Swoozie’s Picks: Back to School

With the summer coming to an end and the fall season on the horizon, it officially means “back to school” season is here. While we are in no rush for summer to end, we do enjoy this time of year when a sense of routine is welcome back into our lives. Whether a mom helping her kids, a college student going back to campus or a working girl prepping for a new season – our list of “back to school” favorites is perfect for girls of all ages!

Check out our Top 10 Back to School items and don’t forget to make this season magical {totally feeling the unicorn vibe}.

Start with a new agenda to get everything organized in an old school way – on paper! We think it’s so much more fun to get creative with planner organization vs. using our iPhones. We have so many to pick from including kate spade new york, Lilly Pulitzer, ban.do, Emily Ley, Rifle Paper and more – all of which can be personalized.

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In addition to the agenda, our other #1 item is definitely the Corkcicle – the top gift of last season and based on the new color palette for fall, will continue to be a must-have for everyone! Totally worth the investment and don’t forget to personalize.

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Here are other top items for the season!

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WORKING GIRL LUNCH & SNACK IDEAS

We are SO excited to introduce Olivia Rink to our followers – she has been a friend to Swoozie’s for over a year – and we could not be more thankful to feature her as a guest blogger with a super timely article. Don’t know about you all, but we are always looking for better, healthier, easier lunch & snack ideas to combat the workday and mid-morning and afternoon slumps. With August in sight (OMG), too, we are feeling extra motivated to get that new routine underway.

When the new ksny 2016 collection arrived, we knew it was a total match for Olivia’s impeccable style and the recipes and tidbits she is sharing, are perfection. Read on and take note – and if you are not following her already, make sure to follow her blog at Olivia Rink, her IG page (stunning) and her FB page.

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How many times have you waited till the last minute to find something to eat for lunch and swung by the drive by window because it’s convenient? If you’re asking me, it’s been a lot more often than it should. I’m WAY better at eating healthy when I plan it out and make an effort in advance to put snacks/meals together for the week. Plus, packing up a lunchbox and bringing it out with me when I leave the house for meetings and things in the city has helped me save money, eat healthier, and guarantee that I never go without snacks throughout the day (avoid getting hangry).

Snacking throughout the day and eating a filling lunch keeps my energy levels up, makes me motivated and focused, and helps me to avoid cravings later in the day. I’m always looking for new snack and lunch ideas to bring with me when I’m out – a good lunch always puts me in a better mood! I’ve gotten into the routine of making some of the same things to take with me when I’m out for the day.

Here are some of my favorite snacks + lunch ideas for on-the-go:

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Happy 4th Y'all!

We love the 4th of July here at Swoozie's {like all holidays} -- but there is something extra special about the 4th with the festivities the day (and weekend) tend to bring. From the time with family and friends to the backyard BBQs filled with delicious food and cocktails to a day ending in fireworks - it's always a celebration we look forward to during the summer.

It also marks the middle of summer, which reminds us we need to plan a lot more mini-vaca weekends to take advantage of the good weather and a more relaxed schedule.  

Photo Credit: @wildchildparty

Photo Credit: @wildchildparty

Here are some of our favorite photos to provide a little inspiration for the holiday weekend ahead!

Photo Credit: @theeveryhostess

Photo Credit: @theeveryhostess

Our friend, Kaitlin, of The Every Hostess, put together a fabulous tablescape for a 4th of July picnic and you must check out her famous 4th of July cocktail recipe

Photo Credit: @theeveryhostess

Photo Credit: @theeveryhostess

Have a HAPPY 4th of July weekend celebrating America with family and friends!

The Swoo Crew

Calling all Brides-to-Be!!!

Calling all Brides-to-Be! Our Annual Bridal Showcase is coming up at all Swoozie's locations at the end of June {check out our registration page to see when your local Swoozie's is having the event}. 

The event brings together local wedding vendors under one roof (Swoozie’s) to provide a fun, casual, and informative evening to learn about the different ways Swoozie’s, along with the local vendors, can help you with your wedding celebrations. We showcase everything from custom and designer invitations, to best-selling wedding favors, to personalized gifts for your wedding party. We also are launching our new exclusive collections from Beau-coup, available at Swoozie's, including bridal shower and bachelorette theme ideas!

The environment provides a much more intimate experience than traditional bridal shows and allows you to place orders that day or start your consultation. Every bride who signs up will receive a FREE bridal swag bag filled with savings, including an Engagement Pass to use for 15% off all wedding orders. Plus, there are several raffle giveaways from Swoozie’s and attending vendors, including custom napkins, personalized bar-ware, and FREE wedding invitations (up to $250.00)... yes, please!

In-Store Wedding Shop

In-Store Wedding Shop

Designer Invitation albums and Custom Invitations 

Designer Invitation albums and Custom Invitations 

Swoozie’s is your one stop shop for everything that has to do with wedding planning – from the moment you get engaged to the bridal shower and bachelorette... all the way to the big day. No matter your style, there are so many gifts, invitations, and favor options for you to choose from – all of which can be customized just for you.

Photo Cred @oliviarink

Photo Cred @oliviarink

Before You Say I Do, Let us Swoozie You {register today!} 

Congrats! 

The Swoo Crew

 

A Guide to Graduation Season

Graduation season is here {hooray Class of 2016}! 

The next 30 days are filled with graduation ceremonies and parties which means gifts to get and invitations to order. This is one of our favorite times of year, whether we are helping the graduate plan out gifts for all the friends or helping mom coordinate all the party details,  the spirit of graduation season is both joyous and contagious {and also serves as a true marker that summer is about to begin!}

Swoozie's In-Store Graduation Shop

Swoozie's In-Store Graduation Shop

 

We’ve put together the top questions we hear from customers at this time of year along with our answers and guidance – including gift giving ideas and inspiration for the parties.

1.       Q: What is the difference between an invitation and an announcement?

a.       You will need to send graduation invitations when you want your guest to attend the commencement and/or graduation party. The invitations are requesting someone's specific presence but can also serve as an announcement.

b.      You will need to send graduation announcements when you want to let your friends and family know of your achievements, but there will not be an actual event that they need to attend. These are the cards a grad sends to family and friends to share the big news about the graduation. It includes information about the graduate, including the school he or she is graduating from, but doesn’t include the time, date or location like an invitation would.

Graduation Invitation 

Graduation Invitation 

 

2.       Q: My son wants to get a gift for his girlfriend. I don’t want to spend more than $25 (or $50) what should I get her?

a.       We love anything from ban.do collection from the peek-a-boo bags and clutches (which are great for travel) to the phone cases and tech accessories.

Our favorite gift ideas for besties

Our favorite gift ideas for besties

b.      Another favorite is the initial kate spade new york drink tumblers which you can make even more personal with her name.

we love kate spade {add your name in gold in the color block!}

we love kate spade {add your name in gold in the color block!}

 

3.       Q: I need to buy a gift for my daughter’s 5 best girlfriends. What can I get for all them that matches?

a.       We have so many great options all at different price points to make sure you stay in budget for the long list of friends you are looking to buy for. Some of our favorite suggestions include personalized cosmetic bags; our best-selling Corkcicle canteens (one of Oprah’s top gifts to the holiday season); personalized tote bags – great for both summer travel and on campus; personalized necklaces; and for the girly-girls – one of our favorite gifts of the season is our new silky floral kimono robe.

 

4.       Q: My daughter is so excited she got into Clemson. Can I get her a package of gifts all college – themed or that our the school colors?

a.       Absolutely! Shop our Monogram Shop to put together a whole collection of collegiate colored gifts (from pillowcases to custom blankets to an acrylic tray you can put her monogram or school on and she can use as a trinket tray).

b.      Plus we have Tervis Tumbler and Smather’s and Branson which all have collegiate themed gifts.

 

5.       Q: I am hosting a high school graduation party. I have no idea what kind of theme it should be? Ideas?

a.       We offer a wide range of options for the graduation party and this year we have 4 primary collections to choose from (that said, you can customize any type party you want with our in-house graphic designer)!

The Tassle was worth the Hassle | YAY | Class of 2016 | It's Been Fun...Glad We're Done

The Tassle was worth the Hassle | YAY | Class of 2016 | It's Been Fun...Glad We're Done

 

Shop our complete Graduation catalog online or shop local Swoozie’s and talk to any of our experts to help you find the perfect gift an plan the most memorable party.

Here’s to the Class of 2016!

The Swoo Crew

Let's Celebrate! Our Favorite Gifts of the Season

We love this time of year – we are in the swing of spring and summer is on the horizon. With the sun shining a little brighter (and longer), more activities and get-togethers really start to fill up the calendar. It’s the season for so many reasons to celebrate from Mother’s Day to Graduations, in addition to all the occasions that are happening year round for you, including birthday parties, girls’ nights out, and wedding festivities.

Photo Cred @cmcoving of Southern Curls & Pearls

Photo Cred @cmcoving of Southern Curls & Pearls

Whether planning a neighborhood block party, attending a bridal shower, getting teacher gifts or prepping for spring break and summer travel, our annual Gift Guide gives you over 500+ gift ideas to help you give the perfect gift for any occasion.

April 2016 Catalog

April 2016 Catalog

In addition to our top gift ideas, we've also included our favorite entertaining ideas for the season. One of our newest is American Summer. We hope it provokes a major sense of nostalgia and the excuse (if you didn’t have one already) to gather friends & family this summer for plenty of BBQs and clambakes and overall outdoor fun. 

From a family weekend at the lake (or wherever your happy place is) to a brunch party with the girls, we've got hostess gift ideas and entertaining essentials to help you with all these special occasions.

 

From our new arrivals to perennial best sellers, we hope you find inspiration and ideas from our curated gift collections for everyone on your list. We’ve also included hundreds of personalized options so whether you are shopping for your mom, sister, bestie, the graduate, or the girl who has everything, you will be able to add your personal touch to every gift you give.

The Swoo Crew

Meet Jen Gotch! Founder + Creative Director of the (one & only) ban.do

We love everything about ban.do – from the collections (that are always both clever and colorful) to the actual girls behind the brand – the ban.do #girlgang. We have such a girl crush on this vibrant group of super talented, super fun, super creative women so when we got a chance to ask Jen Gotch, the co-founder and creative director, about her style of business, inspiration and more… we were excited!

The one & only: Jen gotch

The one & only: Jen gotch

FIRST THINGS FIRST: Is there “one” particular moment, looking back, that really made you think, I want to build a brand? Did you always want to be an entrepreneur? We really just want to know what inspired you to take this career path?

JG: I’ve definitely always loved the idea of having an audience, whether it be dancing for my parents’ friends at dinner parties, or selling things at a local flea market. Connecting with people is a passion of mine and connecting to customers through a brand is really fulfilling. I wouldn’t say there was a particular moment where I thought, “Yeah, I’m gonna build a brand!” But there are enough experiences peppered through my life that make what I am doing now seem very sensible. Leading up to the time we started ban.do, I had been working as a food and prop stylist for over 10 years and had just started getting into photography. Oh, and I was writing two different blogs, too. (What is wrong with me?) I actually started ban.do on a whim with a friend, never expecting it would become more than just a little creative outlet on the side (like I needed another one, sheesh!). Things took off just as my photography career got going. I had my first big shoot in New York for the cover of Real Simple magazine and spent a couple extra days there meeting with people about ban.do. I quickly realized that I wouldn’t be able to manage all 17,000 careers I had started so I chose ban.do. And here we are.

Just as important as the first… is there a story behind “ban.do” (the name) you can share? 

JG: I can tell you one thing for sure, we definitely did not come up with the name using any of the business naming strategies that I now know to be so helpful. Oh no, that would have just made things too easy! So “bandeaux” is the French word for headband (which was primarily what we were making/selling when we started the company in 2008), and although we loved the way it sounded, I thought French words were passé (to use another French word), so I changed the spelling, because I thought I could make a word that had been around forever look cooler (which is a very Jen Gotch thing to do. I’m always convinced I can improve things… sometimes it works and sometimes IT DOES NOT WORK.) Over time there have been challenges with the punctuation and the pronunciation, but now I really like it. It’s so much more than a name now. It represents a big happy FUN team and that’s worth smiling about.

What and where do you find the most creative inspiration? Do you have a favorite Instagram account for inspiration? Or someone/a brand you follow on Pinterest?

JG: I’m really fond of the usual suspects when it comes to finding inspiration… travel, old movies (and when I say old, I don’t mean the classics – I'm talking mostly about 80’s rom coms), swap meets, walking not driving, and of course Pinterest for the days I want to be inspired, but I don’t want to get out of bed. 

Great visual inspiration on Instagram: first of all @shopbando because it is looking sooooo good right now. I’m just really proud of everyone, so I think that should get top mention. @C_L_O  is great for fashion and photography, and @jimmymarble for mood and color.

And on Pinterest: I’ve been really into Bing Bang NYC’s Pinterest as of late. They’re great!!!

What inspired this year’s collection? 

JG: ban.do Spring/Summer 2016 is all about celebrating self-expression, highlighting our strengths, and identifying with our customers. The line is a mix of cute, youthful, sophisticated, and quirky, and it’s a calculated response to looking at what’s around us. We’ve played up fun, irreverence, bright colors, and trends. And it’s all wrapped up in getting the best photos, because that’s how our customer communicates.

this photograph is the EPITOME of fun

this photograph is the EPITOME of fun

Do you have an all-time favorite item or design from the collection this year or in previous collections? 

JG: Everything! In this collection, the compliment postcard book is full of things girls could totally hear themselves saying to a friend, and the love potion sip sip is like having a sip of love potion every day (really effective for crushes). And we're really excited about our inflatables – you can take herbie our happy heart with you to the pool or float on a giant heart-shaped inner tube!

herbie Love

herbie Love

We may be biased, but we love working in a company full of women and all about women. A total synergy, we think, with ban.do. What is the best part about working with all girls (all the time)?

JG: I think the best part is that women tend to be more communicative about their emotions than men, so we are able to connect on a really personal level and also address any issues that come up in a really honest way. 

Any new ideas we can sneak peek and know about for fall? Next year? 

JG: Oh man, we have a ton of fun stuff coming up that makes me want to have a dance party right here right now! Our new agendas are coming out really soon and believe me when I tell you they are insanely good. Basically, we're headed for a ban.do world takeover. And you’re totally invited!



 

Hippity Hoppity: Here Comes Easter

We can’t believe Easter is almost here! The holiday is very early this year, but we are ready and excited to celebrate the Easter bunny’s arrival in just a few weeks. Whether planning the hunt or putting together Easter baskets for the family, here are some entertaining ideas and gift inspiration to help you get in the spirit.

Hosting an Easter Egg Hunt this year? Whether planning for the entire neighborhood or just a small family get together, here is a little inspiration kids (and adults) will love.

1. Start with fun décor

2. Get festive favors and sweet treats for everyone

The goal is to create a setting that allows kids to celebrate the joy of the hunt and adults the ability to relax and just enjoy. Not planning a giant egg hunt this year, but still want to put together a great basket for your loved ones and friends — we have some inspiration for you here, too! We love working with our customers on creative ways to put together Easter baskets because there are so many creative ways to think about the “vessel” and what goes inside. This year, put together the perfect, personalized Easter basket for everyone in the family this year — because we believe no one is too old for an Easter basket!

1. Start with the basket. And just remember, if making a “basket” for someone a bit older, think about an alternative bag they’ll love instead of a traditional basket!

2. Pick out the basket stuffers! And remember to think about basket stuffers are just fun small gifts the recipient will love — it doesn’t all have to be about bunnies or chocolate!  Does your younger daughter love to draw? Get her a new coloring book!

Are you filling a basket for your oldest daughter heading to college? Get her some of her favorite travel size toiletries or a new cosmetic case that she’ll love when she leaves home. We love this BLVD personalized cosmetic bag — it's the perfect size!

Or a new travel journal or one of our favorite new items for spring, the kate spade new york initial tumbler!

When it comes to Easter baskets, we think it is the thought behind the content that means the most and giving it that extra special time to make it feel personalized.

We wish you the happiest Easter Sunday with friends and family...and if you're looking for a bit more inspiration, we love Martha Stewart’s Pinterest board for all the DIY craft ideas you’ll ever need or for plenty of homemade sweets inspiration, and we love everything on Food Network right now!

— The Swoo Crew

This Weekend: 12 Ways to Pamper Yourself {from our Guest Blogger: Olivia Rink}

We're so excited to team up with our friend, Olivia Rink, for tips on how to pamper yourself and the overall importance of taking time for yourself. Check out her latest blog post from OliviaRink.com, featured right here as a guest blog on Land of the Swoo! Enjoy!

The importance of treating yourself is often overlooked. I’ve always struggled with being too hard on myself and I have a pretty tough time turning things off and actually taking the time to just relax. I’m a type-A personality, so I’m programmed to constantly worry about the future, things I need to get done, and my to-do list has the tendency to take over my life (!!)

In small doses, self criticism can be very helpful — it challenges us to take responsibility and constantly work on bettering ourselves. But, before you can better yourself in any way you have to learn to be kind and take care of yourself — because your mind controls EVERYTHING you do.

Take time to treat yourself every now and then with these next few ideas  — it gives you the chance to clear your mind, find balance, and enjoy this beautiful life we way too often take for granted!

Photo courtesy of OliviaRink.com

Photo courtesy of OliviaRink.com

Use code OLIVIA20 on all Swoozies products listed in this post at checkout for 20% off!

1.Take a bubble bath. I couldn’t remember the last time I did this and it definitely won’t be long before I do it again. There’s something so relaxing and stress relieving about hot water. It’s been proven that soaking in water can sharpen your memory, calm your mind, and act as a natural mood-booster.

PHOTO COURTESY OF OLIVIARINK.COM

PHOTO COURTESY OF OLIVIARINK.COM

2. Pour in a little bath oil. For luxurious bubbles, a soothing scent, and a hydrating cleanser, add a little bit of Lollia Wander Bath Oil to your bath tub experience. You can use it in the shower too!

Photo courtesy of OliviaRink.com

Photo courtesy of OliviaRink.com

Photo courtesy of OliviaRink.com

Photo courtesy of OliviaRink.com

3. Light Some Candles. Lighting a candle never seems to fail when it comes to boosting my mood, so why not surround your bath tub experience with them? I like to think I’m somewhat of a candle connoisseur – and Voluspa candles are at the top of my list! Below are my favorites that I’ve filled my bedroom and bathroom with.

Pink Citron | Prosecco Belini | Apple & Blue Clover | Macaron | Suede Blanc

(code OLIVIA20 for 20% off)

Photo courtesy of OliviaRink.com

Photo courtesy of OliviaRink.com

Photo courtesy of OliviaRink.com

Photo courtesy of OliviaRink.com

4. Take care of your skin. When you take care of your body, you feel better! The soaps + lotions from the Lollia line have always been some of my favorites – and the packaging is so beautiful! Their skin softening products are the perfect addition to your bathroom.   [Lavender + Honey Soap |  Peony + Lily Soap |  Lavender + Honey Lotion]

Photo courtesy of OliviaRink.com

Photo courtesy of OliviaRink.com

Photo courtesy of OliviaRink.com

Photo courtesy of OliviaRink.com

5. A fresh mani/pedi can save the day. Sometimes, all it takes is a fresh set of nails to make you feel like you have it all together. Pick a fun new color — it’s an easy mood booster.

Faves: Shorts Story | Alpine Snow | Miami Beet | Big Apple Red

Photo courtesy of OliviaRink.com

Photo courtesy of OliviaRink.com

Photo courtesy of OliviaRink.com

Photo courtesy of OliviaRink.com

6. Read a good book. Reading is a great way to take your mind off your worries and focus on something else. I love reading through design books with beautiful pictures to spark creativity.   [Domino Book]

Photo courtesy of OliviaRink.com

Photo courtesy of OliviaRink.com

7. Splurge on some good products. Sometimes it just feels good to splurge on some good products you know will benefit you. I like to switch up what I use for my body & hair pretty often to test new things out and lately I’ve been using this Aveda Shampoo and Conditioner – smells delicious, gentle on your hair, and leaves it silky and shiny.

8. Make a relaxing playlist. Fill it up with whatever makes you soul happy!

9. Put on your comfiest pajamas (or bath robe) and slippers and wear them all day.

10. Have a glass of wine (or 3)

11. Sleep in. There aren’t many things better for your mind or body than some good zzz’s!

12. Buy a couple bouquets from Costco and arrange them somewhere in your home where you can see them all week – flower power is a real thing people.

Photo courtesy of OliviaRink.com

Photo courtesy of OliviaRink.com

Meagan Gilbert Photography

Hope this gave you some inspiration to remember treat yourself every now and then — it’s the best kind of therapy out there! Thanks for reading you guys, your support and kind words mean more than you know!

Happy Hostess Gift Ideas for Weekend Getaways

With the spring season officially (almost) here, we are filling up our calendar with mini weekend trips to take advantage of the sunshine and our surroundings. We love the spring because you can virtually travel anywhere and the weather will be nice.

Whether planning a trip to your friend’s Lake House or headed to the mountains for a ski weekend, we put together some of our favorite hostess gifts to express your gratitude. We agree with Emily Post’s etiquette guide for a weekend visit: If you are staying overnight, you should bring (or send) a gift to thank them for their hospitality — it will be much appreciated. We are so excited to share our lake collection, mountain collection, porch collection and beach collection!

We know hostess gifts can add up too throughout the year, so just remember, they don’t need to expensive. We believe the most special hostess gifts are creative, relevant and personalized.  Here are a few more of our favorite personalized ideas from our Monogram Gift Shop.

And just for daydreaming sake, we love the latest spring travel guide Vogue posted. From Sri Lanka to New Zealand — the guide will make you wanderlust…Memphis and Jackson Hole may just make our list though!

Let us know where you are traveling this spring!

A Toast To You

As spring approaches, we look forward to all the occasions and celebrations the season brings. We are ready to shed our winter layers, get outside in the sunshine…and think about both the planned and impromptu parties ahead. 

With the onset of spring comes our first catalog of the year introducing our entire new gift and entertaining collections. In addition to these launches, we are also celebrating Swoozie’s Birthday — and this year we are turning 15!

Celebrating 15 fabulous years of being Swoozie’s marks such a significant milestone — a milestone that prompted us to find this year’s inspiration from our most popular collections of the past. More importantly though, it is milestone that makes us reflect on our loyal customers, YOU! We are incredibly thankful to have been part of so many significant life moments with you.  

From birthdays to baby showers to graduations and engagement celebrations, we hope this catalog provides you with ideas and inspiration to give the perfect gift and host the most fabulous party this spring. We also made sure to include plenty of personalization options in all of the new collections — whether you add a monogram to some drinkware for your girlfriends or customize a complete collection of entertaining essentials as a hostess gift — we know adding your personal touch is important.

And last but not least, our Annual Spring Catalog also marks our Birthday Sale — 20% off everything — our gift to you to say thank you. Thank you for allowing us to be part of so many of your celebrations and occasions. Whether you are shopping in our stores across the country or online, we look forward to hearing your feedback and making your Swoozie’s experience just as special as the gift you are giving.

“Always Carry A Little Bag of Confetti, Just In Case.”

— The Swoo Crew

3 Classic Cocktail Recipes Every Cocktail Lover Should Know

’Tis the season of the cocktail party. We absolutely love cocktail parties (well, pretty much any party really), but let’s face it, a cocktail party wouldn’t be much of a party without — you guessed it — COCKTAILS. That’s why, with New Year’s right around the corner, we took inspiration from fellow Atlantan and cocktail adventurer James Martin and made it our mission to find, taste and curate some of our best cocktails of the year.

This year, we are all about taking it back to the classics — simple, elegant and just plain delicious drinks. (We apparently arent the only ones. Just take a peak at the top searched cocktails in 2015.)

To complete our cocktail quest, we traveled to one of our favorite Atlanta hotspots, JCT. Kitchen & Bar. We are seasoned fans of this West Midtown institution —  take effortless elegance and welcoming southern charm and pair them with imaginative flavors and craft cocktails, and you have JCT. 


One of the most special features of JCT is the rooftop bar, where we were able to hang out with one of our favorite bartenders/mixology master, Will Crossman. We challenged him to craft us some of his classic favorites and he did not disappoint. Swoo tested and Swoo approved, we’ve included our top 3 recipes every cocktail lover should know.

French 75

2 oz gin

1/2 oz lemon juice

1 tsp of sugar or simple syrup

crushed ice

5 oz of brut champagne (approx.)

lemon peel

Combine the gin, lemon juice, sugar and crushed ice into a cocktail shaker and shake well. Strain cocktail into champagne flute or coupe and top off with champagne. Garnish with a lemon peel.

Bartender tip: This cocktail is best when served ice cold, so chill your cocktail shaker and glass beforehand and make sure your champagne is perfectly chilled. 

Old Fashioned

2 tsp simple syrup

1 tsp water

2 dashes of bitters

1 cup ice

1.5 oz bourbon whiskey

orange peel

maraschino cherry

Combine the simple syrup, water and bitters into a rocks glass and stir well. Add ice to the glass and top with bourbon. Garnish with an orange peel and a maraschino cherry.

Wild for whiskey? Check out these top recipes that will keep you sipping well into the new year.

New Orleans Sazerac

1 sugar cube

3 dashes of Peychaud's Bitters

1.5 oz bourbon whiskey

.25 oz Herbsaint (Absinthe)

1.5 oz bourbon whiskey

lemon peel

In a rocks glass, add the sugar cube and 3 dashes of Peychaud's Bitters. Crush the sugar cube well and add whiskey. In a separate glass, coat the glass with Herbsaint and discard and excess. Strain the whiskey/bitters/sugar mixture from the second glass into the first glass and garnish with lemon peel.

Mark your calendars: The anticpated documentary The New Orleans Sazerac following the lifeline of the Sazerac will be released in 2016. Its on our Swoozies Must-See List!

Here at the Swoo, we are very excited to toast the new year. To our loyal friends and followers, we say cheers to 2016 and many more to come!

Cookies & Cocktails = The Sweetest Party of the Year!

Of all the holiday parties on the calendar this December, we have to say “Cookies and Cocktails” is one of our new faves. We love the idea of taking the traditional cookie exchange and glamming it up. With sweet treats, a little libation and a lot of celebration, we just can’t help ourselves — particularly at this time of year. Gather your girls, fire up the ovens and ready the glassware because this is one sweet party your friends won't want to miss.

Whether you are a cookie exchange pro or looking to start a new tradition, we've compiled a few tips to keep planning and prep easy.

Mail the Invitations:

Don't let your holiday invitation get lost in an email junk folder. Help your party stand out from the rest with a colorful printed invitation. We love the excitement of receiving invitations by mail and your guests will appreciate the gesture.

Find the Perfect Cookie Recipe:

We're loving the recipes in our new book, Cookies & Cocktails: Recipes for Good Times (seriously, we want to try them all), but we've also included a link to some of our favorite resources to up your holiday cookie game.

Festive Christmas Cookie Recipes

Holiday Cookie Calendar

Favorite Christmas Cookies

Choose Your Signature Cocktail:

No Cookies and Cocktail party would be complete without signature cocktail. We personally love setting up our famous Swoozie's Bubbly Bar — complete with pink champagne and fresh fruit. If bubbles aren't your thing, check out Yummly for curated recipes that will be perfect for your group or browse some of our favorite holiday cocktail lists below.

14 Delicious Winter Cocktails

15 Festive Holiday Cocktails from Famous Bars Around the U.S.

Hostess tip: if making a large batch of a cocktail or punch, do not add the alcohol or carbonation until right before the guests arrive. You might even consider making multiple batches throughout the night. This will keep the drinks fresh and keep your party from falling flat.

Ready Your Decorating Station:

Take your cookie exchange up a notch with a glam cookie decorating station. Make your dough ahead of time (we are obsessed with this simple sugar cookie recipe) and sit out at room temperature. Pre-mix icings in vibrant colors — pink, orange and turquoise are always crowd pleasers — and set out sprinkles, edible glitter and sanding sugar.

Hostess tip: Offer a prize — like our Grandma's Goodies Dishtowel and Spatula set — for the best decorated cookie of the night. Your guests will love to showcase their creativity!

Set the Table:

While the sweets and treats will play the star of this party, it is also important to create a fun backdrop to really make them pop. Clear a table or countertop and lay down a table cloth or table runner so guests know where to set their creations. We suggest our Black Stripe Table Runner which will give the party an elegant feel and contrast nicely behind the colorful cookie designs. Set out holiday-inspired platters or cake stands out to create a “scene” for the cookies.

Hostess tip: Don't forget to provide placecards so every guest can showcase the name of their special treat. We suggest our Gold Glitter Scalloped Placecards to make everyone's dish sparkle.

Create a Playlist:

A pre-planned party playlist will help to keep the mood festive from beginning to end. There are so many great holiday playlists right now on Spotify (we love the Jazzy Christmas playlist) or Pandora (The Swingin' Christmas radio station had us in the spirit in no time) or create your own on your iPhone or computer.

Hostess tip: have your guests submit song requests with their RSVP and create a personalized lineup that is sure to excite.

Provide Recipe Cards: 

Place recipe cards around the room so guests can easily share their recipes. Our printable recipe cards are easy to print and serve as a great conversation starters too! 

Time to Sip and sample!

Now is the time to sit back and enjoy a night with your friends. Sip, sample, and above all, savor the moments this holiday season

Are you attending a cookie exchange or holiday party? Check out last week’s blog on some great hostess gift ideas!

— Swoo Crew


‘Tis the Season for Holiday Parties: Your Gift Guide

We all love looking at the December calendar and seeing the evenings fill up with fun places to go and festive things to do. Sometimes though...mid-week… thinking about what to do for that next party can get even the most holiday-spirited person feeling a bit overwhelmed.  

That’s why we put together this gift guide to help you navigate your holiday parties with ease. From the traditional ornament exchange to the festive ugly sweater party, we’ve got gift ideas for it all, so you can enjoy every party (and be the talk of it because you have the perfect gift!).

When it comes to hostess gift etiquette, we believe it is always important to offer a token of appreciation for every occasion, but sometimes it is hard to know what to bring. As Emily Post says “A gift for your host or hostess is a lovely way to thank them for their hospitality and is always appreciated.” There are so many ways to be creative and make personalized based on the occasion — without breaking the bank.

For The Holiday Cocktail Party

We love kate spade new york. Grab your hostess her favorite bottle of wine (that she can use at the party or later) and “wrap” with this Cheers Wine Tote that she’ll love to use again!

Dinner party

One of our all-time favorite gifts (and must-haves for anyone who likes to entertain) is the classic slate cheese board.  Add one of our favorite local chutneys from Holmsted Fines and some delicious cheese — we love a great brie or a mild blue for pop of color. Guests will enjoy all night and she’ll get to keep the board and use at all of her future celebrations.

White Elephant/Dirty Santa

Okay, we may be a bit bias but we would totally steal this gift if we were at a White Elephant party. Champs drink champs (and we like to consider ourselves champs of drinking champs). Pair these stemless flutes with an easy bottle of champagne and you’ll have the gift everyone wants to snag.

Another funny idea is our famous drinking buddies. Mitch and the gang are everyone’s favorite addition to the party.

For the Ugly Sweater Party

Attending an Ugly Sweater Party? Bring the hostess a bottle of wine and pair it with our ugly sweater bottle cover. She’ll love the wine and everyone else will love to see the wine dressed in theme, too!

Cookie SWAP

Cookie swaps are so fun at this time of year and a great way to catch up with girlfriends while getting sweet treats and new recipes. Bring the hostess a pretty serving plate with your cookies and a recipe card. This platter will make your cookies pop and she can keep the plate for the holiday season.

PS — check the blog next week for our new favorite way to host a cookie swap: Cookies and Cocktails. Yes please!

For the Ornament Exchange 

Another classic party (and excuse for girls to get together) is the Ornament Exchange. Bring a personalized ornament to make a thoughtful gift everyone will swoon over! 

Secret Santa

Oprah agrees, the canteen will make everyone happy {featured on Oprah's Favorite Things of 2015}. Whether you keep your water ice cold or your coffee warm (or your wine ready to pour), everyone loves the corkcicle canteen.

We hope these ideas and tips get you excited and stress-free for the holiday season ahead. 

— The Swoo Crew

Meet Maghon Taylor: The Creator and Creative of All She Wrote Notes

We have been thrilled to be able to bring Maghon Taylor, calligrapher and hand-lettering extraordinaire, to local Swoozie’s stores. All She Wrote Notes epitomizes what we believe in — the power of the hand-written letter and the joy it can bring to another person or special event. Maghon herself epitomizes so much of the Swoozie’s spirit, too — she appreciates the celebration in the everyday and genuinely wants to “spread happiness.”

Q: We know there are probably so many things that inspired you to turn your creative talent and passion into a business — are there any stand-out moments or things that made you “know” this was the path you wanted to take?

A: When I first launched my business, it was almost by accident. I didn’t have a grand plan or big hopes and dreams, but it didn’t take long for me to just know that this is what I was created to do. The more it grew, I realized that I was given a platform to spread happiness and that is what drives me every day. About three days before I turned in my notice to my full-time job, I had a dream about my Nana who had been a very talented local artist. She passed away when I was in the fifth grade, and I never got to learn from her, but in my dream I was teaching her calligraphy and we were working together. I get teary eyed just typing this, but it was at that moment that I knew without a doubt that I was headed in the right direction and she’s up there cheering me on! 

Q: Have you always loved calligraphy and hand-lettering? We know you teach (and are an incredible teacher) but do you still find yourself having to “study” the craft? What do you do?

A: YES! I have been lettering as far back as I can remember! My sweet southern Mama actually spelled my name Maghon (pronounced May-Gun) because it looked prettier to write, so I think I was destined to be a calligrapher. I remember back in middle school priding myself on my handwriting and making cute "good luck" signs for all my friends.  In college I began to hand letter chalk boards for money (and coffee), and finally after college I took my very first official calligraphy course.  I actually took a very formal course and it didn’t feel like me. I love pink and glitter and confetti and I wanted my style to feel like my personality on the page. I actually made up whimsical lettering that All She Wrote Notes is known for, and I am a big fan of making your own set of rules instead of following somebody else’s. 

I am an education junkie so I’m always taking classes to learn different art forms.  I’ve taken a dozen calligraphy classes taught by various teachers around the world, and most recently signed up for a brush calligraphy course online. I also love reading books on calligraphy, chalk art and any type of handlettering. I practice often and can drastically see the difference in my handwriting from when I first started. In fact, I often show my students my first set of note cards to show them they are already better than me! I encourage my students to practice each letter individually, such as an entire page filled with the letter S, before branching into words and phrases.

Q: When did you start your calligraphy studio? What is your favorite part about teaching other people?

A: I officially opened All She Wrote Notes in August of 2013.  I was running late to book club and made a set of note cards as a hostess gift! (Sadly, I don’t live super close to Swoozies!) The other girls there wanted to buy a set, and they couldn’t believe that I actually wrote the sayings. I went home that night and from my bed, on my iPhone 4, I listed my first item (a set of Southern Sayings Note Cards) online.  By that weekend, a lady from New Orleans had made a purchase, and we are still celebrating that sale every day! 

I started teaching in 2014 and have loved every second of it from the very beginning! When I first started, I would actually teach in people’s homes (like a Mary Kay party) where they would invite their friends, I would show up with my bucket of supplies and teach all of them calligraphy. Once the local stores and shops caught on, I have been teaching every week all over North Carolina and have had the joy of sharing my favorite skill with more than 1,000 students. My favorite part about teaching other people is encouraging them to spread happiness through their handwriting. When you are making something for somebody with joy or love, your lettering doesn’t have to be perfect. Your heart behind it will shine, no matter what.  So often people save calligraphy for a special occasion like they do their wedding china, I believe that LIFE is a special occasion, and you can write something pretty every day. 

Q: What are some of your favorite parts of being a business owner? Least favorite/ struggles?

A: I LOVE owning my own business. When I first started All She WroteNotes, I actually worked full time for my alma mater, UNC. I would come home from work and fill calligraphy orders from about 6 p.m. until midnight. I would wake up and run everything to the post office and then go to work and start it all over again. I am so grateful that after two years of juggling both, I now run my business full time.  

My favorite part of being a business owner is actually feeling like I get to celebrate with people every day. Whether it is a special occasion, a new baby or a note of encouragement between friends, my customers let me be a small part of their life’s little moments and I couldn’t love that more. 

My least favorite part is absolutely shipping! I put so much care into making an item and packing it up cute (with confetti), but once it leaves your hands, you’re no longer in control! Nothing makes me crazier than tracking a package that is due to arrive before a big event! I’ve been known to have a dance party when I finally get a delivery notification. 

Q: Advice to people is a tough one — but based on your experience — what is something you’d want to share with all the women looking to make this art part of their life?

A: I would say just to put your work out there! We all started our instagram accounts with one follower, and sometimes it can feel like nobody is listening. But if you continue to share your work and stay consistent, people will take notice. Some of your first customers will be your (and your mom’s) Facebook friends, but they will never know you’re in business if you don’t tell them.

Some of the best business advice that I ever received was from my friend Caroline Birgmann of Posh PRShe told me, “If you are true to yourself, you have no competition in the world.”  Don’t be a copy of someone else.  You are the best you around, so just be you. If you are truly authentic in the way that you present yourself, your business, and your original work, then you are already ahead of the game. 

PS — We still have a few spots in our All She Wrote Atlanta events! Maghon will be at Swoozie's Buckhead 12/7 from 5:00–6:30 and Swoozie's Norcross 12/8 from 12:00-1:30! RSVP to swoocrew@swoozies.com limited spots available!

Getting Ready for Hanukkah

We can’t believe Hanukkah starts at sundown this Sunday night!  The festival of lights is such a fun time of year — a time of year for family and traditions. Create a festive holiday table with Hanukkah serving pieces and napkins.

Photo Courtesy of Amy's Party Ideas

Photo Courtesy of Amy's Party Ideas

We love the idea of making the table setting colorful, too, with these colored candles in a menorah.

Photo courtesy of Amy's Party Ideas

Photo courtesy of Amy's Party Ideas

Setting a kids table? Think about adding some colorful tassels

Photo courtesy of Amy's Party Ideas

Photo courtesy of Amy's Party Ideas

One of our favorite recipes is this one from Jesse Lane Wellness for (Gluten Free) Latkes.

Photo courtesy of Amy's Party Ideas

Photo courtesy of Amy's Party Ideas

Whatever your family traditions are, we wish you a very happy Hanukkah and hope all eight nights sparkle.

Looking for more Hanukkah entertaining and DIY inspiration? Check out our Hanukkah Pinterest board

How a Busy Mom (and Creative Director) Gets Through the Holiday Season

We love Emily Ley from her truly contagious smile to sunny disposition to her overall outlook on life {that inspires women of all ages} — she exudes the brand she has created for herself. Her brand story is a joy to read and she is just as much a joy to work with professionally and personally.

We got the opportunity to ask Emily a few questions about “How a Busy Mom (and Creative Director) Makes it Through the Holiday Season.” With so many balls to juggle between her family and business, we knew Emily’s take on it all would not only be a good reminder for us but you as well.

Happy reading and let us know if you have more questions!

{perfect timing for the craziness of Black Friday/Cyber Monday Weekend}

PHOTO COURTESY OF LAURA FOOTE PHOTOGRAPHY

PHOTO COURTESY OF LAURA FOOTE PHOTOGRAPHY

1. When do you “kick off” the holiday season in your house? Like really start the decorating, holiday music, and get excited? Pre-Thanksgiving day after?

Oh, we’re a pre-Thanksgiving family. Growing up, Christmas was part of Thanksgiving. It wasn’t actually Thanksgiving unless the Christmas tree was up in the living room. And I LOVE (!) Christmas, so it’s really the most wonderful time of the year here. When we decorate the Christmas tree we make an evening of it with hot cocoa (never mind that it’s 80 degrees here in Florida), Nat King Cole on Spotify and involve the whole family. Decorating can be so daunting because there’s so much to be done, but when we make a fun tradition out of it, it’s less of a chore and more of a memorable experience.

2. You are synonymous with Joy + Simplicity and evoke Grace not Perfection. During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, do you have any helpful reminders to share of how you keep this “mantra” front of mind?

It’s REALLY easy to get stressed out during the holidays—I know this from first hand experience. So for me, I have to make a plan. In early November, Bryan and I talk through the memories we want to make and the fun things we want to do with the kids. For example: visit Santa at the mall, decorate a gingerbread house together and make an Operation Christmas Child shoebox. Then, we actually schedule them on our calendars so that we’re sure they’ll happen. This way, we don’t let the busy-ness of the season takeover.

3. We are all guilty of it, creating these long to-do lists, packing our schedule with holiday parties .. and then sometimes feeling bad if we don’t get it all done. When you have those moments of feeling over-whelmed by the “to-do” list, what is the first thing you do?

Give up. Seriously, sometimes you just have the let the mess win. And you know what’s funny, I feel like my most “real” self when I just sit among the craziness and enjoy the circus of it all. Do all the holiday parties and shopping lists REALLY matter? No. At the end of the day, you’ll be glad you enjoyed each other even if the laundry wasn’t finished and a Christmas party was missed.

4. Are you an online shopper or “old school” and shop at retail stores? Any favorites?

I do a little of both. I shop online on Cyber Monday and in a few local brick and mortar stores too (for those hard-to-find, unique items). I love Amazon Prime and I’m a big fan of Waiting on MarthaSwoozie’s (of course) and Anthroplogie for gifts. I try to make a list and stick to it.

5. While we totally wish we were the type people that had all our holiday gifts purchased weeks in advance, all wrapped and ready-to-give…more often than not, we don’t have it all done. Are you the type that has it all done?

Sort of. I was the girl in college that wrote the term paper at the beginning of the semester because I didn’t want to stress out about it at the end (is it any surprise that I designed a planner?) So, I shop really early. But wrapping is a gradual thing. And I’m inevitably wrapping on Christmas Eve. Last year, I convinced Bryan to help me wrap gifts with glitter paper. That went over really well. Our entire kitchen was COVERED in glitter for weeks!

6. Any go-to gift on your list this season for your besties? Colleagues? Hubby? Kids?

YES! I’m gifting a few of our new Dapperdesk planners to the men in my life. And I love these cute pineapple trinket trays for Brady’s teachers (with Starbucks gift cards).

7. We have to ask if anything on your list? Just one thing you really want this holiday?

Sleep. Kidding. Sort of. :) I have my eye on these shoes from JCrew and this gold flatware from West Elm

8. What do you get most excited about during the holiday season? What are your favorite family traditions?

Honestly, I just love the magic in it for my kiddos. I love seeing Brady light up visiting Santa. I love watching him learn the importance of giving and what Christmas is all about. I can’t wait to watch the twins see Christmas lights for the first time. And I can’t wait for my family to be all together for Christmas Eve. I would say my favorite tradition is on Christmas Eve. We have a “snack” dinner where everyone makes their favorite appetizer. Then we sit around, right before the kids go to bed, and pass around an old version of the Night Before Christmas. Every person reads a page. Inevitably someone will change the words and make it really funny. It’s something we’ve done since I was a little girl. :) 

Emily’s Favorite Gifts from Swoozie’s for the Holidays

1. Personalized Gold Rimmed Wine Glasses

2. Personalized Napkins (great for impromptu get togethers)

3. Personalized Bamboo Cutting Board

4. Chewbeads

5. ALL the jelly cats!

Friendsgiving Decor Inspiration

We are so excited to have our blogger friend, Olivia Rink, share her tips and inspiration on a Friendsgiving get together. We just love how Olivia has thought of everything from the invitation to the table setting to the bar cart...and of course all of the personalized details! We hope this blog from Olivia inspires you to have your own #soswoo Friendsgiving dinner party this holiday season! Enjoy!

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my family, but sometimes it’s nice to switch things up by hosting a ‘Friends’giving feast to catch up, eat, drink, and reminisce with your BFF’s. And you know the best part of Friendsgiving? It’s an excuse to celebrate Thanksgiving twice in one month — before, or even after the actual holiday.

If you’ve been thinking about putting together a little Friendsgiving party this year, I’m partnering with Swoozie's to give you some inspiration for how to prepare your home/apartment for the festivities! You can use code OLIVIA20 on all Swoozies items until 11/25 at midnight!

The Invite — I love the convenience of e-mails and texts, but with my dad owning a printing company and my love for hand written letters, you just can’t beat traditional ink on paper. Plus, who doesn’t love getting things in the mail? Personalize your own invitations for your Friendsgiving (or any occasion).

Photo courtesy of Olivia Rink

Photo courtesy of Olivia Rink

Table Set Up — You can make your Friendsgiving set-up as formal or relaxed as you want. Set the table for a formal sit-down dinner, or if you don’t have a huge space, make it a little more cozy by serving dinner buffet style and have your quests gather around the coffee table on couches + mix matched chairs. If you have a small apartment don’t sweat it, sometimes small spaces make for the most intimate parties!

Photo courtesy of Olivia Rink

Photo courtesy of Olivia Rink

Photo courtesy of Olivia Rink

Photo courtesy of Olivia Rink

Photo courtesy of Olivia Rink

Photo courtesy of Olivia Rink

Photo courtesy of Olivia Rink

Photo courtesy of Olivia Rink

Thanksgiving decorations are typically pretty bold and bright, but I kept things neutral for a simple and elegant vibe. Copper, silver, and white pumpkins mixed in with taupe colored candles on top of a simple runner made for an easy centerpiece (that doesn’t interfere with cross-table convos).

It’s all in the details:

Metal Turkey Napkin Holders/Place Settings + these paper turkey name cards. (Tip: double up the napkins and add chargers underneath the plates to pull the decor together).

– A personalized cutting board to add your own favorite saying or your monodinner gram.

– Add some fresh flowers — roses are always my favorite!

Turkey Plate Holder (I used it as a bread holder).

Turkey Salt & Pepper Shakers

I couldn’t pass this 'Gather Often' lazy susan up, it’s perfect to put in the center of the table or to use as decor for your counter space. I pulled out one of my favorite coffee table books to dress up the counter.

The Bar Set-Up — I love the idea of greeting your guests with a signature cocktail when they arrive. Moscow Mules are a great drink for the season and the copper cups are so festive. Reserve a special corner of the party for a ‘bar area’ where your guests can mix their own drinks and have some appetizers.

What you need:

-A large mirrored tray as your ‘bar’ (found this one at Home Goods!)

-A cheese tray (like this personalized slate cheese board) with grapes, crackers, nuts, or other easy bar food.

Moscow Mule Copper Mugs

-Festive Napkins, like these.

-Spread small votives throughout the set-up to set the mood (I love how the candle light reflects off the mirrored tray).

Personalized Whiskey/Wine Decanter — looks nicer than bottles!

Happy Friendsgiving! All photography is credited to Lauren Alexandra Photography. Please visit Olivia Rink's blog for more inspiration and fashion tips!

5 Steps to Hosting the Merriest Party of the Season

It’s beginning to feel A LOT like the holidays around here — which has given us feelings of both excitement and OMG. The excitement is the next 6 weeks and getting together with friends and family at the many different holiday parties that start to fill up the calendar. The OMG is making sure we are ready for all those holiday parties.

To avoid those OMG moments, where-has-the day-gone type feelings, we have compiled a few of our favorite entertaining essentials to host the merriest party of the season.

Photos courtesy of Amy's Party Ideas

Photos courtesy of Amy's Party Ideas

1. Keep festive, themed party essentials on hand so you are ready for any last minute holiday get-together. Stemless wine glasses or our new drink huggers are great for easy-entertaining and double as favors for all your guests, too!

2. We think these paper plates, napkins and cups are a must-have — between the gold-foil accents and subtle shape elements — whether you are hosting a holiday happy hour or baking party, everyone will want a snap with these in the background.

3. Deck your halls (or living room) with the most festive décor with these pinwheelsgarland and tassels.

Really Big Pinwheels — $24.95 set of 4

Really Big Pinwheels — $24.95 set of 4

4. Setting the table with these beautifully embellished place cards will make every guest feel extra special (and probably want to have as a keepsake).  Leave a party cracker as the favor (each cracker contains a hat, joke and gift or toy) and your guests will definitely leave with a smile on their face.

Photo courtesy of Amy's Party Ideas

Photo courtesy of Amy's Party Ideas

 5. Last, but certainly not least, is making sure you have the drinkware and accessories to have the best bar cart on the block. People LOVE this bell. #MoreMerryPlease

Want more inspiration? Check out our Pinterest boards here.