My title was imported from Japan.
It's getting down to the wire and if you've put off your shopping till now I don't know there's any hope for you but if--like me--you still have one or two people left on the list here's a few suggestions for gifts that might help out and see you through the holidays:
1. For the chef. The first time I saw this bowl made from recycled chopsticks at Cool Tool I said, "Somehow, somewhere I'm going to get one of those." Though the more I think about it the more I want to figure out how to make one for myself. But regardless, this is the neato gift for the kitchen person in your life. Beautiful, functional and oh so cool. (It would look beautiful in my kitchen Andrew.) My only concern is with the word "recycled." It's got me wondering if the guy who made it saved up all his used chopsticks left over from a year's worth of Chinese take out and figured out how to make a buck off of it. I'm not sure how I feel about that.
2. For the builder. My kids have spent more hours with Legos and K'nex than any other toy on the market. Period. A box of these terrific toys will keep them happy for hours and hours and the great thing is it's not like a game or a puzzle, where if you lose one of the pieces you're ruined and you can add to the collection little by little as you go. Legos in particular are, in my humble opinion, probably the greatest toy ever made. And they come in Star Wars characters too. My only caution is the price, Legos can be terribly pricey--though they'll last into the next century--and if, like me, you have a hard time shelling out over $100 for a child's toy you might consider Mega Blocks as an alternative. Not as colorful or with as many characters, but for a basic set of blocks they're worth it.
Though I haven't said as much about K'nex toys they too are great building sets, especially the Kid K'nex line you see pictured above. They're especially great for making tiny spaceships and zooming them around your mother while she's making dinner until she breaks down sobbing "When oh when will your father get home??" Not that I've had any experience with that. None whatsoever.
3. For the mother. Julian and Co. makes custom pendants and bracelets from silver coins with your child's face carved on the surface. Truly a unique gift that would warm the heart of that parent on your list, I especially love the silver bracelet pictured at left reminiscent of the original Tiffany silver heart bracelet that's been so popular.
4. For the mommy-to-be. For future little mommies I'd recommend the Groovy Girls dolls. They're soft and plush, not too big or too small and hip without that nasty edge of those "Dolls that Shall Not Be Named." You know, the ones that start with a "B" and end with "rats?"
Groovy Girls come in a wide variety of features: dark hair, light hair, olive skin, dark skin, all kinds--I believe I even saw a pink-haired mermaid model that would be very popular around here with a certain five year-old I know and love. There are also a whole bucket load of little accessories that go with the dolls so you can wade as deeply into the Groovy Girls craze as you and your pocket book allow. Lillian loves her Groovy Girl who has been christened Rilee Natalya Elizabeth after one of her beloved buddies who also loves the GGs (yea, I'm hip to these).
5. For the pre-teen boy. For boys anywhere from 6-12 I'd recommend outdoor gear. The great thing about this idea is that you can spend as little or as much money as you'd like. Hand warmers, rain ponchos, flashlights, waterproof matches, a compass, a pocketknife, pliers, safety whistles, first aid kits, mess kits, a flint, freeze-dried food, backpacks, fingerless fishing gloves, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, tiny outdoor stoves, anything that can be used for outdoor survival will be thrilling to a boy. Trust me, I've proved this time after time in my own home. If you don't do camping typically the items will be all the more loved--let them go make camp at the vacant lot down the street (without the camp fire of course) or in the backyard. The Dangerous Book for Boys wouldn't be a bad gift either--it would teach them how to use all the gear.
6. For the difficult to buy for. Find here a list of the latest interesting inventions and gadgets, some of which are really fabulous (I love the Warp 5 Star Trek toaster here). My favorites are the laser scissors, the cup with cookie-slot, this toaster and the modern ladder. Though it may work as a gift for a friend or teacher I'm saying it now honey, don't get me a ladder, toaster or pair of scissors for Christmas no matter how cool they are. Just don't. Surely you've learned that much in fifteen years of marriage?
7. For the early teen girl. Crafts, crafts and more crafts. Candle making, soap making, stamping, making stationery, beading, all of these would be fun to try and there are so many kits that have everything you need to give it a go. If you can't find the craft kit that fits the person on your list you could assemble your own, including all the tools, supplies and directions to make a craft--maybe one of those circular knitters with a pattern book and a couple skeins of yarn for example.
8. For the beginning reader. Consider a magazine subscription. It's too late to get one started and in the mail before the holidays but you could always pay for a sample copy to be wrapped up along with the subscription. There are some excellent children's magazines and kids love getting things in the mail (well actually, we all do). May I suggest Highlights High Five (a new preschool magazine that I've reviewed and liked), Zoobooks, Sports Illustrated for Children, American Girl or National Geographic for Kids? All great publications.
9. For the adult reader. Forgive me if you've already read this book, but if you've got a reader on your list (particularly a teen girl) consider the "Twilight" series. I work with teen girls at church and there isn't one of them (or their moms) that hasn't loved the books. There's Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and the as-yet unnamed fourth novel is in production--all about the adventures of Bella the human who falls in love with Edward the vampire. Yes, it's full of teen angst as only vampires can experience and no, it's not meant to be gritty realism but if you've got someone who likes books and hasn't read this yet (and the chances of that are getting slimmer and slimmer every day as it's been a best seller and the movie is in the works already) you can't go wrong with this series.
10. For the little hostess. How about a tin tea set? Here's one at Target that I love, Lillian also likes her little plastic toaster, blender and cooktop that she can set up at the counter to cook alongside of me. Plastic food is inexpensive but you could also save empty boxes of real products to use in pretend cooking, like boxes of macaroni and cheese and jiffy muffins.
11. For the big hostess. If you haven't yet seen Nora Fleming's products your life has been incomplete. She makes ceramic serving pieces with tiny interchangeable ceramic figures that are simple adorable. Adorable as in "I want that! I want that! I want that!"
12. For the artist. If you have a small child on your list just a simple plastic container filled with random art supplies is a terrific gift that will also go over well with their parent. With washable markers and crayons you can also rest well knowing their walls and clothing are safe. If you have an older child on the list consider getting some more advanced supplies, like pastels and sketch paper, charcoal pencils, watercolor pencils (the kind that you draw with then brush with water and get an entirely new look) or a paint-by-numbers. Michael's usually has well-priced art sets that come in carrying cases and with one of their 40% off coupons you'll be loving it. And so will the artist on your list.
13. For the lover of pretty things. I found a gallery in Homer, Alaska that carried the most beautiful handmade jewelry I think I've ever seen. Michael Michaud makes necklaces, bracelets, earrings and pins that mimic plants, herbs and berries. The blueberry necklace at left is one of my favorites but I have a boxwood earring and necklace set of my own that I absolutely love. LOVE. As in "Bury me in it."
Bonus* 14. For the lover of Latin. Sixth and Elm has the prettiest, nay, loveliest collection of wood-burned boxes that I've ever seen. Enough to make me run out and buy a wood burner which I plan on learning to use immediately following all holiday madness. My favorite is the one covered in Latin script from "The Love Letters of Abelard and Eloise." If that doesn't just ooze romance I don't know what does.
Have you entered this month's Write-Away Contest? The theme is "My Favorite Day."
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