Summer is the time to unplug, turn off your iPhone and head to the beach with a scandalous book in one hand and a set of headphones in the other. And yet… actually ‘unplugging’ isn’t so easy when most of us read on our trusty Kindles or iPads and all of our carefully curated playlists live on Spotify or Rdio.
So, with that in mind, whether you prefer to log off or stayed connected this summer, we put together a list pairing the best ways to have some fun in the sun – hosting your friends, jet setting for weekend adventures or simply preserving those warm weather memories – both ON and OFFline.
1. Papyrus: If you’re throwing the always essential summer picnic or pool party this August and want to send out invites the classic way, I would recommend heading to the nearest Papyrus for a handful of these beautiful handmade picnic cards. Just make sure you plan a picnic that looks just as good as this one!
2. Cleverbug: Or if you feel like trying something new, you can jump on your iPhone and download Cleverbug, an app that connects to your Facebook and lets you send photo-personalized cards anywhere in the world. Once you download the app, just select “invitations” from their various categories (they also have birthday, thank you and Valentine’s cards to name just a few), fill in the date, time and RSVP info, select a photo or two and send. And your first card is completely free!
3. The Jane Austen Collection: Finally planning your very own Jane Austen book club? If you’re envisioning a get together at a chic coffee shop or a handful of your friends talking about Gwyneth Paltrow’s portrayal of Emma Woodhouse on the big screen while sitting in a circle of beach chairs, then you should consider investing in this beautiful vintage-looking set designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith for Penguin Classics.
4. Slice Bookshelf: Feeling literary and tech savvy? Then transport Pride and Prejudice to the digital world and check out Slice Bookshelf, a new social way to keep track of what you’re reading, get recommendations and share your latest favorites with friends. If you’re planning a book club meeting you can use the comments feature to coordinate and even borrow books from friends through Bookshelf’s “borrow and lend” feature. And to make your experience extra social, Bookshelf can automatically import titles you’ve bought online or liked on Facebook and Goodreads, so it’s easy to get started right away.
5. Cocktail Recipe Books I like to think of myself as bartender in constant training (read: I’m always down to craft a few cocktails for my friends pre-beach day), which is probably why I often find myself lingering at the table of cocktail books before checking out at Urban Outfitters. If you’re playing host or hostess this summer, check out their selection. My personal favorites are The Staff Of Parragon’s The Bartender’s Guide (for famous drinks and recipes), Emma Christensen’s True Brews (so you can brew beer, wine, sake and more at home, true DIY style) and Andrew Bohrer’s The Best Shots You’ve Never Tried (for a more aggressive get together).
6. Mixology: If you want to take your mixing skills to the next – er, digital – level, then the Mixology app is a must-have. With this virtual liquor cabinet you’re guaranteed to impress even the biggest drink snobs. Mixology comes loaded with over 1,000 ingredients so that you can browse drinks by category, liquor and mixer or learn about mixing techniques and the perfect glassware. You can even use your location to find bars and liquor stores.
7. Adorable Agendas: Heading to Mexico for an authentic margarita? Then you’ll need do some research (and make sure you don’t lose your notes and plans somewhere along the way). I try my best to jot down ideas, recommendations and reservations in one place. If you want to make your vacation plans even more colorful then you should check out a Lilly Pulitzer agenda or Kate Spade Saturday notebook. Because nothing says summer quite like something pink and green and patterned.
8. TripIt: Can’t bear the thought of writing all your plans out or printing a million confirmations? Then TripIt has you covered. The mobile travel organizer creates one itinerary for all your plans, so you always have vital confirmation numbers and addresses at your fingertips. All you have to do is forward your confirmation emails to email@example.com, and voila, TripIt’s itinerary will show your flight plans, hotel reservations, rental car bookings, and even activities like boat tours, online restaurant reservations and event tickets all in one place.
9. The Perfect Beach Bag: Heading to the beach, the bay, or the pool? Then we have the perfect bag for you. Roberta Roller Rabbit’s totes are not only adorable, but they’re big enough to carry every beach necessity under the sun. I’ve even used mine as a carry-on flying coast to coast.
10. Stow: If a beach day is just one of the many parts of your vacation plan, let us introduce you and your packing needs to the Stow app. Once you download Stow, you’ll answer a few basic questions – whether you wear glasses or contacts, if you take medication, and if there’s anything else you just can’t live without – and select what kind of trip you’re taking. Stow will supply a template that you can use as packing checklist. Not as cute as your beach tote, but just as useful!
11. Foreign Language Phrasebooks: Vacationing abroad? Then you’ll want to make sure that packing list has a pocket dictionary or phrasebook. The traditionalist in me would suggest a Pocket Oxford dictionary, but Lonely Planet has plenty of student-friendly dictionaries and phrasebooks as well. Both are available in plenty of languages – ready to be consulted and consumed by the eager traveller.
12. iSayHello: If you’re totally lost in another language, then it might be time to turn your data and check out the iSayHello apps, the perfect digital phrasebooks and translators for when you’re on the go. Whether you want to learn a few last minute phrases in Italian, German, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Japanese or Chinese, iSayHello will make sure you’ll never be at a loss for words while traveling again.
13. Craft Store It Up: If you’ve been meaning to compile your exotic snapshots, concert tickets and other summer collectables, then head to the nearest craft store when a rainy day hits and start scrapbooking. As much as online services make it easy to pull together a digital scrapbook, it’s not the same as crafting your own photo mats, getting your fingers sticky with gold glitter glue and laughing with your siblings over ridiculous photos that don’t quite make the cut.
14. Shutterfly: Want to skip the glitter glue? Then grab your laptop and head straight to Shutterfly, where you can choose from 20 styles of photo books in five sizes or create your own custom scrapbook from a collection of layouts, backgrounds and embellishments. Of course, the best part is that you can upload photos right from your digital library, which if you’re anything like me, is full of preciously preserved moments.
15. Chevron Frame: When it comes to saving and sharing a memory, frames will never go out of style. Anthropologie always has a few stylish frames to choose from – like this adorable Chevron frame – and these Beach Avenue Frames on Etsy capture the summer spirit perfectly. So if you want to have a few memories on your desk or wall, or if you’re gifting a moment captured on film, I say splurge on a colorful frame.
16. Printstagram: With Printstagram, my go-to Instagram printing company, you can turn your Lo-Fi filtered memories into printed polaroids, calendars, posters, mini books, stickers and more all right online. There’s nothing like a Sepia-toned photo of a Lake Tahoe sunset to make you nostalgic for a long June night.
Have any other on and offline recommendations for making the most of your summer? Share them in the comments!