Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Very Last Guest Gift Post!

(This is the fourth and final post in the series - the first three are here, here and here. Check them out!)

We have finally reached the end of this week's gift-suggestion posts. Do I have a greater appreciation for Oprah and her gift lists? Well, aside from having more respect for the hard-working people on her staff (this thing was HARD to pull together!), not really - every person who submitted a list to me did such a great job of picking sensible, generally affordable items that normal people could both like and actually purchase that I'm feeling even more critical than ever of the shame-inducing folly of the frivolous, overly expensive gift lists elsewhere.

This final list is really fun - up first is Nicole's awesome, Nicole-centric list of gift ideas for women, followed by Amy's list of gifts to give your spouse that are really gifts for you and we'll finish up the week with Karen's truly amazing list of gift suggestions under $30. They're all full of great ideas and great writing. - Beck

 Nicole -What To Give To The Lady In Your Life (especially if the lady in your life is Nicole)
I am famously easy to please when it comes to gifts; essentially if someone gives me a gift I am excited, but this is my personal wish list – any of these items will push "excited" into "ecstatic". I like to think of myself as everywoman, so these gift ideas – with a few modifications, perhaps – will be perfect for the woman in your life. Or for you, if you want to pass these suggestions along to the appropriate people.

A bottle of wine is a universally appreciated gift, unless of course the recipient is a non-drinker, in which case a bottle of wine would be an awkward gift. The gift of wine can say anything from "You’re a classy lady" to "You really look like you can use a drink", and I probably fall into the latter category more often than not. I’ll take it. Personally, I prefer a full-bodied red such as Shiraz, but that is a matter of personal preference. I’m also a quantity girl; I would take two $15 bottles over one $30 bottle any day. But then, sometimes I can barely be bothered to get myself a glass, if you know what I’m saying. At least I manage to take the bottle out of the paper bag.

There are those who love those fancy truffle/ artisan/ handmade/ gourmet chocolates that are all the rage lately, but in my opinion, nothing beats a box of
After Eights at Christmas.  Mmm. Have you ever tried them frozen? It’s like a refreshing, festive taste of heaven.

Black Sweaters

You can never have enough black sweaters. They are flattering, cozy, and they go with everything. If you, like me, live in a chilly Northern clime, then you will be able to enjoy wearing a black sweater for nine to ten months of the year. This one from Jacob is cute! Oooh, so is this one. It has ruffles!  My husband just commented on the attractiveness of the red one. I concede it IS very pretty, for those less monochromatic than me. The great thing about gifting someone with a sweater is that you don’t need to know someone’s exact size; frequently the purchase of clothing in the wrong size can sometimes lead to marital tension and resentment.

I have
wanted one of these for years!  Charm bracelets are the ultimate gift; they keep on giving. These bracelets look cute with only a couple of beads or charms, and they can be added to for an indefinite amount of birthdays, Mother`s Days, and Christmases to come. Look at this little snowman! He’s precious!  Colourful beads are also available, if the woman in your life is more interested in the red sweater than the black one.


I love receiving pyjamas; especially cozy and fuzzy ones. What can I say; when it comes to sleepwear I prefer the non-sexual, and I would bet that most women do as well. Sears is a great place to purchase pyjamas, for the simple reason that they are always machine washable. I find it irritating to discover that my cozy new pyjamas must be hand washed and hung to dry, else they will shrink to a non-cozy size. Look! It’s Snoopy! And that super cute monkey!  These may not be sexy, but I can guarantee they would give you sweet dreams.

I know, I know, a lot of us are going dairy-free these days, but what is Christmas without the over-consumption of cheese? Plus it goes so nicely with wine. My husband once gave me a
huge hunk of aged Cheddar from Janice Beaton and it was one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.

Gifts From The KitchenI don’t normally exchange gifts with my friends, but during the season we end up sampling each other’s culinary wares at potlucks and parties, and I’m just going to say that I have a very talented group of friends. One of my girlfriends has the ability to decorate cakes with royal icing in ways that amaze. Last year she gave me a teeny tiny cake decorated like a gift, complete with bows and polka-dotted edible gift wrap! It was adorable! Another girlfriend makes a salsa that brings tears of joy to my eyes. Kitchen gifts are always thoughtful and they make a perfect, and delicious, hostess gift.
I’ve never made any of these recipes, but I want to – and I would be so happy to be the recipient of them.

Scented Body Lotion

I don’t wear perfume because my husband is allergic; instead I like these scented lotions from Bath and Body Works. My favourite scents are Twilight Woods, Japanese Cherry Blossom, and Warm Vanilla Sugar. They are often available on a "Buy Three Get Two Free" basis, which is a nice deal, I think. I prefer body lotions to bath products or soap, but perhaps that’s just me.

Mix Tapes
Well, it would be more accurate to say "Mix CD" but that has less of a ring to it. I spend a lot of time in my minivan, and the radio often plays a less-than-ideal mix of music. I’m hoping for a mix CD for Christmas, and I hope it has Love Is A Battlefield on it for optimal car dancing.

A Night With Jim Cuddy
Not THAT kind of night with Jim Cuddy! Well, okay, MAYBE. I wouldn’t turn it down. YES I WOULD, I’M HAPPILY MARRIED. But I was thinking of a night of listening to him soulfully singing and strumming his guitar. Maybe looking soulfully into my eyes. Or maybe I should just ask for some of his music on my mix CD.
(Nicole blogs at Girl In A Boy House, has 2 kids, loves black sweaters, lives in Calgary and really wants a Pandora bracelet for Christmas.)

Amy - Self Serving Gifts For Your Spouse
She LOVES to cook, and she is always talking about how fun it would be to take cooking lessons. Well, now is the time to make her wish come true! And...if you're being honest, her cooking could use a little help.

She is always putting everyone else before herself. Finally pamper her the way she deserves. Plus, after this gift, there is no way she can say no to you taking a trip to Vegas with your buddies! (This gift idea shamelessly cribbed from an episode of King of Queens.)

The gift that keeps on giving! She'll melt when she finds out she will be receiving a new, lucious sampler of natural chocolates from Vermont each month. Also, you heard somewhere that chocolate is an aphrodisiac, so...score!

He may be a love machine at night, but that pasty skin, slightly pudgy belly, and slowly-creeping back hair is not always a pretty sight in the morning.

If the man in your life likes to putz around with tools, this great tool set should really please him! And maybe inspire him finally to fix the leaking faucet in the kitchen he has been promising to take care of for 6 months now.

Your gadget-loving fella will go nuts for this wondrous little box that brings internet-streamed video straight to your TV. Now he can watch tons of sports, news, and sci-fi flicks without that obscene cable bill. If he can get you away from watching Downton Abbey on Netflix for eleventy-millionth time, that is.

How do you tell your loved one that they have B.O. without hurting their precious feelings? Answer: you don't. Instead, buy them some expensive, fancy-shmancy soap and hope that they use it.

Who wouldn't love a talking box that uses satellite positioning to tell you where to go? A miracle of modern technology! And such a thoughtful gift for that special someone in your life. However, if, like me, your special someone frequently calls home saying, "I don't know where I am, can you get on Google Maps and tell me where I am?" then this gift is as much for you as it is for them. Also handy for finding bathrooms whilst on road trips.

Because you will get to drink the wine too.

(Amy blogs at A Chase After Wind, lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and toddler son, and remains constantly vigilant that her haircut not look like Justin Bieber's.)

Karen - Gift Ideas That Won't Break Your Budget
I live in a place that was in a recession before the recession started. People raise chickens and forage for berries without irony - well, maybe with some irony. Still I love giving gifts and finding great ones for under $30 is a challenge. But I have become an expert. From my corner of the world to yours, I humbly offer Budget or Bust Christmas Giving List.

Run Wallet:  This is a genius little item for people who like to exercise. I am sure you know some. This wallet holds an iPod Nano, keys, cash and credit card. Your jogging friend can strap it to his wrist with velcro. This would be nice gift for my brother in law, maybe combined with a $10 iTunes gift card or fingerless gloves.

Handmade Bracelet: Budget shopping on Etsy! I love shopping on Etsy because once you weed through all the complete crap, there is some really unique stuff. Then you get to feel as satisfied as you would if you found a cute outfit at TJ Maxx but so much cozier because you can shop in your pajamas at home.   If I am only getting my mom or my sister one $30 gift that tells them how appreciate them,, I need it to not come from the mall. I just do. This bracelet has some really pretty details and I love the berry colors for Christmas time. It costs $27 plus some shipping.  

Lace Flouncy Skirt for American Girl Doll: I am knitting this skirt and a few other pieces for my nieces who are receiving American Girl Dolls as their BIG gifts this year. Handmade gifts are an excellent way to stay on budget. I will admit that not every person on my list is fully capable of truly appreciating and loving the handmade gift. Those people are just as awesome in their own way and I like to shop for them on Amazon. My nieces will be delighted- and any child of a certain age who is very into dolls probably would be too. If this costs me  more than $15, it will be a surprise.

Lego Space Shuttle:  As a mama of three boys, I cannot say enough about the incredible joy on the faces of my kids when they open a huge Lego set at Christmas.   What I like about this set is for about $24, it is going to have about $50 worth of impact - because it is a SPACE SHUTTLE. Awesome.

Penzey’s: We actually live in pretty reasonable driving distance of a Penzey’s spice shop.
I am happily related to a bunch of men and women who enjoy cooking with excellent ingredients. Perhaps some people might think this is too much like giving groceries, but I enjoy receiving really nice quality ingredients. Feel free to shop for me at Penzey’s as the Baker’s Catalogue. For $11.95, you could get a mini gift set of 4 spices. We have a really good friend who loves to coo for his family. He’d love this. If shopping for my fairy mother in law, I would probably splurge and get the larger sizes for $15.99.

Dr. Hauschka:  I realize that it is only acceptable to buy toiletry items as gifts if they are really nice ones. Dr. Hauschka is the very best.  I probably wouldn’t buy it on-line but rather at Whole Foods or if feeling extra loyal at smaller shop in town, though that will probably cost me an extra $5. Still for $22.95, it is a really sweet set including Hand Cream, Lavender Oil, Quince Moisturizer (quince, I love this antique fruit!), Rose Moisturizer, and 2 body oils.  This gift is tiny but when budget gifting, quality is very important. If you buy this, give it to your best friend or someone you want to have be your best friend. This year I may give this to my sister in law as she is getting taking a very trip for the holidays.

Kindle Cover:  My dad got himself a Kindle recently. He is really the perfect candidate for one. He can even do his beloved New York Times crossword on it. I want to get him a truly class Kindle cover to protect it. Once again, Etsy saves the day. I think my dad will look dignified and cool pulling out his herringbone-patterned Kindle on the subway. It costs $20 & the shipping is $4.00. Hipsters, beware!

Cell Phone Skins:  Tweens! The tweens of my world love to accessorize. My niece and my son both have texting addiction. All day long they text back and forth to their friends. Saying stuff like “Hi!” and “That math took too long!” Don’t even try to tell me they text about any other topic besides homework and geeky greetings.  Cell phones skins are pretty cheap $5.99. I can stick these in their stockings or wrap them up with an iTunes card for a nice grown-up gift. Apparently, toys are out....

The New Way Things Work: My boys already have this book. It would be a lovely family gift to anyone with a houseful of curious kids. It is a book I bring places where the kids might be bored. It gives them something to pour over together. The kids love looking at the way machines work. The illustrations are excellent and fascinating to children. $22.95 at Amazon and probably a few more bucks at your local bookshop.

Stemless Stemware: My mom gave me these last year. Everyone who comes over loves drinking out of my very elegant, dishwasher safe stemless stem ware. This nice set of 8 from Crate and Barrel costs under $20. Note to people everywhere, stemless glasses hold about a bucket of wine. You’ve been warned.

Whatever your budget, Happy Holidays from my family to yours.

(Karen is a writer, mother of 3, childbirth educator and doula and lives in New England.)

And there we have it - THE END. I hope you've enjoyed this series and maybe even found it helpful. If you have any ideas for great gift suggestions that the writers this week haven't mentioned, feel free to post them in the comments! And even if you don't, it's always nice to hear from you.

I'd like to -finally - thank all of the writers involved in this project. I know that all of you put a lot of time and effort into your lists, and it was really appreciated. Thanks so much for helping me out with this! - Beck


  1. Excellent post! If anyone wants to buy any of these presents I would be very pleased. Especially the black sweater, because I don't own a single black sweater.

  2. Nicole - your husband gave you cheese? Damn, that's a good man. I have a lot of sweaters (not for in the house, because I'm always too hot - I wear them instead of winter jackets) and I just realized NOT A SINGLE ONE is black.

    My GPS has changed my life. Seriously. Anyone who is geographically and directionally challenged like me will love you forever if you give her (okay, maybe him, but probably her) a GPS - it's like getting driving independence for Christmas.

    Also, I hate glasses with stems - they make me feel like a bull in a china shop full of glasses with stems. Stemless stemware is freaking brilliant.

  3. My husband did indeed give me cheese. I love him. I pretty much ripped off my black sweater right there and then.

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  5. Hi Beck (and Karen!),

    Thank you so much for featuring my bracelet on your blog. I appreciate it! Happy holidays!


  6. Bravo. This has been a great job, and I know it's going to help me because I am behind buying my gifts.

    Thanks again, to all who participated!


  7. Thank you for the wonderful ideas! What great gifts!

  8. oh, chocolate, cheese and PJ's...sounds like my kind of orgasmic Christmas.

  9. Cheese! Good call, Nicole. Cheese is always acceptable...unless you're allergic like my husband, in which case I'll take it off your hands.

  10. Oh my word, I don't have a black sweater! What is wrong with my wardrobe! Eek!

  11. This whole series was awesome, thanks to all for all the great ideas.

  12. I have countless black sweaters, and yes, I need more.

  13. The Downton Abbey line cracked me up. I love that series.

    This is my favorite list. And not just because it features Nicole.

  14. That's very great all ideas about gift i like to gift to their friend in one of them when i need it.