Christmas Gift Giving Guide: Sarah, The Best Friend

sarahThis post is part of my 2012 Gift Giving Series, running from November to part of December.

Sarah: The Best Friend.  That’s not a descriptive title compared to The Fashionista, The Etsy Queen, The Hipster.  But in a way, I hope it’s the most descriptive of all the titles in the gift-giving series because I hope you all have a best friend like I have in Sarah.  Sarah is someone who knows my secrets and fears and dreams.  She always remembers my birthday and anniversary, even though remembering things like that is not my greatest strength.  We get in busy ruts and don’t talk for two weeks, and pick up right where we left off.  We trek the eight-hour drive to see each other every year and stay up talking until the wee hours of the morning.  In short, I hope you all have a Sarah.

Sarah has great taste – I’d call it rustic chic.  She’s a true Texas girl and now she has her own little Texas girl.  I hope you enjoy her gift ideas!

I buy gifts for: My husband, our 20-month-old daughter, our parents, siblings (late 20s), grandparents, and whatever names we draw in our extended families.  If time and budget allow, I like to do a little something for close friends.

My gift-buying philosophy is:  Ideally, I start thinking about “the perfect gift” ideas around September, and just buy them as time and funds allow.  (If a brilliant idea arises beforehand, I write it on a post-it and stick it on the October or November calendar page.)  Over the last couple years, I’ve really attempted to shop earlier so that our December budget is relieved a bit.  Most of the people listed above receive a personal gift, but some extended family members are given a family or couple gift.  When deciding what to buy for each person (or family), I try to focus on something intentional that he/she would truly love and would remind him/her of my love for them.  Sometimes the gift is practical, sometimes it isn’t at all.  A general theme I do seem to follow, though, is that of personalization.  I love initials, special pictures, and monograms.   As an amateur photographer, it’s not uncommon for many gifts to include a pic that marks a special memory.  And, if possible, I try to support a small business.

My favorite part of Christmas:  My sentimental sappiness only climbs during the holidays, so I adore traditions- big and small.  With a young child, we are thinking a lot about what traditions we want to establish in our little family, since she is at the perfect age to recognize and remember what we do.  I pray that all the fun things about the holidays never overshadow the joy found in Jesus’ birth.  My hubby gave me the Willow Tree Nativity our second Christmas together, so that is the focal point of our décor.  I also love Christmas music, white twinkle lights (re: You’ve Got Mail), ornaments from each year representing a story/memory,  taking a ridiculous number of pictures, receiving Christmas cards, and special drinks and foods that remind me of every Christmas before.

My favorite Christmas movie: I grew up watching White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life, and still make a point to watch them.  For modern flicks, The Holiday has become a fave as well.

Sarah’s gift ideas.

Picture Plates by Shutterfly

I just love all the fun gifts we can make with our own pictures.  Shutterfly is expanding beyond the traditional prints and books, to include personalized plates for your table.  Embrace a fun, whimsical design for kids or aim for classic with a single image of a beautiful bloom.

Gift Boxes from Penzey’s Spices

If you’re buying for a culinary genius or just someone who appreciates high-quality ingredients, check out the fabulous line of spices and seasoning from Penzey’s Spices.  They offer several themed gift boxes (cooking, grilling, etc) at a great value and in attractive boxes.  My husband and I especially appreciate that they list suggested uses on the spice jars.

Honorary Donation

Do you have a loved one who might literally have everything? If his home is busting at the seams or if giving beyond herself resonates with her heart, consider giving a donation to a worthy organization in your loved one’s honor.  If he/she cares deeply about children or families, give to Focus on the Family.  Or, maybe he would be thrilled to know that instead of receiving another tie, money will be buying an essential heifer or goat for a family in a third-world country.

To stay local, adopt a family in need or a child from Angel Tree, a ministry that allows children of incarcerated men and women to have a Christmas gift, and take your loved one with you to purchase the requested items.  This can be a particularly valuable experience for children.  Let’s remember the groups doing significant work domestically and around the world during this season of giving.  (Be sure to use Charity Navigator to check an organization’s credibility/trustworthiness if you have not contributed to them before).

book

Children’s Books from “I See Me”

This innovative company has created a beautiful line of unique, personalized books for babies and children.  With vivid illustrations, I See Me teaches children how to spell their names, hosts a royal princess birthday party, and celebrates the fun of Christmas with your child in the story.  We ordered My Very Own Name for our daughter and she consistently chooses it to read.  Just recently, I ordered God Loves You!  and I am excited to give it to her for Christmas.  Be sure to sign up for email updates when you visit their website, and they’ll send you an immediate coupon code.

silhouette

Silhouettes

Even you’re just a tiny bit curious, you must check out these beautiful works of art by Tim Arnold!  Mr. Arnold hand-cuts detailed silhouettes from a picture starting at just $40.  These are not just for the log cabins in Little House on the Prairie.  Visit The Nester to see how she incorporates her children’s silhouettes into an awesome focal wall.   I’m excited to order one of these for our daughter now that she has enough hair.

monogram necklace

Pretty Things to Monogram

A monogrammed necklace or picture frame is the perfect go-to gift.  Traditional silver frames from Pottery Barn make a classic statement in a home, especially with a special picture to personalize it.

I learned about Vintage Pearl after inquiring about a friend’s necklace.  They create beautiful jewelry that can be personalized with initials, children’s names, or birthstones.  I’m not a jewelry fanatic, but I knew I had to have their name charm after my daughter was born.  I wear it almost daily!

magazines

Subscriptions

Magazines, Sirius XM, and Spotify keep giving all year-round.  If your loved one is a music lover or enjoys an entertaining read, a gift-subscription could provide the perfect escape during a busy day.  From cooking to sports, there’s a publication for nearly everyone’s favorite hobby or interest. (Consider if the recipient would prefer an e-subscription if he/she has a tablet of some sort.)

name puzzle

Wooden Name Puzzles

I love a good story, nostalgia, and sentimental things.  Surprised?  I didn’t think so.  Rootin’ Ridge Toymakers ties together these 3 elements beautifully with their classic wooden toys.  The husband & wife team have been creating children’s treasures for almost 40 years (!) in their adorable woodshop.  Strolling through their quaint-feeling shopping center, it’s easy to forget you’re in a busy part of Austin.  Anyways, the toys…  They make a variety of safe, high-quality items, but I love the wooden name puzzles.  What a great way for your little loved one to practice fine motor skills while learning to spell his/her name!  Rootin’ Ridge does accept online orders, but hurry if you want it for the holidays.

An Experience

I’m thankful that my parents emphasized quality time with family when I was growing up, and Christmas seems like the perfect time to be intentional about it.   As I’ve watched mine and my husband’s grandparents age, I have been impressed with the importance of spending time with them.  Many older folks aren’t able to enjoy the same activities and mobility of their past, and they would love the chance to see you and get out of the house, nursing home, etc.  If this sounds familiar, consider taking your loved one (young or old) on a picnic on a pretty day, shopping in a decorated mall, on a tour through your city’s museum, to a community play, or out to eat and looking at Christmas lights in a fancy neighborhood.  A quick Google search can help you find creative things in your town.  Know that the time spent will be worth gold to them.

The Family Gift

So I mentioned a family gift earlier, so let me offer a few examples.

The Movie Bucket:  Grab a cute bucket and stuff it with everything needed for a fun family movie night.  Movie-style candy, popcorn, a 2L of coke, and an age-appropriate movie are the essentials.

The Bleacher Family:  Collect fun things for the family who spends lots of time on the bleachers watching someone’s game (Snacks, sunscreen, ball cap for the team, pom-pom, drinks, memory card for the camera, The Sandlot movie).

The same idea could be applied for a family who looks forward to the summer beach vacations, people with a road-trip planned, or the die-hard college football fans.  All you need is a sturdy container to start and some imagination!

gifts

Registries

Don’t forget about unfinished registries for the nuptials or parents-to-be!

Merry Christmas & happy shopping!

You can read all the gift giving guides here!

Gift Giving Guide: Kylie, The Fashionista

Are you enjoying the Gift Giving Blog Series?  (You can click here to read the whole series, which will run every Tuesday and Thursday throughout all of November and part of December).

Today’s blogger is Kylie.  She’s a true fashionista.  She has a degree in apparel and fashion merchandising, has worked for Nordstrom and now manages a high-fashion boutique.  (Yes, we have those in Oklahoma).  In short, she’s legit, and she has amazing taste.  I went to her house a few days ago for the first time and nearly died on the spot and went to Pinterest/Pottery Barn/Anthropologie heaven.

Kylie has recommended classy and fashionable – yet affordable – gift ideas for men and women of all ages!

Introducing Kylie:

I buy gifts for: My parents, parents-in-law, my siblings, my husband’s siblings and their spouses, a few nieces, some of my closest friends, my boss, and a few others.

My gift buying philosophy: I LOVE gifts and gift-giving. There is something so special and magical about Christmas time and exchanging gifts. I like to plan well ahead of time so that I can give a gift that will be thoughtful and special for each individual. To me, gifts reflect what’s in your heart, and what you feel for another individual.

My favorite part of Christmas: Definitely decorating our Christmas tree. It is a long, time-honored tradition in my family to take a whole day and devote it to decorating our giant Christmas tree with all of our special ornaments, collected from over the years.

My favorite Christmas movie: The Polar Express. I was obsessed with the book as a child and now love the movie. The movie truly captures how special and magical Christmas-time can be for everyone, no matter your age.

Kylie’s Gift Ideas:

Yosi Samra Fold Up Shoes

Yosi Samra Ballet Flats
These have been featured in People Magazine many times as the most comfortable flats available. And they truly are.  Working retail 8-10 hours a day keeps me on my feet, and these feel like I brought my slippers with me to work. The perfect gift for any of the girls.

LuLu Lemon Boxers
These are for the guys in my life. Sounds strange, but every man in my family swears that these are the most comfortable and best boxers in the world. They are a little pricey, so it’s always fun to throw one (or a few) in as extra little gifts or even as fun stocking stuffers.

Penguin T-Shirts
Classic and cute, these are a throw-back to the originals from the 1950’s. All styles make great, comfortable t-shirts for brothers, brothers-in-law, dads, cousins, etc.

OU OSU Hats

College Sports Gear
My husband and I just moved to Oklahoma where he’s getting his master’s degree. Anything featuring Oklahoma sports is a great gift for people in our family who are all new fans!  Whatever your team, this makes a great gift for the guys in your life.

BareMinerals Lipgloss
These are great stocking stuffers. The best lip gloss in the world, isn’t sticky and has a great minty lip-plumping property.

Dogeared Pendant Necklaces
I’m obsessed with these right now. So cute and fashionable. There are so many varieties and options available to help you customize for any girl on your list.

Zella Infinity Scarf
Where my husband and I are from, it gets really cold. I’m still getting used to that idea that I’ll be experiencing my first “mild” winter in a while, now that we live in Oklahoma. But scarves ALWAYS make great gifts. They are cute, fashionable, and extremely useful and functional for the cold winter months.

Restoration Hardware Slippers
Slippers make great gifts! They aren’t something that someone would usually buy for themselves, but everyone needs a pair! Especially to make it through the winter. Restoration Hardware has really great, cozy slippers that are also very affordable. They have men’s and women’s styles. And anything from Restoration Hardware is always amazing.

Michael Kors Eau de Parfum
In my family we use Christmas as an opportunity to give gifts that an individual might not normally buy for themselves. This perfume is a staple for all the girls in my family. It’s classic and pretty, but not overpowering, something that you can wear every day.

Old World Christmas Ornament

Old World Christmas Ornaments
Obsessed. The only word I can use to describe my love for these ornaments. My family has been collecting these since before I can remember and each year they come out with many brand new ones. The best part; the family who owns and designs them is from my hometown. These magical ornaments are wonderful for any holiday housewarming party and are perfect to add to the top of any present. And there are literally hundreds to choose from!

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!