The Art of Gift Giving

The holidays are a time for gratitude, celebrations, family, friends, and, of course, gifts. Bombarded with advertising trying to convince you that you need the latest and greatest, it’s easy to lose sight of what really matters and overlook the art of thoughtful gift giving.

The true gift of giving is how you make someone feel when you offer heartfelt energy. Mindfully considering the person to whom you are giving is a wonderful way to express care and deepen connections.


I reality, anyone can give a thoughtful present  — all it takes is a little perceptiveness and creativity. With these top ten tips for mastering the art of meaningful gift-giving, you’ll leave ready to take the prize for “best gift given” at your next special occasion!



People to cosider gifting to:

  • Your family
  • Your friends
  • Your favourite doctor
  • Your teacher
  • Someone who made your year better in their own way
  • Your coworkers


A gift-giver’s thoughtfulness is as apparent in how a gift is wrapped as in what’s inside.

“In our world of ubiquitous merchandise, wrapping can make a gift distinctive,” says Wanda Wen, author of “The Art of Gift Wrapping”. When you wrap a gift, do it with grace and consciousness.

Here are some ideas on wrapping gifts beautifully:

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Thanksgiving Etiquette

Thanksgiving is a special time where we give thanks for everything and everyone in our lives. Thanksgiving Day is a time set aside to gather together in gratitude and reverence for our blessings and to enjoy a portion of those blessings with a feast of food shared with our friends and family.

Most of us already have our “ways” of doing Thanksgiving — ways our mother did it, ways our extended family did it, ways our friends did it. What can you do to heighten, deepen, and extend Thanksgiving to its most memorable end? And how can you make sure you maintain etiquette both as a host or as a guest?

  • RSVP. Let your host know right away if you can come or not. If you received a “family” invitation, let your host or hostess know how many of you can come.


  • Arrive on time. Yes, it is a day of feasting, but that turkey is going to be done at some point and your hosts are trying to plan around that magic moment. If you arrive late, don’t expect anyone to wait for you.
  • Offer to contribute to the meal — but don’t dictate the menu. Your best bet is to make your offer open-ended and follow your host’s direction. If you or your “party” have special dietary needs, it’s very gracious to offer to bring a dish that meets those needs.
  • Seating Plan & Place Cards:  As the host, keep the cast of family, friends, distant relatives, neighbors, and old friends in line with a seating plan. Seat introverts next to out-going guests and elders adjacent to youngsters. It’s acceptable to split married couples but not newlyweds. Place cards may range from simple and handmade to fancy.


  • Toasting:  As a host making a toast to the table, you can briefly reconfirm conversation no-no’s. Toasting etiquette states the entire table is welcome to drink. If you are toasted as a guest or host, do not raise your glass and drink. It’s like clapping for yourself. While clinking is fun, the preferred approach is to raise your glass, make eye contact and then take a sip. Finally, remember the three B’s of toasting: Begin, Be Brief and Be Seated.
  • Leftovers: Keep some cute packaging to give leftovers to your favorite guests. It will make them feel appreciated and make for a wonderful next day surprise!

Most of all, make sure to enjoy yourself and make your guests feel welcome and appreciated!


Croatia – A country of Unexpected Treasures

I recently went on inspection visit for our Love Floris, to ensure our guests travelling there will have a wonderful experience. I was welcomed by a coutry with rich history, wonderful scenery, delicious food and a love for Mythology.

Some of the highlights of my trip included


The stunning Galeria Mestrovic in Split, an art museum edicated to the work of the 20th-century sculptor, Ivan Meštrović.





Our Lady of the Rocks, an artificial island created by bulwark of rocks and by sinking old and seized ships loaded with rocks


According to legend, the islet was made over the centuries by Croat local seamen who kept an ancient oath after finding the icon of Madonna and Child on the rock in the sea on July 22, 1452. Upon returning from each successful voyage, they laid a rock in the Bay. Over time, the islet gradually emerged from the sea. The custom of throwing rocks into the sea is alive even nowadays.

Staying at the fabulous Meneghetti hotel, with a vineyard one could only dream of





Having freshly caught and cooked oysters on Peter’s private island. The oysters tasted even better thanks to Peter: He was humble, exciting, genuine  and authentic – a truly incredible man.

I am not a huge fan oysters so I was originaly apprehensive, but it turned out to be the most amazing experience of the trip. We had mussels cooked with onions and garlic and white wine, fresh bread as well as red wine of his region.

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Visiting Trogir, known as the town of Happy Moments



A Private tour to collect truffles with Nikola in his truffle garden

Nikola is an extraordinary young man who has devoted his life to his dogs and truffle hunting. You can read more about him in the New York times article, which you can find here.



The beautiful drawings made by children in the port of Split



Some useful phrases in Croatian

Hello – Bok

Welcome – Dobrodošli

Good morning – Dobro jutro

Good afternoon – Dobar dan

Cheers! Good Health! – Živjeli!

Yellow is the colour of the sun


Yellow is the color of the coming of the sun and the warmth it brings. It is the color of the bright days of early summer, and as the sun high in the sky lights up the landscape, its yellow color ray brings us the power of enlightenment, lighting up the landscape of our search for knowledge. It is the color of the summer solstice ushering in the bright time of long days, warm temperatures, and sustained vigor.

In different cultures yellow has different meanings. In some cultures, yellow represents peace. In Egypt yellow was worn to signify the dead. In Japan, yellow stands for courage. In India, yellow is the color of the merchants.

Yellow in Greece

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Pictures are part of a private photoshoot for Modern Brides Magazine, with marzipan pebbles and silver “mati” favours created by the amazing Liana Vourakis.


Yellow is the color of the natural birthstones of those born in the beginning of summer (June 21–July 21). It is the color of midday, midyear, and the beginnings of midlife. Yellow is a color of journeys beginning well, full of promise and sunny optimism.


Yellow Flowers

Yellow flowers burst with happiness. They symbolize the bonds of friendship, the taste of success and pride. Joy is also one of the meanings of this flower, as that is one of the feelings the color is said to evoke.



Yellow gemstones

Yellow gemstones are believed to aid in clarity for decision-making, boost concentration, increase energy, and offer relief from burnout, panic, nervousness, or exhaustion.



Yellow is the most luminous of all the colors of the spectrum. It’s the color that captures our attention more than any other color.  In the natural world, yellow is the color of sunflowers and daffodils, egg yolks and lemons, canaries and bees. Go ahead and put some yellow in your life!



Easter in Karyes

In te Greek Orthodox faith, Easter is the most sacred observance. The preparations and customs, including traditional foods and large feasts, remain an important part of modern Greek life.

Toward the end of Holy Week, which is between Palm Sunday and Easter, the preparations for Easter come to a climax. While each region may have its own local customs associated with Easter, there are several traditions that are observed by everyone.

In my beloved village of Karyes in Laconia (famously the sancuary of the goddess Artemis – and the village the caryatids were named after) we have many wonderful traditions.


  • Holy Friday is a day of mourning and not one of work (including cooking).  The Epitaph is decorated with fresh field flowers and it is carried through the village.IMG_8654
  • When the Epitaph passes, women lay a tile with lit charcoal and incense next to their doors.IMG_8660
  • On Holy  Saturday, the Eternal Flame is brought to Greece by a military jet and is distributed to waiting priests who carry it to their local churches. The event is always televised and if there’s a threat of bad weather or a delay, the entire country agonizes until the flame arrives safely. The pilot in the photo is our very own Floris Family Pilot, my nephew here Manolis shown here delivering “agio fos”, the holy light to islands all over Greece.IMG_3038


  • On Great Tuesday, traditional Easter cookies are baked in local bakeries Καταγραφή
  • In Karyes, we also eat kourampiedes during Easter  – a cookie that is traditionally eated during Christmas in the rest of GreeceIMG_3695
  • On Holy Thursday, the traditional Easter bread, tsoureki, is baked.
  • Eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Christ. From ancient times, the red eggs have been a symbol of the renewal of life, carrying the message of the victory over death.IMG_8661
  • On Great Saturday, Magiritsa is cooked. The traditional mayiritsa soup—which uses the organs and intestines of the lamb that will be roasted—is prepared. This will be eaten after the midnight service.IMG_3693

Godmother and Godfather Duties

In Greece, godparents are not only tasked with baptizing a child. They are responsible for guiding them in life and in faith – as well as pampering them! In the Greek Orthodox religion, Easter offers several godparent traditions.

  • As part of Greek-Orthodox tradition, every Easter godparents give their godchildren a “lambatha”, a playfully decorated candle.IMG_8668
  • Godparents also buy an Easter outfit for their godchildren, including the Easter shoesIMG_8666
  • A Chocolate egg is always a good idea and will earn the Godparent some extra hugs!
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