Gift Guide 2013: $25 & Under

Gift Guide 25
2013… blink and you’ll miss it, am I right?

I can’t believe it’s finally December. And the holiday season. It always surprises me how fast it all happens, no matter how hard I try to mentally prepare myself for this exceptionally busy time of the year. Around here though, it’s busy for all the wrong reasons. For the past two years in a row, I’ve found myself moving during the first week of December, which also happens to be the week of my birthday. Fun! Needless to say, I don’t typically jump for joy this time of year since I’m usually knee deep in boxes and packing tape, preparing for yet another move. Gone are the days of relaxing and enjoying the start of the holiday season! Knowing all too well what we’re up against this week, I’m vowing to make the most of the better parts this month has to offer, like baking and eating far too many sweet treats, cozying up under the blankets with a good book, and most of all, NOT finding myself trapped in the mall, searching for gifts. (Although I say this now and then find myself cursing fellow shoppers from the confines of my car as I try to navigate a packed parking lot on the 20th of December…)  In keeping with that intent, here are plenty of little gift ideas, all $25 and under, that can be purchased online from the comfort of home sweet home.

1. Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar, $20.00 | 2. Forever 21 headwrap, $6.80 | 3. Forever 21 crossbody, $12.40 | 4. Target chunky link bracelet, $16.99 | 5. ban.do shoe clips,$16.00 | 6. NYX palette, $24.99 | 7. Express bow belt, $11.94 | 8. Kate Spade pencil set, $20.00 | 9. Kitsch hair ties, $15.99 | 10. Bath & Body Works 3-wick candle, $20.00

Sweatshirt Chic

Sweatshirt ChicGuys. Crewneck sweatshirts are cool again. I didn’t think they could possibly experience a resurgence after the tragic way they were worn during the 90s. Like many other tweens and teens during that bygone era, I wore my generously oversized sweatshirts over leggings. They were usually big enough to cover my butt, though I don’t think I was too worried about proper clothing proportions back then. Crewnecks fell to the wayside when hoodies became the sweatshirt du jour throughout high school. But they’ve finally made a comeback in a most glamorous way. The styles I’ve seen lately are decked out in sequins, jewels, and fun prints. These aren’t your average Hanes pullovers. While I’m loving some of the luxe bejeweled versions I’ve seen (the offerings at J.Crew come to mind), I’ve rounded up a few of the more budget-friendly options out there. Forever 21 actually has a ton of different styles, many under $25. You could also go the DIY route on this trend. Skip the Bedazzler and opt for a needle, thread, and a little bit of glue to customize a plain crewneck to your taste (there’s a great tutorial on I Spy DIY for a gem embellished sweatshirt). I’m thrilled this trend made a comeback for fall–there’s nothing I like more than the epitome of loungewear masquerading as fancy clothes!

1. Forever 21, $15.80 | 2. Forever 21, $17.80 | 3. H&M, $12.95 | 4. Tuc + Wes, $49.00 | 5. MANGO, $34.99 | 6. Forever 21, $22.80

Seasonal Shift

095
By now, I am fully aware we are well into the swing of things with “fall.” School has started for all of those bright young scholars that were once milling about aimlessly during the lazy summer months. (And thank God, because GET OFF MY LAWN.) The back-to-school displays that once shown brightly with brand-spankin’ new school supplies have been ransacked and left barren, aside from an overstock of off-brand composition notebooks (nope, no Mead in sight) and a few leftover One Direction lunch boxes. Pants and jeans have replaced all of the butt-grazing shorts that had graced store windows all summer long, and Dunkin Donuts may have beaten Starbucks to the punch by unveiling their yearly pumpkin latte lineup before the temperatures have even remotely reached autumnal conditions. Yes, “fall” is in the air.

Ohrlly?

Don’t let retail fool you. Although plaid has quickly surpassed floral as the print of the moment in almost every store, it’s still impossibly hot to consider wearing anything fall-like. One cool morning last week gave me false hopes and by midday, I learned that polyester was a very bad choice. Some fabrics and prints I can get away with once things cool down, but for now, I’m sticking to the basics and hoping and praying that no one sees me sweat in white cotton. It’s even easier to fake looking cool and breezy with a billowy shift like this one. For some odd reason, I had always felt compelled to belt this dress. When I bought it a few years ago, it seemed too tent-like to wear as is–I was terrified of looking B-I-G. Plus, everyone was belting everything a few years back when cinched waists were all the rage. But when the heat peaked this season (and sort of lingered there with no signs of letting up), I decided I didn’t want clothes that clung to my skin, so I went crazy and wore it loose and natural, the way it was supposed to be worn all along. What a revelation. Simple, comfortable, and minimal, which is so unlike me. Did I mention comfortable? Waistless dresses are perfect, almost pajama-like in their casual feel. Tell me what else you could wear to scarf down a hefty seafood dinner and hide the evidence of such an ordeal? Until the seasons shift gears, I’ll keep cheating and wearing rediscovered summer muumuus favorites.

110
Dress: J.Crew Factory (old) | Necklace: Groop Dealz | Shoes: J.Crew Factory | Wristlet: Coach | Sunglasses: Target ($3 in the dollar section!) | Bracelet: Forever 21

Photos: Reid Erbe