I've told you before, but Rob is an exceptional gift giver. Ex.cep.tion.al. He always comes up with thoughtful, creative ideas that are a pleasure to receive, so whenever his birthday rolls around each year, I really try to come up with something just right.
A theme always helps. It gives some structure to the entire operation. This year I decided to make a basket stuffed with gifts exclusively from our great state of North Carolina, which was a fun challenge. He's a Carolina boy through and through, so I was certain he would be pretty pleased. It worked for his birthday, but it would also make a nice housewarming gift for someone new to the state (hey, they don't call it southern hospitality for nothing) or a "NC misses you" to someone who has moved away.
This bar towel sparked the entire idea. It has the perfect dose of southern prep and the detailing is exquisite. Uncommon Goods also has a throw pillow with a similar design that I'm certainly pine-ing over (get it... pine... North Carolina...)
My next stop was the liquor store (around the corner... Mambo No. 5, anyone?) where the cashier kindly directed me toward Cardinal Gin, which is distilled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina by Southern Artisan Spirits. The bottle even features a local artist's depiction of the NC state bird.
Do you know the number one cash crop in North Carolina? Tobacco. But there was no way this girl was tryna buy cigs, so I went with peanuts (another major agricultural resource.) Not just any peanuts though: enter Carolina Barbecue Peanuts.
Southern Season, based in Durham, makes loads of different gifts and such, so I threw in some "Cheese Lovers Pub Mix" for good measure. To be honest, the name "Pub Lovers Cheese Mix" might have been better suited for Rob, but I just went with it.
And since Rob is so sweet, I finished it off with a bar of Escazu artisan chocolate made in Raleigh. (I opted for the Beaufort bar which has sea salt in it!)
If you're thinking of crafting a basket of your own, there are loads of other great NC things you could toss in... Our State magazine, beer from Mother Earth Brewing, Ashe County Cheese, local produce...
Keep it fun, make it personal, choose local.