2015 Gift Guide: White Elephant Gifts That Don’t Suck

Please, think outside the nearest drugstore.

White Elephant Gifts That Don't Suck - Sarrandipity's 2015 Gift Guide

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the whole “white elephant” thing—usually because the whole buying-gifts-for-unknown-recipients means that everyone receives cheap, random tchotchkes that they’ll never use (but will collect dust and add to stressful household clutter). That said, if you’re part of a group who commits to doing the blind gifting tradition right, it can work. In my opinion, that means setting a budget of at least $15—but ideally $25—and making the effort to find cool, usable gifts rather than frantically shopping the “As Seen On TV” aisle at CVS. Here, my second-annual list of suggestions (I still stand-by the first annual round-up, too) for some quality white elephant gifts you can bring to your next exchange. (Just use your judgment: If the exchange is with your officemates and half of them are dudes, probably don’t go with the jewelry dish.)
White Elephant Gifts That Don't Suck - Sarrandipity's 2015 Gift Guide

1. Telestrations
This game is AMAZING. I recently bought it and tested it out with my (sometimes difficult-to-impress) friends at our last game night, and it was a hit. I’m obsessed.

2. Wine Glass Writers
I bought these because I have stemless wine glasses and thus can’t use the typical wine charms, but I love them more than the charms anyway. The metallic colors are pretty, they’re fun and easy to use, and three pens suffice for any number of people.

3. Umbrella Ring Dish
White Elephant Gifts That Don't Suck - Umbrella Ring Dish - Sarrandipity 2015 Gift Guide
These little trinket dishes are endlessly handy for anyone who wears jewelry (PSA: it holds more than just rings).

4. Ponytail Holders (Set of 15)
A slightly prettier, snag-free alternative to those ribbon hair ties that are everywhere (and that sadly, lose their elasticity too easily for my thick hair…).

5. Silicone Popsicle Molds
I know, I know, the listing says “For Kids.” But trust me, these things are awesome. Fill them with some mashed up fresh fruit (I highly recommend watermelon), or any other food and/or drink you want to experiment with, pop ’em in the freezer, and get some tasty treats out of it.

6. BeeSpa Hand & Foot Cream
This stuff is a dream, especially for those of us who live in cold-weather climates and have to deal with dry air and dryer skin for multiple months out of the year.

7. Country or State Slate Cheese Board

White Elephant Gifts That Don't Suck - State or Country Cheese Board - Sarrandipity 2015 Gift Guide

Go state-specific if the whole group is big on local pride, or keep it general with the USA version.

8. ‘Maison Holiday’ Petite Candle Set
Voluspa candles are my absolute favorite. They smell so good; they’re pretty much impossible to resist.

9. Wood Appetizer & Dip Tray (With Glass Bowl)
Who doesn’t need a good chip-(or appetizer)-and-dip vessel? Even non-entertainers can use it to class-up their post-work snack times.

10. 90s TV Trivia Game
May as well buy one for yourself while you’re at it because, come on.

Related Posts:
2014 Gift Guide: Unique White Elephant Gifts That Don’t Suck 
Giveaway: A Stylish Soiree Gift Basket From Windy City Bloggers
Exploring Amazon Handmade: 9 Jewelry Finds to Snag Now

This post contains affiliate links. You won’t pay more by using them, but Sarrandipity may receive a (very) small commission if you click on a link and purchase something. Please check out my policies for more info. 


Giveaway: A Stylish Soiree Gift Basket From Windy City Bloggers

Because who doesn’t like winning cool things?


It snowed in Chicago this morning, so allow me to counter that with some better news. This year, I’m participating in The Windy City Blogger Collective’s holiday gift basket campaign. The group, which is an awesome network of Chicago-based bloggers, is giving away five baskets, each with a different theme, like “In the Kitchen” and “Work It Out.” For my part, I was able to connect with Milk Handmade—a boutique in Andersonville that carries everything from handmade jewelry to beauty products, mainly from Chicago-based designers—who so kindly donated three delicious-smelling candles to the “A Stylish Soiree” gift basket. The basket is packed with a ton of other seriously amazing swag, listed below, so do yourself a holiday favor and try to win it (Just go down the list on the Rafflecopter to rack up as many entries as you can).

Enter to win this gift basket organized by The Windy City Blogger Collective and stuffed with goodies to help you celebrate in style and pamper your hostess this holiday season! Valued at over $500 this basket includes:

Enter Here: WCBC A Stylish Soiree Gift Basket Giveaway

You have through December 9 to enter, and winners will be announced on December 11. Fingers crossed!

Related Posts: 
Playing Dress Up: Winter Wedding
Exploring Amazon Handmade: 9 Jewelry Finds To Snag Now
Yum: Salted Caramel Chocolate (& White Chocolate) Chip Cookies

Exploring Amazon Handmade: 9 Jewelry Finds To Snag Now

Amazon now has its own version of Etsy, and I wasted no time seeing what it’s about.

Amazing Jewelry From Amazon Handmade - Sarrandipity Blog
Last week, Amazon launched the newest arm of its business, an Etsy-like shop called Amazon Handmade. Though, honestly neither site is super indie (the true “mom-and-pop” type shops on the Etsy at this point are few and far between, and I’m pretty sure Amazon Handmade is no different), I still go to Etsy here and there to browse and buy interesting, fun, and at-least-semi unique pieces. Curious how Amazon Handmade stacks up, I took a browse through the jewelry section (duh) — and found more than a few pieces for my wish list. (And two themes became apparent: I’m really into rings right now, and I’m really into dainty jewelry. Dainty rings: Jackpot.)
Amazing Jewelry from Amazon Handmade - Sarrandipity Blog
1. Sterling Silver Birthstone Stacking Ring
Clearly, as this post shows, I love stackable rings. But this is the first time I’ve seen a birthstone version like this, and it’s beautiful (and makes for a great gift for pretty much anyone who wears jewelry).

2. Gold Amethyst Necklace
I love how the marble-esque look of the dark amethyst stone goes with the gold chain (which comes in two different styles!) on this necklace. Paired with a basic white t-shirt, and perhaps layered with a shorter gold pendant, it’s pretty much perfect.

3. Bronzed Ombre Midi Ring Set
9 Jewelry Picks From Amazon Handmade - Sarrandipity Blog
You can find simple midi rings like this in lots of stores, but I love the variety of colors that comes in this set (9 rings for $17? You can’t really go wrong). They’d look amazing worn all together, or mixed and matched with some other, more funky, rings.

4. Tiny Rose Cut Diamond Stud Earrings
Okay, these studs are a splurge (perhaps for your holiday wish list?), but they’re absolutely gorgeous. Plus, they come in a few different colors, and they’re all equally amazing.

5. Pearl Midi Ring Set
You get it: I love midi rings. Here’s another pretty variety.

6. Gold Galena Necklace
9 Jewelry Picks From Amazon Handmade
This necklace is perfect in its simplicity, with just enough hammered texture on the metal to make it special.

7. Brass and Magnesite Earrings
Just picture, if you will, these earrings with some boyfriend jeans, a black or white t-shirt, and chunky-heeled booties. Perfect.

8. Abstract Squares Bangle
I love the thin bangle with the open, abstract charm. Because the charm isn’t a solid piece of metal, it doesn’t seem too clunky, and can still be layered with other bangles seamlessly.

9. Gold Bracelet with Amber Swarovski
How stunning is the Swarovski crystal on this bracelet?

Will you be shopping Amazon Handmade? Share your finds with me in the comments, por favor!

Related Posts:
My Summer Uniform
Fall-Friendly Steals From Nordstrom’s End-of-Summer Sale
My Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Finds

This post contains affiliate links. You won’t pay more by using them, but Sarrandipity may receive a (very) small commission if you click on a link and purchase something. Please check out my policies for more info. 


Fall-Friendly Steals From Nordstrom’s End-Of-Summer Sale

Fall-friendly finds from Nordstrom's end of summer sale - Sarrandipity blog

Nordstrom’s end-of-summer clearance sale is happening now (through September 13), but here’s the thing: It’s not just summer stuff. I personally can’t justify buying more summer goods, but I browsed the sale anyway (“just to look,” you know?), and realized it’s full of fall clothes and accessories. Missed the anniversary sale? This is the perfect chance to beat the system (it’s even more exciting when you think of it that way) and stock up on your fall wardrobe for amazing prices. And because I’m feeling charitable, I rounded up some of my favorite finds to make it even easier on you:

Tops and DressesFall-friendly finds from Nordstrom's end-of-summer sale - Sarrandipity blog

One // Two // Three // Four // Five // Six // Seven

BottomsFall-friendly finds from Nordstrom's end of summer sale - Sarrandipity blog

One // Two // Three // Four // Five // Six // Seven

Shoes and AccessoriesFall-friendly finds from Nordstrom's end of summer sale - Sarrandipity blog

One // Two // Three // Four // Five // Six // Seven // Eight // Nine

Have you uncovered any other good fall sales? Let me know in the comments—I can always use the tips!

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This post contains affiliate links. You won’t pay more by using them, but Sarrandipity may receive a (very) small commission if you click on a link and purchase something. Please check out my policies for more info. 

My Summer Uniform

easy summer outfit - sarrandipity blogSimilar Tank: Off 5th or Nordstrom // Similar Shorts: J.Crew // Sunglasses: Amazon 

I love a good sundress, but in the summer I’m most comfortable in a pair of shorts and a loose, silky tank top. On any given summer day, chances are I’m wearing some variety of the outfit above: Sometimes it’s cut-off jean shorts or my absolute favorite, can’t-get-enough, lightweight Lululemon shorts, and sometimes it’s a solid-color tank instead of patterned, but the basic idea is the same. I’ve actually had the outfit in the above picture for years, and both pieces are still two of the favorites in my closet (partially because the top is racerback, which I always love); I can’t imagine getting sick of them anytime soon.

Summer accessories - Sarrandipity blogSimilar Hand Chain: Nordstrom // Similar Watch: Nordstrom or Amazon // Similar Bracelet: Amazon

Sunny summer look - Sarrandipity blog Sunglasses: Amazon // Similar Earrings: Bloomingdale’s // Similar Necklace: Lord & Taylor // Lip Stain: Sephora (Watermelon Slice)

Easy summer outfit - Sarrandipity Blog Similar Sandals: Amazon or Nordstrom Rack

Easy summer outfits - Sarrandipity blogSimilar Blue Tank: Nordstrom // Similar Jean Shorts: Amazon // Similar Tan Tank: Revolve Clothing

Related Posts

Fall-Friendly Steals From Nordstrom’s End-Of-Summer Sale

My Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Finds

Packing List: San Francisco and L.A. 

Playing Dress Up: Winter Wedding

This post contains affiliate links. You won’t pay more by using them, but Sarrandipity may receive a (very) small commission if you click on a link and purchase something. Please check out my policies for more info. 

My Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Finds

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Finds, from Sarrandipity

So, i’m just coming out of my post-wedding fog (real life is far less fun, by the way), during which Nordstrom’s biggest sale of the year—the Anniversary Sale—has been going on. Every July, Nordstrom releases brand new fall merchandise at sale prices, before increasing everything to full price a few weeks later. It’s the best opportunity to stock up on fall essentials at killer prices. (Especially considering Nordstrom’s amazing return policy—not 100% sure about the purchase? Buy it now while it’s on sale, and return later if you change your mind!)

Though our wedding took up the majority of my time, energy, and brain for the past month while the sale has been going on, those of you who know me know it would take a lot for me to miss any big Nordstrom event, especially this one. True story: 6 years ago, I braved the sale in a wheelchair on all sorts of pain killers weeks after a car accident I was in (more on that someday). And this year, I squeezed in a pre-shopping appointment on the first day of early access (for Nordstrom cardholders) two days before my wedding. With a few days left of this amazing sale (prices go up on August 3), I figured I’d share some of my finds.

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Picks - Sarrandipity blog

1. Chelsea28 Pleated Hem Sweater • $58.90 (After Sale: $88) 
My favorite purchase from last year’s sale was a similar lightweight sweater with a blouse hem, and I can already tell I’m going to love this variation just as much. The pleats are the perfect accent on an otherwise simple top that will be perfect with a pair of dark jeans and boots.

2. Topshop Utility Drawstring Dress • $48.90 (After Sale: $75)
I’ve had a sudden, recent craving for shirtdresses lately. I think they’re going to be my thing this fall (you know, for all the times I have to get dressed for work…).

3. BaubleBar ‘Adornment – Play By Ear’ Earring Set • $51.90 (After Sale: $78)

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Finds - BaubleBar Earring Gift Set - Sarrandipity Blog
I am very into ear jackets these days. I’m also very into mixing and matching earrings. Thus, this is pretty much the perfect purchase.

4. Satya Jewelry Reversible Constellation Pendant Necklace $49.90 (After Sale: $78)
I actually got this one as a bridesmaid gift for my sister after she spotted it during our pre-shop appointment (I must say, I did a good job of being sneaky in buying it while with her), and if I wasn’t trying to curb my jewelry spending (my necklace collection is a tad absurd), I would’ve bought one for myself as well. How cool is it?

5. Trouvé Drape Collar Leather Jacket • $219.90 (After Sale: $328)
I have a fairly extensive bomber collection—they’re perfect for Chicago fall and spring!—but somehow I was missing a good, versatile leather jacket. (In fact, the last black leather jacket I bought was when I lived in London in 2008, and let’s just say I didn’t have the greatest sense of style back then…) This one is buttery soft and not too bulky, like some of the options out there.

6. Hudson ‘Lydia’ Ankle Skinny Jeans • $129.90 (After Sale: $198)
A good pair of black jeans is a necessary wardrobe staple.

7. AG ‘The Nikki’ Relaxed Skinny Jeans • $149.90 (After Sale: $225)
I was actually quite hesitant to buy these—I love the boyfriend jean look on other people, but I’m not totally convinced I can pull it off. So, we’ll see…

8. Lush Crewneck Swing Dress • $29.90 (After Sale: $46)

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Finds - Lush Dress - Sarrandipity blog
This was a super spontaneous purchase after it caught my eye near the end of our appointment, but when I tried it on at home I loved it and ended up wearing it for my wedding rehearsal the next night (I added a belt to give it more shape). The floral version I bought is currently sold out, but this paisley print is an amazing alternative. That said, people are always returning things, so it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on unavailable items you love in case they return (and Nordstrom will probably restock—it just may be after the sale).

9. Zella ‘Live In – Bold Blocked’ Leggings • $44.90 (After Sale: $68)
I’ve been wanting patterned leggings to wear to the gym for a while, so I’m really excited about these. I think they’ll probably give me more speed and power when I work out, right? Related note: I swear by Zella (Nordstrom’s own activewear line) leggings for everyday wear in the fall and winter—I have them in at least three different solid neutral colors. They’re so much more substantial than a lot of the other leggings out there, hold up really well, and are perfect with long sweaters and tops.

10. Barefoot Dreams CozyChic Ribbed Blanket • $117.90-$146.90 (After Sale: $176-220)
Before you balk at spending $100+ on a blanket, hear me out: This is the softest, coziest, most heavenly blanket there is. I already have a king size one on my couch (not too big; exactly perfect for cocooning yourself in the winter), but I ordered a couple in the sale because it’s the perfect gift and I know I’ll find people to bestow them upon. So whether you’re buying one for yourself or someone else, I’m telling you it is worth every penny. In fact, all Barefoot Dreams products are—I’ve acquired and gifted quite a few of their products (like this cardigan, this shawl, and this baby blanket) over time, and they have not disappointed. You could say I’m a super fan.

Anyone else score some amazing deals in the anniversary sale?

Related Posts
Fall-Friendly Steals From Nordstrom’s End-Of-Summer Sale
Playing Dress Up: Winter Wedding
My Summer Uniform
Packing List: NYC In the Fall 

This post contains affiliate links. You won’t pay more by using them, but Sarrandipity may receive a (very) small commission if you click on a link and purchase something. Please check out my policies for more info. 

Model Behavior

Chicago Wedding Photo Shoot - Sarrandipity

Guys, Andy and I are officially models. Kind of. We both recently met the lovely Jennifer of Jennifer Claire Photography. She happened to be in the midst of planning a styled wedding shoot for her portfolio—along with Erin of Dotted Events—and asked if we’d be interested in modeling for her. And because, honestly, everyone on earth has at least a bit of an ego, we jumped at the chance. So, approximately four months before our actual wedding, we played dress up as bride and groom for a fake one. A little strange at first, but we got used to it…and it was fun freaking our friends out with the photos posted on Facebook and Instagram. Without further ado, some of Jennifer’s great photos of our little wedding test drive.

Chicago Wedding Photo Shoot - Sarrandipity

Chicago Wedding Photo Shoot - Sarrandipity

Chicago Wedding Photo Shoot - Sarrandipity

Chicago Wedding Photo Shoot - Sarrandipity

Chicago Wedding Photo Shoot - Sarrandipity

Photography: Jennifer Claire Photography
Event Design & Coordination: Dotted Events
Venue: ZED451
Floral Arrangements: Ellen Sparks
Gown: Jenny Yoo Collection
Tuxedo: Haberdash
Accessories: The Left Bank 
Hair & Makeup: Lavender Park
Wardrobe Stylist: Patrick Niles