Unique Gift Ideas for Christmas

Gift ImageChristmas shopping for me last year was beyond stressful.  My loved ones had supported me emotionally, mentally, and more all year.  But what could I give them that would say, “Hey, I love you”? What could I possibly get that either, a) they didn’t already have or b) that would not be just another thing for them to put in their closet or house and be forgotten?

I was tired of giving away “things” to other people, things that did not matter and had little significance to them other than another addition to their pile of “stuff.” As I was pondering gift ideas, I remembered a date night idea I had a few months earlier: a cooking class. I began to look at different events taking place in my city and realized that the perfect gift was:

The gift of experience. 

My husband and I decided to buy a cooking class for his parents who were experimenting with being vegan. They loved it! In fact, everyone we gave a gift to last year were beyond happy. In order to spread the Christmas joy, I would like to share with you ten unique gift ideas that would make your family and friends think of you as their Santa Claus.

  1. A cooking class. There are various types of cooking classes you can take, with focuses on appetizers, desserts, spices, Thai food, meatless dishes, etc. While some classes can be expensive, if you shop around, you can find different classes that fit your budget.
  2.  A crafts/design class (sewing, jewelry making, upholstery, decoration). For my sister-in-law’s birthday, I gave her a short class on making jewelry.  I brought the tools and jewelry making books and she took to it quickly and beautifully.
  3. A concert. What better present could you get or give than a night relaxing while enjoying some of your favorite music? Make this an extra special night by including dinner.
  4. A day at the spa/massage (a couple’s massage works too). I love going to the spa. I go in with all this tension I did not know I had and come out feeling relaxed, beautiful, and happy.
  5. An activity such as a Zip line. Have you ever Zip lined across a valley? Wow! What a rush! At first you’re scared because of the heights or the newness of it, but then you start going and it’s a pure adrenaline rush. This could be the perfect gift for the adrenaline junkie in your life.
  6. A personal trainer. Most people gain weight or become their unhealthiest during the holiday season. Although I believe you can enjoy the holidays without overindulging, I know it’s hard to resist all the goodies around you.  What better way for them to start the New Year than to hit the ground running.  Get them a personal trainer at their gym or find one through your local classified ads.
  7.  A chocolate/cheese tasting event. Chocolate and cheese; need I say more?
  8. A dance class. This is one gift I would love to receive.  I love to dance and would not mind learning a few new steps.  Dancing makes me feel alive, sexy, and beautiful.
  9. A trip. This need not break the bank.  If you book a trip far enough in advance, a trip can be pretty affordable.  Alternatively, a cruise is cheaper the closer to the trip you get your tickets as they are trying to fill up all their cabins.
  10. Time. Time is the most precious commodity we have.  What better way can you show someone you love them than by giving them the gift of your time? Take the time to do something they enjoy with them.  It could be as simple as dinner.  My sister is an extremely busy woman and so nothing means more to me than when she takes the time to just be with me.  I know it’s a sacrifice for her but she makes me feel like she would rather be there in the moment with me than anywhere else.  If you are going to take the time for them, then take the time. Be mentally as well as physically there with your loved ones.

What experience have you enjoyed or have given as a gift?

laureen headshotBIO: Laureen is a freelance writer with a background in medicine. Although writing has always been her passion it was not until she was having a “how we want to raise our children” discussion with her husband that she came to an interesting realization; how could she teach her children to follow their dreams ambitiously when she was not living her own? At that point she started her writing career.  She recently started a website to help others gain clarity for their lives and business at 2clarify.com.

Halloween Costumes In Your Closet: Maleficent

maleficent by richard darbonne and sarah ward

For years Maleficent has risen to the top of my Halloween costumes and this year I finally executed it. This costume was certainly my biggest undertaking due to the creation of the headpiece.

maleficent profile by richard darbonne and sarah ward

Costume Components

  • Horn headpiece — bonus points for handcrafting your own! I made mine and finished it within 30 minutes of my Haute Halloween party
  • Vampy makeup
  • Green contacts — the lighter and yellower the better
  • Feather choker — repurposed from my Raven costume last year
  • Black lace shirt
  • Black corset — borrowed from my friend Kim (this was her custom made wedding corset. Girl is badass.)
  • Staff with crow atop — I made mine with a piece of black bamboo, a plastic ball, black gaffer’s tape, and a black crow purchased from Michael’s
  • Edgy rings from Forever21
  • Black skirt — or black dress
  • Bonus: Nude manicure with red on the inside of the nail a la Adele at the Grammy’s

maleficent torso C2maleficent by richard darbonne and sarah ward 3

Costume Inspiration

Photo: HitFix

Photo: HitFix

Photo: Entertainment Magazine

Photo: Entertainment Magazine

maleficent angelina and sarah take 2

Richard Darbonne is a talented Seattle portrait photographer I work with who suggested we do a portrait session after he saw my Malefiselfie on Instagram — “My heart stopped when I saw it,” he said. Richard created an environment with light that really highlighted the drama of Maleficent’s persona. “This light was especially crafted for you,” he told me when I sat down on set. “I tried to get other people to sit in, but it didn’t work.” It required the makeup and light and dark drama of the costume.

maleficent by richard darbonne and sarah ward 4

This is an award-winning costume as well! On Thursday I won Best Costume at the zulily Halloween party for this Maleficent costume. When announcing the best costume, our Studio Director said, “I can see your horns from here!” As my friend Charity said, “You won Halloween.”

Watch for a forthcoming detailed post on the making of the Maleficent horns.

Show & Tell

Did you dress up as Maleficent or pull together a costume from your closet? Leave a link in the comments, post a photo on our Facebook page, or hashtag #costumesinyourcloset on Instagram. We’d love to see your costume creation!

Photographer & Editor: Richard Darbonne | Blog
Model, Stylist & Makeup Artist: Sarah Ward

Halloween Costumes In Your Closet: Karl Lagerfeld

karl-lagerfeld-halloween-costume

Fashion provides plenty of iconic costume ideas, and German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld is one of the top choices. It’s a simple men’s Halloween costume choice — if you have a black suit and tie, you’re most of the way there!

Costume Components

  • White wig
  • Sunglasses
  • White collared shirt
  • Black tie
  • Black suit (borrowed from Sean — thank you!)
  • Gaudy tie clip and cuff links (tip: use women’s jewelry!)
  • Black fingerless gloves
  • Bonus accessories: white fluffy cat or white fan
Karl loves his cats. Photo: Harper's Bazaar

Karl loves his cats. Photo: Harper’s Bazaar

karl-lagerfeld-halloween-costume-seated

How perfect is Erick as Lagerfeld? When it came to embodying Karl, my clothing designer/stylist friend Erick was my first pick. He has the carriage, confidence, and dare I say cockiness to pull it off. Karl would be proud.

Show & Tell!

Did you dress up as Karl Lagerfeld or pull together a costume from your closet? Leave a link in the comments, post a photo on our Facebook page, or hashtag #costumesinyourcloset on Instagram. We’d love to see your costume creation!

Photographer & Photo Editor: Sean Gumm
Karl, Stylist & Makeup Artist: Erick Skoronski
Art Director & Makeup Artist: Sarah Ward

Halloween Costumes In Your Closet: Margot and Richie Tannenbaum

margot-richie-tannenbaum-costume-V1

For a quirky, easy Halloween couple’s costume, consider going the Wes Anderson route!

Costume Components for Margot

  • Blonde wig
  • Smoky, brooding eye makeup
  • Red barrette
  • Brown fur coat (borrowed from Heather — thanks!)
  • Striped polo shirt or dress
  • Skirt or jeans
  • Handbag

Costume Components for Richie

  • Athletic headband and wristband
  • Aviator sunglasses
  • Neutral colored blazer
  • Blue polo with white blazer (we layered a collared shirt under a blue polo for the same effect)
  • Scarf
  • Jeans

margot-richie-tannenbaum-costume-V2

Lana is a stylist and model I work with with her stunning bone structure and gaze and she came to mind for a perfect Margot Tannenbaum. Add her boyfriend Josh to the mix as Richie and we had a perfect couple’s costume!

Show & Tell!

Did you dress up as the Tannenbaums or pull together a costume from your closet? Leave a link in the comments, post a photo on our Facebook page, or hashtag #costumesinyourcloset on Instagram. We’d love to see your costume creation!

Photographer & Editor: Sean Gumm
Margot Tannenbaum: Lana Kraljevich
Richie Tannenbaum: Josh Tizon
Stylist and Makeup Artist for Margot: Sarah Ward
Makeup Artist for Richie: Erick Skoronski

A little behind the scenes love with the team.

halloween-tannenbaums-behind-the-scenes

L to R: Erick, Sean, Lana, Josh, Sarah

Halloween Costumes in Your Closet: Flamenco Dancer

Flamenco Dancer Costume

The first time I saw a flamenco dance performance, I was absolutely riveted. The strength, femininity and grace was empowering and completely won me over. Weeks later I was registered for flamenco dance classes and haven’t looked back since. Coy and captivating, a flamenco dancer is a great costume idea for women and girls alike!

Since I am a flamenco dancer myself, it makes for an easy Halloween costume! The year I dressed up as a flamenco dancer, the security guard at work teased me and said, “That’s like me dressing up as a security guard for Halloween.” But hey! If you already have the necessary parts and pieces, why not?

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Costume Components: 

  • Flower in your hair
  • Dangly earrings
  • Dress or long skirt skirt and top with polka dots (As an alternative, solid colors work as well, especially red and black!). Bonus points for ruffles!
  • Optional: A shawl with tassels
  • Optional: Fan
  • High heel Mary Jane shoes

Show and Tell!

Did you dress up as a flamenco dancer or pull together a costume from your closet? Leave a link in the comments, post a photo on our Facebook page, or hashtag #costumesinyourcloset on Instagram. We’d love to see your costume creation!

Photographer: Will Bossen
Model and Stylist: Sarah Ward

Halloween Costumes in Your Closet: I Love Lucy

i-love-lucy-costume

For an easy Throwback Thursday Halloween costume, consider being I Love Lucy! You probably even have these things hanging in your mother’s closet.

Costume Components

  • Red curly wig
  • Scarf
  • String of pearls
  • Vintage dress
  • Apron
  • Bonus: Assorted cooking props

Kathleen made the perfect Lucy! She grew up watching I Love Lucy as a kid and had so many of her mannerisms down pat! True to form, a Lucy costume is a great Costumes In Your Closet option since it won’t require many purchases.

Halloween Costume I Love Lucy // cable car couture & sean gumm

Here’s a sneak peek from behind the scenes!

i-love-lucy-behind-the-scenes Show & Tell!

Did you dress up as Lucy or pull together a costume from your closet? Leave a link in the comments, post a photo on our Facebook page, or hashtag #costumesinyourcloset on Instagram. We’d love to see your costume creation!

Photographer & Photo Editor: Sean Gumm
Model: Kathleen Majdali
Stylist & Makeup Artist: Sarah Ward

Halloween Costumes in Your Closet: Ninja

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If you’re looking for a last minute Halloween costume that doesn’t require shopping, consider being a ninja. Basically all you need is black fitted clothes. How easy is that?

Costume Components

  • black long sleeve shirt
  • black pants or tights
  • strips of fabric to tie around your wrists, ankles, and waist
  • wider strip of fabric to wrap around your face
  • black gloves
  • Bonus: sword or ninja stars

This year I’ve been trying to discover people’s spirit Halloween costumes, based on characteristics they have. Patrick, our ninja model, is light on his feet and on several occasions has suddenly appeared out of nowhere without a sound. Plus he’s Asian. Traits that lend themselves perfectly to a ninja costume.

Show & Tell

Did you dress up as a ninja or pull together a costume from your closet? Leave a link in the comments, post a photo on our Facebook page, or hashtag #costumesinyourcloset on Instagram. We’d love to see your costume creation!

Photographer: Will Bossen
Model: Patrick Vong
Stylist: Sarah Ward

Halloween Costumes In Your Closet: Pirate

This year I’ve been approaching Halloween costumes differently — I’ve been trying to discover people’s Halloween spirit animal. The process involves observation, seeing what costume components or natural inclinations they already possess, and waiting for inspiration to strike. My friend Meredith has a pair of striped pants and when she wore them a few weeks ago, it was clear — she would make a perfect pirate!

pirate-costume

Costume Components

  • Bandana. Bonus points for a pirate hat!
  • Eye patch
  • Billowy blouse
  • Gold jewelry — don’t be shy!
  • Striped pants
  • Sash
  • Sword
  • Boots
  • Bonus: parrot!

halloween-costume-pirate-outtake

pirate-costume-halloween-costume-in-your-closet

True to form, a pirate costume is a great Costumes In Your Closet option since it won’t require many purchases. The one thing we were missing for the costume was the billowy blouse and I tracked down the lace blouse with ruffles from The Red Light in Portland last weekend! Being a pirate is a such an affordable and easy choice for Halloween costumes!

Show & Tell

Did you dress up as a pirate or pull together a costume from your closet? Leave a link in the comments, post a photo on our Facebook page, or hashtag #costumesinyourcloset on Instagram. We’d love to see your costume creation!

Photographer and editor: Will Bossen
Pirate: Meredith James
Hair and Makeup: Kristen Hackbarth
Stylist: Sarah Ward

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