Our HandsDown Funniest Faves

One of the best things about making a HandsDown list is the flexibility of the format. You can list ANYTHING as a Fave, as long as there’s a link for it. Just list what you love — and that includes what makes you laugh! 

Here’s a roundup of 10 of the funniest Faves from our HandsDown community. We fully endorse having fun with your Faves! Although, according to one lister, we should just go to Costco instead…

Allow yourself to be inspired — and entertained — by these creative listers. They are HandsDown hilarious!

For when you just need to groove:

Skipping to the beat of your favorite song

Wise words from Max:

Be honest. When is the last time you did this? From the look of you, it’s been a while.

Jeez, tough crowd. Sure it’s been a hard week, but do I look THAT bad?

You’ve bean missing out on a delicacy:

Butter Beans

Courtesy of Anne:

I think I’m late to the game but I never really cooked or ate butter beans till this year and holy shit they are delicious. I especially like them in soup.

Thank you, Anne, for spilling the beans.

C’mon, we’ve all been thinking it:

Dwayne Johnson

John says:

Since I can’t put The Rock down for all ten this will have to suffice…

Wait, how do I add to cart?

For all your consumer needs:

Costco

Frank recommends:

Delicious pepperoni slice for $1.99. Vaccines, eye glasses, contacts, prescriptions. High quality snacks in bulk. Rotisserie Chicken. Portland Organic Ketchup 3pk for $7 or so. Costco Visa that is 3% cash back on food and travel. Sonos 2 pack speakers for $369. The list goes on and on.

Vaccines AND rotisserie chicken? Goodness gracious, sign me up.

For a vegetable to fall in love with:

Watermelon Radish

As Angela says: 

Is this not the most beautiful little work of art by mother nature? It’s refreshing, it’s crunchy and it adds joys to every salad it meets. I know you can roast them too, but I am not sure I am emotionally ready for that.

I mean, yeah, that’s one rad…dish. Haha.

Because portobellos are SO last season:

Organic Mushroom Extract Capsules

David attests: 

Eat fungi. See God.

You’ve gotta believe the mushroom apostle.

Something curious for cocktail hour:

CURIOUS ELIXIRS | Booze-free Craft Cocktails

Paulina describes:

It makes you want to be poetic and have a curly mustache when drinking it.

I guess this is relevant for people who aren’t already curly-mustachioed poets?

For the adventurous spirits:

Love Tree Clothing

Paulina, again, writes:

I can go to a rave or go for a hike. Ideally I’m going to a rave-hike.

BRB, Googling “rave-hike near me”…

And finally, when you need a dose of existential dread:

Iceland

Paulina reviews:

Iceland is a MOOD that says “I am but a spec amongst this natural glory. And that’s a giant ass volcano.”

And you, Paulina, are hilarious. 

Thanks to all of these listers for making HandsDown even more fun. Do you have an especially funky Fave? Create a list that makes you laugh, or just add items to your Top 10 Favorite Things, and share with your friends! 

And if you’re REALLY funny, maybe The Rock will follow you on HandsDown. Who knows, anything’s possible…

HandsDown Fave Entertaining Must-Haves

Whether you’re gearing up to host your first shindig or it just feels like a lifetime since you organized your last, I think we can all agree that a refresher course is in order. Beyond the basics of plates, napkins and a solid playlist—we’ve compiled a list of recommendations from our network of real-life hosts that we hope will add ambiance, ignite inspo and help you emcee an exciting and energetic evening for your crew.

For some pre-party interior ideas to impress the incoming

Leanne Ford Interiors

Recommended by Maya, who says: Everything Leanne does is chef’s kiss— my decor inspiration spirit animal.

For room brightening, conversation starting wall candy

Wallpaper from Chasing Paper 
Recommended by Jessica, who says: This stick on wallpaper can change the entire look of a room! It’s so easy to use and cheers me up every time I see it.

For some serious (wireless) sound

Sonos One SL WiFi Speaker
Recommended by Yoni, who says: I like playing music throughout the house and this is the best way to do it. Such rich sound, no wires needed other than plugs and the sonos app is slick and compatible with Alexa.

For keeping your powder room fresh (without flame or Febreze)

P.F. Candle Co. Amber & Moss Reed Diffuser
Recommended by Sonia, who says: Best diffuser everrrrr. I fell in love with this brand because of their candles, the fragrances are earthy and not too sweet. But I’m lazy and don’t want to light candles all the time, so I replaced them all with this diffuser. People always comment how amazing our bathroom smells!

For when you need the bottle open in three seconds flat

The Rabbit Vertical Corkscrew
Listed by Cassidy, who recommends it: ‘Cause opening a bottle of wine is hard and you deserve to relax.

For keeping that bottle perfectly chilled the whole time

Vinglacé The Original Wine Chiller
Recommended by Amanda, who says: Beautiful and sleek – keeps that rosé COLD for the entire time it takes to drink the bottle. No sweat rings on the table either. It’s amazing.

For the perfect (color-coded) vino vessel

Estelle Glassware
Recommended by Sydney, who says: They’re so beautiful! Handmade in Poland. Nordstrom just picked them up as a vendor – so you can get select styles there too.

For a game night classic, without the 3 hour commitment

Monopoly Deal
Recommended by Rebecca, who says: This is my family’s most recent game-obsession. We can play five rounds in a night. Each round is quick, but we are no less competitive when playing!

And Alex, who says: All the joys of monopoly but the game takes 20-30 min!

For an obsessed-over espresso machine to keep partiers perky when the rosé runs out

Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel

Recommended by Emily, who says: Love this espresso machine. Experienced, top-quality espresso making for the novice. Can never go back to pour-overs or pods after using this.
And Lauren, who says: I bought this espresso machine when I had my second child! It’s a game changer. Fresh, hot coffee whenever you need it. I usually skip the frothed milk but that does make for a special treat. I love this because I can make a single cup of coffee!
AND Alyssa, who says: Coffee lovers, hear me out… after a couple of months, this thing pays for itself. I love the convenience of this machine and the quality of the shots (coming from an ex-barista). And it’s gorgeous just to look at 😉

For turning the coffee table into the perfect place to pontificate post-party

Flikr Mini Fire Pit
Recommended by Tiffany, who says: There’s just something about fire, right? This little guy is a favorite at our house. I’ve served toast-able apps alongside it, used it to create cozy warmth while reading in winter, and enjoyed it on the porch during summer evenings. Great gift, too.

Now that you’re prepared to unleash your inner party animal, all that’s left to do is lean back and raise a glass to yourself for putting it all together and another glass (why not?) to the good times and good company that await. Is there something truly excellent that we missed? Add your favorite party starter to your own list or comment below to share your soirée suggestions.

10 HandsDown Fave Sustainable Swaps

One of the easiest ways to live a greener and greener life is to swap an everyday product you use and buy on repeat with a sustainable swap. (Think of the ripple effect!) Our HandsDown community has some fantastic recommendations—all products that are considered a personal favorite! Let’s dive right in, shall we?

A HandsDown favorite hand soap

Blueland Natural Collection Hand Soap Duo
Recommended by Mike, who says: There are millions of people across the world who throw away their plastic hand soap dispensers. Blueland has solved the problem by providing reusable hand soap dispensers. All you need to get is their hand soap tablets and some hot water — boom! Hand soap without the plastic.

A plastic-free shampoo and conditioner

HiBar Solid Shampoo and Conditioner
Recommended by Esther, who says: I have been looking for a shampoo and conditioner bar as I try to move more towards using less plastic and being more eco-conscious. The conditioner bar is just fantastic. Shampoo bar lasts me about 4 months and conditioner lasts even longer (I only wash my hair like 1-2/week). Unlike some other bars, the shape is really great because it keeps it’s shape better – it doesn’t crumble and fall apart like a regular bar shape.

And plastic-free deodorant, while we’re at it

Humble Deodorant
Recommended by Sam, who says: Natural deodorant that actually works…and has a lovely gentle scent.

A laundry detergent that fits in an envelope

Earth Breeze Laundry Detergent Sheets
Recommended by Deidre and me, too! Here’s my recommendation: My friend Beth introduced these to me, and now I enjoy my own subscription. No more giant plastic jugs of detergent or pods, these get shipped by snail mail in a paper envelope and take up almost no space. They work great—one small sheet goes into the detergent portal on my washing machine. Such an easy, sustainable swap!

Sustainable, comfortable work-from-home wearables made from recycled materials

LEZÉ the Label
Recommended by Colleen, who says: WFH home wear that is made from recycled fishing nets by a women-owned company. It looks polished on Zoom or running errands but super comfy and machine washable.

And a more sustainable way to stay on trend

Nuuly Clothing Rental
Recommended by Claire and Lindsay.
From Claire: Such a great way to have fun with clothes without hopping on every trend, spending too much and promoting clothing waste. Their customer service is fantastic, too!

From Lindsay: I used Nuuly for my honeymoon trip and it was the best! I was able to get 6 items from brands that I love like Anthropologie, Free People, etc., for less than $100. Love not spending a fortune on a fashion piece I will wear 1x-2x max!

A sustainable clothing solution for kids who grow like weeds

Kidizen Gently Used Kids Clothes & Shoes
Recommended by our founder Jenna, who says: I love Kidizen b/c the App is easy to use, and they have tons of amazing kids clothing from all of our favorite brands. I love to reduce and reuse — so this is the perfect place for me to shop for Stone.

A sustainable solution for leftovers and pantry items too

Re-Zip Lay Flat Storage Bags
Recommended by Francine, who says: These are a bit costly, but they will always rezip and are large enough to hold the no knead bread [from my favorite things list that] you should be making!!
Pro tip: Francine’s favorite no-knead bread recipe is well worth your time, too!

Roomy, reusable grocery bags for the win

Reusable Shopping Trolley Bags (2 Pack)
Recommended by Emily, who says: Love not making more than 1 trip from the car and you can easily fit almost a whole cart of groceries in these 2 bags!

And a way to say goodbye to bottled water forever

Pentair Rocean Reservoir Water Filter
Recommended by Ira, who says: Beautifully designed and great tasting water. You can’t ask for more from your water filter.

What about you? Do you have a favorite sustainable swap? Share it in the comments, or better yet—add it to your list of favorite things for your friends to discover too!

10 HandsDown Fave Vegan Pantry Staples

Back in the ‘90s, my family was vegan for a few years and vegetarian for many years. I have fond memories of weird white bean burgers, rubbery almond “cheese,” and soy milk on my raisin bran. (Fond memories in hindsight. I complained a lot as a kid.) Thankfully, the vegan lifestyle has made enormous progress in the last few decades. You can find great vegan alternatives for almost any ingredient and even for non-food products. Bye, rubbery cheese!

Here’s a round up of 10 vegan pantry and home staples from the HandsDown community.

Must-Have Vegan Ingredients

To start off our Top 10, check out a couple of vegan pantry staples to have on hand.

Nutritional Yeast

Fave of Britteny, who calls this straight up “a vegan staple.”

Pro tip: Can’t beat “nooch” (vegan shorthand) on a bowl of fresh popcorn! Also tasty as a cheese substitute. 

Frantoia Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Fave of Lisa: “We don’t leave home without it. We always pack this when we rent vacation homes. We have given this as gifts to dinner hosts and they all rave about the flavor.”

Miso Master Organic White Miso Paste

Fave of Angela: “Miso Paste in general is magical. Love a miso butter brushed onto bok choy and then grilled. We even had miso butter popcorn recently! I like this one because it is organic and gluten free.”

Go-To Vegan Pre-Made Meals

It’s always tricky to find a quick snack or meal on the go that doesn’t contain animal products. Here’s a few vegan meal Faves.

Amy’s Gluten Free Non Dairy Burrito

Fave of Heather: “I eat one of these every day for lunch. Don’t judge.”

Daily Harvest

Fave of Kittie: “I love their frozen smoothies and they are the perfect quick and healthy breakfast on the way out the door. Their soups and bowls make for great lunch options too.”

Crave-Worthy Vegan Snacks

Looking for a good vegan guilty-pleasure snack? Here are two I can’t wait to try!

Deux Cookie Dough

Fave of Diana: “I always save room for dessert, and this is my newest obsession. This is *healthy* cookie dough (made with oats, nut butter, vanilla, maple syrup, coconut sugar, water, and flaxseed, then enhanced with other healthy ingredients like amino acids) that you can bake or eat right from the jar (my preferred method). My favs are chocolate chip and brownie batter!”

Lesser Evil Popcorn

Fave of Diana, who has unequivocally deemed this: “Best snack!!!”

That’s with three exclamation points, for those keeping score!

A Vegan Recipe to Make on Repeat

Creamy Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Fave of Hanna: “Autumn is soup season!”

Pro tip: The recipe is from Cookie+Kate, a Fave food blog. Kate posts delicious and simple vegan and vegetarian recipes for the home cook. Her cookbook is beautiful too, and the recipes are just *chef’s kiss*

Beyond the Pantry: Vegan Beauty Products

Making vegan food swaps is the obvious place to start, but beauty products are the next place to make the switch to vegan. Check out the products below to discover some vegan beauty brands.

Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara

Fave of Amanda: “It really extends your lashes and doesn’t crumble throughout the day. Best part is that it slides off your lashes with warm water but NOT with sweat. No dark under eyes or aggressive wiping needed, which helps prevent wrinkles!!”

Attitude Shampoo for Sensitive Skin

Fave of Kristen: “Simple, unscented, good for the whole family – and it doesn’t have any of the junk that’s bad for you or the environment.”

Whatever your motivation for going vegan (either a little or a lot) and however hard-core your lifestyle, hats off to you for making the world a little better. I hope you discovered a new Fave for your list in this vegan product round-up. 

Our Top 10 Fave Summer Reading List

Let’s set the scene: It’s almost a month into summer and you still haven’t found a great book to read. Maybe you’re looking for a passage so perfect it will transport you from the living room to the luxe vacation you’ve been dreaming of. Maybe that vacation is actually coming up and you need a new read to get lost in as you soak up the sun. 

Whether your preferred reading nook is the patio or the public park, the bedroom or the beach—get ready to dive in, delve deep, and dream on with our Top Ten Summer Reads sourced from the HandsDown community of readers. We hope these real-life recommendations spark your reading journey this season and beyond.

For those looking for a witchy, enchanting escape (and/or a conclusion to the popular Practical Magic saga)

The Book Of Magic: A Novel, by Alice Hoffman
Recommended by Ashley, who says: Alice Hoffman is my favorite author and a wonderful storyteller. If you love fantasy and strong female leads – you will love her.

For when you find yourself struggling with a lack of motivation (don’t worry—we’ve all been there)

I Didn’t Do the Thing Today: Letting Go of Productivity Guilt, by Madeleine Dore

Recommended by Nicky, who says: the ideas [explored in this book] will be something that I think about for years to come. Year whatever into the pandemic, I’m finding motivation hard to come by. Maybe you too? I love how Madeleine deconstructs the thinking that there is a perfect morning routine out there that will make every day a great day. Deconstructing hustle culture and disentangling productivity from self worth feel like really valuable lessons atm.

For the sentimental foodie looking for a powerful read (and a tug on the ole heartstrings)

Crying in H Mart: A Memoir, by Michelle Zauner

Recommended by Lauren, who says: One of the best books I’ve read all year. I laughed and I cried as I zoomed through this beautifully raw and charming memoir.

For the one seeking a taut thriller with tense mystery (and some mind games to boot)

Northern Spy: A Novel, by Flynn Berry

Recommended by Kelley, who says: I stayed up so late reading this Northern Ireland conflict with a realistic and powerful female protagonist. Harrowing story—so good.

For when you need a reminder to stop and smell the roses (think of it as a Redbull for your mental and emotional health)

The Book of Delights: Essays, By Ross Gay
Recommended by Anne, who says: This book is talked about in my house at least once a day. It also has added this wonderful ritual where we ask each other to share a delight of the day, which I have found delivers such a different answer than “something you’re grateful for” or “one happy thing”. Ross Gay has a wonderful voice so this book is great on audiobook as well as print form.

For philosophically-minded folks looking for something new and different (future-tech and AI enthusiasts, look no further)

Klara and the Sun: A Novel, by Kazuo Ishiguro
Recommended by Katherine, who says: Simply told, sort of sci-fi but also social critique and philosophical. This one I read in a sitting or 2 but it has stayed with me.

For some incredibly relevant social commentary (did you order a side of laughter with that?)

Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus
Recommended by Lisa, who says: The character, her challenges and triumphs spoke to me. I read this book in two days and couldn’t put it down. A reminder of how far we have come and just how far we have to go as professional women.

For the ones seeking some calming and meaningful perspective (aka Xanax in paper form)

Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day, by Jay Shetty

Recommended by Paige, who says: There are a few books that I reread every year and now I’m adding this one to my list. It’s insightful and inspiring. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

For a series of personal reflections bound to comfort, delight and inspire (and make you feel all the feels)

These Precious Days, by Ann Patchett

Recommended by Emily, who says: Ann Patchett is a queen. Every sentence in this book is pure gold.

The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig

Recommended by Anne, who says: Just a great story, engaging, heartbreaking and heartwarming.

Also recommended by HandsDown founder, Jenna, who raves: Just read it. Trust me. It’s an adventurous, dream-like novel that makes you think about your life in a way you never have before. Thanks Mom for recommending it!

There you have it! We think this is a great starter list with something for everyone. We hope you find one that immerses and amazes you. If you’re already knee-deep in another book, add it to your own list and let others know what makes it a winner. Enjoy the weather and wherever these books find you. Or better yet—wherever they take you!

HandsDown Our Top 10 Travel Bags

Before you pack your bag for that next trip, you gotta have the right bag. But which one? Our HandsDown community has your back. These are non-sponsored, unfiltered reviews of travel bags these awesome humans own and love. (That’s how HandsDown works!)

A backpack that loves to go anywhere and everywhere

Dagne Dover Dakota Neoprene Backpack

Recommended by Samantha, who says: These backpacks are the best. They have the best pockets and organizers inside which make travel a breeze. And the neoprene material is water resistant and looks chic. I use the medium backpack going to the office and for travel. It has a luggage sleeve on it which I love! This is a woman owned company and their products are made with recycled plastic bottles!

A briefcase that loves your laptop and a bike ride too

Topo Commuter Briefcase
Recommended by Gregory, who says: The best-looking and most functional computer bag I own. wear it over the shoulder to a big meeting or turn it into a backpack on a bike ride to the cafe. Great for travel and well built!

A bag that loves weeks and weekends equally

AWAY Bigger Carry-On
Recommended by Kim, who says: I can take this bad boy for a weekend – a month. The ultimate flexible traveller.

A bag that will make you feel like Mary Poppins

MZ Wallace Large Metro Tote Deluxe
Recommended by Annie, who says: Best weekender bag, or “personal item” to accompany you when traveling. This bag fits sooooo much. I often use this bag, a purse and a carryon roller bag. A small purse can be shoved inside so that you only have the one official personal item. The deluxe version has the luggage sleeve which is awesome!

A bag that checks all the boxes

NOMATIC Backpack
Recommended by Adam, who says: As someone who travels (pre-covid) quite frequently on many shorter duration trips, I quickly realized it was incredibly important to have a backpack that checked a number of boxes: 1) large enough to fit a weekends worth of clothes and items. 2) comfortably fits my laptop. 3) looks professional enough to bring on a work trip. 4) not too large and bulky. I found all of those in the Nomatic Backpack and have been using it religiously for over 3 years. Highly recommend!

A hands-free bag for family life

Walker Family Goods Louie Sling
Recommended by Kelsey, who says: Cute and practical for travel and everyday. I have the sling!

A happy and hip little fanny pack

Patagonia Mini Hip Pack
Recommended by Sonia, who says: Cute, lightweight and comes in fun colors. I exclusively wear fanny packs so this is a staple! You can throw it in the washing machine if it gets gross. Gifted to me by Jenna many years ago and I still wear it all the time.

A bag that stands the test of time

Ricardo Softside Carry-On
Recommended by me! I have traveled a LOT over the last 25 years and have a Ricardo Beverly Hills bag that has lasted TWENTY(!!) of those years, going on every trip near and far. This bag has taken a beating and yet it is still the one grabbed first.

A must-have cart for city folk

Collapsible Wheeled Cart
Recommended by Meghan, who says: OK, do I feel like a great grandmother rolling this thing around? Yes, but IT’S SO WORTH IT. It’s lightweight and easy to use + transporting a heavy load of groceries is such a breeze that I don’t care about my granny vibes. Great for city dwellers!

Bags to keep on hand for those extra souvenirs

BeeGreen Reusable Shopping Bags
Recommended by Kate, who says: I love these rip-stop fabric bags. Spacious enough for 4 beach towels, or a picnic lunch, or a pile of library books, or a bunch of groceries, or kid toys for a road trip. I use them for everything. Light, foldable, quick-drying, washable.

OK, friends, did you find a new Fave here? Or do you have a recommendation of your own? Leave us a comment or update your own list, and share your go-to travel bags with your friends on HandsDown today!

HandsDown Fave Gifts for Newlyweds

Every wedding is different, but a few things are (almost) always the same. Love, music, food, joy, family, a bit of drama, photos, and GIFTS.  

Personally, I have a couple of rules when it comes to buying wedding gifts. Not every gift needs to follow all three rules, but it should meet at least one. 

  1. Quality that will last. The best gifts last a couple of decades (peep the cast iron dutch oven I recommend below for a great example).
  2. Practical and useful. This is a tricky one because everyone thinks their gift is useful. But here are a few examples that DON’T fit this rule: home decor because you don’t know their style, sheet sets in an assumed but unconfirmed size, and restaurant gift cards to a place you’re not sure they like.
  3. Unlikely to be duplicated. My husband and I got FOUR mega boxes of Rubbermaid and TWELVE bath towels for our wedding. It was so much for two people. I like to choose something that’s not super standard so it’s unlikely to be duplicated.

Obviously, one gift all newlyweds love is cash, but if you want to give something more personal, check out these faves from the HandsDown community.

Kitchen Gifts for Newlyweds

I’ll start you off with a classic gift for newlyweds: cookware! 

All-Clad – 12.5 Inch Skillet – Stainless Steel D3 3-Ply Cookware

Fave of Michael:

“One of my favorite kitchen tools is my ever so handy All Clad 12.5 Skillet. It’s so versatile and lasts forever. Highly recommended by various culinary tastemakers and I couldn’t agree more.”

Lodge 5.5 Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Ok, I had to throw in one of my own personal recommendations. This is a Fave from me, Kate

“All the benefits of cast iron with none of the work, thanks to the enamel coating. It’s a versatile kitchen tool that I use for almost everything. Easy to clean, and the bright color makes me happy. The price point is awesome for the quality.”

Here’s a gift for the environmentally-conscious couple. 

rezip Lay-Flat Gallon Reusable BPA-Free Food Grade Storage Bag 4-Pack

Fave of Francine:

“These are a bit costly, but they will always rezip and are large enough to hold the no-knead bread you should be making!!”

Next up, a gift for the foodie newlyweds.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat

Fave of Becca:

“I’m a huge fan of Samin Nosrat and her approach to cooking – getting folks away from following recipes and really digging into the whys and hows our food works together.”

(Tangent alert: For quality entertainment, check out this video of Samin Nosrat collabing with Brad from Bon Appétit.)

And to finish out the kitchen tools round-up, a gift for the newlyweds who just really love coffee. 

Nestle Nespresso Aeroccino3 3594 Black Milk Frother

Fave of Sarah:

“Milk frother is key to a special coffee drink. This one is really easy to use for hot or cold froth. Plugs in and is small. Takes less than 30 seconds.”

Electronic Gifts for Newlyweds

Ok, let’s look at some tech gifts for the newlyweds’ new home together.

Google Home

Fave of Sarah:

“Always been a fan of Google over Siri or Alexa. She always hears me correctly and the speaker is actually fantastic for music. I have it in several rooms and even connected to a Sonos. I like doing my “morning briefing” with about 5 different news programs to start the day.”

Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug 

Fave of Tiffany:

“I can switch all of my lamps on or off with my phone or my Alexa! Plus, I can also schedule them on a timer through the app. You can plug anything into these and monitor or conserve energy consumption.”

Unique Wedding Gifts

Branch Basics

Fave of Kendyl:

“I absolutely love these cleaning products. The laundry boost is amazing as is the all-purpose cleaner. The best part is everything comes from one concentrate and all you have to do is add water! All natural and non-toxic and great for a house with kids.”

Linnea Design Calendar – Linnea Design

Fave of David:

“Most beautiful and inspiring calendar you will ever own. Changes every year. Highly curated. Design driven. Makes for great gifts too!”

(Personal note: I generally don’t recommend giving home decor as a gift, but a cool calendar is okay. It’s useful and temporary by nature.)

Finally, if you can’t decide on a gift, just give the gift of literally everything—you can give a Costco membership as a gift!

Costco

Fave of Frank:

“Delicious pepperoni slice for $1.99. Vaccines, eye glasses, contacts, prescriptions. High quality snacks in bulk. Rotisserie Chicken. Portland Organic Ketchup 3pk for $7 or so. Costco Visa that is 3% cash back on food and travel. Sonos 2 pack speakers for $369. The list goes on and on.”

My wedding season wish for you: I hope your next wedding is not-too-awkward and the DJ only plays “Brown-Eyed Girl” once. Good luck choosing a wedding gift, and give my best to the happy couple!

And if you haven’t already, share your own favorite things on HandsDown today!

HandsDown Fave Summer Must-Haves

What’s the difference between a good summer and a great summer? A healthy dose of discovery! Our HandsDown community is filling their lists with some amazing recommendations (are YOU?) and we can’t get enough. Here are ten faves we’ve discovered that are *just* what is needed to make this the best summer ever.

One for you and one for me…

Luxe Bubbles Mimosa Sugar Cubes Set
Recommended by Ashley, who says: Pair this with a bottle of champagne for a fun hostess gift – the little cubes turn champagne into mimosa, bellini and other flavors.

It’s not as if I needed another reason to enjoy more bubbly this summer, but I absolutely love this idea for a hostess gift!

A playlist that sets the mood to chill…

604 Chill Spotify Playlist
Recommended by Ira, who says: All chill, all the time. Just shuffle and enjoy.

Never met a summer that didn’t need more chill, so yes. Please. (Plus, this playlist is an ultra-relaxed 28 hours long!)

Because the best things come to those who weight…

Bala Bangles
Recommended by Jenna, who says: I discovered Bala weights via Melissa Wood Health workouts, and I love them. I wear them while I do Yoga, Barre or Pilates, and they deepen the work out. They’re also great for long walks where you want a bit of extra work.

Dare I say they’re also cute enough to wear as an accessory? Maybe this is how I turn grocery shopping into a stealth workout!

Basically a summer wardrobe for your face…

ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40
Recommended by Paige, who says: I’ve been loving this skin tint from Ilia. It’s a clean product and easy application. It gives the no makeup makeup look!

Fun fact: this Fave has shown up on SO many HandsDown lists! Other fans of this skin tint in our community love the range of shades available, the Hyaluronic Acid it contains, and the all-day SPF properties.

Sunnies with a certain je ne sais quoi…

Izipizi Sunglasses
Recommended by Erin, who says: Chic, French, lightweight, and not too expensive. What’s not to like?

(Also spying that this brand has a great selection of sunglasses + readers for all your smutty beach-reading enjoyment!)

A magic wand for your flower garden…

Scotts Super Bloom Water Soluble Plant Food
Recommended by Alison, who says: A few years ago I had two weddings in my backyard. My good friend told me about her secret to her beautiful flower gardens and I’ve been using it ever since. Now my yard looks wedding-ready every summer.

*Adds to cart immediately, thank you very much!*

An at-home spa treatment that gets right to the point…

Shakti Mat
Recommended by Lisa, who says: Removes tension and muscle tightness. I feel like it increases my blood flow and my mood.

Color me curious for this one—it seems wrong, and yet, it seems right!

An alternative to sticky, stinky bug spray…

Mosquito Repellant Patches
Recommended by Angela, who says: These cutie little stickers have natural mosquito repellent and they actually work! The whole family uses them! Love not having to deal with the smell of bug spray.

Can confirm. These are my new favorite thing!

A glow up for your summer sipping…

Estelle Colored Wine Stemware
Recommended by Sydney, who says: They’re so beautiful! Handmade in Poland. Nordstrom just picked them up as a vendor – so you can get select styles there too.

Fun fact: You can customize the colors in your own set. (Though good luck making a decision—such gorgeous colors!)

A superpower for your skin…

Coola Sun Silk Drops
Recommended by Eboni, who says: It’s a sunscreen and moisturizer combined that doesn’t leave me looking like a ghost. The only sunblock I don’t mind wearing.

Pro tip: Wear alone or add a few drops to foundation for all day broad protection from sun and blue light too!

That’s our summer roundup of HandsDown community faves, but what’s on your list? Create an entire list devoted to your summer must-haves, or add individual items to your Favorite Things list. Either way, curate your faves and share them with your friends to help create the best summer ever!



How to Host a Fave Things Dinner Party

My friends and family will tell you: I live for dinner parties. I love planning them, I love hosting them, and weirdly, I even love cleaning up after them. (It’s my chance to relive all the little moments in my head as I sort recycling, fill the dishwasher, and place all the chairs and throw pillows into their pre-party stations, ready for the next party idea to start forming in my head.) The magic of a dinner party is time and space to truly connect with a mix of interesting people over great food and drink—without the noise and rush of a restaurant.

If you love the idea of having a dinner party, but are intimidated by actually pulling it off, I am here for you. I’ve got 10 tried-and-true tips for a dinner party that will have you hosting with the mosting. Let’s do this.

Start with a theme

Now let’s be clear, you don’t need a theme to host a dinner party, but it’s a great idea especially if you’re a beginner. This will help you stay focused, but also set expectations for yourself and your guests. Need a theme? I gotchu: A Fave Things Dinner Party! Guests are invited to bring one of their favorite things to share—each guest goes home with another guest’s fave. It’s fun, simple and personal, and people LOVE it.

Make a guest list with a mix

Personally, I love a 6-8 person dinner party. It’s small enough to still feel cozy, but big enough to feel like an actual party. Fave tip: invite people from your circle who haven’t met each other—keeps it comfortable but fresh!

Don’t overcomplicate the invitation

No need to overthink this or make it formal. Text individuals (or couples) directly inviting them on the date you have in mind and share the theme. Need a script? Here you go: Hey, I’m throwing a dinner party on [fill in the date]. The theme is “Fave Things” and everyone is invited to bring one thing they love and recommend. Each guest will go home with a new fave from someone else! What do you say, are you in? If the answer is yes (and of course it will be!), follow up with specific info regarding time and place and any important details for the evening.

Let! People! Bring! Things!

When people offer to bring something to supplement the dinner, say yes! Not only is it helpful for you as a host, it is often a way for guests to feel involved and invested. Some guests will offer to bring something they like to make (a salad or their famous pie) but others are looking for a specific assignment. If you don’t have a specific idea in mind, here are things hosts always need: ice, club soda or sparkling water, and ice cream. I guarantee you’ll be glad you have more of any of those items!

Keep the menu simple

I love to cook, but here’s the thing I’ve learned the hard way with dinner parties—the food isn’t the most important part, so don’t wear yourself out over it. Crackers, cheese, and a little fresh fruit are all you need for a crowd-pleasing appetizer. Drizzle honey over the cheese and you’ll get at least a thousand compliments.

For dinner in warm weather months, I like build-your-own poké bowls. Everything can be made ahead and stored in the fridge until party time. In cold weather months, a big pan of lasagna with salad and bread is always a crowd pleaser. And again, all the prep can be done ahead and lasagna keeps beautifully in a warm oven until go-time.

For dessert, a box of favorite chocolates and a few different pints of ice cream are easy and fun to pass around the table to let people indulge as much or as little as they like. All you need are some small bowls and fresh spoons. 

Clean this NOT that

Avoid the urge to deep clean every crevice of your home before a dinner party. It’s unnecessary and will cause you to never want to have a dinner party again. Instead, focus on a few key areas: the bathroom, the kitchen, and wherever guests will be seated. That’s it, I promise.

Fave tip: set out a small tray in the bathroom with thoughtful refreshment items like hairspray, face mist, and breath mints. 

Set the scene

Get your table set in advance and include a generous scatter of tea light candles in votives. Light them 10 minutes before guests arrive, or assign the early guest to do it while you finish getting things ready. Have a dedicated spot for guests’ fave things to be kept until it’s time to share.

Find a playlist that can be appreciated in the background, but won’t be intrusive, and get music playing well before guests arrive. My go-to playlists are “stations” based on fave artists like Melody Gardot, Nina Simone, Dave Brubeck, and Regina Spektor. 

Make guests feel welcome immediately

It sounds obvious, but it’s really all about the arrival. Within moments of greeting your guests, fill their hands with either something to sip or something to do. (Or both!) Invite the introvert with nervous energy to help you finish something in the kitchen. Let the extrovert gather the “fave things” as people arrive and set them in their spot for later. Your guests are instantly enveloped in your party and feel welcome!

Be present

The most important guest at your dinner party is actually YOU. Once guests start arriving, consider your to-do list off limits and attend your party! Don’t rush any portion of it—including the sharing of favorite things! Ideally this should happen after dinner and before dessert, when the group is relaxed and comfortable and ready to share. Clear plates and hand each person’s favorite thing back to them at their seat. Ask one guest to take a minute to talk about their favorite thing. The guest who wants to take that home is the next person to share what they brought, and on and on until everyone has shared and received a new fave. Fun, right? (You can also invite guests to share all their favorite things on HandsDown!)

Clean up tomorrow

Remember how I said I liked cleaning up? It’s because I leave it for the next morning, after a great night’s sleep, happy and full of great food and conversation. Nothing makes me grouchier than cleaning when I’m tired, so I don’t. I put food that will spoil in the fridge, I blow out the candles, and I relive all my favorite memories the next morning when I’m well rested. Try it!

These are my fave tips for a Fave Things Dinner Party (and I’ve made a list of my fave dinner party essentials too), but I’d love to hear from you! What are your tips, tricks, and fave ways to host? Share your thoughts in the comments and create your own list to share on HandsDown!

Top 10 Ways to Use HandsDown

10. Use it as a party game or first date ice breaker.

The cure for awkward pauses is here—asking people to think and talk about their favorite things is a magic potion. It’s one of the best ways to get to know someone new because what we love creates an overall picture of who we are.

9. Use it to satisfy your urge to lurk.

Lurking is totally apropos at HandsDown. Scrolling through the Faves of others is the online version of people watching and we are here for it, no apologies. But fair warning: sometimes you won’t be able to resist the urge to comment, “OMG, this is one of my favorites too!” (We speak from experience.) That’s OK too. 

8. Use it to give and get better gifts.

Giving: We all have that hard-to-shop-for person in our life and HandsDown is the antidote. Find a person your recipient really loves or admires and browse their list—golden gift ideas abound! We use this life hack on every gift occasion with perfect results. Woot woot. 

Getting: When you share your list with friends and family, they understand what you really love and care about—a good starting place for any gift idea. But they can also see your Saves, which is basically a gift wish list you wrote yourself!

7. Use it as a handy reference for the links people ask you for a billion times.

Consider your list a gift to your future self, because your past self has definitely given the same link to your brother-in-law at least six times. And to his mom that you met at the BBQ three years ago another 11 times. “It’s on my HandsDown list!” is your new answer.

6. Use it to connect with your besties and reconnect with friends you haven’t seen forever.

Sharing is caring and that’s the real magic of HandsDown—human connection. Inviting friends to join you on HandsDown is a way of staying up-to-date with what is important to them, and sharing what’s important to you with them. It’s like what everyone hopes a book club will be but never is.

5. Use it to discover solutions you’ve been searching for.

Sure, there are bigger problems in the world, but you’ve been searching for a shampoo you actually love since forever and have a graveyard of half-full bottles in the cupboard to prove it. You don’t need 40,000 reviews of the next bottle you try, you just need one from someone who has the same particular needs. Shazam.

4. Use it as a tool of self-reflection. But really. 

One of our favorite things about creating a list is the opportunity to take a step back and think about how our lists reflect who we are and what we value. It’s happened to more than one of us—we look at our list and we see opportunities for growth. That’s a good thing.

3. Use it as a snapshot of your life, again and again.

Creating a list on HandsDown is never a one-and-done activity, because we humans are ever evolving. Your list of favorite things at any moment is a selfie of sorts—a collection of important things to you at this point in your life. Updating your list includes sending an old Fave to your Archives to live forever. After all, that miracle diaper cream won’t always be one of your Faves, but you’ll have a rush of memories when you visit it in your Archives!

2. Use it to find hidden gems.

A giant collection of favorite things created by humans is basically the world’s best treasure hunt. And the best part is that every person’s found treasure is different—a beloved family recipe, an undiscovered podcast, a perfect dog collar, an affordable mineral sunscreen, a genius budgeting tool, a sleek travel backpack, a romantic card game, a pre-party playlist for introverts—the fun is in the hunt!

1. Use it to curate and share the things that make you YOU!

The team here at HandsDown share a fundamental belief: every person is interesting and has something to offer. Consider this our official invitation to you personally—we want you here, and can’t wait to see your list!


Let’s do this!