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The Link Up: Em’s Favorite List Of “Clutter-Free” Gift Ideas, Caitlin’s All-Time Favorite Travel Backpack, And A Candle Scent We Love

For those in the US who celebrated, we hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by people you love (or at least like:)). And now that it’s been a few days since, we also hope that your kitchens have recovered. Also, we really want to know in the comments how decorated your home is for Christmas if you celebrate. Is it a full-on winter wonderland or are you still needing a minute before thinking about a tree?? Both are valid!! Also if you are interested in our Black Friday Sale post (that will be updated for Cyber Monday) check it out here! Ok, link time…

This week’s house tour (via Cup of Jo) is a happy visual break from the browns and rusts that consume this time of the year. However, not only is it a joyous celebration of color and pattern, it’s full of awesome finds from a local “Buy Nothing” group on Facebook. You have to see what renter, Marcelline Balfour, created for her and her two daughters:) Enjoy!

via @becomingminimalists

From Em: This time of year we recommend lots of “things”. I honestly have a hard time with it because I know at least for me I’m trying to buy and have less stuff. However, we know how helpful our guides are to you all so we try to do it as responsibly as possible (i.e. recommending things we actually own, have seen in person, are from shops we trust, etc.) But I love the idea of gifting an experience, service, or something consumable. Hence when I saw this graphic on @becomingminimalists‘ Instagram I immediately reshared on my stories. There are clearly so many great ideas that I wanted to share here too! So if buying stuff isn’t what you want to do this year I hope this helps. I know my team loves Groupon. It’s a great place to start if you’re feeling stumped to find something local and will also give you a great deal:)

me while traveling THIS PAST TUESDAY

From Caitlin: I know I’ve recommended it before, but it’s gift-giving season and I cannot sing the praises of my Aer travel backpack enough!!! I bought it in 2018, have road-tested it on hundreds of flights, and it still looks and feels brand new. (I mean – look at it! So clean! How?!) It fits a ton, I’ve backpacked (in winter!) through Europe with it as my only bag, and it’d just be a GREAT present for the frequent flyer (or road-tripper) in your life. I’m currently on a fun little overseas trip hitting up a few cities and lemme tell you – this is a true Mary Poppins bag that makes traveling so much easier 🙂 (I also welcome recommendations for Passau, Linz, Vienna, Graz, Bratislava, or Budapest if you have them!!!)

From Ryann: My husband would like to tell you all about his slacks that go with everything. In his words “they can be dressed up or down–although I always wear them dressed up with GH Bass Weejuns. The inseam is shorter so they will show a little bit of the ankle and the taper is unmatched. They are a slim fit and the waistband is elastic and has a string tie so you don’t need to wear a belt with them.” And there you have it! I will say these from a woman’s perspective, these pants do look incredible and they look more expensive than they are.

From Albie: Okay, while I’m on this gardening kick…I would be remiss if I didn’t tell yall about my new favorite garden-related Etsy shop from @See.Val. Create. I started following Val on IG earlier this year and had the pleasure of actually meeting her at The Meridian Experience. I was super geeked when she launched her shop a few weeks ago — one, because I’m always on board with someone chasing their big ideas; and two, because it meant I could support her while also getting some goodies for my garden. I’ve already gotten some veggie stakes & herb stakes from her, and plan to order some fruits + some custom ones. She also created a few other items & I’m looking forward to seeing this part of her business grow and flourish. 

From Jess: I can’t remember how I came across her (typical), but I found an artist on Instagram, Adèle Beaumais, that makes plates I’m completely in love with. I would LOVE to have some hanging in my kitchen. What a dream.

Also From Jess: Likely because it was how I was raised, and the fact that I don’t have kids, but I am very adamant about not decorating until after Thanksgiving. Buuuut I was at Target last week and bought two boxes of this wooden bead garland for when I do decorate maybe this weekend. I’ve seen it in the light wood tone before but since I’m leaning into deeper browns in my home, I love that it also comes in a walnut color. Very excited to hang it up:)

Also Also From Jess: Naturally I also picked up a Target candle. I loved this one because it’s super woodsy but not “holiday” if that makes sense. Plus it’s pretty! It’s the same style as the one Em used on a shoot a month or so ago.

From Mallory: I gotta give it up for my favorite workout class that I recently go into…Rumble boxing!! They have a billion locations and it is SO much fun. It’s definitely the “soul cycle” of boxing (lots of lights, the teacher wears a headset microphone, bumpin music). If you like to SWEAT, this will get you there. I leave feeling crazy good every time and it’s how I’m planning to stay feeling healthy through the crazy holiday season.

That’s it for us today. Have a wonderful week. See you tomorrow! xx

Opening Image Credits: Design by Corbett Tuck | Styled by Velinda Hellen, Erik Kenneth Staalberg, Emily Edith Bowser, and Julie Rose | Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

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Emily
2 months ago

I don’t have suggestions for Caitlin, but would love to see a trip post from her when she’s back from her travels. Sounds like a blast!

Cris S.
2 months ago
Reply to  Emily

I’d love to read a wrap up / see pictures also! My only recommendation is to eat ALL the things. Go crazy with those food carts in all those cities! And have a wonderful time.

2 months ago
Reply to  Emily

I’d love that too! Going to Europe for a wedding next year and can’t decide which city to stop in.
Best house tour ever – I love how personal, warm and fun secondhand style is!
Great list, Emily! My husband made me experience coupons with matching haikus one year and they were the sweetest, best present ever. A peek and some tips for a sustainable holiday season linked in my name 🙂

Irene
2 months ago

Wonderful clutter-free gift ideas! My favorites are under the “Time” and “Consumables” headings, but my absolute dream gift would be state park passes for my state and all the surrounding states. I appreciate that suggestion under “Memberships”. Thanks for the Etsy shop link, Albie. Its so nice that Val will make custom stakes for people who grow less-common garden plants. I like your walnut-colored garland, Jess. This will be the first year I’ve used garland to decorate. I already bought a 25′ gold beaded one from Target and plan to get another 25-footer made with fresh fir and cedar from a local farmers’ market next weekend. The one you featured would fit in well with them. Since you “really want to know in the comments how decorated your home is for Christmas”, I’ll tell you I put my big wooden Advent calendar (a very old Target product) on the mantel this morning since it’s the first Sunday in Advent; and will hang my front and back door wreaths (made with red metal jingle bells; bought long, long ago from one of K-Mart’s Martha Stewart holiday collections) today if it stops raining. That’s all for a few weeks, because we like… Read more »

Tracy Flanders
2 months ago
Reply to  Irene

So do we.

Roberta Davis
2 months ago

That apartment is amazing- how to pull so many colorful things together and make them look like they were meant for each other!

Roberta Davis
2 months ago

Also- I have in the past started decorating before Thanksgiving if we were going to be away for a lof of December, but this year I waited until after Thanksgiving- bought a tree and garland and some cyclamen for my outdoor ports yesterday. Will start decorating this week. I like to let Thanksgiving have its own time.

Sheila
2 months ago

The only “decorating” I have out so far is an Advent wreath since today is the first Sunday of Advent. Clearing the decks of any remaining fall items, I appreciate the calmness and simplicity of this single item and won’t do more decorating for a while. When I do, they’ll stay up until Epiphany so I’ll have plenty of time to enjoy it all!

Tracy Flanders
2 months ago
Reply to  Sheila

me too.

Stacey
2 months ago

Caitlin, if you’re going to Budapest I’d highly recommend taking the Children’s Railway up into the Buda Hills to the Elizabeth Lookout, then taking the chair lift back down. It was such a fun experience – the Children’s Railway is actually run mostly by kids, and the railway cars have little wood burning stoves in them to keep you warm while it goes up the hill. From the Elizabeth Lookout you can see all across Budapest, and if it’s clear out you can see to Slovakia. The chair lift down was magical – it descends through neighborhoods, so you silently glide past people’s houses while getting a view of the city the whole time. It was one of my favorite things I did in Budapest!

Dóra from Budapest
2 months ago
Reply to  Stacey

That is a great suggestion Stacey! I would also add the Széchenyi thermal bath as something uniquely Hungarian! Since the water is so hot, you get to swim outside even in fall/winter, and the building itself is beautiful as well! You can walk around in the City Park afterwards or walk along Andrássy avenue back towards the city center. The Christmas market in front of the Basilica is open already which is also a cool spot to drink some mulled wine and eat some lángos (fried dough with sour cream and cheese). Enjoy!!

Lulu
2 months ago

Is there a link for the kitchen at the top?

Sheila
2 months ago
Reply to  Lulu

Given the credits listed for that photo, I wonder if it was photographed for Emily’s book?

Lulu
2 months ago
Reply to  Sheila

Hi Sheila, I think you’re right.

🥰 Rusty
2 months ago
Reply to  Lulu

You could go to Cup of Jo to find it.

Shannon
2 months ago

I would also love to hear more about Caitlin’s travels and Christmas decorating trends from other countries!
This year I already put up a few small trees throughout the house, but not our main tree with all of the Christmas ornaments. These are more wintery – One is an led birch tree and there are a couple thin flocked trees, spaced throughout the house so that you can see a little light from just about anywhere. The house was starting to feel dark, cold, and gloomy, and this has definitely helped! I also put them all on smart plugs and have schedules for them to be on in the morning right before we wake up and in the evening until bedtime.

Gabi
2 months ago

Caitlin, just not possible to see my hometown Linz/Austria mentioned on this blog! Go up the “Pöstlingberg” (hill + church overlooking the city) and get a ride on the “Grottenbahn” – not just for kids, it’s magic, including the fairy-tale-world underground! There are “Christkindlmärkte” (Christmas markets) everywhere in Austria at the moment, for everybody’s taste… some really kitsch, some with the most beautiful crafts and handmade goods… Enjoy!

Sarah
2 months ago

Caitlyn, you picked a great time of year to hit all the Christmas markets! I live in Vienna and would be happy to share tips & suggestions. Feel free to message me on IG @sarahinvienna.

DeniseGK
2 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

OOOOh, Christmas markets! Those aren’t really even a thing here in the states so Caitlin is so lucky to be near some right now! Get cool forever finds, Caitlin! (I have been watching youtube videos from those people who just walk around and there are some Christmas market ones from various European countries from previous years. I love them and wish we had Christmas markets! So many handmade and local crafts!)

Andrea
2 months ago

I’m confused about the opening pic – that’s not the linked home tour, and the credits at the end of the post don’t link to anything showing the kitchen pictured. Where can I find a tour of that home? I feel like this is happening more often lately.

Kj
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrea

I think there have been 6 posts about that home here. You can find one (and the links to 5 other posts) here: https://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/sixpenny-sectional-slipcover-family-room-makeover. I don’t remember seeing a kitchen post but there are pics in the 2nd book (it’s the home with the mirror over the window in the primary bathroom).

Kj
2 months ago
Reply to  Kj
Julie
2 months ago

Such a sweet, special and creative home tour. Thank you!
And ditto on hearing about Caitlin’s travels later!

Heidi
2 months ago

Hi Caitlyn, I live in Graz and read this blog since forever – nice! I recommend the Schlossberg Dome in the mountain and the Café König in Sackgasse – nicer than Sacher but half th price. Have fun!

Carrie
2 months ago

My recommendations for Budapest: the Central Market and Castle Hill.
For Vienna: all the old buildings and gardens around Maria-Theresian Platz and of course Schönbrunn Palace.

2 months ago

If you haven’t done Budapest yet, two words for you: Beer. Spa. Such a fun and unique experience – highly recommend! https://thermalbeerspa.com/en/

Shannon L.
2 months ago

I gradually put up Christmas decorations the week of Thanksgiving. I do the more “winter” ones first, then after Thanksgiving crank out the Christmas. Because I live in Houston, it seems like Fall just started so I don’t like rushing to put away fall decor prior to Thanksgiving.

lynn klein
2 months ago

What about the picture of the very simple but elegant kitchen at the top? I couldn’t find a link for it … or maybe I missed.

Shay
1 month ago

For Caitlin, try to see an opera in Vienna. Even the cheapest seats are decent, & it’s a magical experience. If you can’t work that out, at least do a daytime tour of the opera house. Beautiful to see and really interesting. And while Vienna can be a bit touristy, the touristy spots, like the Hofburg palace and the Kunsthistoriches art museum, are very worthwhile. And 20 minutes from the city on public transportation is the summer oalace, Schonbrunn. This time of year, there are spectacular Christmas markets, too. In Budapest, go to the House of Terror. It’s the actual site of a prison run first by the Nazis and then by the Communists during the Cold War. It’s been made into an excellent museum, rather chilling but history we all should understand better. And the Parliament Building—you can only see it by signing up for a tour, but it’s magnificent, and the Hungarians are rightly proud of it. Have a great time! Please report back in a future blog post!

Emily N
1 month ago

For restaurants – I really enjoyed ERICH & Lugeck in Vienna.

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