November 19, 2015

Mitten Exchange - Thoughtful Holiday Gifting

Editor's Note: This is one of my favourite holiday-themed posts, and I wanted to share it again. A mitten exchange is a wonderful way to celebrate the season with a group of friends or family.  If you don't knit, support handmade and purchase a pair from a local craft fair, maker or shop. 

Holiday Gift Exchange

Start a New Gifting Tradition

Planning a mitten exchange as a new gifting tradition. A mitten exchange works perfectly for friend groups, co-worker groups, large families, and anyone else who loves the idea of receiving a beautiful new pair of handmade mittens.

Holiday Gift Exchange
Mitten Exchange 

Celebrating with a Mitten Exchange
The exchange can be set-up in several ways:

(+) Assign each participant a person to shop for in advance.  This option works well if you have different sizing needs (such as children and adults) or need to suit a wide variety of styles.


(+) Purchase (handmade preferred!) or knit your own mittens, and wrap your mittens without knowing who the recipient will be. Bring wrapped mittens to the exchange and assign a number to each gift.  Each person draws a number and matches it to his or her gift. 


(+) choose your own way!  The possibilities are endless.

Plan a date, time, and location for your exchange.  Encourage creative gift wrap. You can package your mittens with a beautiful handmade tag, like this one, embossed in silver.

Thrummed Mittens

Handmade Mitten Tags

Want more Mitten Exchange Inspiration?
See how 5 friends each wrapped a pair of mittens for the exchange.  Gorgeous gift wrap inspiration for any gift!

Featured Handmade Mittens

Love the mittens that you see here? Be sure to visit each of the individual hand makers featured here this week:  (+) Handmade red & pink mittens made with 100% pure Icelandic wool from pureIceland (+) one of a kind upcycled sweater mittens from MadeAgainMittens (+) Upcycled felted sweater mittens from Wormewoole (+) Sheep's grey hand knit thrummed mittens from Manda's Mittens.

November 16, 2015

The 5 Best Reasons to give Kids Gift Subscriptions

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I've been thinking lately about gift subscriptions, and why they make the best gifts for kids.

Our kids. They want our attention. They want us to spend time with them. They want to know we are there, close by, engaged with them.

As a full-time working outside the home mom, I felt like my time for presence was SO limited. That's part of the reason why I created Petit Mail - a story card to read together, a link and ideas for easy activities we can do together. Sometimes it's hard to come up with activities on the spot - it's a little easier with a helping hand. Plus, snail mail is the MOST FUN. Don't you agree?

Here's a list of my Top 5 Reasons to give Gift Subscriptions for Kids

Reason 1
Gift subscriptions keep giving well past the holiday.  It is the age-old "gift that keeps on giving" when something new and fun arrives in the mailbox each month. 

Reason 2
Kids LOVE to get mail. Mail with their name on it. Bright, colourful mail.  It can be a really joyful experience, especially the first time a subscription arrives.

Reason 3
During gift-giving times, especially during the holidays, there are SO. MANY. TOYS. Yes, the toys are exciting for a short period of time, but often lose their appeal quickly. Subscriptions do no add to the pile.  They offer something deeper.  See reason 4. 

Reason 4
Subscriptions spark learning and imagination in a fun way. They encourage creative play and quality time spent together as a family. They are the perfect non-toy gift

Reason 5
Subscriptions offer you the ability to give the best gift of all - your presence.  Your presence while you read together each month and your presence in the parent-child activities your subscription provides. 

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I created Petit Mail Monthly Subscription for Kids - Story Card Subscription for preschoolers and early readers for all of the above reasons.

Give your child the perfect non-toy gift. Each month, your child will receive a fun letter via snail mail. Petit Mail provides something to look forward to receiving and encourages quality time together as a family. Some months include little extras, like stickers and other goodies.

How Does Petit Mail work?

Order: Choose from Canadian, USA, or International subscriptions and from 3, 6 or 12 month options. 

Receive: Check the mailbox together regularly, talk & connect, explore your surroundings

Read & Play Together: Read your story card & use the monthly adventure as inspiration for family time activities.  
Oliver's putting on a puppet show? You can too! 

With so much of our days filled with technology, it is a wonderful treat to receive real paper mail.

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Need a gift subscription for the holidays? 

The Petit Mail Story Card Holiday Gift Set includes:

(+) A pre-packaged, double-sided Petit Mail story card - "Oliver Bakes Cookies" and envelope, ready for gifting or mailing.
(+) A gift subscription card and pre-ordered gift subscription for 3, 6 or 12 months (you choose your start month - December or January)
(+) Gift Set Mailing costs included with your order for Canada and US addresses

November 12, 2015

Top 5 Experience Gifts in St. John's, Newfoundland

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of gifts that focus on experiences rather than "things".

Sometimes those experiences might result in a physical product, but when a product can be used (like perishables) or is the perfect match for its recipient, you know that it will be loved and cherished for years.

Enter my top choices for experience gifts in St. John's, Newfoundland, just in time for holiday gifting.

1. Custom Bag from Ragmaw

I've been a fangirl of Megan's custom, one of a kind bags and purses for quite some time (and proudly wear my own custom Ragmaw).  Gift Idea: Set up an appointment for your loved one to view and choose a one of a kind Ragmaw bag, OR an appointment to collaborate and make a custom bag.  Write a note about this and wrap it all up with Megan's card.  You can connect with Megan online, or on Facebook and Instagram where she regularly shares images of her beautiful pieces and a look behind the scenes at her making process.

2. Custom Dress from Melanie Jacqueline

For our Anniversary, my husband (aka husband of the year), set up an appointment with Melanie at Melanie Jacqueline for a custom dress. Words cannot describe how happy I am with it.  It was a completely custom experience - choosing my style of dress, fabrics and working with Melanie to create something that is uniquely me.The appointment was a surprise, such a fantastic way to gift an experience.
You can connect with Melanie via her Website or Facebook.

3. Chocolate 101 Workshops at Newfoundland Chocolate Company

A chocolate making class is a completely fun way to spend an evening. We took this class a couple of years ago and I was so impressed with the process + it gave me a whole new appreciation for handmade chocolate (plus you get to take home your DELICIOUS goods). You can find all the chocolate making goodness here.

4.  A class with SeaBerry Studios

SeaBerry Studios offers unique workshops and courses on crafting luxurious and nourishing skincare made with kind ingredients. A class with Paula just might be the perfect gift for the person in your life who loves natural skincare and would love to experiment with the process of making his or her own.  Workshops vary, but you can see a list of current offerings online, or join the newsletter to be the first to know about upcoming workshops.

5. A Gift Certificate for Lighthouse Picnics

I have travelled the world, and one of my absolute favourite experiences of all time remains right here at home - Lighthouse Picnics or on Facebook. There is something oh-so-magical about sitting on a hillside, overlooking the ocean on a sunny Newfoundland day with an artisan picnic.  In my opinion, you just can't go wrong with this as a gift. While technically not in St. John's, the drive to Ferryland makes a perfect day trip.

There are more wonderful things to do in Newfoundland and Labrador - if you love this post, stay tuned for others like it in the future.  Want to chime in with your own favourite experience gift in Newfoundland and Labrador? Join the conversation over on the Petit Cadeau Facebook page.

Happy Gifting,


October 28, 2015

Christmas Countdown Calendar

Christmas Countdown Calendar

The Christmas Countdown Calendar

Growing up, we always celebrated the month of December with an advent calendar. I had a beautiful pop-up scene calendar, with little doors and windows to open each day.  There was no chocolate involved with this particular advent calendar, and we used it again and again, all throughout my childhood.

Most kids love the chocolate part of an advent calendar, but I imagined something more.

I imagined counting down the days with thoughtful little gifts, in beautiful heirloom bags that could be used year after year, and even passed down through generations.

I imagined something that would bring families together through a simple + thoughtful tradition.

This isn't an advent calendar, but these countdown calendars can be used in the five days leading up to Christmas, or once a week in the five weeks leading up to Christmas.

Each numbered bag can be filled with a treat or surprise. 
Handmade ornaments.
Simple gifts.
Each bag can hold a card announcing a special family activity for that day. 

Christmas Countdown Calendar

Christmas Countdown Activities

I love the idea of gifting experiences, not things. Filling your Christmas Countdown Calendar with activities that let you all enjoy the spirit of the season. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Go for a drive to see the Christmas lights 
Bake Christmas cookies
Read a new Christmas story 
Random Act of Kindness (do something for someone today that they are not expecting)
Make an ornament or decoration
Watch a special Christmas movie with treats
Permission to stay up late. 
Decorating the Christmas tree. 
Building a snowman
Decorating the windows in your room
Family game night!
Learning about holidays in another culture
Decorating a Gingerbread house

Christmas Countdown Calendar

A Christmas Countdown Calendar isn't just for Kids.  

I love the idea of a couple using the Christmas Countdown Calendar as part of their holiday tradition. Something to invest in now, and can also be shared if your family grows in the future.  Or, continue to use it as something just for you, keeping something special for yourselves during the busy holiday season.

Imagine the possibilities:

(+) Carefully packaging up five sets of homemade cookies or chocolates for your sweet. Unwrapping one each day and curling up together at the end of the day to enjoy them with a mug of cider.

(+) Planning 5 days of activities leading up to Christmas and leaving a small note in each bag to be opened as a surprise.

(+) Small gifts acting as clues, one opened each day leading up to Christmas, with the actual gift under the tree on Christmas morning.

These beautiful red heirloom bag sets can also be used to hide clues for a Valentine's Day surprise.

I start with five handmade fabric bags and embroider each countdown number by hand in a cheerful holiday red. Each bag comes with a small red clothespin which can be used to hold the bag shut, if you choose. Handmade with heart and love from me to you. These are truly heirloom pieces to last a lifetime.

Amid all the holiday hustle and bustle of trying to get the perfect presents, think about this. 
Most of us cannot remember a specific gift we received when we were ten years old, but we do remember those traditions, the things that made the holidays special, the things that we did together year after year as a family.  What tradition will you create together as a family?

October 22, 2015

Minimalism and The Ultimate Gift

In my early 20's I lived in Europe
I cooked full meals on one hotplate (for real)
I rode a bicycle everywhere (or took the train to other regions or countries on the weekend)
I bought simple, fresh ingredients at the local market
I lived in a very tiny space. 

Looking back, I don't ever remember thinking - "I want more"

Life was an adventure. There was so much to see, so much to explore. 
Things moved at a different pace.  I moved at a different pace.

Of course, that was a different season of my life.
There weren't so many commitments, and I didn't have two very small children.

Lately I've been reading articles almost daily about minimalism and simplifying and I've been thinking about it. a lot

I want my children to have experiences.
I want them to see the world with their own eyes.
I want to experience that with them. 

That, for me, would be the ultimate gift to them. 

So, I'm on a journey, of sorts.  A journey toward decluttering some of things in my life, and I have to tell you, it has been kind of amazing so far. 

Let's get one thing clear.  I'm not giving it all up to live in a hut in the woods.
(I still like my Starbucks, thankyouverymuch)
My version of minimalism is largely about a home without clutter, but filled with things we love, about spending quality time with family and friends, and about consciously cutting back on things that we really do not need, so that we can save for that ultimate gift of travel. 

I'm also giving more gifts with minimalism in mind. 
I'm sitting down to write letters to friends for their birthdays, instead of sending gifts.
We are taking our 5 year old niece to see a local theatre production of The Little Mermaid as her birthday gift instead of a toy.
We are adopting a "Something You Want, Something You Need, Something to Wear, Something to Read" gift practice for our kids this holiday season. 

Keeping things simple, yet meaningful.
Thoughtful Gifting.  Slow Gifting. 

How will you design the life you want to live? 

(you can read some fantastic articles on discovering minimalism, your own way, on my new favourite blog, No Sidebar)

October 15, 2015

Why I Buy Handmade

Shop Small - Support Handmade Business

Why Buy Handmade?

It's no secret that I love to buy handmade. It's part of the reason why I started the Handmade Marathon series, to bring more attention to businesses making and selling beautiful handmade products.

I still shop in big-box stores sometimes, but more and more I am choosing to support handmade business, or small local, or independent stores.

Following the trend of slow food, I've been seeing more about slow fashion, and slow blogging (here and here) to name a few.

Can I coin a new phrase?
For me, buying handmade is slow gifting. It's quiet and thoughtful.  It's about making a conscious choice for gifts. It's about making gifts with love or purchasing something made with care by hand. It's an energy.

Shop Small - Support Handmade Business

Here are some other reasons why I'm choosing handmade

I LOVE to DIY, but...
I am a creative at heart.  I love to make gifts and homemade cards when I can.
My reality has changed a lot in the past few years.  I work full-time, I am a mom of two, I operate The Petit Cadeau blog and shop, I'm passionately running my business Petit Mail, and I'm learning that despite my best intentions, I just do not have the time to make everything myself.  Enter buying handmade. I get a thoughtful, unique gift.  I support a small business. It honestly makes me really, really happy.

Quality over Quantity
It comes back to my personal choices.  I can buy my daughter 5 plastic toys, or 2 lovely handmade items.  Handmade doesn't always mean expensive (but you should be paying a fair cost for the time and effort that goes into making a product).  There are so many beautiful items available online and in local shops.

There are so many amazing, unique handmade products that you can never find in the "mass-produced" aisle. You can often request customized, or personalized versions of products, or avail of one-of-a-kind products.  There are options for everyone.

Want somewhere to start online? The Maritime Makers collective supports and promotes makers from Atlantic Canada. Browse beautiful Etsy shops (curated here).

I have made thoughtful changes to my gifting in the past few years, and you can too. What will be your reason for buying handmade?

(+) Looking for more thoughtful gifting inspiration?  Here are 5 Ways to Gift Experiences and Inspiration for Non-Toy Gifts for Kids.  

I would also love to have you join me for monthly thoughts on slow gifting and select blog updates. 

October 01, 2015

5 Ways to Gift Experiences

Gift Experiences

This year, I've been thinking and reading a lot about minimalism. There's no perfect way to do this, but I've slowly been taking steps to clear clutter from our home (no easy task with two small kids) and simplify things.  Which, for me, naturally leads to thinking about gifting.

Most of us have a lot of "stuff, so how can we gift meaningfully without adding to all of that clutter.

Here are 5 ways to gift experiences - a perfect way to honour my philosophy of slow gifting.

Gift Your Skills

You might be surprised at how much others might appreciate a gift of your unique skills.  This might be something related to your career work, or something related to a hobby. 

If someone always compliments you on your photos, offer to take some family photos and choose the best ones to print.  Tania from ManusMade gifted her mother with some time to help her declutter a room in her house.  Maker Jessica Vellenga has been offering the gift of mending and repairing fabric items like heirloom table cloths and clothing.

Gift Online Classes

An online class might just be the perfect gift for a lifelong learner or creative in your life.  If you dig a little, you can find some really interesting options.

Know someone who loves to bake?  Alison's Cookie Party might be a great gift option. 

For the artist or aspiring artist, blogger and artist Alisa Burke offers a variety of well-priced online classes for gifting (p.s.  I really want to visit the Oregon Coast because of Alisa's blog)

Thrive offers online art classes specifically for kids.
Jean of the Artful Parent wrote about taking online art classes with kids. 

For an aspiring photographer or creative, I highly recommend Susannah Conway's Photo Meditations class (Journal Your Life is also on my wish list).

Subscriptions for Kids

Gift Subscriptions

In my opinion, there is nothing much better than something that comes in the mail once a month. There are so many different subscription options out there (because it makes a great gift)

Think creatively about subscriptions, like Janelle Hardy's painted Letters from Vancouver Island or Paris Letters (have you read the book?)

For paper lovers, Q&A Letterbox might be a lovely option.

For young kids, Petit Mail story card subscriptions are a great option. 

Gift From Your Kitchen

This could mean homemade cookies, but I also have some other ideas.  

For busy parents, put together several freezer meals, package and label. Your gift can go straight into the freezer and they will be forever appreciative (I speak from experience).  

Bake and deliver muffins or homemade bread to your recipient a few times a year. Give your recipient a card to let them know what flavours they can expect and when (this helps you stay on track with your gift - don't forget to put the dates in your calendar!)

Gift a homemade theme, like breakfast - include pancake mix, granola (I like this recipe) and Canadian maple syrup. 

Gift By Snail Mail

Gift by Snail Mail

If you have a friend who loves to send mail, why not help them out.  Shop local markets for a variety of handmade cards (birthday, holiday, generic) and package them up beautifully with some stamps for mailing.  Or, if you are creative, make your own card sets and do the same.

Put together a beautiful package to send by mail.  It doesn't have to be complicated.  Sit down and write a personalized letter.  Wrap up and add some small gifts - gift cards might be a great option for someone who lives far away.  If you need some inspiration, my Make it Pretty Pinterest board is a great place to start.

Looking for more Inspiration?

I've shared some thoughts on non-toy gifts for kids in this post and on my Pinterest board

Note: This is not a sponsored post.  I haven't received any compensation for linking to other sites - most are bloggers/makers who I know, have followed for years, or classes or gifts that I have purchased and given.