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    Easter Gifts for Him

    March 19th, 2014 admin

    When I think of my Dad and his role during my childhood at this time of year, I realize that I never really thought of getting Easter presents for him. It just didn’t occur to me. Easter meant going to church in new clothes, a big lunch, an egg-hunt, photo ops with the Easter Bunny and then back home to gorge on sweets.

    All of this is typically the domain of moms and kids, so my Dad was always left in the background. Now that I’m a Dad myself, I see that it always feels nice to be included, especially on holidays where it seems like Mom and kids are having the time of their lives making memories, and we’re left with just the Sunday paper and the same boring cup of coffee.

    Here are a few ways to honor any special man in your life with some impressive Easter gifts.

    The Love of Coffee Gourmet Gift Basket
    1. The Love of Coffee Gourmet Basket

    Boring cup of coffee no more! Have this one ready as a surprise for him on Easter morning – he’ll revel in the distinctive canvas tote, and the intriguing coffee and treat selections inside. The basket includes Molokai Hawaiian Espresso, International Arabica, Tortuga Rum Cake, Mocha Shortbread, Cappuccino Jelly Beans and much, much more. Complete the personalization option to add your special message to a beautiful satin ribbon.

    Bissinger's Chocolate Easter Eggs
    2. Bissinger’s Chocolate Easter Eggs

    As a kid, even into my teenage years, my mom would always have an Easter basket set out for me first thing on Sunday morning. It always came as a nice surprise for me, and they typically included chocolate eggs, a stuffed bunny of some kind, jellybeans and other candies. The nostalgia I feel for those simple gifts comes back again when I see this gift from Bissinger’s collection. Each egg is individually wrapped with beautiful foil, the chocolate is premium, and the packaging is bright and vibrant. I can personally vouch that I would love to see this sitting on my nightstand or kitchen table when I get up on Easter morning.

    Chocolate Decadence Gift Basket
    3. Chocolate Decadence Gift Basket

    Yes, it’s chocolate again. And what’s wrong with that? Easter isn’t complete without it, and this collection of name brand chocolates is sure to impress him. While the kids are hunting for plastic eggs filled with Hershey’s kisses and gumdrops, he’ll be savoring the decadence of Ghirardelli, Godiva, Marich, and more. There’s even a serving of European Hot Cocoa for a chilly Easter morning.

    Coffee Time Gourmet Gift Tower
    4. Coffee Time Gourmet Tower

    This gift achieves a similar purpose as the basket above but includes more coffee and more traditional artisan café style coffee accompaniments. A signature coffee-bean design on sturdy, reusable boxes holds Berardi’s House Blend, Berardi’s French Roast, and Berardi’s Columbian Supremo Coffee, with Merlino Black & White Shortbread Cookies, Dilletante Triple Chocolate Biscotti, Dilettante Valencia Orange Butter Biscotti, Harry London Cappuccino Biscotti, and white and dark chocolate Tuxedo Jelly Beans.

    Peet's Coffee Gift Chest
    5. Peet’s Coffee Chest

    If it’s name brand coffee he likes, it’s name-brand coffee he should get! Peet’s Coffee pioneered the artisan coffeehouse idea back in the 1960s in San Francisco, and this memorable gift features three of their signature styles: Colombia, House Blend, and French Roast (my personal favorite). Along with the coffee come premium confections such as Mocha and Cappuccino Shortbreads, Chocolate Espresso Beans, Amaretto Mochadots, and a Coffee Truffle Bar from Lake Champlain Chocolates. All this and more comes in a one-of–a-kind old world map-themed wooden trunk that’ll be the perfect addition to his man-cave .

    Whatever your plans are for Easter this year, make it one that Dad will never forget.



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    Happy St Patrick’s Day!

    March 17th, 2014 admin

    St. Patrick's DayWhether it’s a pub crawl, free live music with bagpipers, Irish Dance lessons or just good old-fashioned soul-nourishing Corned Beef and Colcannon, I love getting out and about this time of year. The awesome McMenamins pint glass you see is featured courtesy of PDX Pipeline. (http://pdxpipeline.com/2014/03/10/portland-2014-st-patricks-day-w-mcmenamins)

    GiftTree now offers gorgeous beer gifts year-round, with a Personalized HOPSIDE Down® Beer Glass, Personalized Stainless Steel Growler and more.

    Whatever the luck o’ the Irish brings you this year, make it a safe and happy St Patrick’s Day.



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    Happy Pi Day! (3/14)

    March 14th, 2014 admin

    One my favorite memories from my years in school was math class on Pi Day (March 14 or 3.14). We would get to bring in either a pie or a pizza, slice up the pieces, talk about how to measure area and circumference of a circle, and then, of course eat!

    It was nerdy, but fun, like this shirt:

    Pi T-Shirt

    Of course the Pi Day experiment could also work splendidly with any one of our awesome cheesecakes. All you need is something round and delicious like our Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake or Very Berry Cheesecake.

    It’s extra fun that Pi Day falls on a Friday this year. It’s the perfect excuse to take off half an hour early, order pizza (or cheesecake), watch a movie (Darren Aronofsky anyone?) and kick back.

    So go eat some pie and celebrate Pi!



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    St Patrick’s Day Hostess Gifts

    March 10th, 2014 admin

    Scenario: A person you greatly respect has invited you their St. Patrick’s Day party. You feel special and important, and quite a bit nervous! You really want to arrive with a gift that both expresses your thanks and leaves a lasting impression with something more permanent than the traditional bottle of wine or flowers. You’re feeling the desire to break out of the routine, but you aren’t quite sure where to start.

    Have no fear. It isn’t always easy to try something different, but the payoffs can be huge, and GiftTree makes it easy. Take a look at this collection of unique and personalized gifts that are sure to impress your host or hostess for St Patrick’s Day.

     

    Designer Acacia Wood Cheese Grater

    Designer Acacia Wood Cheese Grater

    Engrave their full name on this distinctive and functional gift. Send it to yourself and then present it to them in our beautiful signature gift box. It’s a beautiful addition to their kitchen that they’ll use often – and think of you each time.

    Engraved Crystal Wine Stopper

     

     

    Engraved Crystal Wine Stopper

    A dazzling cut glass bottle stopper is faceted like a diamond and engraved with a single initial of your choice. Show up a few minutes early so they can open it before the wine bottles come in. Then they can show off their new gift to all the guests who will wonder what imaginative partygoer brought such an impressive gift.

     

    Personalized HOPSIDE® Down Beer Glass

    Personalized HOPSIDE® Down Beer Glass

    The monogrammed engraving on this gift is just one of its many impressive features. Its dual-wall technology gives the ability to keep the beer cold while keeping the hand warm and dry, and its sculpted interior provides a creative take on the traditional pint glass. Ready to fill with green St Patrick’s beer right away, it’s guaranteed to look elegant on their wet bar, and will be a frequent conversation starter throughout the party.

     

    Personalized Stainless Steel Growler

    Personalized Stainless Steel Growler

    This gift is another classy specimen from our new collection of beer companion gifts. Growlers are becoming more and more popular by the week – they’re perfect for parties, trips to the beach, picnics, or anywhere you may want to safely and fashionably transport your prized brew to share. This one features a gasket ring sealer cap to prevent carbonation from escaping, and a signature engraving that says “[their name here] Brewing.” It’s perfect for a beer lover and doubly appropriate to dote upon your gracious host.

     

    So it’s not that hard at all. Breaking out of the norm often gives way to new opportunities that we never realized were possible. All of these gift ideas and many more can be found at our personalized gifts page. Happy St Patrick’s Day! (And make sure to check out our St. Patrick’s Day infographic for fun facts to dazzle any party-goer, friend or family member!)



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    Administrative Professionals’ Day Flower Arrangements

    March 5th, 2014 admin

    An administrative professional is someone who you just can’t get through the day without. He or she is the ultimate “string puller” who can reach out to any and all vital contacts to help solve a problem, is a whiz at scheduling, a gatekeeper supreme, and a tactful navigator of sensitive situations.

    And while Administrative Professionals’ Day is still over a month away (in North America, it is celebrated on the Wednesday of the last full week of April), it doesn’t hurt to plan for April 23, 2014 early. Especially because they would do the same for you!

    Here are five administrative professionals day flower arrangements that are sure to send the message that you appreciate and respect all that they do. Each flower gift comes with a complimentary enclosure card so you can make the flowers extra personal, and will be delivered fresh to the location of your choice by an experienced florist.

     

    Simply Splendid Roses

    Simply Splendid Roses

    This bright cheerful bouquet stands proudly with roses in coral, peach, purple, and yellow hues. White waxflower accents add a texture and fullness to the arrangement. The bright colors and sweet fragrance of the roses will make this a beautiful, memorable gift.

     
     
     
     

    Island Princess Bouquet

    Island Princess Bouquet

    Of all the many flower arrangements we offer, this one of my favorites, and is highly recommended by our customers. The tropical and exotic mokara orchids bring a pizzazz and uniqueness that’s hard to find in other arrangements. The sword fern and red ti leaves bring an additional tropical fullness, and it all comes together in a distinctive purple cube vase. Delightful!

     

    Pink Reflections Bouquet

    Pink Reflections Bouquet

    I love the pink Asiatic lilies in this one. They bring a sense of drama and show that you really didn’t skimp. Lilies tend to be a little more hardy than other flowers, so the recipient will be able to enjoy the flowers for more than just a day or two, and then it’s combined with pink roses, pink alstroemeria, white stock and a bundle of fresh greenery for a really impressive presentation. The shimmering pink vase is the icing on the cake.

     

    Sweet Symphony Bouquet

    Sweet Symphony Bouquet

    If it has been awhile since you truly made an effort to notice your assistant’s contributions, or if that person has really been a superstar lately, go for this impressively large premium bouquet. It shows that you went “all out” to make this a special day and includes lavender and red roses, pink tulips, pink lilies, pink gerbera daisies, white hydrangea, purple asters, and much, much more.

     

    Color Sensation Bouquet

    Color Sensation Bouquet

    Finally, I am a sucker for the color splash in this one. I love the way the orange lilies pop against the bold, blue hydrangea, and how the orange and pink tulips come up through the back of the arrangement like a fireworks display. In addition to the lilies, hydrangea, and tulips your workplace wizard will get to enjoy hot pink roses, yellow spray roses, and full, lush greenery to make it a truly unforgettable gesture. Beautiful for spring and especially beautiful for Admin’s Day.

     

    Here’s to an Administrative Professionals’ Day that is special, memorable, and lasting. See our Admin’s Day gifts page for more.



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    Infographic: GiftTree Celebrates St. Patrick’s Day

    March 3rd, 2014 Alicia

    Having provided great gifts to millions of customers for over 17 years, GiftTree knows a thing or two about St. Patrick’s Day! This year, we decided to dig deeper. We hit the books (or the Internet), broke out our calculators and crunched the numbers to give you some staggering facts and numbers about all things St. Patrick’s Day.

    Click the image to view full-size and make sure to share this with your friends & family by using the icons at the bottom of this post!

    And if you’re looking for fun & festive St. Patrick’s Day gifts, check out our collection by clicking here.

    St. Patrick's Day Infographic from GiftTree



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    St Patrick’s Day Gift Ideas

    February 27th, 2014 admin

    Now that the hubbub of Valentine’s Day is behind us, St. Patrick’s Day is coming up in less than a month, and if you’re like me, you always struggle with what gifts to give. Isn’t it enough to just wear green, eat Shepherd’s Pie and call it a day?

    Well, if you have any Irish Catholic in your blood, then definitely not! In Chicago and Boston especially, gifts are expected. And though the major retailers don’t often offer St. Patricks Day gifts ideas as much to the desiring public like they do for Christmas and Valentine’s, it’s a major US holiday for which gifts are always welcome.

    Luckily GiftTree’s got you covered. Check out some of these unique and impressive St Patrick’s Day gift ideas for every member of the family.

     

    Five Star Fruit Basket

    Five Star Fruit Basket

    St Patrick’s Day is a great holiday for kids. They eagerly wear green, try to find four-leaf clovers and will have some kind of themed party at school. Make yourself the star of the party with this healthy gourmet fruit basket full of premium Fuji Apples, Bosc pears and California navel oranges with a variety of scrumptious gourmet cookies and nuts. A beautiful two-tone satin green ribbon tops it all off. After all the food has been enjoyed, the lucky child can use the sturdy wicker basket to organize their toys, stuffed animals, or shoes.

     

    Craft Beer and Snacks Basket

    Craft Beer and Snacks Basket

    This beer basket is an absolute winner. Men love beer and this one starts with a personalized green satin ribbon and a vintage 1940s-style suitcase. Inside he’ll find six bottle of choice beers – either American IPAs or an International collection – along with a carefully chosen selection of beer-themed snacks and treats such as beer nuts, salted peanuts, and wasabi peas. Add your personal message on the green ribbon for an extra special touch.

     

    Springtime Harmony

    Springtime Harmony Bouquet

    Now one for the ladies. Fresh flowers make any holiday that much more special, and this arrangement bears all the representations of St Patrick’s day: green button spray chrysanthemums, green carnations mix with yellow and white roses and a lovely green ribbon. The arrangement will be delivered on the 17th by expert florists in the recipient’s area, presented in a glass vase with fresh water and ready to be enjoyed.

     

    Traditional Teatime Basket

    Traditional Teatime Basket

    A rich way to slow down and savor the moment, this tea collection features a Tea for One ceramic tea pot and tea cup, organic black tea, Jasmine-infused green tea, honey straws and shortbreads, chocolates and more, all in a charming double-handled wooden basket. The signature cartons for each item feature several hues of green, and the basket comes adorned with a beautiful two-tone green satin ribbon for an unforgettable St Patrick’s Day gift.

     

    A Taste of Elegance

    A Taste of Elegance Gourmet Basket

    This is really the definition of a gourmet gift basket, and its vibrant collection of signature green cartons makes it a sure winner on March 17. With a Lake Champlain Dark Chocolate Bar, Saraivanov Smoked Salmon, Camembert Cheese, Seattle Truffles, Green Tea Caramels, and much, much more, you can be assured that they’ve never enjoyed a St Patrick’s Day gift quite like this combination of elegance and indulgence.

     

    St Patrick’s Day is not always easy to shop for, but we’ve found a way to make it easy and memorable. There’s never been a better time to let GiftTree become a recurring part of your own St Patrick’s Day traditions. Have a good one!



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    Ten Sympathy Gift Etiquette Tips

    February 25th, 2014 admin

    When someone close to you loses a friend or family member, it can be difficult to know the best way to offer support. Many questions come up: how can we help? What should we do?

    Many people traditionally send flowers, plants, and fruit baskets. This is thoughtful and shows you care. On the other hand, when my sister experienced a death in her family last year, she became overwhelmed with what to do with all of the flowers that came to the house in the first couple of days, and then a week later the flowers were dead and she felt so lonely. Like I said, when someone dies, “normal” things can become very difficult, often in unexpected ways.

    So what is the appropriate etiquette for gift giving for sympathy and funeral occasions? You want to be respectful, and actually meet the needs of the bereaved without causing more burden. It’s often very difficult to know what to do, but here are some tips that may help you navigate the hard times with friends and family, with some ideas that may communicate your condolences in tactful, tasteful ways.

    White Lillies1. Send yourself. Be present. It is easier to see what the needs are when you yourself are physically sharing the hard moments with the bereaved.

    2. If you can’t be there yourself, this is when flowers, cards, plants, and baskets become more meaningful. Again, remember that flowers die quickly, and the bereaved will have to throw them away. Potted plants usually work better – they require little maintenance, last a long time and symbolize hope and peace (Peace Lilies for example).

    3. Make a donation in the name of the departed. In my sister’s case, when her son died, we ended up making a donation to a nonprofit that collects the playful drawings of school children and delivers them to the elderly, shut-in, and infirm. We did this to try to share the love he brought into the world with others less fortunate, even though he was gone.

    4. Give the family a permanent keepsake – something with the departed’s initials, a favorite saying of theirs, a shadowbox of their most precious belongings, or special photos. For Christmas the year after my nephew died, my aunt gave the family a toy train in which each car of the train was a letter of his name. This was very meaningful and the kind of thing that lasts forever.

    5. Send a gift even if there is not a service. There are many valid reasons a family will choose not to have a service. Even so, the family still needs support and to know that they are not alone.

    6. Plan to send a gift or card on the one-month anniversary of the death, three months, six months, and one year. This lets the bereaved know that they are not forgotten. Remember that the grieving process can take months or years. Most gifts come and go in the first two weeks, but the grieving process continues long after.

    7. If you were close to the deceased but don’t know the family, send a gift to the widow/widower, or the eldest surviving relative. In the card, explain briefly how you knew the deceased, what they meant to you, and that you extend your deepest condolences.

    8. If you are close to someone who is grieving but do not know the deceased, sending a gift to your friend is also still very appropriate. Acknowledging their grief and helping them feel supported will help them know they aren’t alone. Also take the initiative to make meals, do housework, or go grocery shopping.

    9. If the family requests for donations in lieu of flowers, honor their request. Send the family a card explaining your donation, how much the departed meant to you and how their legacy lives on.

    10. After the one-year anniversary has passed, cards are more appropriate than gifts. By this point the healing process has begun, and large extravagant gifts such as flowers or fruit baskets may bring back all the feelings of the funeral week. A card lets the family know you still care and that they are not forgotten, any time of year.

    GiftTree does have some unique gifts for sympathy and funeral occasions. No matter how you choose to respond to a sudden tragedy, the most important thing is to show those left behind that you care and that you’re there with them for the long haul.



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    Winter Comfort Foods: Split Pea Soup with Ham Hock

    February 19th, 2014 admin

    Winter brings a chill and wetness that can only be cured with some TLC and homemade comfort food. When I think of winter foods I think of soup first. Here is a simple recipe for hearty, rich, and savory Split Pea Soup that I love to get cozy with when it’s continually cold and wet outside.

    For those like me who never had it growing up, I have to admit that the first time my wife first decided to make the soup a few years ago, it sounded to me like Beef Stroganoff and Liver & Onions other foods that never appealed to me. But I dutifully tried it, and after the first bite ate 2-3 bowls in succession. Trust me, it’s amazing. You won’t regret investing some time and making this soul-nourishing soup.

    Split Pea SoupRecipe for Split Pea Soup with Ham Hock

    Serves: 4 – 6 people

    Prep time: 20 minutes + overnight soaking of peas.

    Cooking time: 2-2 ½ hours

    Ingredients you’ll need:

    2 ¼ cups of dried split peas
    2 quarts of cold water
    1 ½ pound ham bone
    2 onions, thinly sliced
    ½ tsp of salt
    ¼ tsp ground black pepper
    1 pinch dried marjoram
    3 stalks celery, chopped
    3 carrots, chopped

    Instructions:

    1. The night before, in a large pot, cover peas with 2 qts water in a large pot and soak overnight. If overnight soaking is not an option just simmer the peas for a couple of minutes and then soak for an hour.
    2. Once the peas are soaked, add the ham bone, onion, salt, pepper, and marjoram. Cover, bring to a boil and simmer for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally.
    3. Remove the ham bone and cut off the meat on a cutting board. Dice the meat and add it back into the soup.
    4. Add celery, carrots, and potatoes. Cook slowly for 30 – 40 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
    Serve with baguette or rustic bread. It’s also great with any dark Porter or Winter Warmer ale.

    You can view the full recipe at http://allrecipes.com/recipe/split-pea-soup/

    Bon appetit!



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    Wine Ratings: A Beginner’s Guide

    February 13th, 2014 admin

    Valentine’s Day and wine go hand-in-hand. While you’re browsing the aisles tonight at your local wine shop or grocery store trying to find the perfect wine for Valentine’s dinner tomorrow, you may see something like what you see to the right.

    Wine Ratings Example

             (Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons)

    But what does it mean? Who decides if a bottle is rated 90 points or 5 points? We’ll start with that question and continue with more questions about the wine rating process.

    First of all, the lowest wine rating you’ll ever see is 50. And even then, most stores don’t sell anything rated below 85 so you’ll probably never actually even see anything lower than that.

    Where do the ratings come from?

    Enter now the wild and wonderful world of the wine critic!

    There are many publications such as Wine Spectator (shown above), Wine Enthusiast, Wine Advocate, Wine & Spirits, or International Wine Cellar that are independent of the wineries that create the wine. They cultivate relationships with the wineries to get bottles before they’re distributed to the public at large. Without knowing which wineries the wines come from, these expert wine tasters (often blindfolded) try several wines in one sitting. With each one they assess the aroma, appearance, mouthfeel, flavor, and finish of each wine, and assign numerical ratings based on their wealth of knowledge and culinary experiences. They then write articles and reviews in the publications for which they work, praising or panning the wines of that year’s vintage.

    Who came up with this system? When did it start?

    A notable wine connoisseur named Robert Parker developed the 50-100 point scale system in the mid-1970s as a way to make wines easily comparable. For ease of use he based his system upon the popular notion of a school’s grading scale where A+ is 100 and F is 59 or below.

    What do the numbers represent in terms of quality?

    A wine rating of 85 or above is generally considered good, and ratings of 90 and above signify outstanding wine quality (just like getting an A on a test in school.) A wine may receive a high rating for superior complexity of flavor, powerful or specific aromas, an appearance or texture that is a perfect representation of what the wine’s style is meant to be, or a exceptionally well-balanced wine. Honestly all of those things will probably have to come together to earn the 90+ points.

    Wines will receive lower scores if they did not age well, or not long enough, are too sweet or too dry (bitter/rough), if the soil the grapes grew in resulted in a scorched flavor, or if the composite experience of the wine (appearance, aroma, mouthfeel, taste, finish) was completely uncharacteristic of what the wine is supposed to be (eg a Pinot Grigio tastes like Moscato, or Cabernet tastes like Shiraz).

    Are there any perfect scores?

    Yes! Every year a small handful of wines will receive the rare 100-point rating from critics. This includes the 2006 Cardinale Cabernet Sauvignon (Wine Enthusiast) and the 2010 Fortuna Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Wine Advocate).

    So there you have it – an introduction to the world of wine tasting and ratings. See our Premium Wine Cellar and Wine Gift Basket pages for an extraordinary selection of 90-point rated wines and exquisite pairings. Happy Valentine’s Day!



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