Gift wrapping idea of the week: Brown paper and Sharpie

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Why we love it:
  • It’s in expensive – all you need is brown paper and a Sharpie or felt tip marker
  • It’s a great way to personalise a gift – you’re only limited by your imagination and don’t have to be good at drawing. 
  • It’s quick – keep a stash of brown paper in the cupboard and you’re ready to get drawing. 
How to get the look:

1. Grab a roll of brown paper (make sure it has a mat finish, not gloss finish) and a felt tip marker 
2. Think up a few ideas that you can draw quickly so you’re ready to go the next time you need to wrap a present quickly. 

How to wrap the perfect present – tips from Julie Starr Hook

You’re rushing to get to the birthday party on time and you’ve got five minutes to wrap your gift and write in the card. 

Sound familiar? We often spend so much time focusing on what gift to buy that when we eventually find the right present we breathe a sigh of relief as we deposit the gift and card in the cupboard to be wrapped and written in another day. But we all know the joy of opening a beautifully wrapped gift. 

Here are a few reasons why gorgeous gift wrapping rocks:

1. First impressions are everything
2. It shows you care enough to spend more time and attention on the little details (this means extra Brownie Points for you!) 
3. You can really personalise a generic gift 
4. You can get creative and use a form of wrapping that the recipient can reuse (such as a tea towel) which is also better for the environment 
5. It can take the recipient on a ‘journey’, creating suspense, or offering a clue about what the gift is and just make them feel special. 

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In this post, Julie Starr Hook, owner of Five Starr Organizing shares some great gift wrapping advice…

1. What are the best types of wrapping paper?

Julie: The qualities I look for in wrapping paper start with thickness. If the wrapping paper is to thin, it will split apart on the ends. 

If the paper is too heavy, it is difficult to get the paper flat against the item you are wrapping. I don’t like paper with glitter. It looks pretty, but is very messy to work with. The glitter can also attach to the bows and other embellishments. 

I like wrapping paper that you can coordinate with other paper and that matches your holiday décor. 

The top places I have found to buy this kind of paper are at Cost plus World Market, Costco and The Container Store. 

2. What is your wrapping technique? Why is your method the best?

1. Measure and cut the wrap to the item’s size.

2. The first wrap I put on a piece of tape. This way the wrap is secure and the wrap won’t “get away” from me. The second step that I do is to fold the piece of wrap on the end and secure it to the first piece. This way you don’t see an unfinished seam.

3. I do the ends in two different ways. The first method is folding the top piece of paper down and creasing the ends and folding them to the middle and then you have one piece of paper. Fold down the raw edge and secure with tape. The second method is to take both sides of one end and fold them then fold them to make a nice edge. The size of the present dictates which method I use.

These methods are best because the gifts look beautiful and the wrap stays secure

Julie Starr Hook, owner of Five Starr Organizing and author

3. Ribbon or no ribbon?

Julie: It’s nice to have a combination of ribbon and bows. I prefer wire edged ribbon. You can make the ribbon look different each time you use it. My least favourite ribbon is the curling ribbon. It’s time consuming and doesn’t look as nice as the fabric ribbon. I tend to use that ribbon for kids gifts. 

4. How does your style of wrapping vary for gifts for men, women and kids?

Julie: My wrapping technique stays the same for men, women and kids. However, the wrapping and embellishments I use vary. I choose my wrap and embellishments on the style of the person versus gender. However, for kids, I like to use bright, fun wrapping and keep my wrap choice more gender specific. 

5. What are some cost effective/eco-friendly alternatives for presenting a gift beautifully?

Julie: You can reuse paper and embellishments year after year if it is in good condition. 
Buy paper that can be recycled. Avoid foil and wrap with glitter. Some people purchase Christmas boxes that can be reused year after year that don’t even need to be wrapped. Others make fabric sacks with beautiful ribbon that can be used year after year

These tips were kindly shared with us by Julie Starr Hook. Julie is the owner of Five Starr Organizing and Design and author of a book called, “From Frazzled to Freedom”. As a Professional Organizer, I am hired by my clients to wrap gifts during the holidays. I have wrapped hundreds if not thousands of gifts in the past several years. Learn more about what Julie does here: and 

Check out Julie’s book on organising at 

How to spruce up your garden this spring

So you’ve finished spring cleaning your garden and now it’s time to focus on your garden. The recent wet weather in Australia’s eastern states has resulted in a surge of growth in many gardens, so where to start?! This week Paul’s Landscaping Sydney have shared some of their top tips on how to spruce up your garden…

1. Clean Up Garden Beds 
Spring cleaning is not only an indoor thing, your garden must be tidy too! Go out and collect any leaves, small branches and other green waste you come across. If you happen to see some early weeds growing here and there, make sure you pull them out as well.

Mr Gift Tip: The amount of waste you collect might inspire you to start a compost heap to make the most of this organic goodness. You could invest in a traditional compost bin, or if you have the space, set up three compost bays that you can keep rotating. 

Don’t forget to take care of your hands when you’re cleaning up. A good pair of garden gloves such as the 2nd Skin Gardening Gloves will protect your hands from insect bites and plant thorns. 

2. Test The Soil
Now is the right time to check the condition of your soil. Take a sample and see if your garden is missing any essential nutrients. If you don’t have a soil tester, bring your sample to the local gardening store – they should be able to help. And if you need to feed the land – consider using a slow-release fertiliser.

3. Plan(t) Ahead
Spring is the best season to think about the near future of your landscape. No matter if you’d rather get rid of some old plants, or you wish to refresh existing outdoor design with new flowers – it’s much better when you have a plan in your head. And why not a written schedule?

Mr Gift Tips: 
• Create a Pinterest board with images of your ‘perfect garden’ and plants you’d like to plant. 
• Consider complimentary colours when selecting flowering plants, and combine them with plants that have interesting foliage to add texture. 
• Consider the seasons and select plants that will reward you all year round – spring bulbs and summer annuals for colour, as well as perennials that flower when other things aren’t flowering. 
• Pay attention the next time you go for a walk around your neighbourhood – what tips can you glean from your neighbours?

4. Sprout Some Seeds 
Seedlings are good but starting new seeds can be even more beneficial. Seeing how a plant comes “out of nowhere” and then fully develops, brings a lot of joy to every gardening enthusiast.

Mr Gift Tip: Growing seeds is a great activity to involve children in. Look for interesting and unusual varieties of common flowers and veggies to grow. Heirloom veggies are fun to grow, as they result in crops that look different to the stock-standard fruit and veg you buy from the supermarket. The Little Veggie Patch Co have a great selection of beautiful heirloom seeds. 

5. Check Your Garden Tools
See if everything is okay with the equipment you store in the garden shed. Some gadgets may need to be fixed or replaced. If you have a lawn mower: see if the blades need sharpening, change the oil, check the spark plug and replace/clean air filters.

Mr Gift Tip: Even just cleaning garden tools will give them a new lease of life, ensuring they last longer and that you enjoy using them. 

6. Ask For Some Help 
Not sure where to start or how to go on? Fortunately, there are local gardening teams that can assist you. A skilled landscaper will give you precious advice and will handle any issues that might otherwise seriously demotivate you.

Mr Gift Tip: Sometimes some jobs are just too big (like pruning or removing large trees) and it’s actually safer to recruit the help of experts with the right equipment. Know your limits and put safety first! 

These tips were kindly shared with us by the gardening experts at Paul’s Landscaping Sydney. Whenever you want to upgrade the look of your outdoor space or just need regular care for your garden and lawn, don’t hesitate to give them a call. They will gladly help with anything – from weeding and lawn mowing, to tree surgery, irrigation and up-to-date landscape design.

What gardening jobs do you enjoying doing?

Why posters make the perfect gift

Posters. They’re the overlooked “gift hero”. Here are some reasons why posters make great gifts:

1. They add colour and personality to any space

2. You can never have too much art for your walls. If you run out of wall space you can simply rotate pieces to keep your home looking fresh. Framed pictures also don’t take up much space and can be neatly flat-packed into the back of a cupboard.

3. There’s a poster for everyone – just have a think about what they like e.g. coffee, wine, food, art, etc.

We’re offering 10% off ALL POSTERS from Thursday 16/10/14 until midnight Thursday 23/10/14.

Use Coupon Code POSTER in the Coupon Code field when you place your order. 

1. Classic Cocktails Poster (unframed) $64.95
Who can resist a classic cocktail? Your friends will have fun picking out their favourite cocktail from this poster. If you like cocktails, read on for a classic cocktail recipe. 
2. The Compendious Coffee Chart (unframed) $49.95
An absolute beauty for coffee lovers.
3. The Triple Distilled Diagram (unframed) $49.95
I’m not sure if this poster actually succeeds in explaining the relationship between different alcohols, or if it just confuses the issue! Either way, it’s a simply fascinating poster that will have you and everyone that looks at it studying it closely. 
4. Varieties of Beer Poster (unframed) $59.95
Come on, what man do you know wouldn’t like a beer poster? 

Designer, Kerrie Lightfoot loves “making old things new and worth-while again,” especially “Things that might have gotten discarded or forgotten about”.

“Recycling, repurposing, upcycling”. It was from this philosophy that Kerrie’s label, The Salvaged Sparrow emerged. Kerrie’s fascination with old books, in particular dictionaries “with discolored edges and an old smell (you know, like your grandma’s closet?)” has resulted in a unique, handmade range of one-of-a-kind prints on vintage dictionary pages.

Below are some of the designs Mr Gift sells exclusively in Australia…

                  Bacon Rules (framed) $24.95                                                  Beer Varieties (framed) $24.95
        Keep Calm and Drink Beer (framed) $24.95                             Keep Calm and Drink Wine (framed) $24.95
                  Make Coffee (framed) $24.95                                                Man Cave Rules (framed) $24.95
            My Prince Did Come (framed) $24.95                                           Wines Varieties (framed) $24.95

Top spring cleaning tips from Kennards Hire

I’m snuggled up inside on a cool, wet and windy (spring?) day here at Mr Gift HQ in Canberra. After I’ve finished this blog post I’m off to tackle some of my “indoor” spring cleaning tasks. These tips from Kennards Hire inspired me to break my spring cleaning To Do list down into indoor and outdoor jobs, as well as different areas around the home. This way you can make the most of sunny spring days with outdoor jobs, but still tick tasks off your list on days when spring showers are about…

1. Plan ahead
A checklist divided into indoor and outdoor areas will be beneficial to anyone spring cleaning around the house. 

Consider segregating your chores based on different areas around the home and divide your time over a few weekends if necessary. This allows you to methodically tick off tasks as you complete them and breaks down the cleaning process into small tasks to make a big job easy. Sanity restored. 

Mr Gift Tip: Set a fun deadline, such as hosting a spring BBQ or dinner party with friends and family. This will help keep you focused so you have something fun to look forward to as a reward for all of your hard work. 

2. Top jobs 
If you don’t know where to start, here are some key tasks to focus on:
Use a pressure washer to clean your driveway of grime and mould. 
Remove dead leaves and debris from gutters and the roof. 
Apply a fresh coat of varnish and add new life to your veranda. 
Inspect your home and outdoor entertaining areas for mould – use a pressure washer on any that you come across. 
De-clutter the garage or shed. 
In the garden, remove dead branches from trees and shrubs and any other build-up of debris to encourage new growth. This is also important in the lead up to bushfire season. 

Cleaning the deck: pressure cleaning is a fast and satisfying way to clean surfaces
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3. Essential equipment
The right tools can make spring cleaning a breeze, so invest in quality gear to save yourself time and effort. If you don’t have all the necessary tools, your local Kennards Hire branch has a huge range of equipment for DIYers to make your job easy. This is also a great way to save money on gear you may only need once a year. 

Mr Gift Tip: If you don’t know how to do a particular job, seek advice. There are so many How-To videos available on the internet these days, or ask around friends and family. Chances are someone has experience in doing the job you want to get done and can offer advice. 

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These tips were kindly shared with us by Kennards Hire, a family hire and leasing company with locations around the country. Throughout September and October, your spring cleaning work can help Australian kids who need it most thanks to the Kennards for Kids Initiative. Throughout this time, Kennards Hire is donating $2 from every hire to children’s charities across the country. All the more reason to get busy tackling all your spring cleaning jobs. For more information visit

Five fitness tips for a sensational summer body

It’s not just your home that will benefit from a spring clean this month. Spring is a great time to bring your body out of hibernation and get it ready for that summer clothing. Beyond Fitness have kindly shared some of their top fitness tips to get you off the couch this spring…

1. Spring clean your fitness wardrobe 
Spring is the start of new life and a new you. What better way to get motivated than with a new workout wardrobe. Check out the latest trends and colours in sports stores or major department stores. You can often pick up a bargain too! With the right gear, you will feel ready to take on anything. 

2. Get your mindset right – slow and steady wins the race!
With three months before summer really kicks in, why not take your time and work towards it? Set up SMART goals and work towards them. This will help to prevent injuries and gives you reason to stay motivated from spring to summer.

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Mr Gift Tip: Write down a ‘Wish List’ of things you’d like to achieve, then break each wish down into a few steps. Prioritise your wishes, then work to tick them off, one by one so you don’t become overwhelmed. 

3. Try something new
Give yourself a new challenge and have a crack at something new to maintain motivation. How about circus training? Dancing? Pilates? It’s time to spring in to action and give it a try! You never know, you might even enjoy it!

Mr Gift Tip: Get a friend involved. Having a bit of support will make it less scary, and it’s a good way to catch up with a friend you might not see as often as you’d like. 

Working out in a group could be just the motivator you need to kick-start your spring exercise regime
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4. Get new music on your iPod
Nothing makes you want to pound the pavements more than a new music playlist with some pumping tunes. It will make the kilometres come and go so quickly, you’ll have run or walked 10kms before your playlist is over. Just watch that weight disappear and your motivation increase.

Mr Gift Tip: Make a ‘wish list’ of new songs you’d like to purchase when you hear them on the radio, etc. When you get a chance to update your playlist this means you know what songs you really want and can update your list quickly.

5. Give your body a spring clean
Avoid the aches and pains that might join you on your new increased training regime. Get a treatment such as massage or osteopathy to sort out any imbalances which could affect your posture, energy, and form when working out. Make sure your body can keep up with your burst of springtime motivation.

Kick those post-workout aches and pains with a massage
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Mr Gift Tip: Source new recipes to add to your repertoire that make the most of the new season produce. 

These tips were kindly shared with us by Beyond Fitness. Beyond Fitness is a personal training studio in Moonee Ponds that is dedicated to helping clients achieve their goals in a safe and achievable manner that is both fun and motivational. With the huge knowledge and experience base of manual therapy and fitness training, they can help any individual achieve their health and fitness desires. For further information, please visit

How do you reinvigorate your health and fitness routine for summer?

Top spring cleaning tips from Paul’s Carpet Cleaning Sydney

When we were seeking experts to interview for our Spring Cleaning blog series, we thought a cleaning company would have some good advice to share. We certainly weren’t disappointed! Today’s tips are from Paul’s Carpet Cleaning Sydney…

1. De-clutter first – There is no point cleaning a cluttered home. Getting rid of items you no longer use will help you ‘wipe the slate clean’ and chase those winter blues away. Start cleaning once you have created space for everything that summer has in store for you (some new summer clothes perhaps??)

Mr Gift Tip: Tackle one area at a time so you feel like you’re making progress. Treat yourself afterwards with something new, like a piece of summer clothing or jewellery (preferably jewellery as it takes up less space!)

2. Get stuck in – Spring cleaning is all about tackling the chores you usually don’t have time to do. That means cleaning behind furniture, underneath carpets (or better yet, washing them entirely and scrubbing bathroom corners). Don’t forget upholstery too! In spring and summer when the sunshine enters our homes it reveals dust, stains, and signs of wear and tear.

Mr Gift Tip: Make a note of when you do these big jobs in your calendar or on your phone so you can set a reminder to do them again in 6-12 months’ time.

3. Don’t forget the BBQ – When you spring clean never miss the BBQ. Sunny spring days will mean you’ll probably want to enjoy yourself outdoors, and you don’t want to be held back by the state of your greasy grill. Have it cleaned and ready for spontaneous garden parties.

Mr Gift Tip: Buy some nice meat and make a tasty salad so you can treat yourself to a delicious meal after all the hard work is done.

4. Get the most out of your clean – During a spring cleaning session put some weights around your arms and ankles to burn more calories. This will help get the home clean and will make you feel better when you try your swimsuit from last year.

Mr Gift Tip: They are lots of other ways you can add some exercise into your cleaning routine – try adding 10 x squats, star jumps or if you’re really keen, burpes in between jobs, or do walking lunges to get around the house.

5. Get help – delegate your chores, involve the children in the process, or get professional help. There’s no shame in it.

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Mr Gift Tip: A job incentive chart for children can be helpful to give them something to work towards when they do their chores. A chart also gives them responsibility and ownership of specific jobs in the home. Professional cleaners can help get your home back to a manageable state, even if you only use them once or twice a year, especially to clean carpets and upholstery.

These tips were kindly shared with us by Paul’s Carpet Cleaning Sydney. These guys are your one-stop solution to clean carpets and upholstery. Whilst Paul’s specializes in carpet and rug cleaning, they also offer a variety of other affordable services such as on-site curtain cleaning, mattress cleaning and end of lease cleaning. Check out their website:

Here’s a fun video with some more tips on how to clean your space…