Christmas Gift Ideas for Everyone

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Every year when the holidays roll around I get this mixed feeling of joy and fear. The fear comes from the realization I have to start racking my brain for 100 different Christmas gifts. Slight exaggeration but you get it. You’re faced with the task of coming up with a gift for each and every person that meets all these requirements:

*thoughtful
*unique
*inexpensive
*something they don’t already have
*not cheesy
*decent quality
*something they would use
*is cute/cool

That’s a lot of pressure.

I’ve done plenty of searches online for gift help. So to help my fellow gift searchers, I’ve put together some ideas I’ve used successfully.

MARRIED COUPLES/PARENTS:

  • Date Nights
    -get a variety of gift cards they can use for date nights
    ie: coffee, movies, ice cream, restaurants
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  • Tickets to an Event
    ie: play, comedy show, concert, musical
  • A weekend or Night Away
    ie: bed & breakfast, a nearby town/city with fun activities, spa
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*As an added bonus if you gift someone a special night or weekend away, you can also offer to watch their kid (s) or dog sit

  • Matching Pajamas and Mugs
    -you can find a lot of cute Mr. & Mrs. items
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  • Get Local
    -if you live in a different state than the gift receiver, put together a variety of products specially made in your state.
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  • Hobby Accessories
    -Are they really into something right now? Camping/RVing, hiking, house projects, etc.
    My in-laws bought a camper and they take full advantage of it in the warm months. So we put together some things we thought would come in handy for that.
    ie: a personalized bag to store things in, scented fire starters, and a shark steam mop (there’s a lot of foot traffic in their camper).

SINGLES/COLLEGE STUDENTS:

  • Subscription to Hulu
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  • Crockpot (include some good recipes)
  • Funny t-shirt, Mug, and/or Movie
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  • Wine, Beer, Whiskey (as long as they’re 21)
    -I have a brother in college and one thing I’ve learned is that he and his friends appreciate a good local beer or whiskey. Any gifts that go along with that are usually a hit also.
  • Gift cards
    -This might seem like the easy way out. But when you’re on your own, gift cards are like gold! If you’re not sure what type of gift cards they’d like, ask for a list of 4 or 5 to pick from.
  • Just ask
    -Maybe they’re trying to cook more and would love some new measuring cups and spoons. Maybe they’re trying to save up for a trip and would love to just take the money and put it towards that. No harm in asking!

LADIES IN YOUR LIFE:

  • Pedicure
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  • Facial or Massage
    -a morning or afternoon at a spa getting pampered?! That’s a great day
    *My favorite place is Brookside Gardens located in Berthoud, CO. If you don’t know of a good place, ask around!
  • Tickets to a Fun Event
    -ie: concert, play, dinner theater, etc
    *If you choose to get someone tickets to an event, make sure you find out if they’re available that night.
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  • Favorite Things ā™„
    -I started making a list of things I’ve come to love in the past year. If I love it, I have a feeling other people will too and it could make a great gift!
    For example, I bought a Pampered Chef tool that chops up ground beef like a pro and makes cooking so much easier. It’s a game changer! So for Christmas I ordered some for several women in my family. And guess what? They loved it too šŸ™‚
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MEN IN YOUR LIFE:

  • Wood Docking Station
    -My husband has this and we both really like it. It looks very nice and holds everything from his phone and wallet to watches, sunglasses, and keys. I got it from Palmetto Wood Shop. You can choose from a variety of colors.
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  • Whiskey, Beer, Favorite Liquor (21+ of course)
  • Whiskey Accessories
    ie: whiskey ice cube molds, whiskey glasses, or other accessories. I got my husband a death star ice cube mold because he’s a Star Wars nerd šŸ˜‰
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  • Beard or Shaving Stuff
    Beard- beard oil, lotion, beard kit, beard comb
    No Beard- grooming kit, homemade or good quality shaving cream, shaving brush
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  • Travel Bag
    -I purchased personalized travel bags for some of the guys in my family. They’re good quality and can hold all their bathroom products when traveling. This one is from Thirty-One and they call it the “24/7 Case”.
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KIDS:

  • Creative Gifts
    ie: chalk, crafts, new art supplies, play doughĀ  (just not anything that creates too much of a mess or has a lot of small parts)
    *mom and dad will love if you include an organizer with it too
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  • A Fun Outing
    ie: movies, zoo, bowling, mini golf, etc. Kids tend to look back and remember experiences more than toys
    *If you want them to still be able to open something, you could wrap a small item to represent your outing
  • Imaginative Play
    ie: Dr. kit, tool kit, baking set, dress up clothes
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I hope some of these ideas helped you check some people off your list!

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Shape Hunt & Scavenger Hunt

A few ideas for keeping small people busy! The boys are loving these 2 games right now. And the great part is there’s not much prep to them.

Shape Hunt –Ā The object of this game is to find the shapes hidden or placed around the room. Draw some shapes, cut them out, add tape, and BAM! Endless fun šŸ™‚

Try to “hide” the shapes at eye level for younger ones

I traced the shapes onto another paper so they could put them in their place as they found them. It helped them to see what shapes were left to find too.

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Steps to Play:
1) Cut out shapes
2) Trace shapes on another paper
3) Add tape to cut out shapes (painter’s tape works great)
4) One person counts to 20 0r 30 while the other person puts the shapes around the room
5) Person counting finds shapes and matches them to their spot on the paper

Scavenger Hunt –Ā The object of this game is to find the listed items. Here are a few examples.Ā The boxes at the end are for the boys to check off when they’ve found that item.

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I’ve found that this is a great way to talk about textures, patterns, shapes in everyday objects, and using your senses. Depending on the age the scavenger can be made easier or more difficult.

Have fun!!!!

 

~Fun Lunches~

Here are a few ideas to kick it up a notch at lunch time. Sometimes (or all times) kids can be picky eaters. However, if their lunch looks like a smiley face or their sandwich is in the shape of a Ā bunny rabbit they might be a little happier to eat it. It’s worth a shot right?

I enjoy being a little creative with their lunches, but I don’t want to be spending too much time and energy on it. After all they’re just going to eat it 5 seconds after my masterpiece is finished. So these are very easy ways to just make it a little more colorful and fun.

Colorful Containers – I like to use fun cups like these (Target $1 section) or cupcake liners to put fruit, veggies, goldfish, etc. I don’t know why, but just simply putting food into something colorful makes the same old-same old feel more like new.

Shapes – Most of us already have some cookie cutters. They can be pretty inexpensive if you want to get a few more. I suggest cutting the bread with the shape cutter BEFORE adding the fillers (pbj, mayo and turkey, ham and cheese, etc). Then continue making the sandwich. Otherwise you’re wasting everything that gets cut out.

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Faces – Happy faces! This is one of the boys’ favorites. There are so many different ways you can make a silly face. And don’t feel bad if you have to tell them it’s a happy face lol They will still love it!

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Pizza Time

Interactive – Making lunch together is a really fun thing to do every now and then! We made little pizzas here and they had a blast. YouĀ can also take this opportunity to teach kitchen safety; ovens are very hot, knives are sharp, only mommy can use this or that, etc.

Other easy interactive lunches for kids:

  1. Corn dog muffins – cornbread batter in muffin tins with a piece of hot dog in the middle
  2. Quesadillas
  3. Pancakes – they can help you make the batter and then watch you cook and flip
  4. Nachos
  5. Calzones

Getting new cups, straws, utensils, and plates every so often is exciting too!

The Dollar Tree carries some and the dollar section at Target is great for that too. The most I spent on these items was $3 at Target for the Minion plate. BA-NA-NA! Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

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Lick it!

New foods can be scary for some children. Or they can get in a rut and just refuse any change. The oldest child I take care of doesn’t likeĀ trying new foods. The unknown of it all scares him. But his mom told me about an approach she heard to help with this. And it has helped him overcome some of his fear and realize he does like other foods. If you’re introducing a new food and they are hesitantĀ about it, they can choose to do one of these 3 things:

  • Bite it
  • Lick it
  • Kiss it

This gives them some reasonable contact with it before completely banishing it to the black list of evil foods.

Now get out there and do some lunch art! šŸ˜‰

Chalk Painting for Kids

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Summer is in full swing! Warm mornings and stinken hot afternoons. So we enjoy hanging outside in the mid mornings and then staying inside after lunch time. Its fun for them and me to try new outdoor activities sometimes. Chalk is always a go to, but what about chalk paint?!

I picked up a chalk painting kit one day and the boys I nanny loved it a lot. But once it was gone, they wanted me to go buy more. I had a feeling I could make my own pretty easily, and I was right! I used a cheese grater from the Dollar Tree, sticks of chalk, and water.

Grate chalk into powder, add water, stir, and paint.

They really enjoyed using little foam rollers to “paint” on the driveway. And it entertained them all morning long!

BONUS: It’s washable šŸ˜€

Products I Love ā¤ Organic & GMO Free

Recently my husband and I have decided we should really beĀ more aware of what we are eating and putting into/onto our bodies. More information and research is being done everyday about the products we buy. I didn’t realize before exactly how harmful items could be to me because of the ingredientsĀ in them. Luckily, many other people are catching on and companies are realizing that it’s in their best interest to makeĀ more products for health conscious people. So as we are going through this journey of finding things that are organic, GMO free, etc. etc., I have begun to find productsĀ that I really like/enjoy. Here are a few of them:

Snacks

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From left to right we have:
1) Simply Balanced Granola Bars – You can find Simply Balanced brand items at Target. They haveĀ a wide variety of foods such as snacks, drinks, honey, frozen items, and tea. Some are organic, some are not.

2) Annie’s Snack Mix – Annie’s brand items can be found at both Target and King Soopers (local grocery store). They have a variety of snack crackers and fruit snacks, pasta, granola bars, and frozen foods. Some items have the USDA organic stamp, some do not. I usually only purchase the items that do have it. What does the stamp mean?Ā The USDA organic seal verifies that the product has 95% or more certified organic content. You can read more about it here:

http://learn.eartheasy.com/2013/04/certified-organic-what-does-it-mean/

3) Bark Thins – I love chocolate and always will. So I don’t feel so bad when I eat these because they are non-GMO and the ingredients are fair trade certified.

4) Food Should Taste Good Blue Corn Chips – They were giving bags of these to the 5k Bubble Run participants and I fell in love with them the moment I ate one. They’re tortilla chips but they don’t even need salsa! I just eat them by themselves. The main ingredients are organic blue corn, sunflower oil, brown rice flour, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and Quinoa. Found them at King Soopers.

5) Kirkland Salsa – I’m a chips and salsa gal. Love it! This is one of my favorite salsas and it bears the USDA organic stamp of approval šŸ™‚ Costco offers a lot of great organic and non-GMO items. It was also the only place I could find organic frozen chicken breasts.

6) Honest Kids Juice Ā Pouches – The boys I nanny love their juice boxes and this is what I usually get for them. Found at Target and King Soopers.

7) Below is Simple Truth Organic Italian Soda. My husband and I love this stuff! Particularly the Coconut Lime flavor. Simple Truth is a King Soopers brand that makes many different items that are usually very good.
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Food/Cooking

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8) Kirkland Organic Coconut Oil – As I’m sure you’ve probably already heard, coconut oil has many many uses. For cooking you can substitute it in for butter, oils, and eggs, to thicken sauces without using dairy, to saute, coffee flavoring, add in your smoothies, non-stick greaser, and cast iron seasoning.

9) Cascadian Farm Cereal – They offer a variety of good tasting cereals (with the USDA organic seal) like Graham Crunch, Fruitful O’s, Cinnamon Crunch, Multi Grain Squares, and more. They also make granola bars, frozen foods, fruit spreads, and juice. I buy this brand at King Soopers. I haven’t looked for it in other stores.

10) Avocado Oil – Found this at Costco and the great thing about it is that the smoking point is around 500 degrees Fahrenheit. It can be used inĀ place ofĀ olive oil.

11) Earth Balance Buttery Spread – I use this for my toast, breads, and sometimes in my cooking. It is a great alternative for people who are dairy free.

Vitamins, Supplements, and Soap:

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GNLD/NeoLife is a company that makes high quality products. They’re GMO free, gluten free, organic, etc.

12) The Pro Vitality Vitamin packs contain 4 vitamins in each individual pack for the day. The Tre-en-en is forĀ optimizing cellular nutrition and enhancing energy. The Carotenoid Complex protects cells and optimizes your immunity. The Omega-3 Salmon Oil Plus balances and regulates your cells and the Essential Vitamin & Mineral Complex nourishes your cells. It bridges the gap prevalent in many of today’s diets and supports digestion.

13) Green – this liquid cleaning concentrate thoroughly and gently dissolves dirt. The uses are endless! It can be used as an organic fruit and vegetable cleaner, shampoo, body wash, hand wash, clothing soap (for hand washing), pet bathing, and cleaning cuts. It also eliminates strong odors fromĀ onions, fish, meat, and animals. We keep one in the shower and one in the kitchen.

14) NeoLife Shake – Love this stuff! I am not a protein shake drinker. Blek! However, I don’t mind these at all. I usually add a banana, and make it with milk and a little bit of ice. Ā It comes out smooth and creamy. These make me feel so good. They’re a great start to your day as breakfast or an afternoon boost. It’s a rich source of protein with 18g per serving, contains 22 amino acids, rich source of fiber with 5g per serving, and contains no artificial sweeteners, colors, or preservatives.

This company has many other products. If you’d like to learn more about GNLD/Neolife products don’t hesitate to email me at perk4308@gmail.com with questions. Many people with health problems have found a wonderful solution in NeoLife.

Beauty:

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From the left:

15) Primal Pit Paste – Not the loveliest of names but man does this stuff work! Best deodorant I’ve ever used. It’s all organic and of course aluminum free. It seems like a small jar but it will last you a while. All my friends that have tried this also love it. They have great scents to choose from like Jasmine, Coconut Lime, Lavender, and Spice. They also carry a non-scented one. Best price will be through their website and they’re always offering coupon codes.

http://primalpitpaste.com/

16) Alba Botanica Very Emollient Body Lotion – Great lotion that really heals my dry hands. I have a dry hand problem but this stuff keeps a handle on it. Alba Botanica also offers sunscreens, body wash, hair products, etc.

17) Coconut Oil – I’ve used coconut oil as a mouth wash, face and body moisturizer, topical stress reliever, and make-up remover.Ā I’ve read you can also use it as a make-up brush cleaner, hair detangler, lip balm, shaving cream (whip it first), sunburn soother, bath booster, and the list goes on and on.

Household Products:

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18) I am currently using Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap, surface cleaner, hand soap, and lotion. These cleaners are earth friendly, and made with plant-derived ingredients and essential oil. They also work great!

19) Method is another household cleaner I use. This Antibac spray for the bathroom is wonderful! My favorite part? It’s such a nice smell! It doesn’t smell like burning chemicals. So the bathroom actually smells nice AND clean.

20) NeoLife also offers cleaning products and laundry soap. The Super 10 multi purpose cleaner is great! My husband used it to clean the shower the other day and said it was awesome. If you’re interested in Neolife, again just shoot me an email! I’ll answer any questions you have.

I hope I’ve helped you out and/or given you some new products to try that you’ll end up loving! I don’t get any money from these companies for recommending them. I just know that its nice to have some suggestions when looking for healthy options šŸ™‚ Feel free to chime in on organic products you love too in the comments below!

Jell-O Play Dough

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Jack and I made Jell-O play dough yesterday because it is my favorite kind to make! This one is strawberry flavored so it smells very nice when you are playing with it. Though it may be tempting to give it a taste, I would not recommend it. Just ask some of the kiddos I’ve had that couldn’t resist. Smells yummy, not yummy šŸ™‚

I came across this recipe because I had decided one day that I wanted to try and make Kool-Aid play dough but after rummaging through the pantry found no Kool-Aid. However, I did find a Jell-O packet and thought, “Hey, this could work!” So I used my googling skills and sure enough found a recipe. Ever since then, I make no other play dough but this one!

It uses flour, salt, cream of tartar, water, oil, and one Jell-O packet (3 oz) of any flavor

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You dump that all together in one pot like so:

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and stir! Then, turn the stove on to medium heat and continue stirring until it becomes the consistency of mashed potatoes.

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Once you have achieved this consistency, take it off the hot burner and let it cool down. After a few minutes when it is cool, you will want to put some flour down on the counter and knead the dough. Keep adding flour to the dough until it has become non sticky.

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As soon as the stickiness is gone, it is ready to be played with by cute little children! And you can play with it too šŸ™‚

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 3 oz package Jell-O (any flavor)

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients in pot or saucepan.
  2. Cook on medium heat and constantly stir.
  3. Once the mixture reaches the consistency of mashed potatoes, take off of the heat and let it cool down.
  4. When the dough is cooled, knead on a floured surface. Add flour to the dough while kneading until it becomes non sticky.
  5. You are ready to play!

Cooking With Kids – Life Size Recipe Cards

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While getting my degree in Early Childhood Education I came across many great ideas to interact with children. One of my professors recommended the book Pretend SoupĀ by Mollie Katzen and Ann Henderson. This book encourages you to make these life size recipe cards, as I call them. I had a lot of fun making them and the kids loved them! They can easily follow along and read them, which makes them feel very good! It is also a great way to start teaching your kids to cook. Here’s what you need:

  • An easy recipe
  • White paper (regular copier paper size)
  • Pencil with eraser
  • Markers
  1. Break the recipe down to the easiest and shortest wording possible.
  2. Number your papers and write each step on the bottom of each piece of paper (in pencil).

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3. Draw large pictures to coordinate with each step (including spoons, bowls, etc.) in pencil first.

4. Trace back over your words and drawings with markers. Make it colorful and attractive!

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I also got them laminated so they could be used again and food could be wiped off easily. That part is up to you!