When it comes to the holiday season, I think the hardest people to shop for are the men in our lives. Husbands, boyfriends, dads, brothers- it can be so so impossible to decide what to buy, and tempting to take the easy way out and throw video games and gift cards in their direction. Wanting to branch out just a little, I’ve done some browsing and online shopping, and these are some of my favorite guy gifts this season.
I’ve obviously gotten great joy out of living this unicorn life, and since the holidays are truly the season of giving, I’m sharing some of the glittery goodness with y’all this Black Friday. I’m kicking off a series of 5 holiday gift guides today with all things shimmery, metallic, sparkly, unicorn…
Around here, a birthday is pretty fun, even when I’m into these dreaded thirties. If you’ll recall from holiday posts, I’m a firm believer that true love is picking out your own presents. I normally don’t have much on my ‘want’ list, but it’s overflowing with cute stuff this season. I pulled together a few of the things I’m lusting over right now into a birthday wishlist. And spoiler alert- wearing one of these items already!
Imelda over here, always about the shoes. I love tennies for summer and have been eyeing these classic black New Balances (1). I bought these grey Bensimon tennies (2) when we were in Paris last spring, and wore them frequently, until they disappeared from my locker at the spa the other week, so I need another pair. I’m also a major espadrille fan, and this Rosè all day pair (3) is too cute! I’m wanting Tieks too, with all the walking we do. I just can’t decide between shimmery (4) and bright fuchsia (5).
I’ve been wanting a pair of tassel earrings, and I love the navy beading and touch of sparkle on this Baublebar pair (6). And these stunning Kendra Scott earrings (7) remind me of the North Star. I’m obsessed with Honeysilk ribbons, so a stylist box (8) would make me squeal, and be so fun to style. Cute workout clothes are a motivating must- I love the bow back on this Kate Spade yoga bra (9). I’ve been dying for a Letterfolk board (10) since I first spotted them on Instagram. I want all the sizes and especially the limited edition white, but I think the grey fits my style best.
Speaking of grey, my hair’s pewtery these days, and I want a silver circle clip (11) to accent that. Looking ahead to summer hostessing, I want this carafe and glass set (12) for the guest bedroom, this wicker beverage set (13) for outdoor entertaining, and a disco drink tumbler (14) for happy hour!
Let’s be real, though. My birthday wishes are incredibly entitled and utterly first world when I think of others. Specifically when I think of my birthday buddy. If you follow me on Facebook, watch the Ellen show, or are a major Saints fan, you’ve probably heard about my friends Brian McKenna (happy birthday, twin- I love you!) and Jackson Smith. Feel free to catch up on how Brian’s spirit and Jackson’s service combine to swell my eyes with tears and heart with emotion. Brian was one of the first friends I made at Tulane, and he and Jackson are so kind and positive. Brian is celebrating his birthday too today, and I can’t help but want to celebrate and love on him- he is a miracle and an inspiration and honestly? His wants trump mine any day, so please donate to his care if you are feeling generous.
I truly believe that one of the secrets to a happy holiday is picking out your own presents- fortunately, David agrees! In an attempt to extend the holiday cheer, one of the things I choose for myself each year is a subscription service. I’m such a kid, but I love mail and getting something delivered monthly is super fun. In past years, I’ve chosen and loved beauty and stationery boxes, but this year, I’m jazzed to be accessorizing with Rocksbox, a company that sends you boxes of designer jewelry to borrow or buy with zero pressure.
Getting to build my wish list of pretties and specify my preferences soothed my picky soul. I’m into big earrings, so I added some Kendra Scott pairs, Gorjana ear climbers, and lots of funky ear jackets. Always about the arm party, bunches of cute bangles and bracelets made my wishlist, as did some statement, layered, and lariat necklaces. There are tons of cute options!
I was even more excited when my first box showed up. It was adorably packaged, but sturdy, and I love that the bubble mailer was to be reused with the enclosed shipping label- truly couldn’t be easier. I untied the coral ribbon to a few inserts and chevron striped tissue.
As I unwrapped the accessories, layered with bubble wrap and each in their own pouch, I continued to be impressed. My stylist Molly had chosen these Kendra Scott earrings from my wishlist, and added a gold Gorjana bangle and and a subtly fringed statement necklace for a complete look.
Off to do a little holiday shopping at the Americana at Brand, I wore the pieces with mostly black- a simple jersey trapeze dress, dotted tights, suede flats. A classic ivory wool coat and sunnies set off the golden tones of the jewelry perfectly.
Though festively decorated and beautiful, I usually try to avoid malls and their crowds during the holiday season. I do most of my shopping online, and I obviously think Rocksbox is a great gift- that’s why I chose it for myself! I’d recommend it for a lady of any age, since she can populate her wishlist herself.
Rocksbox has some holiday gift packages that are fabulous deals running right now. But let’s be real- even at the holidays, we all want to spoil ourselves, so you can use promo code RavaynaXOXO at checkout for your first month free! See for yourself, but free jewelry is sure what I consider merry and bright.
I told y’all all about our flea market excursion, but that was just the beginning of my Paris shopping- I made more than a few store stops as we explored the city. We began at Orange to get a French SIM card for my iPhone- an absolute necessity.
The BHV was right by our apartment, and became a running joke- I have a terrible sense of direction, but it was like my magnetic north. I loved browsing books and stationery, housewares and decor, and dug the mix of designer and high street brands.
Part design exhibition, part gorgeously styled boutique, it’s easy to see why merci is popular. The clothes and objets and decor were all impossibly chic, even down to the garden tools, the washing machine installation wall was interactive, and the cute and yummy cafe on the garden floor was packed.
The red car out front is photobait, and rightfully so! I brought home red gingham fabric napkins that tear off the roll like paper towels, and wooden cutlery carved to look like fancy silverware.
We loved Deyrolle, where no pictures are permitted. It’s a taxidermy shop with a sense of humor- literally, the lion lays down with the lamb. They have so many diverse specimens, exploring the store is a true adventure. We had no intent to purchase, but this is some seriously cool window shopping, and would recommend it highly (as long as you’re not vegan or squeamish about stuffed game).
When it came pharmacy time, I had a to-buy list ready to go. I take skincare and such really seriously, so I had done my research on the offerings. Bioderma and Embryolisse are standbys for me, so I was happy to stock up without the import tax, as well as on anti-inflammatory patches that are spendy at home, Homeoplasmine and la Roche Posay sunblock.
I’m always really into foreign grocery stores, and Paris was no exception. David had to stop me from trying to buy way more cheese than we could reasonably eat. And I loved how the Monoprix had food and family shopping all in one space, like a French Target.
But for serious foodie shopping, we went to Les Halles.
David Leibovitz has never once led me wrong, and E. Dehillerin was no exception. I lusted after the gorgeous copper pots and new knives, but made more reasonable purchases. After eating with tongs at Tickets, we got some for home. I also picked up new biscuit cutters, and I should have gotten a canelé mold- I became obsessed and wish I could make them myself!
G. Tetou is nearby, so we headed there next. This immaculate shop is filled with the most amazing assortment of food and sweets- the wall of chocolate made my mouth water. Valhrona is my preferred major chocolate brand, and their dulcey (32% caramelized white chocolate) is pretty much crack. David’s eyebrows went sky high when I requested the 3 kilo package from from behind the counter, but it’s been so delicious!
I really tried hard have some self control in there- I wanted to buy and try everything! Along with excessive quantities of chocolate, I purchased Puy lentils, chestnut cream and paste, duck pate, harissa, and puree de piment d’espelette.
I also did a fair bit of solo shopping in Paris, which is obviously less documented. David was not about to complain if I went to a boutique as he lingered over his cocktail for a few or waited in a line. So I went to Galeries Lafayette for Longchamp Le Pliage totes (navy for myself, red for a girlfriend) and also nabbed that cute cobalt convertible crossbody. I checked out Antoine et Lili, bought my favorite summer sneakers at Bensimon, grabbed some incredible tea at Mariage Freres, and stopped at more than a few well-recommended vintage boutiques. On the whole, I found them beautifully-curated but rather overpriced. That said, Atelier Catherine B is truly a little jewel box of vintage Chanel and Hermes goodies, and worth the visit just to drool.
And I peeked into lots of other stores in passing- pretty much anytime I saw something tempting. I’m good at speed shopping so David doesn’t get too impatient. There were dozens of other shops I had mapped that I didn’t get to- there is just SO much good shopping in Paris! Just another reason to return to the City of Lights…
We arrived in Paris via TGV late at night, and it was after midnight by the time we got to our apartment, still needing to eat and unpack a bit before bed. We woke up just hours later to metro to Vanves, on the outskirts of Paris. Flea marketing in France was on the top of my to-do list, so I wanted to be at Le Marche aux Puces for 9 at the latest, but that was a struggle. The boulangerie en route to the metro was clutch, as it kickstarted an early morning croissant-and-cafe-creme habit. Let’s keep it real: David is not a morning person in the best of situations, we were both pretty tired, and I was nervy about not having a French data plan for gps yet. But caffeine and pain au chocolat were necessary fuel, and I was awake and back to being giddy about being in Paris by the time we got off the metro.
And as we walked into the market, I pretty much morphed into a heart-eyes emoji. 😍
I didn’t mind the somewhat crowded sidewalks since they were lined with treasures, and I was in no rush. I meandered along, looking at each vendor’s wares. I nabbed an antique cheese knife, for picnicking, and a few other little bits, but lots of things were unreasonable to transport home.
I’m always interested in a le Creuset collection, so the rows of brightly enameled pots drew me in. And then I thought about having to lug that iron weight home and moved right on along.
Nothing’s more likely to get me happily digging than a basket of vintage linens. (As I wrote that, I literally thought to myself ‘my poor husband.’) R and C are difficult monograms to find, as is good vintage condition, but when I do, it’s like striking gold.
That happened a little later, as I perused a stand of vintage gloves. The darling shop madame exclaimed over my minuscule hands, and pulled a valise from near her register. It was filled with gloves too tiny to be available to try on (and stretch out) but that fit me perfectly. After lovely conversation and careful deliberation, I ended up with an elbow-length blush leather pair and handcut ivory leather racing gloves.
Vintage glassware gives me some serious lust, especially gold-accented or brightly colored. I knew from my attempts with Spanish wine that I would not be shipping souvenirs home, so I loved them and left them.
The same went for this sweet puppy. He was so gentle and loveable, I certainly wanted to take him home, but I settled for a good visit while I shopped within his domain.
I’ve been obsessing over calligraphy in the wild, so I was fascinated by the collection of travel photo journals with roundhand captions. I could have flipped through every single one- the gentleman who authored them had beautiful adventures. But after several hours of patiently supporting my shopping, David needed feeding, and we both needed to get our nap out. So we headed back to our apartment in the Marais, stopping for lunch at Poilâne, the boulangerie around the corner.
Fresh salad and the most incredible bread, fragrant cheese and velvety brandade soup, the fixed lunch menu was amazing. My duck tartine nearly made me weep with pleasure, and two glasses of rosé disappeared with the help of a few enthusiastic toasts. The most perfect little shortbread cookies, their house special “punitions,” ended the meal, and I couldn’t help but shopping in the bakery for more goodies. As we headed around the corner to our walkup to rest and unpack, I was delirious- both with exhaustion and sheer excitement and delight at being in Paris.
I’m not quite joining shopaholics anonymous, but it’s common knowledge that I like to shop. I’m pretty value-oriented rather than frivolous when it comes to my purchases, so fortunately things don’t get too out of hand. Finite amounts of luggage space and David’s patience also kept my consumerism under control, but I definately hit some lovely shops in Barcelona and have a few good spoils to show for it.
La Manual Alpargatera was right at the top of my to-do list. My shoe collection is well over 300 pairs, so you could call me a shoe freak- and you’d be dead on. Coupled with my dedication to shopping local and supporting traditional artisans, I might have gone a little espadrille crazy.
We arrived right as they were reopening after siesta, and a small crowd had gathered. You receive a number upon entrance and select your styles, so you can specify sizes and colors when they call you. I was purchasing multiple pairs in an assortment of sizes and styles, and was very impressed with the attentive and patient service despite the waiting queue. I scored several colors of traditional espadrilles for myself, as well as for friends and family, and was a big fan of the lace-up style David chose.
But when I saw the glimmery muted gold sequins, I was sold. 😍 On two pairs, technically- needed to hook my bestie up too! And remember that espadrilles are made with natural fibers and will stretch, so don’t size up if they are snug while shopping.
We have Desigual here in the States- standalone stores and randomly in some airports. I’ve shopped there before, but the stores and selection are significantly larger within Spain. I like their funky styling, but I just looove their ad campaign with Winnie Harlow. For the unfamiliar, she’s an African American model with an advanced case of vitiligo. She is astoundingly gorgeous, and beyond inspirational when it comes to loving the skin you’re in. I loved seeing her fierceness all over the city- sometimes typical can just be boring. I will say that I find it disconcerting that Winnie anchors the Euro ads, but isn’t featured here in the US. Wish she was- she’s beautiful, and anything but basic.
We also wandered in and out of shops along our walks. While some shops were annoyingly touristy, I came across a bunch of little gems. There’s lots of great shopping in el Born- part of the reason we chose it as our home base. Carrer de Montecada wound up being one of our beaten paths, because it combined convenience with good shops and great people watching. We came across the most amusing puppeteer, and spent a little time enjoying the show.
Art Escudellers was recommended for having quality Spanish crafts and artwork, rather than the more chintzy stuff sold in every other storefront. I lusted over incredible hand-blown glassware and admired gorgeous ceramic serving dishes and the most intricate mosiacs. I took home a pretty hand-painted Star of David round with gold accents, thinking it would be perfect for the holidays.
El Coral is just a little nook, but don’t be fooled- it is home to some gorgeous artisan jewelry. Lots of local raw materials, like coral, pearls and other stones, all at some seriously amazing prices. I contemplated an incredible branch coral statement necklace, as well as a strand of amber-colored pearls, but decided to keep it simple with a new pair of white pearl studs. Classic and classy, they remind me of Barcelona every time I wear them, which is often.
Ale-hop is an inexpensive little chain, full of gems mixed in with the junk. I picked up a few scarves and some costume jewelry there, postcards and a few kitschy souvenirs, like a miniature snow globe for my niece’s collection. I think my favorite purchases were a Dali-inspired melting clock for our bedroom bookshelf, and quirky white sunnies. I actually bought them, managed to crush them in Paris, and went back for a replacement pair when we returned to Barcelona. They’re nothing fancy- I think I paid a whopping five euro- but I think they’re fun!
I also hit up Mango, Boo, Stradivarius, Boohoo and the other Spanish high street heavy hitters. I checked out Le Swing and Blow to see how the Spanish did vintage, and eyed the most gorgeous lacy bits at TCN. I like my souvenirs to be wearable, edible, or memorable- I want to feel like I’ve taken a city home with me. I was pleased with my packages- lots of good stuff, no touristy junk- my choices were purposeful and pretty.
Except for not getting to bring home a ham from la Boqueria– still sad/mad/hangry about that.