I thought it would be fun to put together a little holiday gift guide of sorts to share some of the fun/cool/different things on my to-buy list. Full disclosure: A lot of this stuff is made by people I know, people I admire, people I want to support. Most of them are moms, and many are small businesses, which makes it even cooler. Will I also be going to Costco and Target and on Amazon this month? You bet. Will I be giving some people cash and gift cards and slightly lame gifts? For sure. But I am really pumped about and proud of all the things I’ve either already bought or plan to buy from the list below and I want to share with all of you. Here goes:
The gorgeous, ocean-inspired serving platter I’m getting my chef brother-in-law:
These handpainted original pieces are from Jessica Howard Ceramics. Jessica is a fellow cancer survivor, fellow mom, fellow Long Islander (we used to play soccer together way back in the day). All of her work is nature inspired and gorgeous. Love, love, love the colors and the simplicity and the sea creatures. Is it bad that these plates makes me crave lobster? If anyone's looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me....
The “Wow, what a great gift!” gift for yogis (and wannabes like me):
This super-cute chemical-free yoga mat is the brainchild of a former Glamour colleague Jensen Wheeler Wolfe (she used to give us yoga classes in the conference room!). She started The Little Yoga Mat a few years back and it took off. I have two of these puppies and my kids love practicing yoga with me even though the only thing I know how to do is downward dog and a pretty bad-ass headstand. I'm buying them as gifts for a bunch of people on my list this year—they're good for ages 0 to 4 and can be used for anything from tummy time and naps to hardcore toddler yoga (I don't think you're supposed to call yoga hardcore are you?)—and they clean up and travel very easily.
The wine I’ll be serving at my Christmas party (and pretty much nightly at my house since, well, 'tis the season!):
Simi! Simi Winery has always made some of my favorite wines (their sonoma county chardonnay is a great value, not too oaky and totally crowd-pleasing). Back in September when Nick and I went on our little Sonoma getaway which I have yet to write about here (sorry!), we went to Simi and got to meet the winemakers, who both happen to be super cool women. I learned so much about the care and precision an art and love that goes into making these wines (and tasted some seriously good stuff). I also learned that the winery is pronounced See-Me so I'd been saying it wrong all these years. Whoops! Of course I joined the wine club so Nick and I have a few fancy bottles we’ll be cracking in addition to the more moderately-priced stuff I buy and serve by the caseload.
The books I’m getting for every woman and mom on my list:
The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman (I'm halfway through this right now and am obsessed. And Alyson is another Long Islander! And she's a redhead!), Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio (her third novel she's written in the past four years while having three little boys underfoot—impressive!), Friendkeeping: A Field Guide to the People You Love, Hate and Can't Live Without by Julie Klam (I used to edit Julie's features for Glamour and she is the funniest dream of a writer; we're reading Friendkeeping for book club this month, too!), Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach (I have cooked from this book, learned from this book and used it as bedtime reading—it rocks for all). I know, admire and adore these authors and they are all kick-ass moms to boot, which makes me wonder what the hell I've been doing with my time.
The hostess gift I’m bringing to December book club:
This is Inniskillin ice wine and it's seriously yummy. And special. And fun. And it's a great conversation piece since you can tell your giftee how the grapes (from the Niagara region of Cananda) are left on the vine into the cold winter months to concentrate and intensify. And that once they hit a certain very low temp, the frozen grapes are picked and yield only a tiny amount of juice. The result is a sweet, complex wine that goes great with cheese or as a dessert all on its own. I'm not a big sweets person or a sweet wine drinker but I really do love this stuff as a special treat. I'm going to bring some to Christmas dinner, too. Cheers!
The cookies I'll be ordering for Santa because I know I won't have time to bake my own:
My friend Kristin (she was my sister, Melissa's, college roomate) is a mother of two and started making custom cookies from her house after leaving her job in fashion. Her little side biz—Sweet K—has blown up, rightfully so. She can pretty much make anything into a cookie—I've had pirates and initials and baseballs—and they're a huge hit and totally delish.
The poker table I’d buy for Nick’s man cave if I had an extra $75,000 (and if Nick had a man cave…and if I ever actually used the term man cave):
Isn't this table insane? My friend and uber-talented artist/designer Axel Yberg makes these super high-end, one-of-a-kind pieces that tell incredible stories. I actually own one that he created for my LLS campaign last year inspired by my cancer journey. It's a wine rack called "In Vino Vitae" (in wine there is life). A bunch of friends chipped in and surprised me with it at the end of the campaign—I was blown away and feel so lucky to have a piece of this art in my house (and friends like that in my life). Check out Akke Functional Art to see all of Axel's collections and this video to watch him at work on the poker table aptly named "All in."
The yeah-I’m-a-cool-mom-now-get-your-ass-in-the-shower gadget for my kids:
Kohler recently sent me this Moxie Showerhead (as a writer I sometimes get samples and sometimes they’re super cool). It's basically a Bluetooth-enabled speaker pod that streams music out of the shower head along with the water. It’s totally awesome and the kids are going to freak out when they hear tunes pumping through the shower head. Nick and I are going to surprise them with some sudsy Christmas carols on Christmas Eve.
The look-good, feel-good, feel-even-better-about-yourself tie I’m getting my dad:
Joseph's Custom Clothiers, a local and super generous men's clothier, teamed up with me during my LLS campaign to create handmade Italian silk ties with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society logo on the back (which I now know is called the tipping). They were a huge hit so Joseph made more and is selling them through the holidays with $50 from each tie sale going directly to LLS. There are four designs to choose from and they're all red for LLS. Classic and swanky!
The dress I’ll be rockin at my Christmas party:
I bought this at a Small Business Saturday sale at Rexer-Parkes, a gorgeous family-owned women's clothing store in my hometown that I really need to start patronizing more because, well, I'm currently writing this while wearing Nick's old Patognia fleece and yoga pants that don't actually see any yoga (because as you can tell from the yoga mat entry above, I don't know how to do it). The dress, made by Mark + James (Badgley Mishka), is beaded and sparkly and fun and I feel fabulous in it which should be all that matters, right? And that it was a super good deal. Here's hoping I don't spill any of my brother-in-law's famous empanadas on it!
The designer who created my yet-to-be-sent Christmas cards:
4108 Designs is run by my college (and current!) friend Chris Copley who is also a mom of two. I spend a lot of time emailing/texting/talking to Chris this time of year (I’m a perfectionist; she puts up with me) but I'm always thrilled with the end product. Of course I haven't sent out my Christmas cards yet because I needed to hem and haw about them for at least a week before I ordered but they are coming soon and they are great. The shot to the left is not us, clearly. I promise to show you mine when it comes in!
OK, that's it for now. Take a look through this stuff and enjoy—and maybe get some ideas for the people on your list. And if you or any friends make and sell anything cool, please share. I am all about buying handmade, original stuff these days. And wine. Lots of wine.
Happy Holidays! Happy Shopping! Happy Friday!