THE PERFECT GIFT

nikeFirstly apologies for the radio silence… it seems running a company does take up a lot of time… as does being a mum, catching up with friends etc etc you get the picture!

This week I was tasked with buying a lovely friend a birthday present. Now this person truly has everything (and I don’t say that lightly) so what do you honestly get someone who falls into this category? I know it’s the thought that counts blah blah, but I wanted to get something she didn’t have and here is what I came across. Some great personalised gifts, and a lot that won’t break the bank too.

THE WORLD TRAVELLER
A Louis Vuitton passport holder with personalised initials – USD$320
Or if that’s too much, you can always do the luggage tag
http://us.louisvuitton.com/eng-us/women/personalization

THE ART LOVER
There are a lot of personalised art sites around but this is my stand-out
Blank Bespoke Art
http://www.blankbespokeart.com
I actually have the map and a “my favourite things” hanging in my office – starting from USD$190

THE WRITER
Classic timeless stationery from Smythson. And of course personailsed
http://www.smythson.com/personalised-stationery/landing
Starting from USD$300

THE ENVIRONMENTALIST
Adopt a Reef at the Four Seasons Resort Kuda Huraa in the Maldives (other resorts do it too)
This was actually gifted to my daughter by some wonderful friends when we were there and we love following the photos of how her reef is growing each year
http://reefscapers.com

THE PRINCESS
For all the adults that are still children at heart, you can have your very own Elsa and Tinkerbelle Disney products customised.
http://www.disneystore.com/personalized-shop/mn/1002301/
Starting from USD$12.95

THE ATHLETE
Work out and look better than everyone else in your Body Pump class with customised Nike shoes and bags
http://www.nike.com/gb/en_gb/c/nikeid
Starting from USD$100

So what are you waiting for… Just do it!

FESTIVE MADE EASY

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You better watch out, you better not cry! It’s time to start soaking up all that Holiday Season cheer.

No matter what you have planned – whether it’s a vacation somewhere or spending time at home with loved ones, there is always some level of organisation that needs to take place to get you through the holiday period (that, and a lot of wine!)

So while you may be stuck at your desk at work, or too busy to try and find a parking spot in the overcrowded shopping malls, here are some great websites that let you get organised from the comfort of your desk or sofa.

http://mymerrychristmas.com
Hailed as “The World’s Largest Christmas Community” – full of ideas, décor, food and even recommended Christmas movies to watch

http://www.styleathome.com/organizing/organizing-ideas/12-days-of-christmas-organizing/a/28692
A step-by-step “12 Days of Christmas” daily countdown guide to get yourself ready for the Holiday if you are hosting it at home

http://christmas.organizedhome.com/
A site showcasing how to make this Christmas simple. Some great suggestions on things to do that won’t break the bank and kids (and adults) will enjoy.

http://www.christmasmarkets.com/
If you are in Europe – here is a list of over 400 Christmas markets you can visit

http://www.timeout.com/newyork/christmas
And let’s not forget a guide to the magical New York City, where the lead up to Christmas is celebrated more than on December 25

AND FOR HOLIDAY SHOPPING ONLINE WITH A TWIST

https://givengoods.co
Given Goods is the marketplace for products that give back. Every product offered on Given Goods makes a tangible social impact every time it’s purchased

http://www.uncommongoods.com
An online marketplace offering creatively designed, high-quality merchandise at affordable prices

http://www.custommade.com
Exactly that! Custom made your Christmas present.

http://youngrepublic.com
A community you can find unique designs from all over the world from up and coming fashion designers

What is the best Christmas website you have found?

Ho, Ho, Ho!

TO BE, OR NOT TO BE

rio-carnival-2013-unidos-de-vila-isabel-53Last week I was lucky enough to watch the famous Bolshoi Ballet perform Swan Lake, and personally I would consider it to be an experience that should be included in the “once in a lifetime events” if you are able to. So this then triggered the question, what else should be included?

In no particular order here are some of the world’s best cultural activities (and strictly my opinion only!)

Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre, London England
A very unique open-air theatre that was re-constructed to reflect where the playwright’s greatest works were performed during the 16th century

Rio Carnival, Rio Brazil
Held in Rio de Janeiro it is considered the biggest carnival in the world with two million people per day on the streets

Tea Ceremony, Kyoto Japan
Chado (“tea ceremony”) is a traditional ritual influenced by Zen Buddhism

Guggenheim Art Museum, New York USA
A New York institution and one of the world’s best-known art galleries

Opera at the Fondazione Arena, Verona Italy
Around 150 performances of five operas and a ballet between mid-June and the end of August every year

Thai Cooking Class, Chiang Mai Thailand
Surrounded by picturesque rice paddy fields, learn to cook amazing dishes from from Thai Master Chef’s

Bolshoi Ballet, Moscow Russia
Iconic Swan Lake in the famous theatre, where it was originally performed in 1877

So what is your must-do cultural experience?

THE TOP 10 – WHAT NOT TO WEAR ON YOUR NEXT HOLIDAY

barefoot-in-publicI think I have a pretty good formula for packing when going on holidays, no matter what the climate. Being respectful of local cultures and having items that are practical while still looking decent are key on my list, but I often wonder what goes through other people’s minds when they pack their bags for a holiday.

Clearly a lot of people think that the usual rule of wearing appropriate clothing goes out the window, and anything goes. But then maybe it’s me who missed the memo saying if you are in another country go for it and wear something that usually a 16 year old does, even though you are 50 years old and not in good shape. Sitting on a beach in Thailand, Hawaii or Fiji, or even being at an airport for that matter, can be like seeing a real-life parade from one of those “People of Walmart” emails that gets sent around (www.peopleofwalmart.com).

So what are the top 10 must-not-do’s to keep you looking decent when you head overseas on a holiday.

1. Always wear shoes at an airport, even if you are there just to pick up someone. There is no excuse not to wear them, even just for health and safety reasons.

2. Bum bags, fanny packs whatever you choose to call them went out in the 1980’s so let’s leave them there (along with ra-ra skirts and large shoulder-padded jackets)

3. Socks and sandals. Do I really need to explain this one any further?

4. A g-string swimsuit. Unless your name is Giselle, avoid the embarrassment and leave it at home.

5. Hawaiian shirts. Guys – no one wears these any more with the exception of going to a fancy dress party.

6. Cut-out lycra dresses. If you are under 21 years age then ok, but over that it should be illegal to sell you one, let alone wear one. Think age appropriate dressing.

7. A matching Juicy Couture tracksuit. I totally get the comfort bit, and by all means pack a pair of track pants to change into once you are on the plane (I do), but wearing a bright pink matching towelling or velour tracksuit with the word “Juicy” on your butt is so 1990’s and best left for Paris Hilton.

8. Denim shorts that are too short. Ladies there is no need to see your butt sticking out from under your shorts no matter what your age. At no point is this is a good look. Gents… knee length denim cut-off shorts with frayed hems should come with a fine or jail time.

9. Beer branded fake singlets/tank tops. I have seen enough “Singha”, “Tiger” and “Bintang” tank tops to last me ten lifetimes. Every football team (of any code) on their end-of-season trip can be seen wearing them, purchased from the local street vendor. Which leads me into the final one…

10. Football shirts. The only exception to wearing one of these is travelling to play football or travelling to support your team.

With British women spending over $200 on clothing in preparation for their holiday and women in the US on average $380, I am hoping this isn’t going on any of the above items.

What is the worst outfit you have witnessed on holiday?

I BUY IT FOR THE ARTICLES

magA few recent flights, and the luxury of having some more downtime, has meant I have actually been able to read a magazine cover to cover within the published month for the first time all year. I am a bit of a magazine “snob” and will only ever spend my hard-earned cash on an issue of Vanity Fair or US Vogue (but I openly admit to happily reading complimentary copies when on a plane – usually Time, a myriad of travel magazines and the odd health one). But Vanity Fair hands down for me is the best magazine published – and yes I buy it for the articles!

So do other people share my preferences? I decided to do some research and see what most people read around the world, and chances are you have never heard of the top 5!

Coming in at number one is “The Watchtower” with a circulation of almost 45million copies. It sounds like a magazine that might focus on online gaming, but that couldn’t be further from the subject matter. The Watchtower is an illustrated religious magazine, published monthly in 209 languages by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The Watchtower is closely followed by “Awake” which has a circulation of over 43million and is also published by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Awake is distributed by the door-to-door ministry and published in 99 languages.

The next two most read magazines are by the same publisher – “AARP The Magazine” and “AARP Bulletin”, both with a whopping circulation of over 22million each. Unless you live in the US and are over 50, you may not have seen these. AARP is the American Association of Retired Persons and the publications focus on products and services for a mature audience.

Number five spot is held by a German Magazine – “ADAC Motorwelt” which is published by Germany and Europe’s largest automobile club (ADAC), reaching 13million people.

So where do the magazines rank that you buy from your local newsstand?

In the UK Glamour reaches 500k people and OK! 470k.

The US sees Game Informer hit 7.8 million and Better Homes and Gardens 7.6 million

Russians like to read Cosmopolitan with a circulation of 980k.

And 470k Australian’s stick to the traditional Australian Women’s Weekly.

And how about my favourite Vanity Fair? 1.2 million people a month share my love of the articles!

DESIGNER HOTELS

It’s not only bankers that are looking to expand their career options in today’s tough economic times, so too are fashion designers as they move to diversify from a fashion brand into a lifestyle one. And hence, the “Designer Hotel’ is born!

The theory is that leveraging existing customer brand loyalty helps to shorten the ‘ramp up’ time for the properties to be successful, and this must be the mantra from the UAE, as most of these designer hotels have been backed by investors in Dubai.

I have had the chance to stay at the Christian Lacroix Hotel Bellechasse in Paris and the Salvatore Ferragamo Continentale in Florence (I would recommend both), but here are even more cities where you get the chance to sleep with a designer.

Alberta Ferretti – Palazzo Viviani at Castello di Montegridolfo, Italy

Armani Hotel – Dubai & Milan

Bulgari Hotel – Milan & Bali

Christian Lacroix – Paris

Diane Von Furstenberg – Claridge’s, London

Diesel – Uxua Casa, Brazil

Karl Lagerfeld – Berlin Schlosshotel

Louis Vuitton – Cheval Blanc in Courchevel, France

Missoni – Edinburgh, Kuwait

Miss Sixty – Riccione,

Moschino – Maison Moschino

Oscar de la Renta – Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Philip Treacy – G Hotel Galway, Ireland

Ralph Lauren – Montego Bay, Jamaica

Salvatore Ferragamo – Hotel Lungarno Florence and the Continentale in Florence, Italy. Portrait Suites in Rome,

Todd Oldham – The Hotel Miami, Florida

Versace – Palazzo Versace Australia & Dubai

And remember, stealing the designer bathrobe is still a no-no!

WATCHES… A MAN’S NEW BEST FRIEND

They are what diamonds are to females…

More and more men are “investing” in watches now as they have become far more than a fashion item or a status symbol. In most men’s minds this makes it a bit easier to justify the entry level price of what could be classed as “man jewelry”… and hey I am all for it!

With the Swiss Watch industry at an all-time high (up 19% in the last 12 months), it seems there isn’t a recession when it comes to watches. Where are these expensive watches getting shipped too? Hong Kong – 21%; USA – 10%; China – 8%; France – 6%; Singapore- 6%.

So how do you choose the right watch for you?

1. You don’t need every shade of gold and 14 dials to tell you the time in Antarctica, but what you do need is something that will compliment your lifestyle.

2. It should reflect who you are, and who you aspire to be (Top tip – pick a manly one, not something girlie!)

3. A watch with a plain black or white face—and a leather strap or a steel bracelet—will go with everything.

4. Don’t buy a watch that makes you a “groupie” ie a Rolex style that everyone you know has

5. You can never go wrong with a steel case

6. Don’t be scared to change your watch band for different seasons – metal, leather, rubber, grosgrain – there are options

7. If you don’t partake in sporting activities then don’t wear a watch that measures everything physical activity under the sun. And no matter what, a Polar or Garmin watch does not look good on anyone wearing a suit.

You should also take the time to know the basics if you are investing in one.

Water-Resistant – “resistant” is the key here, don’t get carried away and wear it non-stop in water
Quartz – the movement powered by a battery and regulated by the oscillations of a quartz crystal (and most accurate at telling the time)
Complication – anything that is added that isn’t the time eg calendar or stopwatc
Movement – all the pieces that run the watch

If you want the best (according to a recent survey of 400 millionaires) then buy a Franck Muller as it’s the most prestigious brand. If that isn’t your style than the other brands that made it were Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe and Breguet.

And if you don’t have $50,000 to spend on a watch, you can still look sharp. Stick to a classic like an old school Seiko that won’t date and will only set you back about $200.