2013 Gift Guide – Museum Membership

It’s getting into gift-making or buying crunch time. If you still have someone on your list that is tricky, chances are that person has just about everything they need and could want. For these folks, I like going the experience-gifting route.

One of my favorite gift ideas is a museum membership! It’s an experience gift that keeps giving for a full year! There are lots of benefits that your giftee will enjoy. Most museums offer free admission for the membership holder, some offer free or reduced admission for a companion, and many offer a museum store or cafe discount. Members are often invited to exclusive tours or events.

As you can see above, I have a membership to the Art Institute of Chicago, but there are all sorts of museums you can choose from — science, natural history, contemporary art, fine art, folk art, fashion, children’s, history, design, photography, anthropology, sports, and profession-specific museums or zoos, planetariums, aquariums, etc. Chances are there’s a museum or similar institution that meets your giftee’s interests.

And don’t just consider the big museums. Small museums are perfect for museum memberships too — since a visit doesn’t require a full day, she/he can pop in every time a new, temporary exhibition opens. And small museum memberships may be a little easier on the wallet if funds are limited.

Once you’ve chosen an institution, you can buy a membership in person if you live locally, but many also sell them online, by phone, or by mail. Track down their website or phone number, and I’m sure someone at the museum would love to help you purchase a membership as a gift.

Hopefully your giftee will develop a meaningful relationship with that museum, learning, growing, and exploring new things all year long. There’s not much better than that!

P.S. More gift ideas on my Pinterest board!

Holly and ivy graphic by MyCuteGraphics.

2013 Gift Guide – Floral Hand Cream

My job has some pretty odd restrictions because I work with historic fashion. One of which is that I can’t wear any perfume or lotion on my hands because they can transfer to the garments so quickly. So my next gift idea seems extra luxurious to me.

Anyone who works with their hands or spends a fair amount of time outside can attest that their hands take a beating in the winter. My skin dries out really quickly, since I wash my hands so often when I’m working with garments and because the winter air seems to zap my skin of any remaining moisture while I’m commuting.

So in the evenings, I use this amazing hand cream from Royal Apothic on my dried out hands. First, I’m a sucker for pretty packaging. I couldn’t bring myself to throw away the box. Second, the City of Angels version has a light, super feminine fragrance of Night-Blooming Jasmine and eucalyptus. And third, this stuff works but doesn’t leave a greasy feel after it absorbs into my skin.

If you have someone on your holiday list who works with their hands and loves the smell of flowers, this is a fabulous gift!

P.S. More gift ideas on my Pinterest board!

Holly and ivy graphic by MyCuteGraphics.

2013 Gift Guide – Clothes Brush

This year, I want to share some products that I use and love as present ideas. There are a myriad of gift guides out there on the internet, but some can seem rather impersonal, as if the intention is just to push sales rather than help you find something special. I’m not selling anything here, nor making money off any links, and I’d like to think I have an interesting angle because of my background. I hope my suggestions are helpful for someone on your list!

My first gift idea is a clothes brush. Have you ever heard of it? Clothes brushes are used to care for your wardrobe and can extend the life of your clothing. Brilliant, right?

Before the invention of the washing machine or dry cleaning, clothes laundering was all done by hand. To reduce the amount of washings a garment required, clothes brushes were used to remove dirt. Think about the times you’ve seen Bates and O’Brien cleaning their masters’ clothes on Downton Abbey. While washing machines require less hands-on action, they definitely decrease the life of a garment because they can wear out a garment quickly. Plus, clothing detergent is filled with chemicals that can also fade and break down a piece of clothing. Same with dry cleaning.

A clothes brush will decrease the amount of times you have to wet wash a garment. Let’s be honest, unless you are seriously sweating most of our clothing doesn’t need to be washed after every wear, especially those garments that don’t touch the skin directly. Suits, dress pants or skirts, blazers, and jeans are all good candidates for the clothes brush. I don’t suggest you use a clothes brush with underwear, knit fabrics, or woven garments with a lot of texture.

To use one, brush against the nap of the material or the direction the fabric lies. This removes dust and dirt. Never use a scrubbing motion, but instead use short and quick strokes. Then you reverse the direction and brush gently along the nap to create a smooth finish.

For further instructions, check out The Butler’s Closet. It has a great guide to using a clothes brush with specific directions for wool clothing, jackets, trousers, skirts, and hats based on The Butler’s Guide to Clothes Care, Managing the Table, Running the Home & Other Graces from 1892.

If you want to buy a clothes brush for someone on your holiday list (or even yourself), look for one with natural bristles. Mine is made from goat hair, but you can also get quality brushes made of boar bristles.

I bought my brush from a Chicago-area boutique called the Careful Peach, but here are a few online:
English Horn Clothes Brush from The Butler’s Closet
Clothes brushes from Kent.
Redecker Clothes Brush with Handle from Crate & Barrel

P.S. Bonus tip — a clothes brush is good for the environment too!
P.P.S. More gift ideas on my Pinterest board!

Holly and ivy graphic by MyCuteGraphics.