Father’s Day Gift Idea: A Journal (+ some tips & prompts)

Fathers Day Gifts

Jim interrupts his journal writing for a little boxing

Father’s Day is coming up in 5 weeks or so, so we’ve been busy trying to think up some new gift box/gift basket ideas to help celebrate the day. This will be our first Father’s Day in business – and we’re not really sure how things will go or what will prove to be popular. But one idea we have been thinking about is giving Dad (or husband, partner or grandfather) the gift of a journal.

Now I guess most NZ men in our culture do not spend a lot of time introspecting and examining their life through journal writing (or not any of the ones I know anyway!). So you might be thinking … “hang on, my Dad would hate that.”  But there is one really good reason why it’s worth encouraging any man to record things about his life – and that is because in the future his family, especially his children and grandchildren, will be really interested in reading it!

One particular reason why a lot of people dismiss the idea of journal writing is that they don’t feel the need to do it for themselves – and they can’t imagine anybody else ever wanting to read about them. But in terms of real people and real families there’s no need for your dad or partner to be a Bear Grylls – in fact often the most interesting stuff to read about can be the little, seemingly mundane, details of their day to day lives. For instance wouldn’t you love to know stuff about your grandfather, like…

  • what schools he attended
  • whether he had any nicknames at school or home
  • who his best mates and first girlfriends were
  • what subjects did he like or hate
  • what sports he played and how well he did at them
  • what family meal was his favourite, or what did he spend all his pocket money on
  • etc. etc…

It’s interesting because it’s personal and it’s YOUR family history being written.

So that's where he developed his wicked backyard batting technique!

But even with encouragement,a lack of time and inspiration are still barriers to many people who would otherwise keep a journal. So here are a few quick prompts and tips that you could give him to help keep the inspiration level high and the time requirement low:

General Journal Prompts

Answering questions like the following can be a good prompt for journal writing…

About your work:

  • How do you get to work each morning?
  • What tasks take up most of your day?
  • What do you do at morning tea or lunchtime?
  • What are the best and worst things about your job

About your interests, hobbies, sports:

  • The results of your games, competitions,  etc – who did you play, where, and what
  • Top 5 things you enjoy doing at the moment
  • Top 5 things you want to try in the future
  • What is your best ever competitive moment – or best performance

About your family/home life:

  • What did you do with your family last weekend?
  • Favourite family holiday – where, when and who was there
  • How and where do you family eat their evening meal – and what is your favourite family dinner menu
  • Funniest family moment

About your childhood:

  • Any nicknames you had, or funny nicknames you made for others
  • Schools you attended in chronological order
  • Best mates and girlfriends
  • Subjects you liked, disliked
  • Names and short descriptions of teachers you paticularly remember
Journal tips & prompts
After a little encouragement Paul took to journaling like a seasoned pro

Keeping a Journal of Lists

Lists are also a good way to journal, stuff like…

  • Things that always make you laugh out loud
  • Things you should change about yourself but have decided not to
  • Places you’d like to visit
  • Things you can cook (well?)
  • Jobs you’ve had –  in chronological order
  • Top 10 things that annoy you
  • Things you hate to spend money on
  • Things you like now but didn’t used to
  • Things that you really shouldn’t have done
  • 10 things you couldn’t live without

One line a day journaling

One line a day journaling is an excellent way to build up an interesting record of your life. Just one sentence every day, every other day or even every week. Lots of commitment required… but little effort really for a great result.

Journal Tips & prompts

It was a hard sell getting Dave off the beach and into journal keeping!

So, what do you think? Could you use this Father’s Day to convince a man in your life to start some form of journal? Or is this one of those ideas that’s more wishful thinking then realistic? We’d love to know your opinion or comments…


Mid-Winter Christmas in July


Start with some wintery weather:

Mid-Winter Xmas

Snow on the Beach (Christchurch, 25 July 2011)

Mid-winter xmas

Snow in the Garden (Christchurch, July 25 2011)

Invite your family:

Family Portrait

And/or your friends:


Light the Fire:

Fireplace - mid winter xmas

Set the table:

Spice up some nuts:

Nuts for mid-winter xmas

Sweet and Savoury Spiced Nuts (from notwithoutsalt.com - click through for recipe)

Mull some wine:

Mulled Wine (click through for recipe - or just buy ready-made at the supermarket and heat up:)

Don’t forget to put the Tegal Turkey Roll in the oven:

Mid-winter xmas turkey

Turkey Roll with Cranberry Stuffing (& yummy little sausages wrapped in bacon - click through for recipe)

or the roast veges:

Play some games:

While you steam some pudd:

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Pudding (click through for Ruth Pretty's fab sticky banana puddings with caramel sauce recipe - deliciousness!!)

Or whip up some Egg-Nog Cupcakes:

Egg Nog Cupcakes from annies-eats.net (click through for recipe)

Or assemble something for the kids:

Snowman Cupcakes from meetthedubiens (click thru for Instructions)


Oh… and if you did want to add a gift or two… we know just the place to look:

Gift Ideas

Winter Gift Guide - The Paper Package

Slow Work Day : Distracted by Decals

Vinyl wall decals make a great gift idea – or an easy winter “spruce-up” for your home. Forget messy paint and stencils, these are quick to put up and removable once you’ve grown tired of them. They would make a great gift for people flatting or renting, or for kid’s rooms (where their interests are likely to change every couple of years).

And the selection available nowadays is so great…


Gift ideas for the Kitchen

Chocolate - A Scientific Breakthrough (approx $44.00 NZD incl. postage from US)

Gift Ideas for Kitchen

This Month... (approx $96.00 NZD incl. postage from US)


Gift Ideas for the Home

Sorting Out Life (approx $42.50 NZD incl. postage from US)

Gift Ideas for the Home

Classic Kiwi Clothesline ($120.00 + courier delivery)


Gift Ideas for the Home

Family Tree (approx. $115.00 NZD incl. postage from US - you supply family name & colour scheme)

Gift Ideas for the Home

In This House... (approx. $80.00 incl postage from Canada)

Gift Ideas for the Home

Vintage Family Name (approx. $50.00 NZD incl postage from US - you supply name)

Gift Ideas for the Home

Birds on a Wire (approx. $38.00 NZD incl postage from US - you can specify width)

Gift Ideas for the Home

A Different Drummer (approx. $74.00 incl postage from US)


Gifts for Kids

Woodland Friends (approx $182.00 NZD inc. postage from Singapore)

Gift Ideas for Kids

Definition of a Boy (approx. $36.00 incl postage from US)

Gift Ideas for Kids

Alphabet ($30.00 incl delivery within NZ)


Click on images to be taken through to websites for further details.

We don’t sell any of these products, and aren’t associated in anyway with the shops/products included – we just like what we see!!

Moleskine Passions Recipe Journal Review

Moleskine Recipe Journal

When you’re spending your hard-earned money on a gift for someone (or for yourself!) there are a couple of things you will want to know…

  • Is it a good choice (will they like it? will I like it?), and
  • Is it worth the money?

So, in relation to these two questions, here are our thoughts on the Moleskine Recipe Journal:


1. Because it makes the perfect family recipe journal

Every family has favourite recipes. The ones that come out every Christmas or special occasion, the ones that you remember fondly from your own childhood or the ones that make up your favourite weekday meals. They all have memories and thoughts associated with them, they are part of your family history and your stories. And wouldn’t it be great if they were able to be passed on to other family members.

This Moleskine recipe journal is a great place to record these favourite memories through recipes, because

  • it has a classic style – and has none of the “tweeness” or “tackiness” of many published family recipe folders.
  • it is durable – with a hard cardboard cover and rounded corners
  • it is customisable – the journal has a mixture of pre-printed and blank sections and there are over 200 stickers and icons included for personalisation
  • there is a back accordian pocket with room to keep handwritten copies of recipes you’ve been given or snippets cut out of newspapers
  • it has acid-free paper (which means it should last at least 500 years!!) which is super-smooth and easy to write on
  • it has an elastic band to keep it tightly closed and protected when it’s not in use (also allows you to stick in lots of pictures and loose papers and keep it all together)
  • it has limited space for recipes per section (18 pages per section for appetisers, mains, desserts etc.). While some might see this as a negative, we think it’s good in that it makes you edit and prioritise your favourites – so the task of recording won’t go on forever.

The Moleskine Recipe Journal presented in this way makes a great gift idea for a bridal shower, engagement, wedding, house-warming, Christmas or birthday.

2. Because it makes the ideal “Cook’s Bible”

If you’ve been watching the Australian Masterchef show over the last couple of years, you might remember seeing George pull out his “cook’s bible” or collection of recipes from his apprenticeship. Everyone who cooks, whether just for themselves or for a family, as a hobby or as a lead-up to a serious attempt at masterchef, could do with a special place to record all those standard recipes, special recipes, tips & tricks they learn along the way.

The Moleskine Recipe Journal makes an ideal “cook’s bible” because:

  • it is durable (see above) and won’t fall to bits within months
  • it is customisable – as well as space for recipes, it also has half the journal blank to fill in as you like. So you are able to customise sections however suits you best (sauces, techniques, flavour profiles, expert tips etc) It also includes over 200 stickers and icons which can be used to further personalise the journal. Give recipes a “thumbs up” or categorise dishes into summer/winter favourites etc.
  • it contains handy information such as Northern & Southern hemisphere food calendars, food facts, measures and conversions, so they are always ready at your fingertips
  • Moleskine Recipe Journal in Useit has acid-free paper (see above)
  • it has an accordian back pocket with room for keeping various pieces of ephemera associated with food
  • it has elastic band to keep it tightly closed and protected when it’s not in use (see above)

The Moleskine Recipe Journal presented in this way makes a great birthday, Christmas or anytime gift for those interested in food or cooking.


Moleskine products are not the cheapest around, and this recipe journal is no exception. So at $56.00 (including gift wrap, gift tag and NZ delivery) is this gift good value for money? Here are a couple of reasons why we think so…

1. It will last. As noted above the Moleskine notebooks are durable and the covers will stand up to being stuffed in and out of drawers, left on the kitchen bench or carried around in a backpack or handbag. They are also book bound, rather than glued, so pages will stay intact and they can be stored upright on a bookshelf for easy reference.

2. They are classically styled and they feel good to use. Designed in Italy, with the heritage of European craftsmanship and journal making behind them, these are the kinds of notebooks that have been used by writers and artists for over two centuries. Although now made in China, the Moleskine journals are still handmade and each one is individually numbered and carefully checked for quality. You can feel the quality of the journal when you hold it, plus it’s stylish and the lovely ivory-coloured paper feels very soft and smooth to write on.

And our final question…


After personally using one of these journals for over a year I have only found one problem – if you use it too close to the stove top you can get a lot of food splatters on the pages. Because the paper used in Moleskine journals is fine, and not waxy or thick, it means that food or oil spilt on the journal stains quite quickly. Depending on your point of view this can either add to the journal’s character, or lead an unwanted messiness to the pages. Our advice is to not stir-fry too close!!

Moleskine recipe journal

Moleskine Recipe Journal $56.00

Moleskine recipe journal

"Masterchef" - Gift Baskets for Men - $72.00

Moleskine recipe journal

"Family Recipe" - Gift Baskets for Women - $112.00

Thank You Note Samples & Examples

Continuing our series on all the do’s and don’ts of writing thank you notes, today’s post is all about practical examples of wording that would do well for a thank you note in most situations.

The 6 steps below show the general format you should follow for a thank you note:

1. Salutation

  • for formal letters (say for the Boss, or older family friend)

 Dear [name of person]

  • for informal (friends, younger co-workers etc.)

Hi [name of person]!

2. Opening line of thanks, making specific mention of the gift

Thank you for the [description of gift] [name of gift] or event or favour

Example: Thank you so much for the lovely yellow towels you sent us.

3. More than one sentence about the item (or event or favour) including a positive comment on what you are thanking them for.

– using more than one sentence (or breaking one sentence into 2 parts) makes this part of the thank you note feel more sincere

It is always so nice to have new fluffy towels to use in the bathroom. And the beautiful colour you have chosen is so fresh and spring-like it will cheer me up every morning just to see them.

4. Another sentence telling the giver you appreciate the thought or time they put into it (a postive comment on the giver), and mentioning the occasion it was given for

It was really thoughtful of you to send us a gift for our new home, and we look forward to showing you around the next time you are able to visit.

5. A second thanks

Thank you again,

6. Sign Off

  • formal – Yours sincerely, Kind regards, Warm regards
  • informal – Love

+ your name – signed (if your signature is readable) otherwise hand written.

So, the full note would read like this:

Dear Aunty Margaret

Thank you so much for the lovely yellow towels you sent us.

It is always so nice to have new fluffy towels to use in the bathroom. And the beautiful colour you chose is so fresh and spring-like it cheers me up every morning just to see them.

It was really thoughtful of you to send us a gift for our new home, and we look forward to showing you around the next time you are able to visit.

Thank you again,

Love from, Jessica & Pete

There, that’s not so hard is it! And following this easy example should work well for most occasions.

However, it you would like to add a bit more oomph & personality to your notes, here are some other great examples from http://www.thank-you-note-samples.com

Dear Stacy,

How in the world did you know I liked chocolate? Ok I guess it’s not a big secret, but you managed to get me my absolute favorite kind, and wrapped in a bow so pretty I hated to untie it (but I did). I’m trying to pace myself but it’s going quickly!

Thank you for thinking of me! You could not have picked out anything more perfect!

Much love,

Dear Bill,

The flowers are gorgeous! I’ve never gotten flowers at the office before and it was quite a treat! I felt like a queen. Thank you so much for sending them, and for choosing such a beautiful bouquet. You really made my day!


Dear Friends,

I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated the gift basket you sent to the hospital. It was such a nice surprise, and how did you know all my favorite treats? You are so thoughtful to have sent it; it really lifted my spirits. Thank you all very much!


Dear Mindy,

Oh my gosh, just when I thought baby clothes couldn’t get any cuter, you find these adorable little overalls! And as if they weren’t sweet enough, the matching hat and socks put them over the top. I cannot wait to put them on the little one. Thank you so much!

It was such fun to have you at the shower. Thanks for making the drive over!

And of course, if you’re Marilyn Monroe, you can show loads of personality in 3 short sentences:

Thank you note - Marilyn Monroe

And, if none of this advice works for you, there’s always the Molesworth self-adjusting letter system to try:

thank you letter - Moleworth self-adjusting

Photos 1 & 2 via Pinterest

Bored Games

One of the first things that a weekend of wet, winter weather can make you think of is board games. Not that actually playing board games is all that great – it’s more the IDEA of playing them that appeals. Sitting around with family or friends, all cozy, having fun. Unfortunately most times that turns out to be a bit of a nostalgic dream… the reality is more like tantrums, up-turned boards and cards flying everywhere, a scrabble board full of 3 & 4 letter words that are impossible to build on and the endless time-stretching monotony of monopoly!

But, despite this, you have to love them…

Do you remember these…


And remember how MAD it made you to get landed on just as you were about to get into home?


Aww, Stratego. Just one question… why?

and Mystery Date!! (1972 edition)

Do you know that these are collectable nowadays? So if you’ve got one sitting around in a cupboard or at the bach don’t throw it out because people will actually pay real (not monopoly) money for it.

Where do you keep yours?

Board games also mean hours spent looking for lost pieces – or the rules – so it’s better if they’re organised…


In a bulging board game bookcase?


Or in a dedicated cupboard (like the Royal Tenebaums)

Wall Art

Wall Art

Or on the wall as artworks (this is a great idea for a kids room – and the pieces are kept in a little plastic bag attached to the back of the board – inspired!)

Vintage Box

Or beautifully organised in a beautiful vintage box.

Remix and Recycle

And if you do lose some pieces, or the games get a bit mixed up don’t despair because help is at hand…

Gift Idea - Board Game Remix Kit

Board Game Remix Kit

This is a fantastic gift idea – a board game remix kit from Hide&Seek (http://www.boardgame-remix-kit.com/). Available as an e-book, traditional book and i-phone app – there are also optional new cards to purchase  (see the photo immediately below).

The Board Game Remix Kit reinvents, tweaks and mashes-up the staple board game stash of Cluedo, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit & Scrabble.

gift idea - board game remix cards

Or you could always try recycling

gift idea - recycled board game notebook


or, if worst comes to worst…

gift wrapping using old board games

Gift Wrapping

You could use the old game boards for some stylish gift wrapping!

Winners and Losers

Here is a current favourite board game…

gift idea - spy alley board game

Spy Alley

It’s great fun (and a great family gift idea). Easy-to-grasp rules, the ability to eliminate players really early on (always makes for more excitement) and best of all, quick to play!

gift idea - table topics family gathering

Table Topics "Family Gathering" edition

And this is another favourite that we sell at The Paper Package. The Table Topics : Family Gathering edition is suitable for all ages in the family and makes a great gift idea for the next time you’ve got the extended family together for a meal or other social occasion.

And not so favourites…

bad gift ideas - thinking mans golf game

A bad, bad gift idea!

According to guyism.com this is one of the “most horrendous board game fails of all time.” It takes all the fun out of the all-ready boring game of golf and puts it on a board for no one to enjoy. You would have to agree that any game that requires you to calculate wind speed & direction can’t be good.

And finally, if food is more your thing then board game fun, take a look at these…

Scrabble Cupcakes

Wonderful and totally worth 8 points! (and if you like these you should also check out their scrabble wedding cake)

All photos via Pinterest (click through for links & credits)

How to Write the Perfect Thank You Note

You must have heard the news story last Friday about the “insane email from the world’s worst mother-in-law”  that was doing the rounds on the internet.

Well, in the email, one of the many complaints made to future daughter-in-law Heidi by her future mum-in-law (that’s her in the picture) was that,

You should have hand-written a card to me. You have never written to thank me when you have stayed”

Poor Heidi – if only she’d been following our series of posts on all the in’s and out’s, do’s and don’ts of thank you letters, cards & notes!!

Anyway, for the benefit of all of you who may have to deal with snooty mothers-in-law or others like them in the future, we will now continue on with our thank-you note series. Today…


The first important thing to note is that your “thank you” should be TIMELY

Thank you notes, or cards, should be written and sent as quickly as possible. The recommendation is that you write them immediately because, as we all know, it is all too easy to put tasks like this off and before you know it so much time has passed that you tell yourself there’s no point sending it now. So, tip #1 is to do it straight away.

However, not all of us are that well organised, and if you have been slack it’s good to know that it is still better manners to send a note late, than not at all. Perhaps you could apologise in the note for your tardiness, but don’t try making excuses. As primly noted by Miss Manners in her online etiquette column “the declaration of being busy just irritates those who took the time to be kind”.

The second point is that written thank you notes and cards should be SPECIFIC

The best thank you notes always make specific reference to the gift you’ve been given, or the experience or help you are thankful for. Think about how you felt at the time, and how you feel when you think about it now. Kelly Browne, author of “101 Ways to Say Thank You: Notes of Gratitude for all Occasions” also advises to use adjectives in your writing as they help convey emotion. For example, instead of just writing:

Thanks for the glasses.

Try adding a bit more detail like:

Thank you for the sparkling crystal glasses!”

It adds a lot more oomph and personality to the note.

And speaking of personality, this is the third golden rule of thank you cards, to be PERSONAL and SINCERE

Address the person(s) you are thanking directly, don’t use pre-printed thank you letters, don’t be half-hearted and don’t lie.

In all cases a thank you note should stress the generosity of the giver, remembering that it is the thought that counts. But even when that thought just doesn’t seem right, you should still be gracious in your appreciation and be really careful not to hurt someone’s feelings. Be wary of using phrases like “The ornament is so unique” or “Your taste in clothing is so original” – people can usually pick these for what they are, and will justifiably question the sincerity of your appreciation.

The final thing you might want to consider is the STATIONERY you will use for the thank you letter, card or note.

It is generally accepted that there is no need for the stationery to be too formal – but on the other hand it shouldn’t be too messy either (as Miss Manners also notes, you don’t want your thank you letter to look like a ransom note!)

It is very easy to pick up sets of thank you cards or blank notecards, and notecards are a great size because you don’t have to fill a whole page, but there is enough room to craft a lovely 3 or 4 lines – which is probably a good length to aim for.

In practical terms, the Emily Post Institute (emilypost.com) advises that a thank you note for a gift should contain:

  • an opening line of thanks and specific mention of the gift
  • 3-5 sentences (use the tips above for ideas)
  • another thanks
  • sign off

Next week we will post a few sample thank you letters or notes to use in different situations so that we can see examples of this advice in practice…





Gift Ideas : Woodland Tales

It’s probably because it’s winter, but we’re really loving woodland themes for gift inspiration & buying decisions this month…

Woodland & Winter Inspired Gift Ideas

We have just had a new arrival of journals and leather gift products arrive from O’Check Design Graphics. I love these products, they’ve got such a great vintage vibe going on… they feel nice as well as looking nice… and they suit the season perfectly.

Added to the website today were these journals…

"Harmony" Library Notebook & O'Check Day Book - Black

These journals make beautiful gifts and really suit vintage-style gift wrapping using tissue, brown paper & twine. They feel like you’re opening up a present from the past!

As well this week we’ve just bought some new “Woodland Tales” knitted toys from Lily & George. These aren’t handmade products, but they kind of feel as though they are with their knitted texture and slightly odd expressions. They haven’t made it onto the website yet… but should be available next week.

Woodland Tales Soft Knitted Rattles

The ONLY issue with them is how on earth does a pink lamb get into a woodland themed animal collection? Strange… but babies probably won’t care & she does have a lovely earnest expression on her face!

Other woodlandy-themed gift ideas that we ♥ …

Felted Wool Squirrel Tea Cozy by fuzzylogicfelt on Etsy

photo from fuzzylogicfelt (etsy.com)

and I don’t even drink tea or have a teapot:)

Handmade Rustic Oak Leaf Tags by peaseblossomstudio on Etsy

Photo via peaseblossomstudio (etsy.com)

These are sold as tags to add to favour boxes for weddings – but they would look great for any winter birthday gift wrapping (or save until Christmas).

Happy Acorn Necklace by marymaryhandmade on Etsy

photo from marymaryhandmade (etsy.com)

The jeweller writes… “The little acorn is happy for now, but has hopes to one day become a big, beautiful oak tree! ” Handmade out of sterling silver, hand detailed, with a matte finish. This could made somebody very happy 🙂

Stags Head Red Tartan Woven Tapestry Cushion Cover Sham by Designer Cushions on Etsy

Photo from designercushions (etsy.com)

These cushion covers are sold on Etsy, made right here in NZ in Matamata. Don’t you love the whole “hunting lodge” vibe. These would look so cozy in your home!

Ruru – An Autumnal Beastie by ellaquaint on Felt

Photo from ellaquaint's shop at felt.co.nz

And every forest needs an owl – so this little Morepork (ruru) adds the perfect touch. From ellaquaint’s shop on Felt, click through the link on image to take a look at their other wonderful birds & beasties!

Tui Brooch by nativecre8ve on Felt

Photo from nativecre8ve's shop at felt.co.nz

Finally, so you can take a bit of the forest with you, a tui brooch made in Rotorua by native cre8ve. These brooches would make a lovely, original gift for $15.00 (including NZ delivery!) Click through the link on the image to visit their shop.

p.s. none of these shops, designers, craftspeople are associated with The Paper Package in any way – I just really like their stuff!