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3 Last-Minute DIY Holiday Gifts


Gifts under tree
Photo Credit

Maybe your gift fell through because of shipping delays. Or maybe you couldn’t find it – that something unique for someone special. I know I’ve been in these situations a lot in the past years – often I just didn’t plan right for holiday gifting. I would run around the days before a gift exchange searching for something, but I knew I didn’t want my gift to scream “last-minute.”

In these situations, it’s so easy to reach for a gift card, but I always feel guilty at the lack of thought associated with these presents (even if the recipient really loves the retailer!). I also feel bad when my gift feels generic and could have been gifted to anyone. If you’re in a similar gift-giving rut, read on to see three “handmade” gifts I plan to give this holiday season.

Girl’s Night Mug



  • Holiday mug
  • Hot chocolate mix
  • Slippers
  • Nail polish
  • Coupon for girl’s night

So… I love holiday mugs. And I love experience gifts. I found a happy medium here by mixing a few smaller gifts that could be considered stocking stuffers and putting them into a cute, fun mug that reminded me of my friend Jess (she doesn’t read CF so I’m not spoiling her present!).

The experience part comes in because I turned her gift into something we could use together. I made her a coupon for a girl’s night since she loves to just hang out at home, and it’s redeemable at her discretion. And because I always feel bad when I only give someone a coupon, I decided to include some of the things we could use that night! Hot chocolate is a must, especially because it is our favorite drink. If you have a friend with a different favorite snack or drink, use that instead (tea bags or coffee beans would be great here).

I found these tiny nail polishes at Target and decided they would be perfect for at-home manis and pedis. While I was walking out of Target, I saw the green slippers embroidered with Santa and knew they would complete the package. The point of this gift is finding small things the recipient might enjoy and turning them into a thoughtful present that shows you want to spend time with them!

Homemade Cookies



  • Cookie dough and oven
  • Napkins
  • Mason jar
  • Milk
  • Gift box

All of my friends know I love to bake – I’m actually known for some delicious cookies. This gift is for one of my friends who always begs me to whip up something and stick it in the oven. I decided to keep it simple and make her a gift she could eat immediately! I actually have to give this gift to someone tomorrow because she’s going out of town soon, which is why I already baked the cookies. Otherwise, I recommend baking them the day before you plan to give the gift. I added a cute mason jar full of milk so she can drink it with her cookies, then reuse the container.

If you’re not in a position to give something as time-sensitive as milk (it’ll go directly from my fridge to the car, and then into her mouth or fridge), you could always add candies or even hot chocolate mix. I lined the inside of my gift box with napkins so that the crumbs wouldn’t go everywhere, and I’m also putting the rest of the cookies in a Ziploc for her. It’s hard to find a cute way to package two dozen cookies!

Gift Card Mug



  • Gift card
  • Pencils
  • Mug
  • Cotton balls

Yes, I went there. I was as boring as could be and bought my friend a Starbucks gift card. But chances are, you’ll have at least one person on your gift list who could really benefit from a gift card. This gift in particular is for a friend that goes to Starbucks multiple times a day, so in this case I don’t feel like the gift card is a cop-out.

If you do give a gift card and want to package it differently from the standard envelope, try the mug approach (yes, I love mugs). I obviously chose a Starbucks mug because it matches the theme, but you could also find a cute holiday mug (like in my first gift). I gathered about 10-15 cotton balls and gently pulled them apart to create a fluffy snow. Place some of this “snow” on the bottom of the mug to elevate the gift card, then surround it with the remaining fluff.

I also saw these holiday pencils while I was out shopping and decided to grab a few because they were really cheap. While not the most practical, fun novelties like these are sometimes the best and add something special to an otherwise ordinary mug. You could also find little figurines, notepads, or even just throw some chocolate candies on top.

What are your last-minute gift ideas?

Do you have all your gifts ready? If not, are you planning to make or buy something? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

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Glow on the Go: How to Look Fresh-Faced After a Long Flight

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How to look refreshed after a long flight
Photo Credit: ELLE

‘Tis the season for holiday cheer, mugs of eggnog, silver bells, and, for those of us with family far away, long flights that can wreak havoc on even the most carefully maintained skincare and beauty routine. While Kate Middleton and those in the celebrity set might be able to disembark a plane looking fresh as a daisy, with nary a hair out of place, it’s not an easy feat to replicate for those of us without full-time stylists.

After five years of flying between California and New England, though, I’ve picked up a few tricks that help ensure that I’m not greeted at the baggage claim by my concerned mother repeatedly telling me how exhausted and sallow I look. (Thanks, Mom, it’s nice to see you too!)

Before the Flight

Take It Off

For those who wear makeup every day, it can be hard to put down the creams, powders, and liners. And here’s the good news, makeup junkies: if your flight is relatively short (<3 hours), go ahead and put on your makeup as usual. I won’t stop you. But if you’re in for anything longer than that, bare-faced is the way to go. Airplane air is extremely dry and will suck all the moisture out of your skin. Even if you’ve done an amazing job with your makeup, it’s likely that it’ll be a flaky, patchy mess by the end of the flight.

So, before you even step foot on that plane, remove your makeup completely and wash your face. While your skin is still slightly damp, pat on your most heavy duty moisturizer. I like to use a night cream because they’re usually thicker and I feel like they keep my skin feeling hydrated for a longer time.  Right before you get on the flight, you should also put on some moisturizer with SPF, since you’ll be extra-close to the sun!

Products: Oil Cleanser, Cream Cleanser, Moisturizer

While makeup wipes are convenient, especially for travel, I’m that girl who has to whip out the Ziploc bag full of tiny bottles at the TSA check. In this case, though, I’m a big advocate of going the extra mile and filling up mini travel containers with my most trusted products. I’ve recently started utilizing the Korean skincare technique of double cleansing: I first use an oil cleanser to remove my makeup, then I use a cream cleanser (paired with my trusty Clarisonic Mia 2) to wash it all away.

While putting oil straight on your face might seem like a recipe for disaster, the Skinfood cleanser seen above has done wonders for my dry skin. Oil cleansers contain emulsifiers that make them water soluble, so the oil comes off with a rinse of water. Since I started oil cleansing, my skin has gotten softer and more radiant. Plus, the cleanser doubles as a makeup remover – even my waterproof mascara comes right off!

Squeaky Clean

Shower before your flight. For your sake and for the sake of everyone sitting around you. Just do it.

This is also a good opportunity to slather on some lotion post-shower: that dry cabin air won’t just be affecting your face!

During the Flight

Ah, you’ve finally made it through the long security lines, your boarding group has been called, and you’ve settled into your scratchy seat and put the arm rests down. Time to sit back, put your tray table down (but not until you’ve reached an altitude of 10,000 feet), and do some serious perusal of the SkyMall catalog. But first, make sure you’ve got these essentials in reach!

In flight essentials
Products: Hair Ties, Eye Drops, Lip Salve, Granola Bars

Hair Ties: I have long, fine hair that easily goes flat and gets tangled into stubborn knots faster than you can say “Flynn Rider.” Leaving it down usually results in a limp, knotted, staticky mess. My solution? I put it up into a loose topknot with a couple soft hair ties.

Not only does that prevent the aforementioned hair disaster, it also gives me great volume and loose waves. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of removing that hair tie and tossing your head to unleash waves of goddess/Victoria’s Secret Angel hair tumbling around your shoulders. (This volume typically lasts for about ten minutes on me, but hey, it’s something!)

Lip Balm: You may have noticed a recurring theme of “Moisturize Me!” This is correct. Apply lip balm and hand cream liberally throughout the flight, and you will avoid the fate of looking like Cassandra the b****y trampoline.

Healthy Snack: Okay, so I’m not really qualified to be lecturing anyone on the quality of their air travel snacks, because during my last layover at O’Hare airport, I consumed, in the space of two hours: two Chicago-style hot dogs, one Auntie Anne’s Pretzel Dog, and one McDonald’s hamburger Happy Meal. That being said, you will be much happier and much less bloated than I was if you go for a snack with considerably less sodium and considerably more fiber. Granola bars are a go-to since they’re so easy to stow in your bag.

Eye Drops: I wear hard contact lenses and my eyes are always dry, even when I’m on land. Tired eyes = tired face, so help keep your eyeballs happy with some lubricating eyedrops.

Eyeglass/Contact Lens Case, Water Bottle 

For my fellow contact lens-wearers, invest in a dual eyeglass/lens case holder like this one. My optometrist gave me a similar one years ago; I love that I only have to blindly grope around my bag for one case instead of two! I typically remove my contacts during the flight to give my eyes a chance to rest.

If you’re not feeling the beverage cart choices, pack an empty refillable water bottle that you can take through the security checkpoint. It’s important to stay hydrated! (And while it may seem tempting, avoid alcoholic beverages before and during the flight, as they’ll just further dehydrate you. Yes, even if the toddler behind you won’t stop kicking the back of your seat.)


If you have a layover, go ahead and reapply that moisturizer you slathered on pre-flight. If you’re on an international flight, go check out the duty free store and generously sample the super-luxurious, super-pricey moisturizers they have there. When else am I ever going to actually use La Mer face cream?

After the Flight

The pilot’s just made a perfect landing and you’ve been given the all-clear to use your cell phone. If you’re going straight home from the airport, feel free to skip this next part. But say you’ve got a packed itinerary and your mom has informed you that you’re headed to a family reunion immediately after you land. For a fresh-faced glow, duck into the closest bathroom, wash your face, let down your hair, and then whip out these products.

Product Information: Concealer, BB Cream, Blush, Highlighter, Mist, Curler

BB Cream: Apply your favorite tinted moisturizer or BB cream for lightweight, even coverage. Even if you’ve followed all of the aforementioned steps, your skin will probably still be somewhat worse for wear after the flight, so avoid heavy foundations and powder.

Brightening Concealer: Counteract dark circles and any blemishes with a luminous concealer.

Cream Blush: Even if your skin is glowing, you’ll want to inject some color into your face to avoid looking washed out and tired. I like multi-use products, like Stila’s Convertible Color, which you can use on both your cheeks and lips. Since it’s a cream, you can apply it with your fingers instead of having to haul out your makeup brushes.

Those three products are all you really need for a healthy glow, but if you want a little more oomph, add these to your makeup bag:

Highlighter Stick: Ain’t nobody got the time for extreme contouring in the airport bathroom, but highlighting is super easy and quick. Run an illuminating product down the bridge of your nose, around the inside corner and under your eyes, and across the apples of your cheeks, then blend, blend, blend!

Hydrating Mist: If you were on a shorter flight and wore makeup for the trip, a spritz of hydrating mist will help to refresh your makeup. Hint: You know where you can find this Clinique spray? (Answer: at the duty-free store!)

Eyelash Curler + Eyeliner: Nothing opens your eyes up more than well-curled lashes! For an extra brightening effect, lightly line your top lid with a navy blue eyeliner to help bring out the white of your eyes.

What did you think?

Does your skin suffer on planes? What are your best tips for looking refreshed after long flights? Let us know in the comments!

Filed Under: Beauty & Hair / Tags: , , , , ,

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Looks on Campus: Michelle – Virginia Commonwealth University


It’s finally the end of the semester. After suffering through brutal finals and stressful dance juries (a.k.a. dance finals), I can relax at last. The dance department at VCU had an awesome end of the semester party full of funny skits, dances, free t-shirts, and cookies! We also got the opportunity to wear “real” clothes, which meant we got to see each other’s personal styles.

As always, Michelle had an amazingly crazy outfit and I knew I had to snap a few pics. Her outfit is a shining example of Richmond’s/VCU art’s eclectic style.

Michelle 101

Virginia Commonwealth University student street fashion

Name: Michelle

Major: Dance and Choreography/Pre-Physical Therapy

Year: Junior

University: Virginia Commonwealth University

Let’s Talk Fashion

Who or what inspires your style? “Everyone’s clothing style inspires me, whether they’re my friends, people I see walking down the street, or even celebrities on TV. If I see something on someone else that I think would look good on me I keep that in mind the next time I go shopping. Sometimes I just see something in the store and make a spur-of-the-moment purchase. Then pray I can pull it off.”

Where do you like to shop? Target is one of my all-time favorite places to shop. I also love PacSun, Tilly’s, Hot Topic, Zumiez, Charlotte Russe, and sometimes Forever 21.”

How would you describe your sense of style? “Well, my style is very eclectic. I don’t think I can pinpoint any specific way I dress. I wear what I feel comfortable and confident in. I do like color, so I guess my style could be described as colorful and vibrant.”

Why did you choose this particular outfit? “I chose this particular outfit because it’s kind of out there and not something many people would traditionally want to wear. It has multiple colors and themes, but I figured out a way to make them all work together in my own way.”

What fashion advice would you give to other students looking to improve their style? “My advice to other students would be to take note of all the different outfits people wear, and gather ideas, then take what you like and personalize it; make it your own. Just make sure you wear something you feel comfortable in. And remember fashion is a form of expression, so express yourself.”

What are your favorite trends right now? “I don’t really know if I have any favorite trends because I am usually the last person to realize a trend has been started, but I do like combat boots, colorful scarves, and all types of hats… if those are even considered trends.”

Do you have any favorite fashion designers? If so, who? “I don’t have any favorite fashion designers. If I see something I like then I buy it if I have money, but I don’t seek out specific designers.”

What do you do for fun – do you have any unique hobbies or interests? “For fun I love going to professional soccer games. I am a huge fan of the U.S and Canadian Women’s National soccer teams! The sport is so beautiful to watch with all of the intricate plays and precise passing. All of the players inspire me because they hold nothing back and leave it all on the field.”

If you could raid anyone’s closet, who would it be and why? “I would raid the closets of Sarah and Cosima from the show Orphan Black for normal everyday wear. I just love their unique styles! I would raid Carrie Underwood’s closet for formal wear, because everything she wears is literally stunning. Her designer[s] know exactly what they’re doing.”

Elements of Michelle’s Outfit

1.Studded Wedge Sneakers

College student wearing wedge sneakers

Michelle has a hip-hop sense of style and these sneakers showcase it. Wedge sneakers are popular, but this silver-and-black pair speaks to her own personal taste. The pyramid studs have a grungy vibe, which works perfectly with the rest of her outfit.

2. Superhero Graphic Sweater

Marvel tee and camo jacket

All of Michelle’s sweaters are pretty awesome. In fact, they’re so awesome that I would love to raid her sweater drawer! This graphic sweater is bright and rambunctious, just like her personality. It pairs well with her cool hat, plus the red plays off the camo and black accents found throughout her look.

3. Two-Toned Leggings

College style trend printed leggings

This look is one of a kind and let’s face it: it is super-hard to pull off. Michelle somehow does it with funkiness and grace. With one side of her leggings matching her vest and the other a solid black, she definitely works the heck out of this eclectic ensemble.

What do you think of Michelle’s street style?

Do you dig her grunge look and studded kicks? Would you wear her outfit? Do you ever wear camo? Comment below and let us know what you think!

Filed Under: Looks on Campus / Tags: , , , , ,