But I was surprised at his concern. I am usually pretty predictable, gift-wise. I love all things shiny or sparkly or wrapped in a tiffany blue box with a white bow. I mean, really - any item off of M's holiday accessories post, or even our Perfect Winter Party Shoes, and I'd be delighted. Home run.
But this year, Mike detected something different. Or perhaps he noticed that I already went on a small shopping bender, coming home with fun holiday party items. <<giggle>> In any case, he was questioning his usual methods. Which made me think: What do moms really want for Christmas this year?
I'm not sure if it's the sad state of the economy, or if Raines' turning two (and acting like it), or my husband's crazy schedule (work + school), but life has felt a bit hard lately. I find myself already looking to the new year and wanting to do things differently. Simpler, somehow. I want to spend more time with family, but at a slower pace. Think long walks with self-brewed coffee instead of crazy running from place to place and hitting Starbucks drive-thrus.
I don't think I'm alone. So this year, my Christmas picks reflect this need to slow down, to simplify.
...And to wear something pretty everyday. Because some things never change.
Gifts To Help Get Us Out Of The House
It's one thing to get out with the kiddos when the sun is shining
and shoes are optional. It's a WHOLE DIFFERENT BALLGAME when it's
freezing, and your two year old not only doesn't want to wear shoes,
but throws a screaming fit over long-sleeve anything. Not to mention
that once you've stuffed the little screamer into his snowsuit and are
now hauling him football-like down the stairs, you yourself drenched in sweat....by
the time you get outside (and cooled off), you realize that the hat
your grabbed for yourself is the one with the moth holes, and that you
are missing a glove. Not that this has happened to me (cough), I'm
just sayin. In addition, over the last two years, my diaper bag has
mysteriously gotten heavier. It's the same bag. With the same stuff.
It just bugs me more.
So here are a few items are help ease this process. Nothing but time will cure the kiddo's long-sleeve phobia, but here are a few goodies that inject a little bliss into the "we're having fun, dammit!!" process.
I've been coveting the Lug Life Glider Sling Bag, currently on sale at ebags.com for $50. This is the perfect long-walk diaper bag. It sits close enough to your body to feel like a backpack, but is urban enough to look cool. It comes in a wide range of colors, including ocean (pictured).
I'm also in love with J.Crew's Merino Trapper Hat, $45, and their Ribbed Merino Glittens, $24. They are soft, warm and cute. Cream may not be the most practical color, but it's beautiful and snow-bunny-like. And they are just expensive enough to feel like a gift. (I think nothing of dropping $200 on jeans, but a $50 hat? Whoa!)
Lastly, if your lady sports a ponytail even half as much as I do, try Juicy Couture's Faux-Fur Earmuffs, $55 at Neiman Marcus. The key with earmuffs is that you want to choose a color OPPOSITE to her haircolor. Blond? Choose a darker earmuff. Brunette? Go light. Else, they blend in too well and from a distance it will look like she has hair spurting from her ears.
Send Us To Do Some Serious Shopping
Most moms have a "style chasm" in their closet. For example: We own a sexy little party dress, but never wear it. Why? Because we don't have the right strapless bra or shoes to go with it. So the dress is NO GOOD. Game over. Style chasms like these will vary greatly from mom-to-mom. Don't worry: we don't expect you to know which style chasms have us in a tizzy, or expect you to fix it. But in the spirit of simplifying, help us make better use of the clothes we already own. Help us close these style chasms. How? With cash. Yes, CASH. Wrap it up pretty in a new little clutch purse or wallet, throw in a Starbucks card, and take the kids. We have serious shopping to do. Or, even better, book a sitter and come with us. Believe it not, your advice is often invaluable, and your moral support while we scrutinize our new wrinkles and lumps in the dressing room mirror? A gift.
To wrap it up all pretty, try one of the Medium Frame Pouches from Oktak, $29 (etsy.com), the Lodis Sport Small Card Case Wallet, $51 from Zappos, the All About a Bow Clutch from DavieandChiyo (no wrapping required!), $85 on etsy.com, or super cool watercolor Lodis Large Ballet Wallet, $122 from Zappos.
Something Pretty To Dress Up Our Everyday Outfits
The problem with fancy jewelry is that you either have to wear it with good shoes, or ironically, with distressed jeans, etc. It's hard to pull off fancy jewelry with just cute sneaks or Uggs. However, there are plenty of drool-worthy items that are pretty enough to feel special, but casual enough to be worn everyday. Here are my favorites:
The Presh Multi-Strand Silver and Dark Brown Wax Linen necklace, $95 at Fragments.com is a perfect everyday necklace. And I love that it's made out of wax linen - I've found that these types of necklaces hold up a bit better when a little one pulls on them. Next, I'm loving the edgy Agrigento Black Rhodium and Platinum Baby Bird Nest necklace, $190 at Fragments.com. This is, quite possibly, the coolest necklace I've ever seen. Lastly, a gift guide wouldn't really be complete without something wrapped up in a little blue box: Tiffany's Trefoil Key Pendant is classic, but still low-key (no pun intended). I'd get a longer chain...try the 24". The total cost of key + chain is $240.
Cool, wrap-around bracelet's are a mom's best friend. They add instant chic to everyday outfits, they fit virtually any wrist size, and they are durable by nature. The original is Chan Luu's Wrap Bracelet, shown above in brown leather and gunmetal gray stones, $220 at Fragments.com. Chan Luu continues to keep things interesting by introducing new colors, stones, and sizes. For moms who prefer jewelry a bit more delicate, Chan Luu is also doing single wrapped bracelets, shown here in metallic gold leather with silver stones, $90. Click here for a complete list of Chan Luu wrap bracelets.
New this year is Presh, whose wrap-around cuff bracelets have a similar vibe, but at a lower price point. My favorites are the Whiskey Leather Wrap-Around with Chains, $105 and the Gold Shimmer Leather Cuff with Braid, $65.
Electronics We Won't Hate You For Buying
NOTE: This list does not include a Wii. Or a video game console of any kind. It's not that we are totally opposed to OWNING said Wii...but to actually make this our Christmas gift, as M put it: it's really taking one for the team. Typically, a good rule of thumb is simply to avoid buying anything that plugs in. If it has a plug, it's not a good gift for your wife. Seriously. I know this is hard for some of you to grasp, so I'll say it again: PLUG? WALK AWAY.
There are, however, a few life-changing electronics for moms...these are totally gift-worthy:
The Apple iPhone 3GS, $199. It take surprisingly good pictures and video - perfect for catching an impromptu cute moment. And the apps! Oh, the apps. There are apps to synch your contacts with all of your Facebook friends, apps to help you whip together a meal in under 20 minutes, apps to help you find the nearest baby changing station, and an Amazon Kindle app that, as a breastfeeding mother, I simply CANNOT LIVE without. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the iPhone's brilliance for occupying the little man on an airplane. Or in the car. Or waiting in line. There are literally hundreds of apps to keep the little ones engaged. Out of all of the baby gear you buy as a new parent, this is my MVP. It's beat only by diapers. Genius.
The Flip Mino (or MinoHD) camcorders, $149 - $229. This cute little camcorder is gift worthy for two reasons: 1. It's handy for taking cool videos of your little darling and 2. It's super cute. Notice, please, that not once did I mention any CNET reviews or the technology used. It's small, AND it's cute! You can actually design your own "skin" with either their design generator or by uploading your own pic! Yay! I love that! So please don't read this post and translate this gift idea into "buy her a digital camcorder". It's Mino or nadda.
MacBook Air, starts at $1499. Ok - a regular MacBook would be amazing also (starts at $999). I love being able to crash in front of the TV for a bit with my laptop and glass of wine once the little man is down. If the only way I could check my email was in the freezing office on the dinosaur of a desktop...well, this blog would never have started. I really love Macs for moms because they are so easy to use and because the software included lets you do all kinds of fun things with your photos and videos.
One of my favorite gifts of all time was when my very broke boyfriend (now my hubby) gave me a coupon book for massages. All from him. Poor guy - I cashed in on every one of those back-rubs. Here are a few other cozy-cozy items for movie nights at home or snuggling in together.
I've been looking for YEARS for some sexy, man-style pajamas for women. Finally, J. Crew has created exactly what I want: the Vintage Pajama Set, $69.50, made from men's shirting with contrast stitching. Pair these with any of the fab slippers from M's Slipper Roundup, and she'll be ready for kisses.
If you want all-out shameful spoiling (and seriously - who doesn't want that once in a while?) then go for one of Adrienne Roger's Custom Handknit Throws. These babies take 3-6 months, but they are seriously worth the wait. Her designs are immensely touchable (see middle pic - the throw just melts into the chair) and combine a softness, warmth and texture that is so luxurious I simply can't find anything close. The design process starts with samples and swatches so you can experience the colors and textures in your home. Her throws start at $1100, blankets at $2000.
Alternatively, Twinkle Living's Handknit Chunky Throw, $247 at Design Public, is a more affordable option. These throws come in a ton of colors and are made of 100% Hand Tufted New Zealand Wool.