What we’re actually giving our kids this Christmas

30 November 2020

Hello, friends! I hope you had wonderful and cozy Thanksgivings! I was thinking about this old post this weekend, and how we lay down the richest memories in novel circumstances. If you celebrated in a new way – with different people (or without the usual people), in a different place, with different food – maybe we can take comfort in the fact that this holiday (and the December festivities to come) will be one we’ll remember with great clarity… and hopefully great gratitude. I know I will.

I had plans to deliver several more gift guides last week, but a few bumps in the road got the best of me (a theme for November, as you will see in tomorrow’s goals update post). But I do have this one to share – a rundown of what we’re actually getting our kids for Christmas this year. This works out okay, because this was your favorite of last year’s gift guides anyway, so I guess we’re just cutting to the chase :)

A few disclaimers: I consider the want / need / wear / read philosophy of gift giving, though we don’t officially subscribe. Some years we give more gifts than others. I’m not too concerned about matching amounts spent or number of gifts given at my children’s current ages. This year, Santa will bring our stockings and everything else will come from Mama and Daddy. (Santa has been hard for me to navigate as a parent – maybe a future post in the making!).

One final note: as I was wrapping up purchases in prep for this post, several of the items I had earmarked in weeks past were sold out when I returned to hit purchase. I can’t ever remember this happening to me in years past, and it was frustrating! So from one mama to another — this might not be the year to hem and haw over decisions.

June (who is almost 5) will be receiving:
— A light-up bike helmet (her one and only request)
— A homemade card making kit, because she is obsessed with (you guessed it) making cards. I bought a cute box and plan to fill it with blank cards and envelopes, lots of stickers, washi tape, fun pens, and *real* stamps.
— A rainbow wall hanging sewing kit. I came across her lacing a string through the slats of her doll house’s bed the other day, so I think this will be a hit! *Shipping is international, so order ASAP! Sweetest seller!
— An IOU for a mama + mini date to Fearrington for pedicures and afternoon tea, sometime in the spring. I predict she will lose her mind over this (once she figures out what it actually means, ha!). I got her a trio of Olive & June nail polishes to wrap up – she will love seeing her name on the bottle! (Use this link for $10 off your first order.)

Shep (who is about 2 1/2) will be receiving:
This MagnaTiles expansion set, as he makes a beeline for our bin every day after school. (Related: if you don’t have it already, I HIGHLY recommend this MagnaTiles cars duo – the most played with pieces in our house!)
— This fire chief dress up set, as everything is a fire hose and everyone gets sprayed with water right now.
— An adorable needlepoint triceratops ball cap (40% off plus free shipping when I bought it earlier this week!)
— The firefighter playdough kit from Young, Wild, and Friedman. Happy to support a small business! (I suspect June will ask for one for her birthday after she sees Shep’s…)

A relative little birdie also told me he will be receiving this Squigz set – fun!

Finally, June and Shep will be receiving a joint gift: the Theolaby box set (another beloved small business!). They’ll get the keepsake box and the first volume under the tree, and then the other four books as they ship throughout 2021 (a gift that keeps on giving!).

Below, tell me what you’re getting your kiddos this year — I love hearing your shopping lists!

Last year’s post if you’d like ideas for a 4-year-old and a 1.5-year-old! Affiliate links are used in this post!

2020 Gift Guide: Your Favorite Grown-Ups

23 November 2020

This style seemed to work well for us last year: nothing fancy, just a list of really great gifts that we’ve given, own, have on our wishlists, or are considering giving to our loved ones. With sales popping left and right this week, my hope is that somewhere in this list, you’ll find something that speaks to a personal connection with one of your loved ones (always the best gifts!) — or will at least get your wheels turning :)

For husbands, dads, and brothers:
— Stylish sunglasses. John just bought two pairs after cracking his Ray Bans – a very similar style at a lower price point!
— An at-home car wash. I did this when John started a new job a few years, and it made his car look mint condition.
— A cutie little cork planter for his desk (he can pin a favorite photo to it!)
— A matching tee with his favorite mini – big dipper/little dipper or head chef/sous chef
— A phone sanitizer/universal charger… because COVID
— The softest joggers
— A subscription to The New Paper, a daily email digest of fact-first top news based on impact to tech, business, politics, and world affairs. John has been subscribing for a few weeks and loves it! Considering for brother-in-law gifts.
— A mini shop vac for keeping his vehicle clean – in a great size!
— This is a spendier item, but a new office chair (especially if his at-home version is looking sad after this year)
— Because they’re beloved favorites in our house and I can’t ever leave them off a gift guide: Allbirds and Landmark Project tees

For moms, sisters, and best friends:
— Would it be weird to gift someone a tissue box cover? Because this one is really pretty.
Write the Word | Fruit of the Spirit. MY FAVORITE – it’s baaaaaack!
— The chicest blue-and-white yoga mat, of all things
— A pretty little silver bow frame (pop in a photo of you two!)
— Turns out needlepoint patterns are weirdly expensive?! Feed her hobby with a modern pick from here (based in Raleigh!) or here.
— A one-size-fits-all pink Breton stripe tee (really – I have one and love it!)
— If she’s into coffee table books, this peek into the Obama White House’s interior design looks neat. Or, for a different twist, this book written by two past administration’s social secretaries, and this one written by a Chief of Protocol. Or, of course, Elizabeth Holmes’ brand-new treatise on royal style!
— A “mama” sweatshirt made with Liberty fabric (!)
— The Nester’s new book on decorating and hosting year-round
— Amanda Kloots’ jump rope – pair with a subscription to one of her classes! Love being able to support this sweet mama.
— An art print of reminders for daily encouragement
— A pebbled leather wallet. This is the one I bought earlier this year and I LOVE it! I have the Stone color with a gold monogram.
— A tee for your favorite gardener
— A pretty blush travel mug
— A cozy sweatshirt for your favorite reader

For parents or in-laws:
Obviously many of the above options would be good fits, but a few additional ideas…

— A pretty blue-and-white tablecloth
— A custom leather luggage tag/keychain (lots of neat shapes!)
— An electric kettle that looks good (love the matte black) and works beautifully. We gave it to my in-laws and it was a hit!
— A cheese board inspired by a Schumacher pattern
— A set of PowerSheets (I just think they are the coolest, most unexpected but potentially life-altering gift for empty nesters!)
— A highly-rated, gorgeous collaborative game
— A rain barrel made from upcycled pickle barrels here in NC
— Very sweet ceramic platters featuring kiddo handprints or footprints (no matter where you are in the country!)
Travel mugs featuring illustrated favorite destinations
— A cozy ChappyWrap blanket in a pattern that matches their decor or interest
— A wireless phone charging pad so they don’t have to scramble for a cord (I got John one for his birthday and he loves it!)
— A scratch-off poster of 100 essential novels
Custom notecards with her grandma or his grandpa name, for sending to littles (“From the desk of Pop Pop”)

Of course, keep in mind that these categories are just starting points – mix and match to your heart’s content! Feel free to check out last year’s grown-up gift guide, too. You know your loved ones best!

What gifts are you planning to buy this week? I’d love to hear! Kiddo and teen ideas coming tomorrow. Happy shopping! :)

Gifts for Em

20 November 2020

Working away on gift guides over here (planning to share next week!), and in the meantime, I thought I’d share a few things on my own wish list. Surprisingly, a few of you requested this when I asked for your GG input, and I’m happy to oblige!

Kelly’s beautiful and colorful Christmas tree!

Julie Vos Penelope Small Studs | I wear simple pearl studs day in and day out, and while I love them, I think these would be a fun, beautiful alternative that’s not too flashy. Plus Kristin told me to get them and I do what she says.
— More gold taper candle holders | We have two we use on our table nightly and I’d love a few more for special occasions! I linked a style I love but these could just as easily come from the thrift store.
Misty blue mixing bowls | When we moved to NC my mom sent me with a set of 7 glass nesting mixing bowls, which have served us well for over a decade. Since having kids, however, several have met an unfortunate demise… these sturdy bowls in the prettiest color would get us back to a full roster.
A cozy fleece | I love my Patagonia 1/4 zip, but sometimes I just don’t feel like pulling something over my head. I think I’d reach for this often – love the navy color.
The cookbook that all of my friends are raving about. Many of Tieghan’s recipes are in our rotation, so I’m sure this would be a hit!
— A beautiful block print quilt | Would love one of these in a king size for picnics and reading in the yard!
— Another Long-Long set of Lake Pajamas | I tend to buy things and wear them into the ground, and that is certainly the case with the Lake Pajamas I was gifted last Christmas. I have worn them to bed almost every night this year (I wash them, I promise!), and would love another set to rotate with. Eyeing the Parisian green.
White dish rack | We have a very utilitarian plastic drying rack. Since it sits on our counter 100% of the time, I think this would be a nice upgrade!
Ugg Classic II Shearling Short Boot | I feel VERY conflicted about putting these boots on my list. First, the price makes me wince. Second, they’re Uggs, which I’m pretty sure I swore about 15 years ago I’d never wear. But. But but but. I have nothing like this in my closet, and in a season when I am outside in the cul-de-sac with my kids every evening into the dark (and in a COVID winter when we’re all going to be spending more time outside), it seems worth it to be as comfortable as possible. Tell me you love them and make me feel better? (Or, tell me you don’t and suggest an alternative – that’s cool, too!) *UPDATE!* After reading this post, Kristin texted me to suggest the Ugg Classic Mini Fluff, describing it as “less aggressive,” ha! I love it and have decided that’s the one I’ll go with (or at least officially put on the wishlist!). On super sale as of this writing, too!

What’s on the top of your list this year? I always get inspiration from what others are wishing for!

Affiliate links are used in this post!

Sheptember: Volume Two

16 November 2020

As a parent and keeper of memories, I can’t do it all. I can’t keep an impeccable baby book, yearly photo book, Instagram photo book, journal, art portfolio, clothing capsule, progressive handprint art, one-second-a-day video, memorabilia scrapbook, schoolwork file, etc., etc., etc. Especially not for multiple children. Especially not while keeping my sanity :)

BUT. I do get to choose a few of those things, and go all in on them. From the beginning, I have gone after these month-in-the-life videos for our kids wholeheartedly, and for that I am grateful. They capture the everyday magic moments I know we will love looking back on, like – my current personal favorite – Shep’s frantic sprint for the porch every time a garbage truck rumbles around the corner. Two has brought an explosion of words, a mellowing of disposition, and the sweetest little exchanges with our boy, and I love that this year’s video captures a bit of that. I hope you enjoy this peek into our life together!

Sheptember: 2020 from Emily Thomas on Vimeo.

The password is SHEP. For a look back at his first video, here ya go. And if you want to make your own video, I’ve got you covered!