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My favorite gift ideas: budget & last minute-friendly

December 16, 2010

Cute purses that are eco- and budget-friendly! I found at Whole Foods.... many styles - around $20

If you still have people on your list to do something for, here are some of my family’s favorite things. {I’ve just included stuff you can get last minute – not much searching involved! I’ll wrap it up with what to do if you’re feeling a little stressed.}.


{I’ve bold-ed each so you can scan quickly if limited on reading time}

STUFF IN GENERAL we love for our kids: building toys {from blocks to Legos}, games {we gave a 4-in-one game set from Target to our kids last year – it’s nice enough to leave out in our living room; we all love playing Chinese Checkers…and they love chess}, art supplies…anything without batteries!!! {Yes, we do have a Wii and DS but these are used with major limits-or else my 9-year old would do nothing else.}

Side Note: To encourage these “better for you” activities, this is what we’ve done:

  1. Make a special space for each {We’ve made an art center which includes easily accessible supplies and our not-so-pretty but wildly practical Little Tykes picnic table.}
  2. Establish simple guidelines for using {When finished, clean up / pick up what you get out.}
  3. Schedule DOWN TIME to allow time for this type of stuff!


MESSAGE FROM SANTA: This AMAZING site is your link to Santa!!  He’ll create a special message just for your child! It’s QUICK {it took me 10 minutes for each child’s message}, EASY {just answer a few questions and download a couple of photos}, and FREE (you just “join” the site}. Go to this link:  www.PortableNorthPole.TV/home



A family book: Last year, I overheard two customers in the children’s section of Barnes & Noble trying to locate a book that “everyone was looking for.” It was Lightening Thief which I ended up buying as well.  It made a great family present – we only read when we were all together. This year, I’m going to pick out a classic – with the help of these great references:

Other Good Books:

  • For the entertainer {or those that don’t consider themselves “entertainers” – it’s equally good for both; I raved about it in an previous post}: The book?  Lulu Power’s Food to Flowers Love it!
  • For the parent wanting “better” family meals: The Family Dinner: Great ways to connect with your kids, one meal at a time, by Laurie David, with recipes by Kirstin Uhrenholdt {This one is under our tree!}
  • For the home-lover: I have found my I D E A L home-related book. I am absolutely IN LOVE. Although for my mom, it will not be wrapped until the very last minute – I cannot put it down. {Is that horrible to read before you give?!} Unfortunately, I can’t share title at this moment since she’ll be reading, but no doubt I will be highlighting it early next year!!!!!
  • For zen-lovers {and zen-needers}: ZenHabits’ {my favorite blogger} Leo Babauta has written some that are on my list. See his About page to order.
  • Little “gift books”: I just love books – for myself and for giving others.   B&N has a whole display of great $6+ displayed near the entrance.


COMFORT: My mom gave our boys two things they still use all of the time: cozy blankets {As babies they had plenty, but now they have big-kid ones. She had monogrammed with their names.} Another year – she gave them each good pillows {My kids’ pillows where ones I’m sure I got on sale at Target for $5. These “gift” pillows are a few notches higher!}  My nine-year old insists on traveling with his blanket; my seven year-old with his pillow.


PHOTO: photo books, photo mug {I’m having ones made for my boys – along with a box of hot chocolate}, memory stick filled with new pics {for digital frame-owner}, note pad personalized with favorite photo.  And the classic: a pretty frame – along with pic. {Anthropology has fabulous frames – well, they have fabulous everything – it’s my favorite store.}


MUSIC: Make a personalized CD – easy to make and duplicate – great party favor or gift in bulk. And I LOVE the Putumayo World Music CDs – great for kids AND adults. {Just bought the Paris one!}


STYLE / BEAUTY: Anything Sephora {my second favorite store!}: great gift sets at various prices. Also, I’ve had more compliments on a purse I got from Whole Foods of all places! {It’s made by Earth Divas – a line of fair-trade goods made by working women’s co-ops and small cottage industry producers in Nepal.} And while I was at WF this morning buying two as gifts, I found great little soaps for $1.29 each – bought the frankincense & myrrh scent since it’s Christmas-y! I’m helping Santa out by putting these in the stockings…

Time to RE-GROUP!

Whether you started off the season feeling well-organized – or not – you probably need to do a little regrouping. Find 30 minutes of alone time and focus:

  • Look at what you have left to do – calendar, mailing, shopping, baking, packing-related – and figure out when you will do it. Keeping all of your “things to do” in one place is extremely helpful. Carry that list around everywhere and when something pops into your head, jot it down.
  • Streamline {delete} what you can. And forget perfection. {My Christmas cards haven’t been mailed yet. Because I organize professionally, that may be surprising to some, it’s just not crucial to me when they arrive in others’ mailboxes. Is Christmas not celebrated after midnight on December 25th? : ) I actually enjoy addressing the envelopes so I want to do when I’m in the mood.
  • Avoid just “looking around” – before you know it you’ll end up with all kinds of “stuff” and chances are, you’ll spend more than you’d planned.  During this “focus” time, decide exactly what you need for everything left on your list.  Then using your specific list, group errands together – and avoid busiest times, if possible.
  • KEEP RECEIPTS in ONE PLACE & know return policies. If you are going over budget, make some returns / do some shifting around.
  • DON’T BE DUMB and keep unwrapped gifts in the back of the car (what was I thinking?!#@$%).  Instead, wrap what you don’t want found and put under tree {for someone other than who it’s actually to!} or place items in large cardboard box “to be shipped” {not really!} – make sure to tape up well.  Just un-tape if you need to add something to it and then tape it back with shipping tape.
  • And finally – remember to take good care of yourself {some rest, lots of water, some exercise – even 5-minute spurts of it, meditate/prayer/quiet time}. Really try to make sure this is somewhere in your day.

In the next couple of days, I’ll share a few more recipe favorites and some decorating ideas that are simple, inexpensive and beautiful {a wonderful combination of words!}

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