Tag Archives: Christmas gift ideas

Last Minute Gifts Om Gals And Guys Love

To help you finish any last-minute shopping, I enrolled a few “om elves” to share their wish lists. I asked for inexpensive but fantastic finds, over-the-top indulgences, and things that bring Zen. Here are a few of the highlights:

Little and Light

A beautiful candle in a decadent scent can be a great way to indulge friends without stressing your wallet. My elves covet various candles. The Voluspa line is an excellent choice, for its modest prices, unique fragrance combinations, and scents so lovely they’re intoxicating. My pick of the season: White Currant Quince. (Available on Amazon).

Something to Write

Even something as small and practical as a notepad becomes an expression of good taste and a nod to creative giants Matisse, Van Gogh, and Hemingway (all original fans of the brand) with Moleskine pocket “cahiers.” My friend, Daisy, a graduate student in architecture, chose these so that she can sketch and scribble in style.

Glitter to Do Good

It would figure that my fashionable and fleet-of-foot marathon training pal, Cara, would select these sparkling shoes by TOMS, to add a dash of glamour to her otherwise athletic wardrobe (she’s an executive at lululemon). A multi-tasker to the core, Cara’s gift does good while looking fab; with each pair of TOMS purchased, the company provides a pair of shoes to a child in need.

A Llama, a Bunny, or Some Sweet Honeybees

While finishing her first book, Yoga for Emotional Balance, debuting on March 8, 2011 (Shambhala Publications), Bo Forbes underwent her fair share of sleep deprivation and social life sacrificing. So, you might guess that she’s hoping for some pampering this holiday. Perhaps a spa day? Or an over-the-top tropical trip where the only crucial item on her agenda might be to reapply sunscreen? Nay, friends. That would be soooo un-Bo. Instead, she suggests making a contribution to Heifer International, a nonprofit organization that donates sheep, llamas, bees, bunnies, and more to help families in developing countries become more self-sustainable.

For the Run

A more predictable wish list item came from Om Bro, Reece. As a child, he never liked shoes, to the point that I recall he and my Dad having a stand-off on Christmas Eve circa 1987. Reece was adamant that he did not want to wear shoes, despite the fact that it was winter, and a special occasion, and, oh yeah, there was snow on the ground. Hence, some 20+ years later, Reece wants Vibram Five Fingers, to simulate the feeling of running barefoot through the streets of Manhattan, in the winter, on all occasions, likely with snow on the ground.

For the Yum

Reece also said he’d appreciate organic, fair trade chocolate. Which begs the question: Who wouldn’t want organic, fair trade chocolate?

OG intern, Jess, hopes for a sweet holiday, too, with a few new tools for her vegan kitchen, including Gingerbread Yogi Cutters (above) for delicious cookies in the shape of yoga poses, Lunch Bots stainless steel containers to tote her healthy creations on-the-go, and the mothership of kitchen appliances, a Vitamix high-performance blender.

To Have Some Fun

A fashionista gal and outdoorsy dude, respectively, both shared wearable wish list items that scream fun, albeit in different ways. Jessica, who manages the Beacon Hill boutique, Wish, swoons for party dresses like this one by Rebecca Taylor (top), which kinda screams, “I’m sassy; smooch me under the mistletoe!” Meanwhile, outdoorsy dude, John, pines for a puffy jacket by Cloudveil (bottom) for screaming down the slopes.

Turn Inward

A high school English teacher, mother of two adult children and one teen, former serial marathoner, longtime yogi, and all-around community builder, my friend Abigail hopes she’ll steal some time to sit still and read during the holiday break. Fittingly enough, she hopes Santa delivers Go In and In, a book of poetry written while the author retreated at the Kripalu Center in Lenox, MA, a favorite spot of mine.

Get Away

Speaking of which, Abigail would love of a weekend at Kripalu. To which, I say, “Ditto.”

Say Ommmm

The youngest om elf, 16-year-old, Alli, is also hoping to receive the gift of yoga. “Zen would be my mom paying for four or five yoga classes over [holiday] break.”

What’s on your wish list?

10 Cool Stocking Stuffers For Kids

This year, fill stockings for the kids that are unique and memorable. Too often, we buy throw-away toys on the spur of the moment that are forgettable and not very much fun (yet they still cost plenty!). Instead of grabbing whatever is left in the small toy aisles at your local Target or Wal-Mart, consider adding a few of these clever stuffers.

Kids’ Electric Guitar ShirtThe Electronic Guitar Shirt is not a toy that plays pre-canned musical riffs, it is a real musical instrument that allows you to play your favorite songs and sound great doing it.” From ThinkGeek, $29.99

Skip, Hop, Dunck! This clever bath toy allows little ones to scoop up water in fun duck shapes. As an added bonus, parents can use the dippers to help rinse of the suds. From Amazon.com, $7.99  

Ninjabread Men Cookie Cutters. Dads and sons might be a bit more interested in baking ginger/ninjabread men with these clever cookie cutters. From Perpetual Kid, $5.99

Rubic’s Cube Alarm Clock. Much more than just a clock. Much less complicated than the look-a-like brain buster. If you keep twisting the top around it switches from clock to alarm, from alarm to calendar, from calendar to temperature, and then back again, and so forth. Requires 1 AA battery (not included).”  From Amazon.com, $17.95  

Pet’s Eye View Video Camera. What has Duke or Snowball been up to while you’ve been at school all day or at Grandma’s house? Find out with this camera that your pet can wear on his collar. You can set the timer to take pictures every one, five, or fifteen minutes. From Solutions, $49.95  

KidiLook Digital, Shake-it, Photoframe. “Shake it, shuffle it, and share with the KidiLook Digital Photo Frame! Now your child can share her favorite photos and create their own digital photo stories! Store up to 100 photos with this portable photo gallery! Take it on the go and share with family and friends. Also features a real-time digital time display and a motion sensor which allows you to shuffle photos across the display by giving it a quick of the wrist. Includes USB cable for easy photo transfer.” From Amazon.com, $21.30

Christmas-Scented Smencils. Pop some of these fabulously scented colored pencils in your young artists’ stocking! These Smencils are infused with holiday smells: Sugar Plum, Candy Cane, Cinnamon, Gingerbread Man, and Sugar Cookie. From Delight.com, $5.89

Temporary Hand Tattoos. A fun new take on hand puppets, these delightfully designed tattoos transform any hand into a wide-eyed animal or a colorful monster. “ From Uncommon Goods, $12.00
 
Lunch Punch Sandwich Cutters. Fun for all kids, but perhaps especially for the picky eater! “The Lunch Punch® cuts sandwiches into fun and interactive shapes while cutting off the crusts. It’s designed to capture the most amount of bread when it cuts the crust off your sandwich. A fun lunch with minimum waste!  Taller than cookie cutters, making it easy to cut through two pieces of bread and spread while still keeping sandwiches light and fluffy.” From Perpetual Kid, $14.99
 
Zip-it Travel Word Game. Got a car or plane trip coming up this holiday season? “A clever take on crossword creation, Zip-It lovely letter cubes accommodate spelling well and solid letter cubes feel good to the touch! The ultimate travel game to generate fun in quick moments in between here and there (one hand can be played in as little as 20 seconds), and make lengthy, blah intervals seem shorter. Players use 24 beautiful ivory-like letter cubes to form their own crossword grid using ANY side of the cubes. The first player to use ALL their own cubes calls "ZIP!" and scores a point by moving their own zip up the pouch scale. The first person to score 10 points shouts "ZIP-IT!!" and wins the game! Zip-It stores neatly and compactly in a high quality cloth bag.”  From Amazon.com, $14.95

Ten Super Stocking Stuffers For Men and Women

Just because you are not a kid doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect a stocking on Christmas morning! Here are some helpful suggestions for stocking stuffers for either the special man or woman in your life. Your job as Santa just got easier!

Men:

Santa Boxers. What is Santa wearing under all that fur? Well, these whimsical and comfy boxers. From Urban Outfitters, $18.00
 

Wireless Key Finder. Can’t find the car keys in the midst of all the discarded wrapping paper and boxes? For many of us, misplacing our keys doesn’t just happen in chaos…it can be a quite frequent frustration. End the searching with this clever key finder and locate those missing keys in seconds! From Brookstone, $49.95
 

iPod/iPhone Art Skins. Make his iPod stand out with these fabulous, unique art skins. From GelaSkins, $30.00
 
 
Fallout: New Vegas for XBOX is one of the hottest games of 2010. Give your man this coveted game, and perhaps a coupon for several nag-free hours of gaming bliss. From Amazon.com, $49.54
 
Chocolate Truffles. No one’s stocking is complete without some indulgent treats! These truffles are a box of chocolate heaven. From Harry and David, $12.95
 
Women:
 
Winter Bloom Bracelets. What woman wouldn’t be happy to unwrap this gift from her stocking? Beautiful bangles are adorned with faux-gems and engraved. A versatile gift she can wear with many different outfits, from sweaters to suits. From Juicy Couture, $88.00
 
Personalized Purse Holders are a welcomed gift and so handy too! No woman likes to put her purse on the ground, which may well be dirty. Purse holders also keep one’s belongings in sight and makes her bag more resistant to theft. From Personalization Mall, $19.95
 
Rose Jacquard Tights. Stockings for her stocking….Ooh la la! Pretty and toasty too, tights are warm and sexy. From Bare Necessities, $22.00
 
Handheld Tripod. A clever invention that ends the awkwardness of having to ask strangers to take pictures of you together as a couple. Folds up easily, too! From Amazon.com, $22.99
 
Date Night Idea Cards. Never be at a loss for what to do again, at least not for a very long time. Eighty unique ideas for things to do with your significant other. From Table Topics, $20.00

 

10 Edible, Prepare Ahead Gifts For Christmas

I don’t know about you, but a gift from a foodie is always welcomed in my house. I love the thoughtfulness it takes to prepare these gifts. Fortunately, I have a lot of friends who love to cook (and eat). Here are some of my favorite gifts from my friends from around the world.

 
Bollywood Coconut Curry Popcorn Seasoning. Give this spicy-sweet popcorn seasoning to a friend! The curry and coconut blend to make something like an Indian Kettle Corn. Give in a pretty jar with the recipe and let your friend or family member experience a new flavor as they watch their favorite holiday movies.
 
Cranberry Pear ChutneyA perfect hostess gift! This chutney goes with just about everything, from turkey to pork to chicken, so even if you don’t know the main course, it’s likely to go perfectly with whatever he or she is serving. Cranberries, pears, and a pistachio nut mix simmer in cinnamon, allspice, and brown sugar. It only takes five minutes to prepare and 35 minutes to cook, another plus during the busy holiday season! 
 
 
Homemade Cranberry LiqueurWhat a lovely gift to bring to a holiday party! This homemade liqueur is very easy to make. Just combine whole cranberries, vodka, water, sugar, and lime zest and let steep for four days. Give in a pretty bottle, perhaps with a couple of elegant glasses. Cheers!

Spiced Pears in Raspberry VinegarFill your home with the wonderful aroma of simmering pears in raspberry vinegar. This recipe is very easy to make. Just cook pears in water with sugar, a cinnamon stick, cloves, raspberry vinegar and peppercorns. Fill sterilized mason jars with the pears, and wrap with a pretty ribbon and perhaps a personalized sticker on top. Voila, and Merry Christmas!

Confetti Bean Soup in a JarSuch a nice gift to receive! Colorful layers of limas, pintos, black, and pink beans are combined with spices. All they need to do is put the beans in a crock pot and go about their day. Dinner will be ready in just a few hours; a nice thing to come home to after a long day of shopping.
 

 

Gourmet Olive Oil Bread DipBread is ubiquitous at holiday tables. Pep up that loaf by giving a gift of premium olive oil infused with herbs. Not only do they taste great, they are elegant as well, and can be both used and displayed throughout the year.
 
Apple Almond Rice MixThis savory rice mix will surely be enjoyed by its lucky recipient. Layers of rice, almonds and fruit look beautiful in a dressed-up jar. The fragrant combination will fill their homes, and the tasty side-dish will grace their plates. 
 
 
Christmas Muffin MixHow nice it would be to wake up and be able to quickly pop in this yummy muffin mix into the oven on a busy holiday morning! The aroma of cinnamon, pecans, and tropical fruit will have the family flocking to the kitchen!
 

Holiday Cranberry JamA surprising, tangy blend of cranberries, oranges, and strawberries…this jam is scrumptious on bread or muffins, great for brunch or just as a snack. Consider creating basket that includes a jar of the jam, a crusty loaf of bread, and knives for spreading, and perhaps a small cutting board. 
 

Salted Chocolate CaramelsThis is a gift that won’t last long! Smooth caramels are drenched in bittersweet chocolate and sprinkled with flaky sea salt. A buttery, indulgent delight!

 

 

Ten Kitchen Gadgets You SHOULDN’T Live Without

Everyone knows that home cooked meals are the best. Not only do they tend to be healthier for your body, they also often provide quality time with your family. Making your kitchen more user-friendly, therefore, can improve both your physical and emotional well-being, not to mention the money you will save by resisting the temptation to go out. 

For this article, I asked my intelligent, fun, and “foodie” friends what gadgets they absolutely could not live without. Within two hours, I received sixty-two responses! Here are the items most frequently mentioned in those postings.

KitchenAid MixerEasily a dozen people called the KitchenAid mixer their Number One cannot-live-without item. Most reflected the opinion of my friend Liz who wrote: “The KitchenAid mixer the unrivaled god of all kitchen appliances.”

Cheese Knife by Pampered ChefIt may not be glamorous, but my friend Tim swears by it. It slices cleanly and easily and at only $9.75, it is a real bargain.

Pineapple Corer and Slicer. Although I love pineapple, I had given up on buying fresh ones because they are so difficult to prepare. So I was very glad when Tamara mentioned this product, and several other people chimed in to agree that it is a great innovation!

Microplane Zester from Raw EpicurianTarra enthusiastically recommends this grater, and several other people cheered for it as well. She wrote that is an “utter win!”

Egg Slicer.   A number of friends mentioned this inexpensive little gadget and I agree with Charlie that it “makes life so much more simple and easy to deal with!” I personally also use it for slicing mushrooms. 

Salad SpinnerI was surprised by the ground-swell of enthusiasm for this product but now I’m going to buy one! Many people agreed with Pam who says the Salad Spinner has been a useful, time-saving gadget in her kitchen for many years.

Spice Mill by IKEAElizabeth calls this spice mill an important part of her kitchen. Invest in some good spices at IKEA as this grinder fits atop all of them.

Batter Bowls by Pampered ChefTim chimes in again with a heartfelt argument for his beloved batter-bowls, which he swears he cannot live without!

George Foreman GrillsThese have been around for a while, and they have staying-power for good reason. They are easy to use, they reduce fat in your food, and they are easy to clean. Vanessa says she has had one “forever” and still uses it all the time.

WhisksToo many people to name here said that whisks were an indispensible part of a complete kitchen.

 

Ten Do-It-Yourself Edible Gifts for the Holidays

Even though life can become crazily busy, It seems that everyone wants to slow down just a bit during the holiday season and enjoy some comforts of life that often elude us during the rest of the year. For foodies, those who love to cook and/or eat, Christmastime brings pleasures to quite literally be savored. Give some comfort and delight to a friend or loved one with one of these delicious homemade gifts.

 


1.     Mixed Berry JamA beautiful and savory gift that can be enjoyed for quite a long time, jam is not difficult to make and is not expensive. All you need is one pound of strawberries, 1 pound of mixed berries, a fresh lemon and sugar. Buy some canning jars and lids and print out free labels which you can customize here.

 


Bodacious BBQ Sauce. Most men love to grill. Many men can be difficult to shop for. Solve your male gift-buying dilemmas by making your own savory barbeque sauce! It will be free of the preservatives found in commercial brands, and you can customize the spices to your (and his) liking. Create decorative jars for a special touch. Watch the “BBQ Pit Boys” video here to see just how it’s done!


3.     New Orleans PralinesA sweet and nutty Southern favorite, pralines are delicious and easy to make. Stack some in a tower, wrap with colorful holiday plastic wrap and tie up the top with a curly ribbon. These are perfect for teachers, office co-workers, and others you want to remember with a holiday treat.


4.      Rosemary Infused VodkaAll you need for this unusual and surprising gift is vodka, rosemary and 3-5 days for the infusion to complete. Martini, anyone?


5.     Spice RubsGood spice combinations can make ho-hum meals come alive. Consider making several spice rubs and give them as a gift for a busy friend or family member who likes to cook but is pressed for time. He or she will thank you all year!

 


6.      Raspberry French Chocolate Macaroons. Ahhh… the combination of raspberry and chocolate is so delicious. Make some of these beautiful and festive macaroons for someone special. They look more difficult to make than they really are. You don’t even need a real pastry bag to do so… an improvised one will do.


7.      Zesty Cheese StrawsLight and delicious, this gift is sure to be gobbled up by its lucky recipient. All you need is butter, cheddar, salt, flour and cayenne pepper. And a decorative jar for giving, of course!


8.      Curried Lentil SoupBeautiful colors are layered in this Mason jar for a festive gift that is sure to please, especially for someone who loves home cooking but is too busy to assemble the ingredients personally. A great winter warm up for a special person on your list.


9.     Fragrant Indian BrittleGive this tasty, exotic gift to an adventuresome foodie. Cardamom and honey embrace pistachios, cashews, and almonds in a golden brittle.


10.  Spicy Hot Cocoa MixWho doesn’t love hot chocolate on a cold day? This spin on a classic favorite adds cayenne pepper for a kick that pairs wonderfully with the sweetness of cocoa. You might want to present your gift as pictured here, in a large mug with a pretty spoon and some candy canes.

 

Top Ten Do-It-Yourself Holiday Gifts

In our busy world, where a present can sometimes mean grabbing a gift card off the rack at a drugstore, it may mean more than ever to someone to receive a gift that took your time and consideration to prepare. These ideas find a balance between the thoughtful but not overly taxing or time-consuming. They let that special someone know that you truly care.

1.      Candle in a Teacup.  A beautiful and aromatic gift that can be fun to shop for, make, and give. While many people do not make candles themselves any longer, it is not difficult or expensive to do. Try this DIY idea from Country Living.

2.      Chocolate Truffles Truffles are a delicious holiday indulgence, but they can be quite pricey to buy from specialty stores. However, they are not terribly difficult to make and you can be as creative as you’d like with toppings: try cocoa, coconut, or finely chopped nuts. Find the recipe here from the Food Network.

3.     Secret Hollow Book. Everyone likes to have a special place to keep meaningful items…old love letters, childhood trinkets, or even valuables. Find an old, thick book at a used book or thrift store. If you know your gift recipient’s favorite author, all the better. Then all you need is glue, a box cutter, a ruler, and a pencil. Full instructions for how to make your Secret Hollow Book can be found here.

4.     Personalized Calendars. Everyone, from grandparents to children, loves personalized calendars. Comb through your old and new photographs and give the gift of twelve cherished memories. Consider including quotes or notes on days of importance, or even a coupon or a few dollars tucked into hand-made envelopes to celebrate special occasions. You can use software for this project or you may want to take your photographs to locations such as FedEx Office to have it professionally assembled with no fuss.

5.      Marble Magnets. So much fun and so easy to make! At a local crafts’ store, simply purchase clear flat glass marbles, round magnets, and silicon glue. You can use an image you like, from magazine pictures to photographs. Fit six or so magnets into a wrapping paper-covered Altoid’s tin, and you have a unique and personalized gift for anyone on your list! Full instructions can be found here.

6.      Felt-Backed Ceramic Tile Trivets or Coasters. For an inexpensive, fun, and easy do-it-yourself gift idea, why not consider going to your local flooring store? Select a fun pattern and make a cooking trivet (6” x 6”) or some drink coasters (3” x 3”) from tile. The only supplies necessary are the squares, some felt, and some glue. If you prefer, you may choose to back the tiles in cork rather than felt. Either way, you’ll have a unique and memorable gift.

7.      Family Trivial Pursuit. A fun idea from a reader of the blog GetRichSlowly.orgwrites that he created a game where the children had to guess at family-related questions in order to win cash prizes. What a good way to learn your family lore and keep the whole family entertained!

8.      Easy Handmade Soaps. You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to impress someone with your crafting skills. These beautiful soaps are not at all difficult to make and are inexpensive to create as well. All you need is glycerin soap, soap dye, molds and Popsicle sticks. The soaps are so easy to make, your children can even help you do it. Full instructions can be found here.

9.      First Aid Strips: Apply Directly to the Mind. This easy and thoughtful idea comes from Family Fun MagazineWe all could use an uplifting quote or sentiment during the hectic holiday season and especially after the festivities end and life goes back to normal. Collect your own favorite quotes and other thoughts, write them on bright colored construction paper, cut into the shapes of bandages and dress up a box for a gift that will be meaningful all year.

10.  Record Bowls. What an interesting and artful way to recycle old vinyl! Simply find an album with a colorful label, heat your oven to 225 degrees and mold it into an acrylic bowl. Remove after five minutes, when the vinyl is molded but still pliable and shape into whatever design you’d like. Full instructions, from Mookychick.co.uk can be found here.

 

Top Ten Christmas Gifts For $10 Or Less

 Santa knows that everyone likes to feel appreciated, but even the Big Guy is aware that the season can get mighty expensive. Here are some affordable gifts guaranteed to put smiles on faces while keeping the reins on your spending. 

1.      Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris.  Released in 1997, this hysterical collection of essays by now-famous author David Sedaris will delight even the Grinch-iest Grinch on your list. Darkly humorous yet full of relatable insights into the human condition, Sedaris captures both the love and the maddening spirit of the holiday season. (Paperback, available at Amazon.com for $4.72)

2.      Champagne Caress Bubbling Bath OilOn a chilly evening after a long day of shopping, there isn’t much nicer than a luxurious, scent-infused soak in a hot tub. This special bubble bath blends saponified vegetable oils and pure glycerin with and a delicate yet rich aroma. Give someone special an excuse to relax. (from American Soap Company, $8.95)

3.      Black Market Gourmet Barbeque Sauce. Got a man on your list who loves to grill? Try one of these three delicious and unique flavors from Black Market Gourmet: Cranberry, Apricot or Blackberry. All of the sauces are organic and preservative- free. (from Black Market Gourmet, $7.50)

4.      Famous Faces Journals. If there is a writer and pop culture buff to shop for, you can’t go wrong with one of these whimsical journals. Choose from Audrey Hepburn, Dr. Spock, and Michael Jackson, among others. (from Jenni Bick Bookbinding, $8.95)

5.     Drumstick Pencils. Know someone trapped in an office but whose inner-rock drummer is just dying to express himself? Behold the “Drumstick Pencils,” perfect for pounding out that last minute memo to your co-workers letting them know you’ll be leaving early for the holidays. (from ThinkGeek, $7.99)

6.      Czech Glass Pearl Shaped Wine Markers. Adorn your stemware beautifully and help keep everyone’s drink straight with these lovely wine charms. A perfect hostess gift and one that is sure to be used, and treasured, for many years. (from Etsy, $8.00)

7.      Dr. Freud’s Therapy Ball. Everyone gets a little…stressed…during the holiday season. Give someone the gift of sound advice and the release of a hearty laugh with this unique present. Works like a Magic 8 Ball, and the good doctor will tell you just what you need to hear. (from Neatorama, $7.95)

8.      Pecan Pie Truffles. Pecan pie and Christmas have had a long relationship, but pie can be so difficult to eat when not served at the table. Well, now you can have your pie anytime, anywhere, with these delicious little Pecan Pie Truffles. And at such an affordable price, you may want to treat several sweets-lovers on your list! (from See’s Candies, $6.15)

9.      Donate $10 and Buy an Impoverished Family Two Chickens.  A good number of us have everything we might want or need, but for thousands of families in the world, necessities are never guaranteed. Consider making a donation of two chickens to one of these needy families in the name of a friend , relative, or co-worker and make someone’s life far brighter. (Donate through International Humanity Foundation.)

10.  LED Graffiti. Spread some holiday cheer with these merry little LED lights that adhere to any metal surface. Brighten up your co-workers file cabinets or the fridge in their kitchen. You might even want to spell out a holiday greeting on their car. Comes in sets of 20. (from ThinkGeek, $7.99)

 

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