Dec 232012


Holiday Gift Guide -- Splurges for Grownups

Clockwise, from top left:

1. Delicate quartz necklace. $108 at Magpie Lovely.

2. Retro radio with MP3 hookup. $95 at SF MOMA.

3. Warm wool hats. $54 at Leif Shop.

4. Foo dogs bookends. Set of 2, $58 at CWonder.

5. Silver porcelain cream and sugar duo. $273 from Little Blue Dish.

6. Unisex messenger bag. $119 from IKABags on Etsy.

7. Handwoven Senegalese laundry hamper. $145 at Brookfarm General Store.

8. Is it weird to covet a smoke detector? Because I covet this smoke detector. Chick-a-dee, $75 at Neo-Utility.

9. Lomo camera in a fun design. $99 at Daytrip Society.

10. Center: Vintage-style bicycle. $1,395 at Anthropologie.

Dec 232012
Holiday Gift Guide -- Splurges for Kids

Most magazines and many blogs feature only expensive goods in their gift guides. I don’t find that personally useful, so I set out to create guides featuring only great items that cost less than $40. Still, there’s no denying that there are some wonderful gifts out there for people who are willing and able to spend more. I’m closing out the series with a few of my favorite over-$40 discoveries. Clockwise, from top left:

1. Rocking horse. $198 at Daytrip Society.

2. Daddy bear and baby bear. $50 at Magic Cabin.

3. My First Piano from Schoenhut. $98 at Daytrip Society.

4. Skootcase rolling suitcase. $60 at Fat Brain Toys. (Similar to the very popular Trunki, minus Trunki’s stability problems.)

5. Kidcraft vintage-style play kitchen. $122 at Amazon. (Prefer stainless steel appliances? Here’s a modern version.)

6. Face-maker wooden blocks. $85 at Best Made Company.

7. Chalet-style dollhouse. $200 at Moolka.

8. Giant stuffed giraffe. $80 at Wayfair.

9. Alexander Girard alphabet blocks. $100 at My Sweet Muffin.

10. Center: Schylling ride-on fire truck. $120 at YoYo.

Dec 222012
Holiday Gift Guide -- For the Woman Who Has Everything

And one more variation on the one-who-has-everything recipient. By row, from left to right:

1. Cheery socks. $17 at Uncommon Goods. (And these socks are work-appropriate and touch-of-cashmere luxurious.)

2. A quirky umbrella to brighten gray days. $36 at Fred Flare.

3. Mercury glass vase. $15 at Luna Bazaar.

4. Set of 3 perfume vials in rich scents like “Fig Leaf & Bronzed Musk.”  $18 at Tokyo Milk.

5. Sculptural recycled-bottle wine stopper. $16 at Re:Modern.

6. Self-inking address stamper. $30 from The Stationery Studio.

7. Elegant glass water bottle. $24 at Wayfair.

8. A classic apron. $22 at Anthropologie.

9. Wool throw blanket. $20 at World Market. (Available in stores for the last-minute shopper.)

10. Wonder Woman travel mug. $15 at Patina Stores.

11. Pretty metal tumblers. $10 at Patina Stores.

12. Classic tote bags. Set of 2, $32 at Wayfair.

13. Boiled wool mittens. C$30 from SkepticDesigns on Etsy.

14. Hand cream in a gorgeous package. $20 at Tokyo Milk.

Dec 222012
Holiday Gift Guide -- For Those Who Have Everything

Clockwise, from top left:

1. Swan watering can. $9 on Amazon.

2. Polka dot food storage set. $34 at French Bull. (I also like to pick up vintage Pyrex glass fridge-to-oven sets on eBay.)

3. Classic umbrella. $16 at Muji.

4. Wool dryer balls are a hypoallergenic and eco-friendly replacement for fabric softeners. $34 at Uncommon Goods.

5. Chipmunk doorstop. $28 at Terrain. (See also: Squirrel nutcracker.)

6. Takeya pitchers are tremendously useful for iced tea lovers or anyone who cold-brews iced coffee. $21 on Amazon.

7. Custom silhouette of a beloved child or pet. $23 from StellaGirl on Etsy.

8. Soap birds — when the dark outer soap washes away, a white ceramic bird remains. Half of profits go to oil cleanup efforts in the Gulf. $28 at Rare Device.

9. In the Netherlands, people hang these birthday calendars in the WC. In related news, I suspect people in the Netherlands are champs at remembering birthdays. $14 at Greer Chicago.

10. Reduce waste, save the planet. Titanium straw. $10 at Think Geek.

11. Wireless luggage finder. $25 at Edmunds Scientifics.

And of course there’s always the charity gift option. DC animal lovers can adopt a species at the National Zoo or donate pet goods to the Washington Animal Rescue League’s Presents for Paws. You can fund medical care directly for a specific person in another country, via Watsi. And if you’d like to let the recipient choose the charity (always a plus when you’re giving a charity gift), consider Razoo Giving Cards or a micro-loan gift card through Kiva.

Dec 212012
Holiday Gift Guide -- For Grandma and Grandpa

Grandma and Grandpa are usually a special variation on the “person who has everything.” Here are a few things they’ll love. Clockwise, from top left:

1. Clever eyeglasses holder. $18 at Uncommon Goods.

2. “12 Ways You’ve Made a Difference Journal” includes prompts like “The best advice you ever gave me” and “I don’t tell you this enough.” $28 at Uncommon Goods.

3. Vintage-style phone. $60 at Crosley Radio. (Technically outside my price cutoff, but there’s an under-$40 version at Brookstone, and handset plugins are a great choice for grandparents with smartphones.)

4. Heating pad for neck and shoulders. $37 at QVC and elsewhere.

5. Pocket Posh puzzle books. This is the word-search version, which I actually once gave to my grandmother, but there are crosswords, sudoku, and many other variations. $8 at Amazon, and I have also spotted them at Barnes & Noble stores.

6. Gauze floral jacket is both stylish and an easy layer for anyone who has trouble with buttons. $33 at Pearl River.

7. Ken Burns “The National Parks” DVD. $33 at Amazon.

8. Solar radio, for outdoors or power outages. $19 at Edmund Scientifics.

9. Nostalgic candy. $13 at Tiddle E Winks.

10. Center: “Wise Women” book. $8 on Amazon. 

Dec 212012

Christmas is practically upon us, but I still haven’t run out of guides! There are a handful more, so I’ll keep scheduling right up through the weekend. Consider it inspiration for birthdays, other holidays, or next year?

Holiday Gift Guide -- More for Kids

Clockwise, from top left:

1. Garden in a box. $13 at Uncommon Goods.

2. Oudordodo deduction game for ages 4+. $12 at JouetsChooChoo.

3. Colored bubbles. $10 at Think Geek.

4. 3D bug book. $14 at Amazon.

5. Cardboard play town. $19 at My Sweet Muffin. (See also: The very cool MOMA Play Town.)

6. Beginner jigsaw puzzles. $13 at Petit Collage. (See also: Tiny wooden puzzles in a box.)

7. Automoblox. $10 at Moolka and elsewhere.

8. Reusable sticker pad — home and furniture. $6 at For Small Hands.

9. Cool Japanese wooden robot that folds down into a cube. $30 at Emmo Home.

10. Bird wings. $16 at Magic Cabin. (See also: Butterfly wings.) 

Dec 202012
Holiday Gift Guide -- Tea Party

Important supplies for an elegant tea party. Clockwise, from top left:

1. Kidcraft baking set. $29 at Target and elsewhere. (Also comes in a gender-neutral color.)

2. Haba black forest gateau. $15 at Goblin Kids.

3. Fabric flower crown. $24 from WildPlums on Etsy.

4. Kusmi Russian Blend tea set for the grown-ups. $32 at Lucky Scent.

5. Haba petit fours. $10 at Moolka.

6. Kid-sized apron. $12 from GrannyAnnieKids on Etsy. (And many others on Etsy, just search “apron” and narrow to the “children” category.)

7. Moroccan tea glasses for the grown-ups. Set of 6, $38 at Casablanca Market.

8. Magic rainbow wand. $11 at Romp.

9. Felt tea bags. $4 from Itsthesmallthings on Etsy. (Same seller also has a set with tea, cookes, and sugar cubes.)

10. Center: Schylling porcelain kid’s tea set. $24 at Overstock.com.