Christmas Gift Giving Guide: Liz, The Hipster

Liz: Hipster, mom, church planter, fighter of human trafficking, blogger, effortless beauty, possible spy and sneaky dreamer

Liz and I lived on the same dorm hall our freshman year at Baylor University (Collins Hall Forever!).  She was this well-traveled missionary kid/Kappa, and I was my super-awkward self.  Somehow we became friends.  She filled my wanderlust heart with stories of having to get a new passport because her first was filled up by the end of high school, talking to cats in Russian, and her dreams of working for the State Department.

Liz blogs at Lark and Bloom.  That’s where you can learn about her adventures and hear her deep thoughts.  Side note – I helped her redesign her blog.  It’s really hipstery, which was a design stretch for me.  I’m not really hipstery.

I Buy Gifts For:  I primarily buy gifts for my family and a few friends. I would love to buy for a broader circle, but I since I am limited on budget I narrow the gift list.

My Philosophy on Gifts:  I want the gifts to be meaningful items that someone wouldn’t normally purchase for themselves. My favorite gifts to give are ones that have a story to them or help create a story.

My Favorite Part of Christmas: Err…the whole thing? Seriously, I love everything about Christmas. I suppose what I love most is the pause in the year to identify and celebrate the things that feel like ‘home’ to me.

Favorite Christmas Movie: Honestly, my favorite movies to watch at Christmas are old home movies. I never take time to watch them any other time. Plus, it’s great to take a trip down memory lane with your family.

Liz’s Gift Ideas

 Wrist CompassImage via

Military Antiques

What male isn’t obsessed with war movies? My husband loves the Band of Brothers miniseries, so I purchased a wrist compass from this company last year for his gift. It was worn during the invasion by a paratrooper. All his guy friends have MAJOR envy over it. Have a look & you will be sure to find something for the guys on the list no matter your budget.

Succulents

This is a great idea if you have a group of people you need to give gifts to. Co-workers, people in your small group at church or extended family. They are very inexpensive, incredibly low maintenance & beautiful all at the same time. You can buy them online or at your local garden center. Put one in a container with some dirt & it is a great gift. If you want to save even more money, plant them in a tin can instead of a pot.

Accidental Okie says: Afraid to make your own?  You can also buy centerpieces like the one pictured from Etsy.

moustache party

Last year, Liz threw a mustache party for her husband’s birthday!  Now that’s an experience.

An Experience

Huge fan of these! What is a better gift than spending time with the people you love? Take the person to dinner, a movie, an art show…do something together that creates memories. These are the best gifts!

DIY Bowling Kit For Kids

I think this is a great gift for kids. Really, it is two presents. It is a craft and a game. The size is also a plus. It is small and could easily be taken for kids to play while traveling.

Birchbox

Birchbox

What do you get when you cross Sephora with a mailman? Birchbox! This is a monthly subscription that will send you travel sizes of makeup and skincare products. A great gift for any female. You can purchase a 12, 6 or 3-month subscription.

Theo Chocolate

Theo Chocolate

I discovered this gem when I lived in Seattle. It is hands-down my favorite chocolate ever. Their shop in Seattle takes the chocolate from bean to bar & it is all fair trade certified beans. They have some great pre-made gifts or you can buy individual items. A great accompanying gift for this would be a pair of stretchy elastic pants.

Oxfam Unwrapped

Oxfam Unwrapped

These might be some of my favorite gifts to give. You can go on their site & purchase an item for someone living in poverty. Medicine, blankets, a chicken, art supplies, and soap…the list is endless. The best part is that Oxfam sends a card (which are really funny by the way) to the friend you are giving the gift in honor of. The perfect gift for someone who has everything!

Photo via

A Love Letter

What is better than a classic? When is the last time someone took time to craft a beautiful letter for you? That is what I thought. It has been a while. This is free and is a great romantic gift. Get a nice pen. Get nice paper. Now sit down and tell them in longhand what they mean to you. This is so rare since our communication has been degraded to social media form.

OMG! U r 2 cute. Xoxo. #yolo

Doesn’t send the head spinning with passion. So, think through what you love about them and write it out. I love receiving letters. The things someone says about me in their own words is much more impactful that what a store has pre-crafted. Put on some music & pen away.

 Land of Nod

Land of Nod

The gift of childhood is the best thing to give kids. So many toys now require no imagination. I think it is such a shame since childhood should be full of fantasy & whimsy. Land of Nod has great toys with a nostalgic bend. You can find gifts for kids at any price point. My kids could play in this store for hours.

Good luck with your Christmas shopping. Wishing you a merry & bright holiday season!

 

Christmas Gift Giving Guide: Tricia, The Hip Grandma

tricia

I hope you’re enjoying the gift giving guide blog series!  I know I’ve had fun seeing gift suggestions from this amazing group of people.  I’ve already been inspired by their suggestions and have a few people checked off my gift list.  The series is every Tuesday and Thursday throughout November and part of December.

I’ve asked each of the guest bloggers to answer a few questions about themselves, so you can get to know everyone.

Today’s guest blogger is Tricia.  She’s a hip grandma and one of my favorite co-workers.  We often arrive to work about the same time, which is a treat for me.  For one thing, she is one of the kindest, funniest and most genuine people around.  And she has great purses.  She waits until they’re on sale and snatches up name-brand hand bags for pennies on the dollar.

I asked Tricia to be a guest blogger for several reasons:  She is a hip grandma, and I know she’ll provide great inspiration to other hip grandmas out there.  She’s intentional with her gift giving.  She shops early.   And once she told me that she has a spread sheet where she keeps all of her gift giving organized – name, gift, bought, wrapped.  She’s my hero.  And let’s face it, I’ll probably never be that awesome.

I buy gifts for:  Granddaughters and nephews, ages 1-6, our daughter and son-in-law, and other family members ranging in age from their 30’s to their 50’s.  I also buy gifts for a few co-workers and close friends.

Since both of my parents and my father-in-laws are deceased, it’s a real treat to do something extra special for my mother-in-law at Christmas. All three of her sons and our families usually pool our money and buy a big item for her.  It’s always a big surprise, and part of the fun is figuring out how to get her out of her house while the gift is being delivered and set up.

My gift-buying philosophy is:  I LOVE Christmas!  And I enjoy giving gifts my family would not otherwise buy for themselves.  It’s the time of year when I wish I had lots of money so I could buy gifts for everyone I know and even people I don’t know.

Apart from gifts under the tree, we enjoy giving our three granddaughters gifts that last throughout the year, such as horseback riding, acting and ballet lessons, and usually have one large gift for all of them to share.

I do realize that Christmas is not all about the gifts.  I know that it’s about our Savior, Jesus Christ, who was born in a manger and came to earth to die on the cross to forgive us for our sins, and I am so thankful for that, not only at Christmas, but throughout the year.  But I’m also thankful that we have a certain time of year that we can set aside to truly celebrate Him and to show those that we love, in some small way, how much they mean to us by giving gifts and spending time together.

My favorite part of Christmas:  There are so many things I love about Christmas!  I don’t know what to focus on first.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  I love to shop!  Therefore, I begin shopping for next year’s Christmas the week after Christmas, when I can find things on sale. I love finding a good deal!  You always have to keep in mind, though, if the gift will still be relevant and useful by the end of the year.

Black Friday is like a religious holiday for my daughter and me.  We both usually have our Christmas shopping finished well before Thanksgiving, but we look forward to leaving home early that morning and spending the day looking for stocking stuffers and visiting with friends and family that we seem to run into every year.

I love Christmas caroling with our church.  I love baking Christmas cookies with our granddaughters.  I love putting up the Christmas tree and decorating the house.  I love the Chrismon service at church.  I love wrapping gifts.  I love the Christmas parade and play put on by our children at church.  I love the anticipation of our 30-year-old daughter who still acts like a child at Christmas.  I love that our 6-year-old granddaughter will take toys from the toy room in our home and wrap one for each family member and be giddy with excitement for them to be opened. I love it all!

My favorite Christmas movie:  A Christmas Story – I just love Ralphie.  And the movie takes me back to when I was a child – sibling conflict, family dynamics, childhood fantasies, parental love.

Tricia’s Gift Ideas

Blurb Book

Blurb Photo Books

Every year I give our daughter a 440-page Blurb photo book I work on throughout the entire year.  It’s 440 pages because that is the biggest size Blurb makes.  She has three small children, which doesn’t leave any time for her to do such things, but she takes hundreds of photos throughout the year.  She always knows she’s going to receive the book, but she’s always so excited to see which photo I’ve chosen to use as the cover, and she can’t wait to find the time to steal away and browse through it page by page.

I like this publishing site because it offers WAY more pages than any other book publisher at a more reasonable price.  And these great gifts are not just for Christmas, but birthdays, anniversaries, wedding gifts, etc.

Eve’s Addiction Monogram Necklace

These necklaces are SO cute and SO popular!

Pottery Barn Sleeping Bags

Pottery Barn Kids Sleeping Bags

Having two sisters, I can remember waking up on Christmas morning to find three of the same gifts “from Santa” under the tree.  One particular year, it was three Susy Smart dolls dressed in plaid jumpers and crisp white blouses, each with their own school desk.  So last year, there were three monogrammed sleeping bags for our three granddaughters in pink, blue and purple under our tree.

Our granddaughters bring these to our house every Friday evening when they spend the night with us.  It’s much easier than making a pallet and they have their own “built in” pillow!

Vintage Flash Cards

These beautiful vintage flash cards are a favorite of our granddaughters.  And it’s always nice to be teaching while you’re having fun.

Custom Christmas Ornament

Custom Christmas Ornaments

I love decorating the Christmas tree each year with these photo ornaments and seeing how much the kids have changed since last year.  These are truly a treasure to give or keep.

 ifrogz boost

iFrogz Boost iPhone Speaker/Amplifier

This handy little gadget is awesome to turn your iPhone into a stereo.  Simply turn on iTunes, place your phone on the box and “voila”, it plays your music loud and clear.

 kids chef hat

Kids Chef Hats

Our granddaughters love to help me cook.  And they feel special wearing their own monogrammed chef hat while doing so.

Cooking Tools

Kids Posable Cooking Utensils

You can’t call yourself a chef without having the proper tools!  These are so much fun, and perfect for your little “helpers.”

Silver Napkin Holder

Napkin Holders and Weights

I love to entertain!  And having this beautiful silver napkin holder with different weights for each occasion is the perfect accessory to fit the theme.

All the other hip grandmas out there – tell us your suggestions in the comment sections!

Christmas Gift Giving Guide: Marcy, The Etsy Queen

I’d like you to meet Marcy, the Etsy queen.  Before becoming a mom of two, she had an Etsy shop selling adorable baby headbands.  While her Etsy shop was around, her work was featured on the Etsy home page several times.

I asked Marcy to be a guest gift guide blogger because she has a beautiful and unique style – a mesh of traditional and quirky.  Marcy loves shopping on Etsy, making homemade gifts, and shopping at thrift stores.  She has wonderful gift ideas for little girls.  Marcy is also intentional with her gifts and resources, so I knew she’d have some great ideas for all of you!

Meet Marcy:

I buy gifts for: My husband, our siblings, our parents and grandparents, our two daughters (three years old and one year old), and 13 nieces and nephews (newborn through 13 years old). If time and budget allow, I also love whipping up something special and homemade for our close friends.

My gift-buying philosophy is: If I see an item that screams someone’s name, I always grab it right away – even if Christmas is months away. But with such a long list, and two little “helpers” tagging along, I’m usually scrambling to wrap up my shopping/crafting/creating the week before the big day.

My favorite part of Christmas: I adore family traditions and find such joy in participating in both the meaningful ones and the silly ones each year. Since our family is so young we’re having a blast beginning new traditions with our girls as they grow. On this year’s to-do list: a homemade advent calendar with corresponding activities! Oh – and this ornament activity that celebrates (and teaches the kids) the names of Christ!

My favorite Christmas movie: It’s a tie between National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and It’s a Wonderful Life – both must-watch flicks on my side of the family each year.

 Penguine Classics Books

Penguin’s Hardcover Classics Collection

Every title in this swoon-worthy set of books is gorgeous.  The beautiful fabric covers designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith transform a good read into a piece of art!  A must have for the book worms AND designers on your list!  While you’re not likely to find these floating around in your local thrift store, you can save a bit on Amazon. I’ve gotten them for $8 below the Penguin price there.

Brass Peacock Statue

Brass Animals

I think mixing metals is one of the keys to great design, and the brass animal trend is a great way to bring a gold-tone (and a touch of whimsy!) into a home.  If you are lucky enough to run across one with personal significance (a favorite animal, former school mascot, something from the family crest, etc.), it’ll make this great gift even better.  And it doesn’t really HAVE to be an animal.  But those are my favorites!  The prices on Etsy aren’t bad, but you can save a pretty penny by popping into your nearest thrift store and scouring the shelves for one of these babies.  I recently scooped up a cute little duck and a good sized camel at my local Goodwill for about $3 each.

 Batman Art

Art Prints – Selecting art for someone else can be pretty tricky, so I’d save this one for those closest to you.   On top of Etsy, you can find great deals and lots of sizing options at www.Society6.com, www.20×200.com, www.art.com and other similar sites.  I recently picked up this 8×10 print of an abstract batman from the Polygon Heroes collection as a gift for my husband.  His favorite superhero now lives on our floor to ceiling gallery wall, mixed right in with photos of our children, some of their art, and some thrifted prints and paintings.  It makes him smile, and that makes me happy.

West Elm Hammam Strip Hand Towel

Cute Hand or Dish Towels – Home décor gifts can be challenging to give, since it’s difficult to pin down exactly what someone else will like enough to display in their home.  I think hand/dish towels are a nice exception, since they’re a low commitment décor piece.  Most folks change these towels out pretty often for washing, so having a “special” set or two in the rotation is a welcome treat, even if they don’t turn out to be their everyday style.   I have (and love!) these from West Elm.  Anthropologie tends to have a fun selection, too.  And Etsy never runs dry!  You can search on Etsy for vintage, embroidered, and possibly my favorite – hand blocked options.

If you’re not sold on this, I would place coasters, salt & pepper shakers and magnets in the “low commitment home décor” category as well. Anthropologie has some awesome petrified wood options that I’ve got my eye on right now.

Bower Power Succulents

Photo from Bower Power Blog.

Potted Herbs or Succulents – Try your farmer’s market first, and if you can’t get them there, a local nursery or even a hardware store like Lowe’s or Home Depot should have these.  If you opt for herbs, include a favorite recipe.  A cute little pot, homemade marker (these are cute!) and packet of seeds make a fun alternative.  I don’t think you’ll be surprised when I say that Etsy has a great selection, too.

Accidental Okie says – Bower Power Blog has a great tutorial on making a potted succulent display!

Melissa and Doug Owl

Wooden ToysPlan Toys and Melissa & Doug are a couple of good retail options, and Etsy is a great source for truly homemade wooden toys that cater to a variety of ages (Fun options here, here, here and here). If it’s not addressed in the product listing, I recommend contacting the seller to confirm that the paint used to adorn the toys is safe for babies.  They aren’t wooden, but the felt food baskets from Ikea are adorable, and an ABSOLUTE steal as well.

Doll Pattern

Custom Dolls – A set of very basic sewing skills should be enough to get you through one of these adorable doll patterns (if not, there’s a good selection ready-made on Etsy).   I love this pattern, and this one, but it would be fairly simple to draft your own.  The best part?  Customizing each doll to match the child receiving it.  My daughters will likely find these in their stockings this year!

Handmade mugs

Photo from A Beautiful Mess Blog.

Personalized Dishes – White dollar store dish + porcelain marker = custom gift!  I think mugs or dessert plates are my favorite options here, but a serving platter could be nice too.  Or maybe even creamer and sugar pots.  Hand lettering is all the rage right now, so if that’s a skill you possess, put it to work here!  Or put your kids to work making keepsakes for grandparents, aunts, uncles and teachers. Inspiration, Tutorial, Tutorial, Markers.

Table Card Play House

Card Table Play House – You can find these on Etsy, but the prices are a bit steep, so let those products serve as your DIY inspiration!  There are lots of patterns available for these if you’re not into winging it, too, and you’re just sewing straight lines, which keeps it pretty easy!

Williams-Sonoma Berry Bowl

Cute Colanders – Mini colanders are perfect for rinsing grapes and berries, or draining canned veggies (like beans, which need to be well rinsed to get all the starchy sauce off.  Gross.) without filling the entire dishwasher up with the bad boy you usually use for large pots of pasta.  I have one mini, and it’s constantly in use.  It’s easy to store,  and I’ll definitely be collecting more!  Mine is from Anthropologie (a steal for under $10 last year!), but a quick search on Etsy for “colander” or “berry bowl” will find you a slew of options – from vintage enameled to handmade ceramic and stoneware.

Accidental Okie says: The berry bowl pictured (from Williams-Sonoma) is so cute and only $8.

Two Things: The Ill-Fated Cake Ball and A Christmas Announcement

Thing 1: The Tale of the Ill-Fated Cake Ball

A few weeks ago, my friends and I had a cake ball making night.  My friend Ashley hosted it.  She was showing me the cake balls which she had pre-rolled for us to decorate.  In a flurry of excitement, she told me about the gluten-free cake balls and the vanilla cake balls at the same time.  I got confused.  And I ate a whole cake ball.  A whole glutened cake ball.

Now let me explain something to you – I am really gluten intolerant.  It is not a lifestyle choice, a fad or a psychosomatic thing. Here are my reactions:

  • A few crumbs or cross-contamination – acne-like rash on face for about a month.
  • 1/8 a teaspoon of a gluten-containing ingredient – Vomiting for four hours.
  • Any more than that – A week of vomiting/other unfun stuff that I will not write about on this blog, ever.

This cake ball contained more gluten than I’ve ingested cumulatively in past six-and-a-half years.  Thankfully, I realized that I ate the wrong cake ball within just a few minutes.  When the discovery was made, my friends and I all looked at each other, all wondering what I should do, and all of us knowing what had to be done.

So I excused myself, went to the bathroom, turned on the loud vent fan, and gagged myself until I puked.  I did it twice, you know, just to be sure.

It felt just like the after-school special I once watched on bulimia. (The very after school special that taught me how to gag myself).  There I was, hunched over the toilet, turning on the fan to dull the noise, sticking my fingers down my throat.  Yes, I decided, I was a cautionary tale.  Only mine was about eating a cake ball, not a life-threatening eating disorder.

In my moment of desperation and melodrama, all I could hear in my head was the Jessie Spano I’m So Excited freak-out song she sings after becoming “addicted to caffeine pills”.  Yes, children of the 80’s, you all know what I’m talking about.  She screams “I’m so excited, I’m so excited.” And then falling to a heap of tears and early-90’s fashion, she’s caught by Zach Morris, and finally she lets out, “I’m so, I’m so SCARED.”

So I was glutened, and then I was throwing up, and then I was laughing to myself about Saved By the Bell.  But somewhere in there, it worked.  I didn’t have even the smallest reaction.  I was very proud of my mental fortitude.

BTW – bulimia isn’t funny, and if it’s something you struggle with, please find someone to talk to.

Thing 2: Christmas Blog Series!

Get excited because my first guest blog series starts tomorrow!  During the month of November and a bit of December, I will be hosting guest blogs every Tuesday and Thursday.  I’ve asked friends from all stages of life, from all around the world, and with diverse tastes, to suggest ten Christmas present ideas.  My guest bloggers are men, women, young moms, hip grandmas.  Some are stay at home moms, some have Ph.D.s.  They hail from Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, Massachusets, Australia and England.  Some shop at Pottery Barn and others make their own gifts.

As the guest posts have rolled in over the past week, I have been so inspired by everyone’s amazing gift ideas, and I know you will be too!  So tune in every Tuesday and Thursday.

Make sure to follow my blog by clicking the follow button on the right hand column so that you don’t miss a single Christmas list!