With Christmas and Hanukkah just days away, it seems only fitting that I share a little gift giving guide. If you’re anything like me (and I *can’t* be the only one!), there are still bits and pieces to cross off your list between now and when the festivities get underway. Below are some things that I happen to like and use, or things that I’ve picked up for people on my own list, and then a bit of randomness thrown in for good measure. Happy shopping!
For inexpensive stocking stuffers, I don’t think you can ever go wrong (or have enough) of white athletic socks, bobby pins, barrettes, ponytail holders, or lip balm. I’m a sucker for any of that stuff, and use it all constantly. Maybelline sells New York Baby Lips Repairing Lip Balm with SPF 20 for four bucks a pop, available at your favorite drug store. I also love ChapStick brand (cherry!), Luna’s Lemon Zest, and any of the Nivea or Burt’s Bees varieties. I always stick a handful of lip balms in the kids’ stockings. Mostly because they always steal mine (ick!), and mostly because we all use it all the time. One on my nightstand, one on each of my desks, one in the car … you know how it goes.
Lotion is another great go-to when you’re looking to fill out a basket or stocking. Again, I keep them everywhere because mine and Madeline’s skin gets crazydry this time of year, so we’re constantly lathering. I love the Vaseline lotion, and the Moisture Wrap one from Nivea. My mom swears by the original scented version of Jergens, and has been using it since her college days.
Shampoo and conditioner? Yes, please! Thems in the know say that you should switch between various shampoos and conditioners so your hair doesn’t get too used to the same product, so we usually have a few different bottles going on. Although I haven’t tried it yet, the Pro-V flat to volume shampoo from Pantene is the next one on my list.
You know how I’m kind of into a little sparkle here and there, right? Express has answered that call with a whole dang Sequin Shop for me (and you!). Everything is now 30% off with free shipping.This sequin sweatshirt is on my list — too cute! I’m also determined to have one of those sequined dresses on my frame come Spring. (Go ELB!) If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen my shout-out to J. Crew jewlery earlier in the week. I love them for a good statement necklace (besides, of course, loving their clothes as well). Right now, you can shop in the store or online and take 30% off everything. Online, use the code CHEER for free shipping.
Now for the kids…
I took advantage of Amazon’s free super saver shipping and definitely bought more online this year to make things as easy as possible. I grabbed this Scrabble game for Nick’s stocking (a sneaky way to practice spelling, words, and such), and since Madeline has been asking for a microphone (all the better to hear her, thankyouverymuch), I bought this one. I’m sure I might regret that purchase later on, but it was a simple way to make my littlest happy, and I’m down with that.
Maxwell (our golden retriever) is mildly obsessed with bones, and I’m more than mildly obsessed with him chewing something that isn’t owned by the kids, so I succumbed and now even he will have something under the tree. Of course I can’t put it under the tree until the very last minute since he will undoubtedly sniff it out.
Madeline is undying in her love for animals and adored the movie Dolphin Tale. Luckily for me, it comes out on DVD next week. It might not make it here in time for Christmas, but I don’t think she’ll mind one tiny bit. If you have a fellow dolphin (or animal lover) in your house, it’s a sweet movie that the whole family can enjoy. And heck, Harry Connick, Jr. is certainly not the worst eye candy to look at.
Madeline also has been searching for a guitar. Or a matar, as she calls it. When I first saw these Paper Jamz in the store, they didn’t do anything for me. But after passing on the shockingly pink or ultra-babyish ones, along with the, um, really loud ones, and after reading the reviews on this one, it won the prize. And no, I didn’t buy the suggested amp for it. Let’s hope no one tells her that that’s even a possibility.
Nick has a sound effect machine that he uses a lot with Madeline, but it bit the dust awhile back, so this replacement will be under the tree. Aside from art supplies and clothes, I didn’t get him anything else. Mostly because I’m getting him a camera. He has been asking for one forever and a day. I researched them to the nth degree and found one that I think we will both be happy with (as in, not uber expensive and not overly childish). Who am I to stand in the way of another family photographer?
Both kids get pajamas to open up on Christmas Eve, and I extended that tradition to my nieces this year too. Old Navy was having an awesome sale (and still is), so they are all getting super soft, crazy cute pjs. Love that tradition!
Do you have a favorite cook in your life? Perhaps some of the off-the-beaten path books on my own list will give you some inspiration:
- 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement
- Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook
- Twain’s Feast: Searching for America’s Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens
- Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef
- An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace
- Food Heroes: 16 Culinary Artisans Preserving Tradition
Over the past few years, I’ve stepped away from acquiring masses of cookbooks, and am focusing on getting back to basics. The nakedness of food. Food at its purest and encumbered forms. Hence the interest in the above books. In fact, only one cookbook is on my wish list (with the exception of blogger Joy the Baker’s new cookbook, but that doesn’t release until February), and that’s this one (from more bloggers – yay!).
This week’s issue of Gourmet Live has lots of good ideas for the foodies in your life:
- 12 of the season’s handiest and tastiest gifts for gourmands
- 10 food-related charities that give the gift of food to the world’s neediest
- 10 scrumptious gifts you can make at home to please everyone on your list
And, of course, if you have a food and drink themed tree, these meatball and pierogi ornaments are too cute to pass up! And the folks at Epicurious recently had a fun round-up of food ornaments which you can find right here. And before I forget, thanks to all my faithful readers who told me about the food ornaments from Sur La Table – awesome finds! I am currently coveting the salt and pepper shaker ornaments, along with the hot sauce ones. And the red colander one. And the bacon and eggs one. And oh, a million others. Very original. Don’t think I’m not going there first on the day after Christmas!
Originally I was going to include some of my favorite Etsy shops in this post, but since time would be a little tight with receiving items for holiday gifts, I’m going to save that section for another day.
I try to include handmade and heartfelt gifts every year, because those are sometimes my very favorite ones to receive myself. Have a picture of one of your family members that they would enjoy? Blow it up and frame it. Make a photo album with some of your favorite family pictures as gifts for your family. A coupon for a night of babysitting for your friends. Homemade treats from your kitchen or a scrumptious dinner you made. Those are all things that people appreciate just as much. Perhaps even more.
I hope this has helped you a bit with some of the kids or cooks in your life. As for what to get your parents? Good luck. Mine are terribly hard to shop for. Going on a hunt this weekend to finish them up. Hopefully. And you’re on your own with your significant other too. My go-to suggestions are usually gift cards for their favorite haunts, dinner out, an activity to do together (concert, night away, bowling, golfing, skydiving, what have you). Mystic and I aren’t exchanging gifts this year at my request. I wanted to keep it about the kids. Luckily he agreed. He’s awesome like that.