Archive for the ‘Gifts’ Category

Welcome Bags

We fly to New Jersey today for the wedding. Wow. It is hard to wrap my mind around the fact that it is so close. The excitement is really building. Most of the major things are taken care of and we can start to relax.

This afternoon we are going to drop off the welcome bags at the hotels. We don’t want any of the out of town guests arriving a little early to miss out on anything. I put the bags together when I was home in September so they would be ready for us. 

I am excited about what we put in the bags – a little something from the places important to both of us – but we don’t want to give anything away too soon. I promise to blog about it after we get back from the wedding.

The bags and our wedding have a bit of a green theme. We decided to reuse shopping bags for the welcome bags in order to minimize the waste we are producing during the wedding. At the wedding, there will be potted plants that the guests can take home.

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Looking at the book during the showerHands down, my favorite gift at the shower last weekend was a book that the Chief Wonderful Woman, the Wonderful Women as a group, the Mother of the Bride and my fiancé all contributed to. The Chief asked everyone to send her pictures and she put them together in a square, red book (by Shutterfly.) 

The images are organized by era – infancy, childhood, high school, friends’ weddings, etc. I think I am most touched by the pictures of me with the Wonderful Women years ago… there is the picture of us in college, in high school… these are the people I grew up and continue to grow with.

In this era of Facebook, we often upload pictures and forget about them. I look forward to carrying this book with me from home to home and looking at it in the future. I’ll remember not only my friends and how we all were, but also receiving it at the shower. 

I am still glowing from the memory of Sunday and the memories brought into the present by the book. Thank you.

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cake tastingToday was a sweet, sweet day. It started off with cake tasting at our venue and ended with chocolate making.  

The Mother of the Bride and I were each given a plate with four different generous slices of cake. The venue made four cakes total and we took home the rest of the four cakes. I had no idea that we would not only taste the cake, but be able to eat it for the rest of the week. That’s what I call preparing for the wedding. 

Our meeting took about an hour, since we discussed many of the final details of the big day (seating, order of the day, etc.) How does time fly by so quickly? It seems just yesterday we were taking off our winter coats and meeting with the same people in January. I’m both overwhelmed by everything that has to be done at the end and amazed by how much we’ve already done. 

I spent the afternoon making the chocolates for the wedding favors. I had planned to make 3 per person, but I ended up making 5 (apparently an odd number is good luck for a bride. I think any amount of chocolate is good luck for anyone!) It was fun, but I could use a massage on my lower back after leaning over for three hours. The Mother of the Bride and I still have to package them in little bags.

Chocolate favor making

To prepare to make the favors, I had experimented with various flavors and techniques for chocolate making in Michigan. I thought that I’d try using squeeze bottles this time, but that proved to be a disaster yesterday. I kept melting the chocolate on low in the microwave and the chocolate wouldn’t melt. When it did, it wouldn’t flow nicely through the very small tip (even after I gave the bottom a good slap.) Finally, I microwaved the bottle some more and it imploded. The bottom was sucked inward and the chocolate was mixed with the melted plastic. That is not something you want to serve to your most beloved family and friends. I threw out the dreaded bottles and bought a new double-broiler on sale at Bed Bath and Beyond yesterday. So today, I knew what I was getting myself into and was ready. 

If you plan to be a DIY bride like I am, I recommend practicing making the items ahead of time (especially if it is food!) I was able to practice in Michigan and then order everything that I needed to have it ready for me at my parents’ house when I arrived last week. I did overdo it a little; there were twice as many bags of chocolate than I needed and I even made more chocolates than I thought I would (see how important math is?) Anyone need a bag? Or seven?

Yesterday was a busy day, too. I finished packaging the hotel welcome bags and wrapped the presents for the Wonderful Women. (More on that after the wedding. Can’t ruin any surprises!) After shopping for the double-broiler (called a “bagno Maria” in Italian – literally, Maria’s Bath?), I bought some special wines to share with our guests at a wine pairing station. We’ve made sure that my fiancé’s home state and our current state (Michigan) are represented. A friend told me that there is New Jersey Exit Wine. Perhaps I’ll look for that. Am I allowed to make the joke about what exit I take for the store? I didn’t think so. 

Tomorrow I’m off to pick up the wedding license, meet with the DJ and visit with my great aunt before going to a dance class with my parents. Somewhere in between then, I might have a slice of cake and a chocolate or two that went awry and wasn’t counting. Luckily, there are more than a few.

Chocolate favors

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An Intimate Surprise

Recently, I read about Intimate Surprises  in the Smith College alum magazine. Surprise presents… what a great idea! We all know how life (you know, laundry and the like) can get in the way of the more important things. The things that took priority in the beginning of a relationship and perhaps get forgotten from time to time. The things that should never be forgotten.

I contacted Jennifer to ask about how the surprises work.  Be sure to scroll to the end for your coupon.


How did you come up with the idea for Intimate Surprises? 

My husband and I were talking about how so many of our friends see  to spend more time on their careers and families and kids than they do on their relationships. The job and kid obligations come first and if there’s any time and energy left over maybe they go out for a night as a couple at some point. And staring at each other over a plate of pasta or sitting in the dark in a movie theater didn’t sound terribly “intimate” to us. I said to him, “There should be some sort of Cupid of the Month club to help couples remember to take time out for themselves.” And so Intimate Surprises was born.

What kinds of “surprises” are included in the packages? 

Each month as a different “theme.” The first month is all about warming up – to the idea of a monthly surprise and to each other. Each month contains up to five items, which can include toys, activities, and enhancers. The themes are really just a starting point, something to tie it all together so it’s not just a bunch of random things arriving in the mail.

Since couples are so different, how do you personalize the gifts or ensure that they are right for your clients? 

With up to five items there is sure to be something that appeals to everyone. That said, the items are also designed to provide fun for men, for women, and for both of them together as a couple. The idea is to bring a couple together, to help them explore the intimate side of their relationship. But it’s also about fun, just doing something together where the focus is on enjoying themselves. And while each month has a theme it’s really just for guidance – what couples do is ultimately all up to them!

How are the packages delivered? 

Surprises are delivered via priority mail in plain brown cardboard boxes. Nothing to pique the interest of nosy neighbors.

The “surprises” can be given as gifts. What is the most unique gift situation you’ve heard of (bridal party gift to the newlyweds, shower gift, etc.) 

We’ve received the nicest emails from people. What’s surprised us is how diverse our customers have been – many couples married more than 20 years, a couple who counsels newlyweds for their church, a couple serving in the military overseas. We’ve also had same sex couples order surprises. I think the ones we love to hear about are the couples who have been together for a long time, it just goes to show that when couples take the time to care for their relationship it really makes a difference.

Giving a gift like this can be potentially embarrassing if the wrong person finds it. If I order one and then my mom comes over and see the box, what should I tell her is inside? 

Aside from the plain brown box, the surprises come in lovely silver organza bags and we’ve heard from a few customers that they’ve actually re-used the bags for other purposes. One woman’s mom actually liked it so much she asked where her daughter got it from. Obviously, she didn’t tell her. That said, my parents know all about our business and what we’re doing and they think it’s great. But thank god they haven’t placed an order! I don’t think I could handle that.

What would be your dream Intimate Surprise to receive from your love? 

A promise to always keep things fun.


Please use coupon code TEN001 to receive 10% off your online order. Read more about the different kinds of surprises (all natural, hotel, etc.) here.

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