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The most wonderful time of the year.

…And also the damn busiest, chaotic, emotional, expensive, hungover, caloric, fun and festive time. Enjoy it while it lasts, friends!

 

Yesterday marked the first day of (oh!) Hanukkah – so, for our household– let the festivities begin!

 

Growing up, for my family, the holidays were nothing but Christmas crafts, cookie parties, candy canes at school, Christmas music in the car and house, circling your wish-list in the Toys R Us catalog and having our parents tell us, “Be good, Santa’s watching!”.  Good times.  For us it wasn’t about crazy presents, but for sure the holiday season itself.  As an adult, the holidays come with a bundle of emotions, sweet memories, nostalgia and a wee pinch on the purse strings. Don’t get me wrong, I live for the fall and winter stretch of holidays and sweater weather. The cooler temps throw you right into the spirit! Maybe I should ask for a synthetic snow-blowing machine in my stocking this year. It really ignites the spirit.

 

When the crunch time of December rolls around, it can be difficult to remember to take it all in. The good stuff. Since my husband respects (and somewhat observes ;) my childhood traditions celebrating Christmas, and now we are a Jewish family of five, we celebrate it all. Though mostly just acknowledging the joy of the “season” as we decorate our house in a “winter woodlands” theme.  I commissioned a sweet lady to whip up some “Hanukkah styled” stockings. We sport a small tree topped with the Star of David and decked with homemade ornaments representing the memories explored together as a famdamily. We celebrate Hanukkah with our Savannah cronies and then on to see our Sparkle City crew in the upstate of (maybe snowy!) South Carolina for Christmas cheer. It’s what our tradition has become in the last few years and we are going with it. It continues to be trial and error, but most importantly we (strive to) remember to be grateful for all that we have, and especially be kind in ways to those less fortunate.

Come January, we will be doing a little “closet purge” and showing the kiddos about the importance of volunteering and donating (time and treasures). My oldest has been asking about giving back to those less fortunate (in her words– “everyone with no toys”).  I have some leads in town, but in case you are searching for something up this avenue too, these sites could be a helpful resource…

Children Volunteering Guide

Create the Good

 

As far as gifting, I’ve mentioned it before—I’m kind of challenged. Always re-thinking gifts post purchase and getting mild, but consistent gift anxiety.  My husband always laughs that I “you can totally return it if you don’t like. I wasn’t sure when I bought it….totally just take it back…” my way through the whole opening of the gifted present process. I really just need a guide. Every year. Every occasion. Let me know when those ‘hit the shelves’.

 

In hopes to spark a few gift ideas for you, below are my latest and greatest gifting thoughts.  It’s so easy to hop on Amazon and such, though I encourage you to be a good little elf and give back locally, if you can. Small businesses especially deserve that green on the reg.

 

For the certain someones in your life:

 

Gents: Always the hardest in my opinion. The ones in my life are always so appreciative, but can really be tough to nail on the gift end! A solid go-to with men seems to be clothes/outerwear. My suggestion is bringing back the Levi’s Corduroy pants (not that they ever went anywhere :); Well priced, last a lifetime, made in America and always lookin’ sharp.

And for something a little more “gifty”, these multi-tools are neat.  Also, I dig a backgammon game gift. It’s pretty on a table, easy to learn and fun to play.

 

Ladies/friends/moms: They too are always so sweet, and women (Mom’s especially) are trained to be gushy and love everything—starting back when you were little and mom would rave over your mediocre coloring book pages ;)

I think women can be fun to shop for if you think right.  If you lean more to the practical side, Turkish hand towels are pretty and simple, and can look extra snazzy with a monogram. (Savannahians, Number 411 has you covered for this need. Sorry if I just blew your doors off with my huge following, CS :)

Jewels are always exciting too. Especially when purchased from someone special. It’s just all the more fun to receive a compliment on a piece you are wearing when you get to say,  “Oh, thank you!  Sweet so-and-so gave this to me. “ AND you don’t have to break the bank. I say go boho simple  or chunky and funky. If you can’t find these shopping locally, support an artist on Etsy. This site always blows me away offering every handmade goodie under the sun.  

Young gals- Young ladies are pretty easy to please– art supplies, dollhouse loot,  costumes. They are dollfaces when it comes to being “easy pleasey”. This year my young gals will be receiving something they have recently become obsessed with — Makeup. (Eeeek.) I have scoured high and low for a non-toxic kit, but no dice. China has cornered the market on cute packaging and poisonous goods on that front. So I created my own! I purchased organic makeup and a caboodle (shout out to the 90s!). Then tossed in a cute little hand mirror, make-up brush, hair brush, hair accessories –oh, and some faux jewels. I wish I had snapped a pic, though it’s all wrapped up for delivery. Fingers crossed for “recipient delightment”.

Young fellas– I know my toddler stud is cool just playing with a random piece of string, a dirty tennis ball and sweatbands. Though,  if you have the need to gift, a few thoughts: From back in the day until now, it really seems like you can’t go wrong with Legos. I like the function, the creativity and generally speaking, these as an activity will actually last more than 11 minutes :) These magnet bricks are a big hit in our house too.

Teens- Leave me out of this one. Drop some kind of gift-card and run. Teens scare me.

And a few more random thoughts for you:

*Simon– A cool retro gift for almost anyone—young or old. We all need memory support. And whats more fun than playing games you used to dominate. (read: Super Mario 1).

Ancestry.com– (Friends ET and PL are into this!)- I’ve wanted to do it. Seems very cool.

Yeti cooler ice packs– Nice stocking stuffer. These things are the bomb.

Stainless cups– Cold or hot. I’m a fan. And healthier to put in your mouth over plastic any day of the week.

Simple system cleanse- Give the gift of health. Purchase cleanse capsules at most any health food store. A simple one is a good start to rid your body of unwanted organisms (who doesn’t need that?)… These also keep your body moving and grooving; something that many of us may not even know that we need a little shepherding in. (A cleanse post will be coming to you soon.)

 

Hope this helps you get a jump on or wrap up your holiday to-dos. Try to put down the smart phone and take in the cooler air, the infectious, joyful energy of the children around you –and enjoy it while it’s among us.

Oh- and Spotify has a very hip channel called “holiday jazz” that will keep your emotions in check if you find that certain stations juggle your serotonin too much :)

Peace on Earth to all.

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