The true meaning of gift giving

Today is Christmas – Merry Christmas!!

After a full day of opening Christmas presents, hanging with family, catching up with friends and family on the phone…and of course…eating, I remembered one of my favorite Christmas stories.  One that many people forget about, or may not even know, but one that captures the true essence of gift giving: O.Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi”

“The magi, as you know, were wise men – wonderfully wise men – who brought gifts to the new-born Jesus in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as donors they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the Magi.” – O. Henry

If you don’t know the story –  click here so you can get the quick synopsis on Wikipedia

My mother first read me this story when I was little.  I remember thinking that it was so sad, that they only got each other one gift each – and then they didn’t even get to use them! Seemed like such a waste! (typical kid – huh?)

Fast forward a decade or so, and I heard the story again.  This time, I thought.. How sweet that they love each other so much and they would go to such lengths to get one perfect Christmas gift for their spose.  And I remember also wishing that I too, would one day have that same kind of unconditional love for a man, and he have that kind of love for me.

The story is so powerful and I feel really illustrates the purpose behind gift giving.  The giving ultimately becomes more gratifying than being on the receiving end.  Of course, getting an awesome gift is great!!  But have you ever gotten someone the perfect gift and you just couldn’t wait to give it to them?  If, your gift comes from the heart – it should always give you that feeling!

When I was little, I would be so excited to wake up on Christmas morning.  I usually couldn’t sleep the night before because I was so wound up with energy and excitement.  Sometimes I would try to sneak out of my room to the living room in the middle of the night to see if I could catch a glimpse of Santa.  I was always the first to wake up and that usually led to waking up my parents, followed by waking up my brother and sisters.  My dad would turn on the Christmas music, brew the coffee, and round up the troops.  Eventually my big brother and sisters would make their way to the tree and we would begin the present-opening extravaganza!

This year, I had that same anxious feeling when I went to bed on Christmas eve.  I was so excited for my husband to open the gifts I got for him.  We woke up at 7 am, enjoyed some coffee in bed and then turned on some Christmas music and made our way to the living room to open presents.  Getting my husband the perfect Christmas gifts brought me so much joy  – I then remembered the story of “The Gift of the Magi.”  Unlike Jim and Della, we were fortunate to not have to make any sacrifices this holiday season, however, I really understood the true meaning of the story.  I think it resonates differently with everyone who reads it. Ironic, romantic, tragic or heartfelt… It definitely helps reminds you what “it” is all about.

Merry Christmas and good night!


What is the best gift you have ever given? 

What is the best gift you have ever received?  The worst?? 🙂

What is your favorite part about exchanging gifts?

Does your family have any Christmas morning traditions?


Literature Themed Wedding at The Murphy

We are soooo excited to be featured on Style Me Pretty today!  What a fantastic bit of news to find out as I was ending a new client meeting at Starbucks!

I can’t wait to share some of the photos with you – Click here for the full post:

The Murphy Auditorium Wedding by Mattson Pictures | Style Me Pretty

Renee and Phil were such a joy to work with! They are so in love – but also so sweet and adorable!  Renee will always hold a special place in my heart – because she was my first (ever) client! That’s right – she took a leap of faith and signed with me before I had coordinated any weddings!  However – she was so far ahead of the game – by the time her September 17th wedding rolled around – I had coordinated several weddings! Either way, she will always be special to me! (thanks Renee!)

I loved her dress! It was a sample Amsale, and thank goodness for Dress Doctor – they were able to alter it to fit the petite bride!

The inside of St. Michael’s church of Old Town was absolutely breathtaking!  I just think wedding when I see it!  Oh, and how adorable are the card catalog drawers for escort cards?! Luckily Phil’s mom is a librarian and she had a card catalog in her personal collections of antiques!

Who doesn’t love cake pops?! What a fun and sweet favor treat!

Jeweled toned flowers by Kloeckner‘s – along with old books made for the perfect centerpieces.

By now you guys know that I love giving my couples personalized cake forks as a wedding gift.  How cute are these? “I Do – Me Too”

Isn’t The Murphy absolutely exquisite? Maybe I am a little biased, but The Murphy has to be one of my favorite venues in Chicago! (look for more of The Murphy coming soon – my wedding on the blog!)

again – for the full gallery check out the link from Style Me Pretty:

The Murphy Auditorium Wedding by Mattson Pictures | Style Me Pretty.

Hope you enjoyed this one as much as I did!

All photos by Mattson Pictures

Deck the Halls

Although Christmas decorations started to go up in mid-November, there is just something about taking advantage of the long Thanksgiving weekend to pull out all the boxes of Christmas ornaments and decorations… and shop for a tree!

Last year we had a new puppy, and felt that between the rambunctious (and LARGE) puppy and our instinctively curious cat – a full sized tree would be a bad idea.  So I reluctantly put out my “single girl” tabletop tree with hopes that this year we would do it up right – with a live tree!

I am excited to announce that this is the first year to have a real (live) Christmas tree!! We feel so grown up. 🙂

here it is…(notice the cat)…even at age 9…still curious!

another…and again the cat, getting even closer..ohhhh boy!

This is an 8ft Fraser Fir.  The needles are soft and rarely fall, they also smell great!  I was on the mission for a skinny tree.  I love skinny trees!  They have a modern look and are also more practical for a condo.  We got this one at Old Town Gardens.  They have a great selection and are also our neighbors. We like to support the business in our community!

So I am pretty sure finding a pine cone in your Christmas tree is good luck! 😉

instant ornament!

So of course, being a wedding planner and event designer, I love to decorate!! I had to splurge a little on some new (larger) ornaments for our full sized tree.  But I got the ones that are shatter resistant (read: good for a house with the wrath of a Berner dog tail! and also great for storing)

I had some decor from last year that I can still use.  But I am excited about our new family tradition – collecting Christmas tree ornaments from our vacations.  Don’t get me wrong, I do love chachkies from my travels (well, any kind of chachkies really!).  But recently I realized the best place to display a (quirky and often non-useful) souvenir is on your Christmas tree!  You can decorate your Christmas tree however you want!  That is an area of your home that you can be quirky and creative – however you choose to be.  So we liked the idea of adding to the collection with each vacay – and also reminiscing on past travels while we trim the tree!

We got this one during our trip to London this past April…

The elf with the Danish flag is from our trip to Copenhagen, Denmark.  The disco balls are from Rick’s 70’s themed birthday party last year!

Throw in some ornaments that I have been holding on to these past few years…

We picked this one up at Peet’s (Rick’s favorite coffee)

…an angel at the top – a gift from my mom that she hand-painted..

and voila! the finished product!

(btw – check out etsy for tree skirts!  that is where I ordered mine! hand-made and much more affordable than the less-personal store bought ones!)

Don’t forget to decorate your dining room table or buffet – or both!

I heart mercury glass! btw – West Elm has tons right now if you wanna stock up 🙂

and remember to get a poinsettia!!

Stockings, candles and mantel garland are also a nice touch!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!! Happy Holidays! 😀


Do you have any holiday traditions?

What is your favorite ornament or holiday decoration?

Do you prefer real or fake Christmas trees?