wallpaper, upholstered vintage chairs and contemporary beds – your friends won’t believe you when you tell them how green they are.

Adding some of these pieces to your online gift list will spread the word – enabling your guests to see the bredth of eco design out there, whilst also creating your ideal eco home from the wedding gifts they buy for you.

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There’s no point having an online gift list where you can have anything you want, and still going for the department store standard bits. So here are some quirky ideas to get your creative gift-adding juices flowing:

This is exactly waht is says on the tin – a Grow your own Wine Rack Kit! You get a kit of willow strips, which you plant in such a way that they graft together to make a wine rack for 10 bottles. You’ll need patience as it will take 3 years to form, but then it really is a talkingpoint – and very unique. Your friends will be fighting each other to get it for you. Perfect for any wedding gift lists from Autumn through to late Spring, as the willow needs to be planted in the winter months. Currently £31.64 from EcoCentric.

I love how much eco homewares has developed in the last few years. Not more of the obvious recycled items trying so hard to be something else. Greener Abode has some stunning finds and I love this Recycled Tyre Photo Frame, which is cool and classic, perfect for that stylish large black & white print of you from your wedding day (It is 1m square). And being black it will fit any room in your house, so even if you don’t know where you’ll be living yet, put it on the wedding list!

I must admit I am a lazy gardener, but I love having acolourful garden. This gardening gadget is perfect for lazy gardeners, or guerilla gardeners – flower bombs (Banksy would be proud!) The SeedBoms (From Kabloom – love it!) are biodegradable grenades filled with seeds and organic compost – simply throw in the garden (or nearby wasteland), then open a beer, sit back and let the sun and rain do the hard work for you. Just make sure they don’t get into your honeymoon hand luggage, or you might have some explaining to do at the airport…

So, research has shown that houseplants help keep the air clean in your home, so probably its best to have a leafy green right by your bed when you sleep, right? So obviously you’ll be wanting this mini-plantpot and clock in one… This really has to be the quirkiest gift on the wedding list… and the great thing is, it doesn’t require batteries so you can get using it straight away. Perfect! The Clean Energy Water Clock is just £14 from Natural Collection.

Any other ideas that you want us to know about, leave a comment below, or tweet us @weddingnotebook or like us on facebook.com/weddingnotebook

If you want to set up an online wedding giftlist for your big day, it is free from weddingnotebook.co.uk

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As dress design and wedding style develops through the years, so does the way the guests give gifts to the happy couple.

When puffy sleeves and peach bridesmaid dresses were all the rage, guests were calling up the brides parents to ask what they should buy from a handwritten list pinned up by the telephone, and gifts were duly ticked off as guests called to make a pledge. A slight improvement on previous eras where guests bought whatever they thought the couple would need – usually including 3 toasters and a couple of hoovers. If Ebay had been around it would have seen a plethora of unwanted wedding gifts on its pages…

In the 90’s technology was developing and department stores devised a way to make sure all the gifts for a wedding were purchased from their store. We are all familiar with the John Lewis gift list, where the couple spend an afternoon browsing the store with a ‘zapper’ and giving the guests an easy way to choose and purchase a gift instore or online. This method of creating a gift list soon monopolised the market.

Far from being detatched from reality, the royal wedding embraces the trends and needs of the times. William and Kate, like many couples trying the knot, already live together and so have all the cutlery, toasters and bedding they need. So rather than having the usual gift list of homewares they have opted for the ever popular charity donations option. The Royal Wedding Charitable Fund lists many charities around the commonwealth with focus on youth, environment and the armed forces, causes close to the hearts of William and Kate.

When the ‘alternative gift list’ was first used there was concern it would be viewed as rude to ask for donations or non-physical gifts, but it is now accepted that each couple is unique and the needs they have differ and so can’t be standardised by one type of gift.

The trend for the gift list which encompases a variety of needs is on the increase with couples opting for the charity, honeymoon or a combination wedding gift list. It will soon be the case that requesting a variety of gift types on one list is no longer called an ‘alternative’ gift list.

The convenience of the online gift list can be used for a combination of gifts with an online gift list organiser, such as with Wedding Notebook where you can create your own wedding website with incorporated gift list organiser where you can add gifts from anywhere – online, local, charity donations or honeymoon vouchers.

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Spa days, wine tasting, river trips, coasteering adventures – A gift experience makes a refreshing change to the usual suspects of physical objects, flowers or chocolates…

I think gift of an experience can be the most thoughful – a timely given pampering treat for someone who needs a break is most appreciated. And when it is an experience that can be shared, the time spent together is treasured and creates memories that will last much longer than a box of confectionary.

that’s why I was excited to hear about Giv’Organic – a brand new concept of ethical gift experiences – from winetasting at organic vineyards to top treatments by hairstylists & beauticians using organic & natural products. Launched just in time for last minute Valentines gifts, everything on the site is organic, natural or eco-friendly, meaning the giver can show love for the recipient AND the planet.  And for the whole month of February to celebrate the launch, Giv’Organic is offering a 10% discount on all gifts and experiences. when you use the code LAUNCHGIVO at checkout.

There are experiences offered nationwide so you can search by region. Prices start at just £10 and the recipient receives a voucher for their experience. Browse the gift experiences on the Giv’Organic website

If you are unsure what to get, then Giv’Organic offer gift vouchers which can be redeemed on experiences on their site, but also at the online eco-stores of their partners offering ethical fashion, cosmetics, baby products and more.

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Retail guru, Mary Portas, a.k.a. Mary Queen of Shops, has a point. With the rise of huge supermarkets the great British high-street is suffering. Smaller independent shops are going out of business. Mary tells us that 5,000 small shops closed last year – We’ll miss our neighbourhood shops when they’ve gone…

It’s not just greengrocers and corner shops that we have at hand. Next Monday (28th June) Mary will be revamping a homewares business in Kingston. Do we really want to be left with only massive retail parks miles from our homes so that we have to journey out in the car to buy a unique gift for a friend’s birthday or browse for accessories to spruce up a tired outfit or items for your home.

Not only are there are benefits to using local wedding service providers, such as caterers using local produce, or locally grown flowers in your displays, that will cut down on air miles and also benefit the local economy; but you can also think about how you incorporate local into your new home when compiling your gift list. Using the wedding list service of a huge department store may be convenient, but do they offer the unique items that will make your home reflect your personal style? Can you incorporate one-off items made by independent designers?

An independent gift list, on which you can request items from a number of retailers whether they are online based, high street or local, will give your home a unique flavour rather than copy-cat style. Set yourself up with a free independent list manager on Wedding Notebook

Are there local designer makers that you adore, or smaller retailers that you can support who offer great quality alternatives to mass-produced items? You may even have friends who are self-employed designer-makers who you’d love to include on your list.

It is hard for me to suggest local stores to add to your list as I can’t tell where you live. Here are a few online stores with local at heart:

Warren Evans beds
Handmade in their London workshops, these beds are made from FSC wood and when delivered are put together for you – all part of the service for hardly any more money that you would buy flat-pack elsewhere. If you need to move the bed then they are easy to take apart and reassemble, and should one part of the bed be damaged you can get a replacement section rather than having to buy a whole new bed. They have won awards for Best Ethical Retailer and Best Green Company – so you can rest assured… and whatever else newly-weds get up to under the sheets…
Tip: Ask them to add a couple of inches to the legs for loads of storage underneath for homes that need to maximise on space

Etsy
The ultimate department website of purely home-made and independently made homewares, accessories and gifts. The only downside is that the prices are shown in dollars and you have to look carefully to see if the seller is UK based. Other smaller UK based versions of etsy include Make It Sell It, Dream Aid, Ugly Be Gone & NotMassProduced

Florence & Florence
Re-loved homewares – these lovely ladies have scoured the country for second-hand items and restored them to their original beauty. Old wool becomes a chunky hand-crocheted cushion cover; an old vase is lovingly brought back to its former glory. They just need homes to be loved in.

Next Monday (28th June) Mary will be revamping a homewares business in Kingston as part of her Queen of Shops series on the BBC, and there must be lots of similar stores up and down the country. So why not take a walk round your local area with your partner on a Saturday and see if there is anything you can add to your independent wedding list. You will enjoy dreaming up a new look for your home and your guests will appreciate being able to buy your wedding gift so locally.

Whether you think Mary Portas is brash and rude, or that she really is breathing life into the local and charity retail sectors – take a leaf out of her book and pop along to your local shops to encourage them – Tell them what you love about them, or even let them know how they could improve to make you shop there more often. You’ll feel the benefits when they are providing just what you need, just where you need it – locally.

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When prioritising what you want to spend your money on for your wedding, little extras such as favours make a nice touch, but can often be just done for the sake of it, spending money on something with little thought. So here are some ideas for thoughful and personal gifts that cost less than £1 per guest:


Sew little fabric bags for each person for them to fill up at a candy bar during the reception (use left over fabric that has been sitting at your mum’s house since you were 5). Sew the persons name onto the bag, or add a luggage tag, and it can double up as a place card. Borrow storage jars of different sizes from friends, or search for them on freecycle, then visit the local cash & carry to fill them with different types of sweets – it makes a really colourful display. (Image above via Amy Atlas Events, NYC)
Time per favour: 15mins
Cost per favour: 5p for fabric, 2p for luggage label, 50p for sweets

Is your mother-in-law-to-be green fingered? Ask her to plant bulbs in little pots for each guest. A couple of narcissus bulbs would be perfect. The plant-tag with care instructions sticking in the soil can double as a name card. You will probably need a roll of sandwich bags available for guests to carry it home without spilling soil everywhere…
When the plant flowers later in the year (and every year after that) they will remember you both and your fabulous day.
Time per favour: 15mins
Cost per favour: 50p for mini plant-pot, 30p for bulbs, 5p for label

Home-made with love: For domestic goddesses, consider a homemade favour. If the thought of a weekend in the kitchen sounds like bliss, then why not make a batch of fruit jam for your wedding guests? Buy mini jam jars from www.freemanharding.co.uk, and add a handwritten label. (Or if you are uber organised, ask friends to collect up all their glass jars for the months before the wedding)
Time per favour: 15mins
Cost per favour: 5op for fruit, 2op for jar tops, 5p for labels

Give a charity donation of  £1 on behalf of every person – print them each a little card telling them which charity. If you have time you could make it one that is specific to them, or theme it around each table. Again, the little card can double up as a name placecard (see a theme developing here?)
Cost per favour: £1

Seed cards – a little book of 10 plantable forget me not seeds – 10 books for £9.99 – from Confetti.co.uk. Or you can get personalised ones – 50 for £39.99 – so if you know you have 100 guests it actually saves you money. If you have 90 guests, or 130, then the extras you could send to relatives or friends who couldn’t make it on the day along with their thank you card. They will feel so loved and appreciate the thought…much easier than sending cake to put under their pillow!
Cost per favour: Max 99p

Mini paper bags and cones are so easy to make – save £’s by making them rather than paying £1 each for fancy boxes and then having to pay on top for the contents… fill them with sweets, confetti, rose petals, chocolate, love hearts… you are only limited by your imagination.
To make a mini paper bag, get a book about the same size as the bag you want, wrap the paper (colourful, or in your theme colours) around the book as if wrapping a present, but leave one end open. Ta Da! Tape a little string/ribbon handle on the inside if required.
Time per bag: 5 mins (max!)
Cost per favour: 2p for paper, 5-10p for handle, 50 for contents…

Try to make the favour personal to you as a couple, or to fit with the theme of the day to make guests remember it, and to show them your appreciation for their presence (and presents!)

What other ideas have you come up with? Or which will you be doing? Leave us a comment below…

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The supermarkets have been vying for our attention recently with their green products and ethical fashion collaborations – I’m not saying they are green-washing, as I feel that each small step that each of us takes can add up to making a difference.

If we support these ventures and they prove popular, hopefully it will show the retailers that green & ethical is the way forward – such as Sainsbury making ALL their bananas fairtrade…

So what has caught our attention recently?

Tesco up-cycled fashion range

Using unsold products from their Florence + Fred clothing range, Tesco have collaborated with ethical designer brand ‘From Somewhere’ to upcycle  these peices, creating new outfits and pieces from the unused fabric and parts of the old, rather than it ending up in landfill.

From Somewhere, along with Junky Styling and Traid, have been pioneering the upcycling movement, creating desirable outfits from cast-offs, or pieces we have become bored with. (Orsola de Castro, the designer behind the brand also created the dress Livia Firth wore to the oscars this weekend, made from scraps of fabrics left-over from designers collections – read about it on her Vogue blog)

Upcycled putfits are usually at the higher end of the price market due to the one-off nature and all the hand-sewing and constuction that goes into each piece. However, this new Tesco range, being sold exclusively online, will offer a similar concept at more affordable prices due to the fact that for the first time a retailer is able to put volume behind the concept.

Check out the video about the concept, the super-eco factory and interviews with the designers.

Be inspired to upcycle your own outfits, rather than discarding and buying new when you are trying to save for a wedding! Get together with friends to see what fabrics and shapes you can pull together and re-make.
M&S plantable chocolate wrapper

Ok, so it isn’t a bar you pick up for 50p, but a ‘box’ of chocolates that you would give for a gift, but still, a step in the right direction. M&S have launched, just in time for Mothering Sunday, a box of chocolates, of which the box is made from seeded paper and when planted will see a variety of flowers loved by butterflies pop up- double whammy gift – chocolate and flowers!

And now is the ideal time to plant seeds for summer flowering, so it is the ideal gift for someone between now and may (during the planting period!)

It is possibe to buy seeded paper, and is popular for wedding invitations and thank-you cards, so you could re-reate this idea yourself for favour ideas, rather than spend £4.99 on each guest…

Let us know what you think about the Tesco clothing range and the M&S chocolate wrapper, or any other supermarket initiatives, below…

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