Gift Giving for Spouses – Day 9 – The Good Gifts

Gift Giving for Spouses – Day 9 – The Good Gifts

This is challenging (not for me, my gift list is always available and up-to-date), but for my significant other, who is less inclined to have a wish list, (truth be told, he doesn’t ask for a lot and would just as soon buy it himself) and always says nothing when asked what he wants, Sigh. Kind of a holiday killjoy? No, think of it as a puzzle or a challenge. Sure, you can go with Smart wool socks or a good book, but what would really surprise this difficult to decode gift recipient?

For mine, athletic wear is always a sure bet, and he runs (and walks the dog) in all kinds of weather so I am getting these Armour® Fleece
Storm Pants. We love the jacket I reviewed in this fabric from Under Armour.

What else? A black smithing class, really.

A dinner with…me, I know, how nice am I? My pick is Justine’s Table – great food, lovely atmosphere and close to home so we can zip back and drive the kiddos home from a friend’s house.

Anything from the New York Giants (yes, my husband is a Giants fan and we live in the Boston area). It’s all good, though, my (somewhat fervent) Patriots fan family have taken to buying Giants paraphernalia for him and he, in turn, buys Boston sports team items for them. Détente achieved.

I wouldn’t mind having well, new boots, a new sweater (cashmere, check Garnet Hill, Zappos and Wanelo, I just may have gift lists at all of these sites. I’d l ike a new blender, too, but not for the faint of heart to give appliance, just ask my Dad.

Go check out Pragmatic Mom for more ideas!

  • Update: I just bought the storm pants at Under Armour in the Natick Mall (yes, I am brave to tackle the mall), and the customer service was exceptional. Not only did the sales staff have to take apart the mannequin for the display item I wanted, but checked repeatedly in other places for items and even followed up with a phone call to me later that day. The item is not to be found in their stores but the dedicated salesman gave me more information on how I could find it online. So nice! Top grades to the sales team at Under Armour Natick!

  • The 12 Days of Shopping

    Saturday, December 1: Make Your Own Gifts with granola two ways. Hers and Mine.

    Sunday, December 2: Kids Make Gifts Craft, Clove Fruit and Mod Podge.

    Monday, December 3: Personalized Gifts, Hers and Mine.

    Tuesday, December 4: Father-in-Law/Dad and Mother-in-Law/Mom

    Wednesday, December 5: Tutors/Teachers

    Thursday, December 6: High Tech/Low Tech

    Friday, December 7: Hostess/Doing Good

    Saturday, December 8: Sanitation Engineers, Mail Carriers, Hairdresser, Delivery People, Babysitter, Cleaning People, Dog Walker/Dog Trainer

    Sunday, December 9: Husband, Me (Our Own List), CapabilityMom’s List

    Monday, December 10: Cats/Dogs

    Tuesday, December 11: Quick Gifts from Whole Foods versus Gourmet Food Store

    Wednesday, December 12: ’Cause I Am So Together, Last Minute Home Made Gifts

    Back To School…Ready Or Not (and a gift card to help out)

    Back To School…Ready Or Not (and a $50 gift card from Wayfair to help you get ready).

    The answer in our house is always decidedly not! I love summer (crazy carpool schedules notwithstanding), the slower paced days, the fun activities and the family time and since everyone’s schedule is more relaxed, we get to see more of our cousins and grandparents and that is always good.

    But I also love the crisp air of autumn, the spring in your step it gives you and knowing that another year of school (I know my children agree) is around the corner. Plus, it is really, really fun to go Back to School shopping (I know my husband does not agree)!

    How do you get it together – exchange sandals for shoes, beach reads for textbooks and beach bags for backpacks? How do you cope with first day excitement/nerves?

    Transition can be tough and here are some ways to make it easier.

    Visit the school

    For the young ones, make the school a familiar place. If possible, visit it several times before school starts – go to the orientation, use the playground, visit an older friend who already goes to the school, even just walking by it and talking about it makes it a more familiar place.

    Read all about it

    There is no shortage of great books about Back to School for all ages. Pragmatic Mom is my go to for this and she kindly added some books to my Pinterest Board. Personal Fave –

    The Kissing Hand

    by Audrey Penn

    Set expectations

    Talk about what a typical day will be like. I still remember being told I could read all day in Kindergarten – I was on board with that! My mom did not tell me that she would be leaving (Lasting visual – looking up to see my pretty pregnant mom sprinting by the window and my sister almost flying out behind her. Seriously Mom, I remember that. You were wearing that lavender maternity dress), and that there would be other activities and, this was another surprise, children I did not know. I’m over it, though. Really.

    Go to school with a friend or two, meet them and walk in together. The bustle of the first day can be overwhelming.

    Use Props

    This is where your back to school shopping pays off. The shiny new lunch box, the pretty pens, the new backpack and you don’t have to spend a lot – and crayons are the best and least expensive back to school item.

    Dwell lunch box from wayfair capability mom wants this for herself
    Dwell lunch box from

    Most backpacks and lunch boxes are washable (I do it all the time), but check the label first.

    Spruce up and personalize a backpack with add on decorations (key chains and buttons are a cute inexpensive way to change up the look).

    Let your child help with lunch choices and add when they aren’t looking add a little note and for older kids I add a word of the day – it is a win-win. You get to write a note, they learn a word.

    Word of The Day resources

    Grades 4-6

    Grades 6-9

    High School


    Make time and traditions

    Make it special! Have a family dinner the night before with a reasonably early bedtime – this is admittedly tough to do – everyone is so excited!

    A good breakfast is key but it doesn’t have to be fancy or huge or made to order if that is not your thing. Unhurried is best. Cut up fruit, whole wheat toast (peanut butter or avocado for protein) or granola bars and yogurt.

    I’m all about the food (yes, healthy food, too). Check out 10 Get Healthy Tips from Massachusetts General Hospital for Children for some great ideas.

    Take pictures – You’ll love looking back on all the first days of school memories.

    Relax and Have Fun

    We had a great Wayfair Back to School Twitter Chat #HomemakerHappyHr – with Wayfair giving away a $25 gift card every ten minutes! Here are some great tips from our super mom friends:

    Transition by moving bedtime earlier a few weeks ahead of school start date. Get into a routine to help settle back to school nerves.

    Take a picture at the beginning of the first day of school and the end of the day! Expand that to the first and last day of school – really have a record of how they have grown!

    Have a special snack together and get the details of the day – Keep communication lines open. (Pizza, anyone?)

    Keep their artwork and papers in bins and display them on a pin board or in inexpensive frames. Send “older” works of art to family and friends to make room for the new.

    Healthy favorite foods: Peanut butter and jelly, the classic (soy nut butter is a great alternative if you have a nut-free classroom) and hand’s down fave, followed closely by turkey or ham and cheese. For snacks – granola bars, fruit, veggies, yogurt, cheese and crackers.

    Set a routine and keep it up – it helps everyone! Set up a quiet place to do homework (I like mine close to the kitchen for those homework questions that inevitably come up while I’m making dinner).

    Thank you to everyone who participated in the Twitter Chat – Great suggestions and ideas! Many thanks to Wayfair for making this happen and giving away great gift cards – Time to shop for Back to School!
    Wayfair is kindly giving away a $50 gift card as part of this post. Enter by liking Wayfair’s Facebook Page. What is Wayfair? Check out them out (their tagline is a zillion things home), and they do have almost everything you need for back to school (just maybe not the PB & J, but I think you’ve got that).

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Gifts for tutors and teachers – What to give? Day 5 of 12 Days of Shopping

    First, find out school policy and abide by the rules. What, I am bossy? Yeah, that’s news. Really, figure out (ask other parents in the school) what is customary and either follow it or if, for some reason, it doesn’t seem enough to you… get creative and come up with some new ideas.

    Many districts have also have programs in place to help you, like Honor Thy Teacher  run by the Newton Schools Foundation where you can make a donation in a teacher’s name.  Some schools let you buy books (at a PTO run Book Fair) or donate a book to the school library in the name of the teacher.
    There is no shortage of great gifts (books) and you can grab a gift card to a local book store (more books) or coffee shop. Have your children make the card – it is always appreciated. Maybe you can organize a Teacher Appreciation Coffee before the holidays. Get the PTO involved and start a new tradition – maybe you can give everyone a goodie bag or, I don’t know, a book?

    So, what to give? Is handwritten card and cookies enough or do you slip a gift card inside? If you do, try Sephora, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts or iTunes.  Sometimes a group gift is in order. so pony up and be the one that collects the money and buys the gift, assign someone else the task of getting the card signed by all of the students. More work for you but you will make some teacher’s day.

    What else to give?  Always welcome gifts :  hand-knitted or commercially made scarves, sweaters, gloves, socks which also all fit the not too personal rule (include a gift receipt to be extra nice). What else? Holiday decorations (Hanukah or Christmas) and candles, anything homemade (see Friday’s post),  notecards or plantable paper from Botanical PaperWorks. How about a magazine subscription? I like Uncommon Goods for really different but reasonable gifts like this Stackable Lunch Pot Set.

    The new Flour Bakery cookbook (add some sweet wooden spoons or a whisk and a pretty dishtowel and put them in a mixing bowl). You could also make your favorite recipe from the cookbook and include the baked goods with the book.

    Penzey’s is a great stop – the catalog is great but the store is even better (in Arlington, MA).  They also have the best packaging for the spices; whole nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves are placed between the bottles in many of their gift boxes. You can put together your own, too.  Pretty and sweet or savory.

    Don’t forget plants.  Sure, a poinsettia or a white amaryllis or some sweet paper whites. Sounds boring? Not this time of year in New England! Go get a nice orchid (Trader Joe’s has them, as does Whole Foods) or a big gorgeous flowering tropical house plant (just be sure to cover it well when you run it outside). Nearby garden centers will have a nice selection and you will get a much needed dose of green while you shop. Usually know for their more expensive arrangements,  Winston Flowers has some less expensive choices that are lovely, too. I have also had great luck at the Waban 1-800-Flowers store. Great selection and great customer service, too.

    The most important thing is to thank the teachers and let them know they are appreciated. Happy Holidays and head over to Pragmatic Mom for super Tutor Gift Ideas.

    The 12 Days of Shopping

    I will be posting The 12 Days of Shopping jointly with Capability:Mom. Please visit her blog to see the other half of each post.

     Dec 1: Make Your Own Gifts GRANOLA, Amazing Granola from Nigella Lawson versus Amazing Granola Bars from The Barefoot Contessa

     Dec 2: Kids Make Gifts CRAFT (ModPodge versus Clove Fruit)

     Dec 3: Personalized Gifts (Fancy Address Stampers versus Pretty Papers Giveaway)

     Dec 4:  Father-in-Law/Dad and Mother-in-Law/Mom

     Dec 5Tutors/Teachers

     Dec 6High Tech/Low Tech

     Dec 7Hostess/Doing Good and Getting Something

     Dec 8: Sanitation EngineersMail Carriers, Hairdresser, Delivery People, Babysitter, Cleaning People, Dog Walker/Dog Trainer, etc. (a.k.a. who else did I forget?)

     Dec 9Husband, Me (Our Own Wacko List)Capability:Mom Husband/Wife

     Dec 10:  Dog/Cat

     Dec 11: Quick Gifts from Whole Foods versus Gourmet Food Store

     Dec 12: ’Cause I Am So Together,  Last Minute Home Made Gifts:  Cookies Personalized Holiday Tags

    Wine and chocolate

    capability mom finds chocolate covered wine a treatYou know that line from Jerry Maguire “You had me at hello” (pre-couch jumping days for Tom Cruise)? Well, this pairing had me at hello (and I am not an easy sell).  The first time I tried chocolate and wine together was at a really sweet vineyard in Napa Valley but that was a long time ago and now I get my wine and chocolate at Marty’s – a local liquor store that also has a pretty decent deli, with great cheeses and specialty foods, including chocolate. It’s nice but it’s no Napa.

    Both Pragmatic Mom and I both received lovely bottles of…wait for it….chocolate covered wine! Seriously, you ask, how is that even possible? And, if possible, isn’t it…messy? Well, I was curious and thrilled to find out (germ freak that I am), that the bottle of wine is covered in a plastic wrapping that you take off with a sweet ribbon that runs up the side of the bottle and the chocolate peels off in gorgeous pieces. I opened mine over the outer plastic wrap to catch any crumbs but it really wasn’t that messy.

    It is a really sweet idea for a unique hostess gift and the presentation is lovely.  The red is a California Meritage wine which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec and comes dipped in dark chocolate.  The white is a very nice California Chardonnay and the bottle is dipped in milk chocolate.  The chocolate is lovely,  rich, Belgian chocolate made by a small family owned business (they have been making chocolate since 1940).  Each bottle is hand dipped in the chocolate and presented in cellophane gift wrapping tied with a ribbon.  This is a nice value and the chocolate and wine are carefully chosen to nicely complement each other.  This would be a nice hostess gift or sweet addition to a night out with your girlfriends.

    The shipping is FREE and the price is discounted by $5. That’s right, $0 Shipping. Reg. $44.95 Special $39.95. Prices from My Wines Direct.

    Valentine’s Day is Monday, February 14 – it may be too late to get this in time for that day but at least you have a reminder and a good idea – chocolate and wine.

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