Five easy Must-have eco-friendly items - five Reusable Products that we should all be using daily

Here are my 5 must-have reusable products that will replace single-use items in your life. Some are obvious, some not so much, but these 5 items are a great starting point for anyone looking to live more sustainably. I’m all about making positive lifestyle changes and developing healthy habits. These five things are all fairly easy to start using and implementing into your life, and they alone will get a ton of single-use items OUT of your home.  It’s a win-win too: it also saves you money over time because you’re not buying those single-use items over & over again. For example, I personally haven’t bought ziploc bags in over a year, so the $8 I initially spent to buy reusable ones has paid for itself several times over.

These are 5 pretty basic items. It’s a starter-guide, if you will. If you’re already a master of these five products, you da bomb! Go check out my more in-depth blog post that covers these five items in even more detail and has other tips for reducing your single-use plastic use: Eco-Friendly Living Guide.

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1. Reusable Shopping Bags

Replaces: grocery bags, fruit baggies, all single-use shopping bags

I know it’s obvious. But you guys, this is the easiest one that we should all be doing. Sorry for sounding harsh here, but here we go, cue rant: there really is no excuse for you to not be using reusable bags. So you forget them once in a while, no big deal, save them & use them as doggie bags. But there’s zero excuse for you not to use reusable bags the MAJORITY of the time. The average American takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags in ONE year. That’s CRAZY! Reusable bags are less than a dollar. Don’t get that Starbucks this week and buy 5 reusable bags instead. End rant.

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2. Dryer Balls

Replaces: dryer sheets

WHY didn’t I discover these sooner?! I’ve had them for about a year now and LOVE them. Dryer sheets can’t be recycled, nor do they decompose. Plus, most dryer sheets (even including the ones labelled “organic” and “natural”) are covered in fragrances & toxic chemicals that are horrible for you and can irritate sensitive skin Dryer balls solve those problems, plus they cut down on dry time for me personally at least 30%, so it also saves electricity. Plus you can reuse them so it’s way cheaper than buying several packs of dryer sheets. Mine have been going strong for over a year now.

3. Drinking Straws

Replaces: single-use plastic straws

It’s 2019 y’all, we don’t use plastic straws anymore. Get yourself a nice big pack of cute reusable straws and use them around your home, and carry them in your handbag to use while you’re out. This is a little harder to develop into a habit than the reusable shopping bags, but it catches on quick, I promise.

4. BeesWax Food wrap

Replaces: Plastic (saran) wrap and plastic ziploc bags

Beeswax is AWESOME. Mine are from Lilybee on Amazon. It takes a bit of getting used to; admittedly my husband isn’t quite there yet. But I’m hooked on this stuff. I use it to wrap foods like cheese and leftover pizza slices in and keep it in the fridge. I also use it for the tops of dishes instead using plastic wrap. It’s so cool, and it’s super easy to wipe clean. (Tip: After using it in the fridge it’s a bit stiff, so leave it for a few minutes to get back to room temperature and then it’s easier to wipe clean and fold up and leave it in a drawer for next time. Same as the dryer balls, they save you money over time.. mine have been going strong for over a year and show no signs of slowing down.

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5. Reusable Water Bottles

Replaces: plastic water bottles, soda bottles, etc.

Pretty obvious, I know. But it has to be mentioned. Carry that reusable water bottle absolutely everywhere and refill it in drinking fountains. It saves you a lot of money over time; those bottled drinks at gas stations, vending machines, etc. really add up. Plus it’s healthier for you to just get used to drinking water throughout the day instead of sodas and juices. Like I said, I’m all about developing healthier habits, and this is a huge one. We haven’t bought bottled water in our home for years (except for our emergency hurricane supply… #floridalife)

Final Thoughts

When you think one person can’t make a difference, think about it this way: if just 1,000 new people started using reusable shopping bags, that would cut out approximately 1.5 MILLION single-use plastic bags from ending up in our oceans EVERY YEAR. Small changes make HUGE impacts. There are 7.5 billion people on this planet, and our use of plastics like shopping bags have on our planet are detrimental. Inspire your loved ones to make these changes with you. Thank you for reading.

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The Many Uses of Mason Jars

I wanted to share a quick list of some of the various ways I use mason jars around my home. They’re sturdy, non-toxic, and versatile containers, making them perfect for the kitchen and other areas of the home. Plus they replace a lot of plastics you may be using, so they’re great for the environment. I have a big drawer dedicated to just all my mason jars & I go into that drawer literally at least 5 times a day!

You can customize them to fit your home aesthetic! You can paint them (tutorial here on the distressed look), label them with cute labels, and decorate with burlap and string

If you already have a ton of mason jars laying around, like me, then I hope you find some inspiration here for different ways to use them!  

If you don’t have any yet but want to get some, the cheapest place to buy them BY FAR is Walmart. You can get a 12 pack of most sizes for under $8. Here are some links to get you started on the four main sizes I use:

Medium - 16oz. (this one is the generic size)

Large - 32 oz. (I get this size with a wide mouth too)

And now for a list of my favorite ways to use them! I hope you find some inspiration, and I’d love to hear the different ways you use them, too!

Kitchen

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Drinking Glasses

I use the standard 16oz size mason jars for my daily drinking glasses at home with a reusable straw. They’re also perfect for cocktails and iced coffee!

Pantry Storage

Mason jars are great for dry foods in your pantry. I personally keep a lot of my baking ingredients in mason jars, and have them labelled with these cute chalkboard labels. They are also great for various snacks like pretzels and nuts, so you can buy them in bulk!

Leftovers

I use mason jars like 90% of the time for leftovers to keep in the fridge. They easily replaces plastic tupperware, ziploc bags, and the plastic wrap you put over bowls. See my blog post here for more ways to significantly reduce the use of plastics in your home!

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Smoothies

MIND BLOWN! The standard opening of mason jars fit perfectly into most blender blades, so you can pop it straight onto your blender base and then drink your smoothie right out of your mason jar. Super easy! You can even prep ahead of time to save time in the morning.

Lunch To-Go Meals

Mason jars make for really awesome to-go lunches. Toss a bunch of ingredients for a salad, rice bowl, etc. Bring it with your reusable utensils to work, and voila! Easy lunch that’s great for the environment because your not throwing anything away. Click here for some great ideas on mason jar lunches.

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Coffee/Tea Bar

I have my coffee & tea area in my kitchen organized with a bunch of mason jars. They are also labelled with the cute labels from my label maker. It’s keeps it organized so it’s easy for guests to help themselves & easily find what they need. Plus it’s super adorable!

Utensil Storage

They look adorable on the kitchen counter to store your cooking utensils!

Measuring Device

Mason jars are labelled on the outside, so I use a standard 16oz size as my measuring device in the kitchen. It’s naturally labelled for 2-4-6-8-10 ounces (1/4 cup is 2 ounces; 1/2 cup is 4 oz and so on. It’s also labelled in milliliters if you prefer that form of measurement.

Food Shaker

You can buy shaker tops like these that fit the rim, and use them for foods like flax seeds, chia seeds, spices, etc while you’re cooking.

Bathroom

Toothbrush Holder

We keep one on our bathroom counter for our toothbrushes. Simple, cute and functional!

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Makeup Brushes

Same thing with makeup brushes! I spray painted the rims rose gold to add a cute, feminine touch!

Cotton Balls/Swabs

The smaller mason jars make for cute storage for your smaller bathroom items like cotton balls and cotton swabs.

Cleaning

Another great swap in your home to help the environment. Plus over time it saves you a money. Invest a few bucks on a pack of soap dispensers lids, and put them on your mason jars. Then fill them with hand soap and put them by all the sinks in your home. Buy your soap in bulk so you can just keep refilling each dispenser when it runs out, instead of buying a new single soap dispenser each time. Saves money AND plastic!

Spray Bottle

I love this top that screws onto a mason jar. I like to use my own DIY cleaner for surfaces & windows (vinegar, water & essential oil) It’s insanely cheaper than buying cleaner the store, plus it’s nontoxic in glass over plastic, which is important to me as a mom. Plus it’s better for the environment because you’re not constantly buying your cleaner in plastic bottles.

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Sponge Holder

So simple, and so cute!

Home Decor/Etc.

I haven’t done this yet, but I just love how this little herb garden looks in these mason jars! So cute! Click here for the tutorial I found on Pinterest.

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Vases

I often use mason jars as simple vases around my home. So cute & simple!

Display Jars

I love to fill mason jars with pretty much anything and just display them on counters and shelves. It can be functional, like for pens on your desk. Or it can just be pretty, like to display seashells or sea glass on a shelf.

Spare Change

We keep a big mason jar on the counter with the opening exposed, and we throw all our spare change in it!

Candles

You can buy wax and melt it yourself, or you can reuse the wax in your store-bought candles when the wick runs out. You can buy candle wicks here. (Side note- you can always reuse your candle jars too for other things in your home - pop them in the freezer to easily get out any remaining bits of wax - it’s easy to get out the wax when it’s frozen!) **These candles also make great gifts!

Gifts

I love using mason jars for various gifts instead of wrapping paper or gift bags. It’s great if you’re gifting multiple people because you can buy in bulk and make several at the same time. Some of my favorite ideas are: candles, homemade bath salts, cookie mix & recipe, and homemade sewing kit.

Parties/Hosting

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Centerpieces

I use a ton of mason jars when I host dinners or parties. One way is as an effortless centerpiece on the table. Either as vases with some flowers, or I fill them with something fitting for the holiday/occasion. There are lots of ways to make it your own! (TIP FOR BRIDES: these makes a really affordable centerpiece for your wedding tables!)

Silverware Holders

I also use them to hold silverware on tables!

Serving Dishes

I use the x-small jars for serving dishes for butter, sauces etc with a little spoon. I also love using the small size for finger foods like veggies, nuts and crackers. They look so nice on the table with no effort at all!

Thank you for reading! I would love to hear some of the ways you use mason jars in your home! <3

DIY Photo Collage for Mother's Day

 
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Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing mamas out there! 

I’ve partnered with Polaroid today to share this fun little Mother’s Day DIY! It’s super easy - I simply arranged little photos of my daughter into a heart shape and put them in a frame. There are a ton of different creative ways to make it your own! And if your kids are old enough, you can make it a fun family project!

I hope it inspires you to do a fun little project for Mother’s Day! If you try it, I’d love to see how it comes out! 

Gather Your Supplies

You’ll need: Photos; Background (paper, canvas, etc.); Frame (optional)

Firstly, decide how you want to print your photos. I’m printing them myself & featuring the Polaroid Mint instant digital pocket printer! If you don’t have a portable printer, you can print them on your home printer, or order them online!

Then choose what to use to display them. I chose to use an unused 16x22in frame I had lying around. Then for the background, I decided to just use the back of the print that came in the frame. Some other fun ideas are a blank canvas, a piece of wood, or a cork board!

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Plan Out Your Design

If you’re printing at home, arrange your photo paper onto your background into the exact shape you want, that way you know exactly how many photos to print. (TIP- snap a quick photo of it so you can reassemble the exact shape later!) I chose a heart shape, but if you’re doing it with your kids you can simply do a circle or a square, or even a fun shape like a butterfly! 

If you’re ordering your photos, skip this step for now & do it later once you have your photos. (Assume you’ll need 24-30 photos if you’re doing a similar shape to mine - which used twenty-four 2x3in. photos.)

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Choose Your Photos!

I created a specific album on my phone, then started scrolling, saving my favorites into the album along the way. After I finished, I had saved over 60 photos, but I only needed 24, so I went back to the album and narrowed it down to 30, so I had extra just in case I needed them.

This was the best part of the entire project, I loved reminiscing over all my old photos with my husband!

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Print Your Photos!

I printed my photos straight from my phone on the Polaroid Mint instant pocket printer using their iPhone app (don’t worry, they also have one for Android users, too!). It was seriously so easy! The printer is smaller than my actual phone and it’s so portable, it’s really cool!

If you’re ordering your prints, make sure to order extra, just in case! They are only a few cents each, and you can give away the extras to family & friends! :-)

Assemble Your Collage

I referred back to the photo I took of my original design, and then simply stuck the photos onto my background! The Polaroid photo paper has a sticky back and makes it really easy! You can also use tape if your photos don’t have the sticky back.

I also wrote the date on the back of my collage, so we will always remember when it was made!

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I just love how it looks in my home. It’s such a special keepsake.

Thank you to Polaroid for collaborating with me on this Mother’s Day DIY! If you’d like to see more of their projects, check out their blog here.

 
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Eco-Friendly Living Guide - Five Single-Use Plastics to Eliminate From Your Life

There are so many things we can all be doing at home to live more sustainably & create less waste. I’ve started this Eco-Friendly Living Series here on my blog to share my personal journey to a more sustainable & minimal-waste life.  My outlook is that no matter what our personal situation is, we can all find balance & make genuine efforts to live with significantly less waste. And I really hope you’ll join me on this journey, and inspire your loved ones to do the same.

The goal of today’s post is to help you eliminate/minimize your personal use of PLASTIC. I want you to imagine what the world would be like if everyone used even just 50% less plastic. it would have a tremendous positive impact on our world’s oceans!

It’s not too late to start. It takes effort, patience, & time to get into habits. But it’s so important that we all make the effort.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” - Tao Te Ching

**In case you don’t know, the reason why plastics are so devastating for the Earth is because plastic doesn’t biodegrade/break down. It stays for hundreds of years… releasing toxic chemicals, hurting wildlife in our oceans, etc. I recently read a stat that there are over five trillion pieces of plastic currently floating in our oceans. Five TRILLION. It’s heartbreaking.

This is a long one. so grab a coffee, get comfortable & let’s get to work on saving the world, one plastic bottle at a time. 

***This is a lot of information & a lot of products. Please don’t feel like you need to go and do/buy every single one of them at once. Instead, I recommend working one or two things at a time into your routine; then once you feel good about it, move onto another. Bookmark this post to refer back to later as you move along!

 

So here are five basic plastic items that we are going to work toward eliminating/minimizing in our lives. I’ll go over more detail on each one below. These are all relatively easy to eliminate by either buying reusable replacements, or simply changing your habits: 

 
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1. Plastic Bags

This is a big one guys, & it’s really not that hard. It’s ALL about the reusable bags! Put them absolutely everywhere so you always have one when you need it. They cost less than a dollar each, there’s no excuse for all of us to own a bunch. Swap out your Starbucks this week for 5 reusable bags, & put them around your home & in your bag.

 
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Grocery Bags

I always keep a couple reusable bags folded up in my handbag, & a few more in my car. I also have a bunch stored by the door that are easy to see & grab on my way out to the grocery store. The best place to get them for a dollar is at the store in the checkout lines. But Amazon is great too: I love these & these & these

If you forget your reusable bags: It happens.. we’re human. A lot of grocery stores now offer paper bags, so use them whenever available. TIP- some stores have paper bags but will only give you plastic unless you specifically ask for paper (Publix is a major one). So always ask for paper.

PRO TIP: When I’m out shopping & I’ve forgotten my reusable bags, then my “punishment” is making myself buy more reusable bags from the checkout line. When I started doing this, I started forgetting my reusable bags a LOT less often (plus you build up a little stock of bags!) Try it out for yourself & stick to it no matter what!! 

Fruit & Veggie Bags

To replace those little plastic bags in the produce section at the grocery store, use these bags instead. I just put my produce right into those bags as I’m shopping; I use one for fruits & one for veggies. Then I put the filled bags straight onto the conveyor belt at checkout.  Every single checkout clerk compliments the bags & asks where I got them & says they wish more people would use them. Some other produce bags I love are these and these

General Shopping Bags (at clothing stores, etc.)

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Politely decline plastic bags at the checkout counters & use your own. You can carry the same bag around with you while you’re shopping & keep adding your items from multiple stores into the same reusable bag. All these items in the photo to the right can fit in one or two reusable bags instead of getting plastic bags at each store.

TIP: if you’ve bought just a few items, carry them out the door yourself without a bag. Or even throw them right into your purse if they fit. If it’s too much to carry, & you’ve forgotten your reusable bag, buy one at the store as your punishment for forgetting :-)  

Restaurants/Takeaway Bags

Politely request no plastic bags on your way out & carry the food containers yourself, or put the food containers into your own reusable bag if you brought one. Also for takeaway, kindly decline their plastic flatware & use your own at home.

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2. Plastic Straws

If you’re not yet motivated to eliminate plastic straws, do a google search for “turtles plastic straws,” and those photos should do the trick.

I personally started the journey to completely eliminate plastic straws from my life in 2018. I’m not 100% there yet, but I’m pretty damn close. It’s really not that hard. It just takes a bit of patience.

First, get into the habit of politely declining straws at restaurants, coffee shops & bars. You can drink out of your glass without a straw, trust me, you’ll survive.  (You quickly get used to having your drinks without straws & eventually you don’t even notice a difference.)

And of course, get yourself some reusable straws. Use them in your home, & carry them around with you always. There are a lot of different types on the market, so get what works best into your life. Here are some of the ones that I have:

** I also recently started carrying this set of bamboo cutlery around in my bag to replace the plastic ones they give you at restaurants. The set also comes with a straw! I love it!

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3. Plastic Bottles

Find a reusable bottle you like & carry it with you absolutely EVERYWHERE (this is another thing that just becomes habit with time & patience.) There are water fountains everywhere that you can refill your bottle with.

Instead of buying bottled drinks when you’re out for lunch, bring your reusable bottle & fill it up at the drink dispenser. If they don’t have one, they will fill up your bottle with ice/water for you with behind the counter, all you have to do is ask. 

If you forget your reusable bottle, buy a fountain drink (with no straw or plastic lid) instead of buying a drink in a plastic bottle, and make sure to recycle the cup when you’re finished.

Oh, and stop using vending machines.

And finally, if you do use a plastic bottle, make sure to recycle it responsibly. Even if that means carrying the empty bottle in your bag for a while until you find a recycling bin. (Only like 8% of plastic bottles get recycled, it’s really sad.)

I personally love carrying a well-insulated bottle during the summer so my ice stays cold all day long even through several refills. I also carry one filled with coffee over the winter that stays hot for 8+ hours, and that saves me $$ because it cuts out an afternoon Starbucks run. 

Here are my favorite bottles:

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4. Kitchen basics

The key to eliminating plastic in your kitchen is to invest in items that are reusable, & use them in place of your single-use items like cling wrap, ziploc bags, etc. It’s a few extra bucks up front, but it actually saves you money in the long run, because you don’t have to keep re-buying those single-use items. I still have cling wrap & ziploc baggies for the occasional convenience, but I hardly ever use them, and therefore I hardly ever buy them. The idea is to drastically reduce the single-use items (if you can replace them entirely, thats amazing!)

Here are some simple items in your kitchen that can be easily replaced by reusable items:

 
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Plastic Wrap (& FOIL)

Get these silicone food huggers for unfinished fruits, veggies, & cans, instead of using plastic wrap on them. They’re clutch.. I’ve used them for years & they’re still good as new! You can also get a set shaped for your avocados!

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This reusable bee’s wrap is great for blocks of cheese and to cover bowls.

Use this nonstick baking mat in the oven instead of foil or parchment paper. Super easy!

Ziploc bags

You can buy reusable ziploc bags. And my personal favorite replacement for those single-use ziploc bags are to use good ‘ole mason jars!

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Tupperware/food storage

An easy fix is to replace your plastic tupperware with a glass set. We use these glass ones from Ikea.

Mason jars are also a great swap for tupperware, that’s what I use most of the time!

***Side note on mason jars… get them! I seriously use them for SO MUCH in my kitchen (and all around my home.) And I’m constantly finding new uses for them. I have a drawer full of dozens of them in different sizes that’s I’ve collected over the years (mostly from Walmart or Target). Here is an awesome variety set on Amazon to get you started!

Food Packaging

Finally, when you’re grocery shopping, try to buy your items plastic free - either bare, or in glass or cardboard packaging whenever possible. For example, you can buy the same exact asparagus plastic-free, instead buying it in a plastic bag (see photo.) But sometimes it’s just not feasible, or it’s just too expensive, but just commit to doing your best. Every little bit makes a difference!

5. Chewing Gum

Did you know most chewing gum contains plastic. Um… EW.

It’s what gives it it’s “gummy” base. Worst part is, manufacturers don’t have to disclose on the package what exactly they use so there’s no way to tell exactly what you’re ingesting. 

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Gum doesn’t break down, just like plastic doesn’t. So who knows where it all goes. 

If you’re a big gum chewer, do your research & find plastic-free brands. It’s not easy to find in stores the US (but hopefully that changes soon!)

I found one that’s popular over in Europe, you can buy it on Amazon here.

No more gum for me. I’ll survive.

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Final note: I’m always researching & discovering new ways I can personally lessen my family’s impact on the Earth. In some areas (plastic bags, for example), we are strict and don’t use them. Then in other areas (like, baby diapers), we don’t. Find what works for your family, and do your absolute best. Nobody is perfect, but it’s important that we all try.

Most posts on Eco-Friendly Living are coming soon. Thank you for reading! 

 
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Valentines Day Gift Ideas - For Him & Her!

Here are some gift ideas to get your loved one (or yourself!) on Valentine’s Day. These are thoughtful gift ideas that both him AND her will enjoy!

Moon Necklace/Keychain

For men or women, you can never go wrong with giving jewelry on Valentines Day. Make it really meaningful with a custom piece that features the phase of the moon from a special date in your relationship - such as an anniversary, birth of a child, etc.

**Bonus points if your last name is MOON hehe :-)

For her, this gorgeous locket comes in stainless steel, gold & rose gold.

For him, you can get your moon phase on this beautiful keychain.

Cork Globe

If you love to travel together, this cork globe is a perfect gift! Give it to your spouse/partner on Valentine’s Day & spend some time that evening pinning all the places you’ve been in one color, & places you want to go in another color. It’s a special gift that they will adore, & you’ll both be able to enjoy for years to come. 

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Wine-Lovers Gift Basket

I designed this gift basket myself, full of little goodies any wine-lover is sure to enjoy. You can customize it to match their preferences and/or to meet your budget. My basket shown here includes a monogrammed wine stopper, aerator, electric bottle opener &, of course, my husband’s favorite bottle of wine. Some ideas of other things you can add are chocolates, cheese & crackers, or a nice smelling candle. And this monogrammed wine glass would also be a cool addition!

Watch

If you’re looking for a more classic Valentine’s Day gift, look no further than a gorgeous watch. I love the style variety at Abbott Lyon, plus their quality is amazing & their prices are still affordable.

Check out their selection of watches for him & for her

“What I Love About Us” Book

These little books are always a total hit. They’re very thought provoking to fill out & it’s fun to let your personality shine through in your answers.. you can make it as lovey-dovey, sassy or frisky as you please!  I gave one of these to my husband a few years ago & we have good laugh each year when we read through it again.

(Note: I don’t think this is a good gift idea for someone you’ve only been seeing for a short time, as there are 50 pages of answers to fill out and you might struggle to come up with enough to fill it up!)