Ewokmama’s Gift Guide

I love Etsy. And I love Pinterest. And fun things. And shopping for people that aren’t me.

So I decided to make a gift guide. Even though Christmas is next week and it’s unlikely you’ll have time to get most of these things by then. Also, this may be just a list of things I (or people like me) would want. But isn’t that the case with most gift guides?

So here is Ewokmama’s list of things you should buy people! DOOOOOO IT.

1. Personalized Things

Who doesn’t love something personalized? I love personalized things of all kinds.

  • For instance, I am a huge fan of these Christmas stockings at Forshee Designs. They are large and sturdy and won’t stretch out (or down to the ground) when you fill them. The embroidery is beautiful. See how well they coordinate and hang just so?

stockings

  • Mom necklaces! There are so many to choose from. On the pricier side, I love this necklace from Red Envelope with birth stones for each child. You can have the bars engraved with the childrens’ names and birth dates. Configured the way I would want it (with two pendants), it costs $171. (That’s a lot of money to me.)

The more budget-friendly option is this Hand-Stamped Swivel Sterling Silver Bar necklace for $56+ at byHannahDesign. My BFF just gave me this for my birthday! Woot!

Speaking of art…

2. Art

RobinPlemmons

Custom Robin-art on my arm!

3. Tasty Treats mmmmm

AJ-2T

4. Weird Things

Sometimes you need a white elephant gift or you know someone who collects odd things. Think Geek and Fab are both great resources for finding the out of the ordinary.

  • But also – check out this Instant Comfort Pocket Box! It’s a little decorated matchbox that can be carried around waiting for that moment when inspiration or encouragement is needed. Adorable!
  • Sriracha Candy Canes – need I say more? (Okay, I do need to say more: I wouldn’t eat these, but they would be a great gag gift!)

 5. Booze

This one is a no-brainer, right?? Hopefully you know what your recipient likes to drink!

  • I prefer wine, and I buy most of my wine from Naked Wines {<—affiliate link with a deal!), which is like the Kickstarter of the wine industry.
  • You can always do something more interactive like a Homemade Gin Kit or a beer-of-the-month club, too.

So, there ya go. Thanks for letting me self-indulge! Have a great holiday!

P.S. This post is not sponsored. It does contain an affiliate link (clearly labeled). If you want to sponsor a post on my site (please do), contact me!

Write a Letter to Santa and Help Wish Kids!

Between November 7 – December 24, visit your local Macy’s store or Macy’s Believe online to submit your child’s letter to Santa and help make dreams come true for Make-A-Wish kids around the country. For every letter received through December 24, Macy’s will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish (up to $1,000,000).

Jack LOVES the idea of Santa. In prior years he has written Santa several letters, made him cards, even even built a shrine in his room. At eight years old, it seems that he might be starting to waiver in his devotion and questioning a bit more, but still – he wrote a letter to Santa this year, asking for a haunted house and asking that Santa respond if he got the message. He included his very own “return receipt,” which was a drawing of some toys and dashed lines to indicate where to cut.

LettertoSanta

Santa dutifully responded and Jack was beyond excited. He just knows Santa will come through for him.

David and I set to work looking for a toy haunted house. We didn’t find much, but we didn’t want Jack to feel let down by Santa, especially on the last year he’s likely to believe in him. So we bought a dollhouse and developed a plan to paint it, sand it, and turn it into something haunted. I was also able to find a “monster bucket” on (post-Halloween) sale so that should help us haunt the place up.

This may seem like a lot of effort, but Santa is just one small thing that adds magic to Jack’s life amid all the hardship he endures due to Leukemia. Make-a-Wish helped in this effort this summer, as well, when Jack was granted his wish for a TARDIS bedroom makeover. Jack is still delighted by his room and with the granting of his wish, we saw a happiness in him that we haven’t seen in a long time.

He's in love.

He’s in love.

This holiday season Macy’s is helping to bring magic to more kids with their Believe Campaign by working with the Make-a-Wish Foundation! This year marks the seventh year of Macy’s Believe campaign, which invites believers of all ages to drop off letters to Santa at any Macy’s store by depositing them in special, designated Santa Mail letterboxes. You may also submit your letter online at Macys.com/believe.

For each letter received by December 24th, Macy’s will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million, to grant the wishes of children (like Jack!) with life-threatening medical conditions. Last year, Make-A-Wish granted the wishes of more than 14,000 children across the United States. A wish is granted every 38 minutes!

Here in the Bay Area, Make-A-Wish is working on granting the wish of 4-year-old Joysse, a girl from San Mateo who was diagnosed with Leukemia. For her one true wish, Joysse asked for a princess party complete with purple and pink decorations, a princess dress with a cape and crown, cake and ice cream and more! She is so excited that she asks her mom, Gabriela, about it every day. Her party is scheduled for January, but as a surprise, Macy’s will be helping her prepare for her wish with a very special celebration at the San Francisco Union Square location.

To help kids like Jack and Joysse this year, make a trip to Macy’s or visit them online to submit your child’s letter to Santa. It’s totally free for you and yet you will get the satisfaction of knowing you’ve helped bring some magic back to the life of a child with a life-threatening illness!

stockings

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Calm Christmas

I absolutely didn’t expect to have a calm or very enjoyable Christmas. The weeks prior had indicated December wasn’t going to give us a break, and then Jack was slated to be with his dad all week, which generally makes it harder for me to get into the festivities. Still, I dutifully did my shopping and wrapping and decorating. It turned out to be worth it, too!

The Sunday before the holiday, I decided I didn’t care if we weren’t having a big family gathering – I was gonna bake anyway! So I got together with my friend Kurstan and we baked our hearts out. We made cookies and brownies and rice crispy treats and then split them between the two of us. I find baking relaxing and it was also wonderful to spend so much time with Kurstan – between our jobs, her upcoming wedding, and various trips and illnesses, we don’t get to just hang out as much as we’d like.

On Christmas David and I were joined by his sister Stella, my mom and her partner Jim. We opened stockings, had a delicious dinner that was just the right size, played games, and opened up a bunch of presents. We got some awesome things that we wanted and some even better things that we needed. Oh and I made a cake that David has been requesting for the past four years – it turned out perfectly delicious.

Yesterday we had tickets to go see the San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker. It was supposed to be the three of us plus Stella, but David got sick and had to stay home. Jack’s friend Alex took David’s ticket and then Alex’s family ended up getting seats behind ours, as well, so we went in a big group. Thanks to a friend I know in the ballet, we were able to get backstage and see the sets and play in the fake snow, too. It was a magical experience! I’m so glad we got to share it with friends. And Jack loved it just as much as he did two years ago!

Jack got to open all his presents yesterday. He got so much stuff! We’re not quite sure where to put it all but he is super happy with his gifts. I even scored him a couple things he didn’t know he wanted (most beloved is the fire-breathing Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon). WOOT. And he now has a TON of Dr. Who toys, including the 11th Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. He’s barely put that down since he got it. I’d say that makes him a happy camper.

So, we didn’t have a huge gathering of friends and family or a giant spread of food, plus some of our celebrating was delayed, but the holiday was pretty drama-free and relaxing. And you know what? I’ll take it!!

Happy holidays, y’all!

Decking The Halls

We’re gearing up for Christmas. This is our first Christmas in our new house, so we are pretty excited! It’s been a rough year, but we are taking every opportunity to celebrate life. I’m trying not to let the fact that Jack has a lumbar puncture and chemo scheduled for Christmas Eve get to me. Blech.

Last year our dog ate our stockings, including the personalized knit one I’ve had since I was a child. To write that wrong, I went to Etsy and found an awesome stocking shop called Forshee Designs and now we all have coordinating stockings with our names on them. They are big and sturdy and gorgeous (and we hung them high – out of Lambert’s reach!).

David and I bought ornaments and Christmas lights at Kmart, since we only had decorations fit for a miniature tree (having lived in apartments for so long). David decked the house with white dangling lights and the windows are lined with blue lights. I put snowflake decals in our front window and we have flickering LED candles in all of the windows. That went a long way to making things feel pretty magical.

Our shopping is nearly done. This weekend I did a blitz on getting stocking stuffers at Pier 1 and Target. I also got some holiday crafts to work on with Jack, including a gingerbread cookie decorating kit. I then hung our Stampin’ Up! advent calendar – filled with chocolate and small toys. I’m not super excited about most of the things we got for Jack this year, but I think the top three would be the Little Thinker CDs (a story is told or question asked on the CD and the kid is supposed to draw along with it), the Creatures Card Game and the animated Ewoks DVD (which he may not like at all!).

To complete our home decor, we just need a tree! We’ve decided we’re getting a real tree this year. I found a Christmas Tree farm in our new town where we can cut our own. I remember doing that as a kid and LOVING it. I can’t wait to take Jack and search for our perfect tree and then take it home and decorate it!

One thing I’m super excited about this year is a DVD we got from Your Santa Story. I went onto the website and input Jack’s info and asked that Santa tell him what a brave and strong kid he is. On Christmas morning a note will appear from Santa to tell Jack about the DVD. Santa will then talk right to him and even tell him where his last present is hidden. I can’t wait to see the look on his face! If you want to give your Christmas a little extra magic this year, go check it out.

I thought I would share the other websites I’ve found helpful in getting ready for Christmas this year for those of you who are dragging your feet! I know it can be hard to get started and it can be stressful to spend all that money. We certainly don’t have a lot to spend this year after buying a house, a car, and paying a bunch of copays so we are watching our spending, but the celebration is important to us so I took extra care to find deals and rebates. Maybe you can benefit from my shopping experience via these websites:

  • Pinterest – This is where I keep track of holiday craft ideas, recipes, and gift ideas. You can follow me there if you’d like (not that I profess to have especially great taste). 🙂
  • Ebates – You get a percentage back from merchants you buy from when you click through the Ebates site. It’s free money, so you are screwing yourself if you don’t do it – I’ve gotten over $400 back since I joined in 2008! This year I am getting cash back from purchases on Groupon, Amazon, Tanga, The Children’s Place, eBay and Zulily.
  • Etsy – For unique, handmade anything! There are some really good stocking stuffers to be found (like mojito lip balm), personalized stockings (as mentioned above), or that special thing for that quirky friend of yours who likes things like Velveteen Rabbit necklaces or beard beanies.
  • Threadless – For unique artsy or funny shirts. Everyone loves t-shirts, right?
  • Tanga – A great deal site! I particularly like the deals on board games, such as this 3-pack of Dominion for $60 (we love this game!).
  • Nomorerack.com – This site has a bunch of new and amazing deals every day. There’s a flat rate shipping fee of $2 per item. You can get some really fantastic deals!
  • Naked Wines – Usually it’s a losing proposition monetarily to run a small winery. This company helps independent wine makers distribute their wines without the crazy overhead, which means cheaper and more unique wines for customers! If you click my sidebar button over on the right you’ll get $100 toward a $160 purchase – perfect for stocking up for the holidays.

What are YOU excited about this Christmas?

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This post is not a sponsored post and only contains retailers and products that I would personally recommend; however, some of these links are affiliate links for which I may receive compensation.

Holiday Spirit

I can hardly believe it’s December but here we are.  Our mantel is filling up with gifts, holiday cards went out today, and our Countdown to Christmas Calendar (if you want to buy this, check out my website) is in full swing.

Jack tells me every day before he opens the next box, “I know what’s in there!”  But on the 5th day he was surprised to find not chocolate but a small gift of Gogos.  “Why are they goo goos [sic], mom?” he asked.  “I don’t know, son.  They are just funny little toys that you can play with.”

We are trying to take it easy on the spending for Christmas this year.  I think between the advent calendar and his stocking (not to mention the million gifts he gets from family), Jack will have plenty to open.  He told me what to put on his wish list (with my advice about what was an okay price) and has been asking every day if Santa will bring him this green alien:

Not to worry – Santa totally has this one in the bag (despite Amazon running out of stock!  Santa actually found a better price at Fisher-Price.com anyway!).

Other gifts include (yes, these are affiliate links):

If your kid is into flashlights but keeps killing the batteries, you seriously need to check out that Lego torch – they need to wind it up to re-energize it! Woot!

I’m looking forward to the holiday. I especially like the fact that we won’t be putting ourselves into debt to celebrate it.