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Candy Candy Candy

Those of you who know me know I have a major sweet tooth. I love all things chocolate and really all things candy. But, the truth is I am a candy snob. This can only be contributed to one thing which I am oddly thankful for…

pink elephants candy bar by Compartes | www.surprisebox.gifts | custom gifts

About seven years ago I developed a severe milk allergy after the birth of our second child. It took me over a year to figure out what was really going on and I kept landing myself in the E.R. with a closed off airway. Scary, right?! Finally after ruling out every other food possibility, I sadly succumbed to my fate of not eating milk or really any dairy. I completely had to change my diet and my lifestyle. It was so difficult and I kept making mistakes not realizing everyday foods had dairy in them!

roses and rosé | www.surprisebox.gifts | custom gifts
 

Compartes birthday cake candy bar | www.surprisebox.gifts | custom gifts

It was on this road to become dairy free that I noticed a few things about candy and food in general.

  1. I felt healthier. I was beginning to feel like me again. I was no longer sluggish and cranky. I had a new found energy and was rearing to go! Not to mention I lost about 20 pounds in the process. That doesn’t hurt either. LOL.
  2. I began to be a label reader. Out of the sheer desire to not land myself back in the E.R. or worse, I began reading every label of everything I put in my body. I wanted to know who made it, where it was made and what it was made of. What I came to find out was that if the ingredients list was short and I could pronounce all of the words and knew what they were, it likely was a higher quality product with high quality ingredients.
  3. I started to learn about people who really cared about their products and the quality of what they were producing. Odd, but really it was so true. The manufacturer’s and small makers that truly cared about their ingredients proudly displayed them on their packaging. It was like bold flashing lights screaming to the world that they had something good to share. I didn’t have to look hard to see things like “dairy free” or “vegan.” It was made plain and clear that I could consume their products.

    Insert Compartes Chocolate


    peanut butter chocolate bar | www.surprisebox.gifts | custom giftI was browsing through Food and Wine Magazine When I saw the Editor’s Top Ten Picks for sweets.Lo and behold, I found Compartes. I clicked over to their website and noticed their packaging was equally as beautiful as their ingredients. I was hooked! I ordered a few treats and never looked back. I knew I wanted to add these beauties to our custom gift line.
    I picked out my absolute favorite bars and here we are today! Flavors such as “Let them eat cake” and “Roses and Róse” can grace your next gift. When you order a custom curated gift from us, you can add any of the following flavors to your gift box. Click on the link to see our custom gift line or call today to create your own masterpiece.

baby boy box | www.surprisebox.gifts | BABY BOY CUSTOM GIFT

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Gifting for the person who has everything

spay day box | www.surprisebox.gifts | custom giftsSo, what do you give to the person who has everything?

I get this question a lot and in turn I have also asked myself the same thing over the years about various friends/family members. Gifting doesn’t have to be difficult and holidays like birthdays, Christmas and Mother’s Day shouldn’t bring on anxiety racking your brain about tokens of love or appreciation. I have come up with a few easy guidelines to follow when gifting in general and it can definitely apply to the person who seems to have everything.

Thoughtfulness goes a long way.

black lace pencil pouch | www.surprisebox.gifts | custom giftsRemember when you were a kid and your parents would say, “honey, don’t buy me anything, just make me a nice card or a handmade gift.” I heard that line, too! I loved being creative with little trinkets I put together or coming up with just the right words on their card. Well, there is something to this mentality. It’s called thoughtfulness.  People aren’t necessarily looking for you to buy them the most expensive gift or the perfect thing they don’t already have. They just want you to remember them and make them feel special.

Handmade or handcrafted gifts are also key. These items are truly one-of-a-kind.  When you shop small and support makers, you unveil the world of unique gifting! Our product line here at Surprise Box offers so many options for beautiful handcrafted gifts to make that gifting experience special. We have taken the guesswork out of gifting that very special, handcrafted piece.

Thoughtfulness requires investigation.

Knowing your gift recipient and what they like is so important.  Have you taken the time to notice their favorite color? Do you know what kind of foods they like? Do you know what they like to do to relax? Knowing the answer to these basic questions can make the gift selection easy as pie.

Here is my number one tip for gifting to the person who has everything:

Lavender Blooms Box | birthday gift, thank you gift | www.surprisebox.giftsCenter your gift around a theme. Yep, that’s right. As cheesy as it may sound, a themed gift is the perfect present option for that special someone. Not only does a theme make picking the gift items easy, but it also shows the person that you know what they like!  Center the theme around one of their favorite things, whether it is pampering, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking or the like, you can put a gift together with simple items centered around this theme.

Pick a theme based on a color.

If their favorite color is lavender, create a gift with simple items that all center around that color. I happen to really love the color lavender and I really love the relaxing scent of lavender so I put together this box with those things in mind.  It kind of takes the guess work out of it too! In this themed box, you can find lavender infused soda, lavender bath salts, lavender lemongrass soap, a lavender scented candle and a matchbook bringing back in that lavender color.   Just look for items in that same color/scent and roll with it!

Traveler Box | travel gift, honeymoon gift, wedding gift | www.surprisebox.giftsIf color blocking isn’t quite your thing, center your gift around an activity theme. You can create a Travel box for the person who loves to vacation and explore the world. For this cute curated box, I compiled everything travel related for the Mr. and Mrs! When coming up with this box, I not only looked for travel related gifts, but also thought through things that might make their travel experience special. Inside, you will find a sweet wooden cover journal to write down all of their adventures. I also included Mr. and Mrs. leather luggage tags for their suitcases that are not only beautiful, but functional as well.  They create an fashionable and way to spot their belongings at the airport! For the finale, I added in a pretty travel candles paired with a matchbook to create a sense of warmth and home o each of their travel adventures. Pick items that they could use on their trip! You could also throw in something sweet to snack on like some Sugarfina candies or even a chocolate bar from Compartes.

www.surprisebox.gifts | custom gifts | kessia marie photographyGifting doesn’t have to be a mystery anymore. Get those creative juices flowing and follow these simple tips.  and you are well on your way to gifting the perfect gift each and every time!

 

 

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4 things I never do when traveling

travel journal | www.surprisebox.gifts | cardtorial

Traveling is one of the reasons I work so hard. I love the thrill of exploring new places, eating new cuisines, and just experiencing life in a different way for a short period of time. Ever since I was little, my parents always made sure we took one trip a year. Looking back, I can see how they had to get quite creative with our excursions because of limited finances, but it never slowed us down! As a kid, I just thought it was all magical and was up for the adventure.

travel journal | www.surprisebox.gifts | cardtorial

In my college years, I began to save up money and take more exciting trips anywhere from Israel to El Salvador to Canada and everything in between. I learned a lot on these travels and today, I am sharing my precious insight.

Here are the 4 things I never do when traveling:

Keep all my money on my person.

This may seem odd. You want to keep a fine watch on your valuables and what better way than to watch them all day, right? Wrong. I was with a group of students traveling abroad and one of the student had her entire purse ripped off her shoulder and stolen in front of our very eyes. Besides being quite scared, she was no without an money, credit cards or formal identification (i.e. passport) in a foreign country. We spent many hours sitting at the U.S. embassy instead of exploring the land. It was rough. All of that to say that if your hotel has a safe, use it! Put your valuables and actual passport in the safe and just carry around your copy of it!  It will save a lot of heartache if you find yourself victim of an unfortunate circumstance!

eat well travel often journal | www.surprisebox.gifts | custom gift

Drink the water

This is mostly for international travel, but also applies to some cities stateside. When traveling abroad, I don’t even brush my teeth in the water. Yes, I am that crazy. My body is not used to their filtration system (if they even have one) and I don’t risk it. I can say I have never been sick from food or drink in another country to this day but I also am incredible careful about what goes in my body. Keep a package of bottled water in your hotel room. You never know how much you actually put water in your mouth until it’s hard to get to!

Surprise Box | pocket watch | surprisebox.gifts

Appear like a tourist

This is not only a safety thing for me, but also just a general guideline for more fun. It’s more of the act-like-a-local-feel-like-a-local. Anytime I travel, I ask the locals where to eat and what to do for fun. We have discovered some of my absolute favorite restaurants like this and had the best little excursions! People who live in the area are going to have much more insight than the travel websites for sure.

Leave empty handed

I have been known to pack clothes I am ok parting ways with then I travel. Why you may ask? Because sometimes that souvenir I found doesn’t fit in my carry-on and I really don’t want to shell out the extra bag fee at the airport.  I just donate a small handful of clothing and viola…room for my purchase! I always make sure to bring something special back from each destination I visit. I have handmade lace curtains from Romania, a hand-woven blanket from Turks and Cacos, a menorah from Israel…the list goes on and on. Each time I see or use that souvenir, I am taken back to that wonderful vacation and it’s like an instant escape for me.

If you are planning a getaway and want to send a little gift to your travel buddy, see the links below for some really cute inspo. Oh, and don’t forget to message me on your travels. I can’t wait to hear about all your fun!

www.surprisebox,gifts | dahlia matchbox | custom gift

eat well travel often journal, wooden journal | www.stemsatlanta.com | custom gifting

www.surprisebox.gifts |Grapefruit Spearmint Soy Travel | custom giftswww.surprisebox.gifts | notepad bon voyage | custom giftcities travel coast set | www.surprisebox.gifts | travel gift by Rifle Paper Co.

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Valentine’s Day recipe you must try

Hey guys! Heather from Surprise Box here and I am going to share with you one of my absolute favorite Valentine’s Day recipes that you must try!

I really love cooking.

I didn’t begin my cooking journey until I was in college and not on the meal plan. In desperation to not eat out every single night, I began scouring the internet for easy recipes to try. My introduction to cooking began with the crockpot. My mom had gifted me a crockpot when I went away to college and I probably said “thanks mom,” threw it in the trunk and then it landed somewhere in the top of my closet for months to come collecting dust. But, I am here to say that the crockpot saved my life. Well not really SAVED my life but close. It taught me so much about recipe building, cooking times, flavor profiles and more. Not only was I saving money as a poor starving college kid, but bonus, I wasn’t starving anymore. I was meal planning for the week! Making myself 1 crockpot meal each week, freezing some and rotating other frozen meals in and out for variation kept me happy, full and busy. I was on a roll!

So how does that bring me to my favorite Valentine’s Day recipe?

Well, let me let you in on a little secret. Anything slow cooked is going to taste like a million bucks. This recipe I am going to share with you is on that I found on Pinterest a few years back and I have probably made it fifty times already. It’s that good! It calls for cooking in a dutch over (which is basically like a glorified crockpot, but you can adapt it to your crockpot as well!

This recipe is savory, creamy, hearty, filling and just tastes like love.

So, here we go. Meet Coq a vin blanc. Yes, blanc! It’s made with white wine (a whole bottle of the glorious stuff)! This recipe is from Taste Love and Nourish as well as some of her glorious inspo photos. You’re gonna love it!

Coq a Vin Blanc

image by Taste Love and Nourish
INGREDIENTS
  • 4 ounces pancetta, finely diced (or turkey bacon like I like to use)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 whole chicken (about 4 to 5 pounds), cut into pieces
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 16 ounces white button mushrooms (or your favorite variety), sliced
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 10 ounces pearl onions, peeled (see Notes) (or 1 large onion chopped)
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 bottle dry white wine
  • ½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 5 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 to 6 sprigs fresh parsley
 DIRECTIONS
  1. In a large Dutch oven over medium high heat, cook the pancetta bits until golden and a bit crisp. Remove them, using a slotted spoon and set them aside on a small dish.
  2. Add a bit of olive oil to the pot. Salt and pepper the chicken pieces and brown them on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes per side, in small batches. Put the pieces aside in a large dish as you work.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. (or your crockpot to low)
  4. Add the mushrooms to the pot, continuing on medium high heat. If you need to, add just a smidgen of oil. Brown the mushrooms until they are a deep golden brown. This will give your dish great flavor. They will release some water during the process, but keep them going and do not add any salt at this stage. They’ll begin to dry up and get brown and delicious. Once they are, add the shallot, pearl onions, celery and carrot. Continue cooking until the shallots soften. Add the garlic and cook for just a minute. Add the flour and stir to coat all of the vegetables.
  5. Pour in the bottle of wine. Bring the wine to a light simmer and add the chicken broth, thyme sprigs, bay leaf and about 4 sprigs of the parsley along with the pancetta and chicken.
  6. Cover the pot and place it in the oven for 1½ to 1 hour and 45 minutes or until the chicken is tender. (Or transfer to a crockpot and cook on low for 5-6 hours.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining leaves of parsley over the top and serve with mashed or smashed potatoes or creamy polenta.

NOTES

Fresh pearl onions are very time consuming to peel yourself, so feel free to use the frozen ones. Just make sure to thaw them before using. In a pinch I just cut up one large whole onion as a replacement.

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Choosing the Perfect Gift

Surprise Box | Bridesmaids Box | surprisebox.gifts

How to Pick the Perfect Present

 

 

We’ve all heard the old adage, “it is better to give than to receive.” If you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing a loved one’s face light up with joy after he or she receives the perfect gift, then you probably agree! Of course, selecting the perfect gift isn’t always easy.

Where do I shop?

Brick and mortar stores allow us to see and handle the item we’re considering for purchase, but their selection is limited to what’s available on the shelves. Sometimes, that means we have to search several different locations to find what we have in mind. This can be a major hassle, especially during the holidays, when crowds and traffic are at their worst!

More people than ever are using the internet to make purchases.

Online shopping is certainly more convenient than combing the aisles of a store, but it also has its drawbacks. An internet search for a desired item will yield thousands upon thousands of results. How do we know where to begin, or which site is selling quality products versus which site is selling the same manufactured items that can be found in hundreds of other shops on the internet?

How do I choose a gift?

Then, there’s the question of the gift itself. What are we trying to say with our present? Will it please the person who receives it? Will we be able to find a quality item within our budget? (It would be wonderful to be able to give everyone on our shopping list diamond earrings or a suitcase full of cash, but unfortunately, that’s an extravagance that most of us can’t afford!)

 

What do I get the woman who “has everything?” How can I give the man in my life something that is beautiful, but also masculine? I have five bridesmaids with five drastically different personalities, and I need to get them all the same gift. Help!

 

It’s no wonder so many people resort to boring, old gift cards! If you’re getting frustrated with your search to find a thoughtful present, don’t get discouraged. Surprise Box has come up with some easy, helpful tips to help you choose the right gift!

First, decide on what you want to say with your gift.

Sometimes, your message will be a simple one, like “Happy Birthday!” or “Thanks for being a part of my special day!” On other occasions, you may want to communicate a little something extra. Perhaps you want to tell Mom or that teacher who’s gone above and beyond for your little ones this year, “Pamper yourself! You deserve it.” A “Just Because” gift could bring an added dose of fun and excitement to your giftee, or it could be intended to help her relax and enjoy some peace and quiet.

 

 

www.surprisebox.gifts | you are my sunshine wooden card | custom gifts

 

 

It may also help to choose a theme for your gift. Try sending a “Spa Day,” and fill her box with bath salts, scented soap, nail polish, and a pretty floral kimono robe. If you’re in the mood for “Romance,” include a candle in a lovely floral scent (don’t forget the matches!) and a beautiful, hand-crafted card, in which you can tell your sweetheart how much he or she means to you.

 

 

www.surprisebox.gifts | wooden card | custom gifts

 

 

Next, personalize your gift. What do you know about your recipient? 

Is she crazy about pastel pinks and sunny yellows, or does she decorate her favorite spaces in soothing blues and mellow greens? Coordinating a gift to include items in her favorite shade is sure to add to her joy.

 

 

www.surprisebox.gifts | blue ombre glass bottle matches | custom gift
photo by Studio Portmanteau

 

 

Is your Dad a dapper dude who would be tickled to receive beard oil and a hand-sewn pocket square, or is he a hands-on man who would appreciate the practicality of a shaving kit or a natural redwood pocket knife?

 

 

Surprise Box | Shaving Kit | surprisebox.gifts

 

 

Taking the time to personalize gifts for your wedding party can help to make them feel extra special. Just because they’re all receiving matching nail polish doesn’t mean that the rest of the box can’t be unique to their tastes!

 

 

Surprise Box | open maids box | surprisebox.gifts

 

 

A gal with a sweet tooth will be thrilled by chocolate-flavored lip balm and tiny rainbow kyoto blossom candies that are as eye-catching and beautiful as they are delicious.

 

www.surprisebox.gifts | kyoto blossoms candies by Sugarfina | custom gifts

 

If you have a maid who loves to read and write, consider giving her a journal with a beautiful wooden cover, or a literary-inspired matchbox with a design from her favorite novel.

 

 

www.surprisebox.gifts | desert garden journal | custom gift

 

 

That’s a Wrap! The Final Touch

Many of us have been here before: you’ve finally selected the perfect products, but they look so sad sitting in their gift bag with crumpled tissue paper or rattling around in a cardboard box. (I’ll admit, I’ve even pretended that my husband was responsible for some of my poorly-wrapped packages. Sorry, honey!

A sloppy wrapping job can distract from the thoughtfulness you’ve put into selecting your items. On the other hand, making the effort to wrap your present with care can make even a small gift seem more personal.

 

Surprise Box | Champagne Candy | surprisebox.gifts

 

Another common saying about gifting is, “it’s the thought that counts.” When you gift a Surprise Box, your loved one will know that you took the time to think about them. We think that’s pretty special.

 

We hope these tips were useful, and that you take a moment to browse our selection of gifts! We take great pride in our artisans, and we know you and your lucky recipient will love their unique, one-of-a-kind creations as much as we do.

Are you still not so sure about assembling a gift box on your own? Let one of our professionals customize a box for you! Tell us what you’re looking for, and we’ll work within your budget to create a gift that’s perfect, or pick one of our already curated boxes. Easy peasy!