Friday, November 18, 2016

Christmas Gift Guide 2016 Edition

***Instead of Five Friday Favourites this week I am launching my 2016 Gift Guide! This has been a big post to write and I hope you will enjoy it.***

How can it be almost Christmas?! The shops are slowly getting busier, Christmas music has started to fill my ears and people everywhere are making lists and checking them more than twice!

Every year I do a Christmas gift guide (you can read last years here) for those who know me you will know that gift giving is my love language and I love trying to find the perfect gift for my friends and family.

I find that the lead up to Christmas is always so busy and there is just something about being a pastors family that makes it extra busy! So while I try to embrace the craziness I also try to get as much as I can done early so I can enjoy all the fun little things in the lead up to Christmas. Christmas shopping has been one thing that I have been taught to get out of the way early, growing up my Mum always used to shop throughout the year for the extended family as it cut down on the stress and also the impact on the bank account. Other ways you cut down on stress in terms of gift giving include:
  • Setting a theme - my Grandparents used to do this when it came to the grandkids so one year we all got beach towels, another year we all got board games, one year the girls all got opal necklaces etc. So we all got variants of the same thing, this made it a lot easier rather than shopping individually for each grandkid. This is a great idea if you have to buy for a lot of people and you pick something neutral, plus you can get a lot done all in one store!
  • Secret Santa - we do this on my Mum's side of the family so we each buy for someone whose name is drawn out of a hat. This also keeps costs down as we only buy for one person.
  • Stick to handmade gifts -if you are in a crafty family this is a great way to cut down costs and you know that each gift you are getting is made in love.
Gift giving doesn't have to be expensive if you start early and set a budget. I shop sales so much and take advantage of deals where I can, I also use ebay and online shopping to my advantage! If you start now you have plenty of time for postage.

Here are my top presents for this year:

Things to buy:

Codenames - hands down one of the best games around! You can play it with 2 people onwards (the more the merrier and I've played it with around 20 people at one time!), its such a fun game. The concept may seem simple but it can get frustrating very quickly. If you have kids there is even a picture version of it that sounds really fun and a good holiday game.

Apples to Apples - another great game. You have to pick the card in your hand that matches the word
on the table winner is the first that gets 5 green apple cards. This game can get really crazy and its a great game to play if you don't something so intense but still with a bit of strategy.

Annabel Trends drink bottle - does anyone ever have enough drink bottles? I have been loving the drink bottles Annabel Trends make, they are durable, come in a variety of colours, have the amounts clearly measured on the side (theres a 500ml and 780ml) and just look super cute in general. I got Jocelyn one a few years ago and its still going strong (and have since bought myself one!), its a great gift for anyone. You can check out the full range here.

Celebrate by Lauren Conrad - I love this book so much and its a great gift for anyone you know who
loves celebrating the big and little things in life. Its filled with ideas for a variety of budgets and I love how Lauren shares parts of real life events she has planned (like her wedding!) this book covers everything from dress codes to gifts to styling.

Cute Lunch bags - Sachi makes these super cute lunch bags that are durable and have enough space in them for multiple containers and drink bottles. My mum bought me one ages ago and as she loved it so much my sister and I bought her one for Mothers Day a few years ago and despite using it non stop its still looks new. They are one of those items that everyone at some stage will need and they are made to last.

Light Box - I swear these are getting more popular and they are a great gift! I have currently have two and use them for ReachOut stalls but when they aren't in use I use them as décor items in my room and love how I can write whatever I want using the letters. You can pull them out for parties and  make great conversation pieces. I got one of mine from Kmart (I also bought extra letters) and find for the price you can't go wrong and I have a small one from Typo (which are more expensive but if you want variety in sizes then Typo is the way to go).

The Handmade box - I am a big believer in supporting small business and The Handmade Box makes it easy, with everything in the boxes being handmade from a small Australian business. This year's Christmas boxes are almost sold out and they will no doubt be amazing. I can honestly say I have loved each box I have received, it was hard to resist just ordering one so I ended up ordering two and I can't wait to see the goodies inside. These would make great gifts for that hard to buy for person or someone you need to post something to (just address it to them and send them an email letting them know something from The Handmade Box will be arriving to them sometime soon).

Succulents - these are currently on trend mainly because they are such low maintenance and hard to kill. While you can already buy them in nice pots you could take it one step further and plant one in a pot you painted (just make sure to seal it first) for a fun touch. I have a few that I have had for many years and they are still going strong (and probably need to be replanted in bigger pots).

The Balm How Bout Them Apples - this is a great palate and I find myself reaching for it day after day for not just cheek but lip colour as well. Its a great palate for the make up lover and The Balm is a great brand (side note if anyone wants to get me any of their other palates for Christmas I would totally be open to it! Especially this one).

A good Summer read - for me Summer is sitting by the beach or pool with a book in hand, so why not give someone a great book to read. Rather than list book titles I will just mention some authors and the styles they write in:
  • Sarah Dessen - Sarah's books just feel like Summer to me and are great light hearted reads.
  • Candace Calvert - not your average medical drama books with deep meanings that will stay with you long after you have read them. You can read a review on her soon to be released book here.
  • Rachel Hauck - her books transport you to far away royal kingdoms and she has written a few great historic combined with modern era novels as well (The Wedding Dress, The Wedding Chapel and The Wedding Shop).
  • Jenny B Jones - I loved her Katie Parker Production books though my current favourite of hers is Save The Date.
  • Cat Patrick - her book Forgotten is one my favourite books and she writes great fiction surrounding interesting concepts such as 3 girls who are clones of the same person and all live one life.
The above authors have all written books that are standalone or if they are part of a series (as is the case of Candace Calvert's novels) they can be read in any order.

Cute beach towel - over the years I have received many beach towels as gifts and they are great useful gifts! With Christmas being in Summer I find that you can never have enough towels, pick one in a cute colour and pattern and you are good to go.

Gifts with purpose - we all have those people who are impossible to buy for or have too much stuff so this is where Tear and Baptist World Aid come with both these organisations you make a donation on behalf of the person and get a card that you then give to the person telling that you purchased them a goat, school supplies, a toilet, a well, a mosquito net ...etc which is being provided to someone in need in a 3rd world country. This is a great idea and there are so many puns you can do in regards to them: I 'Goat' you this card, it was selfish of me 'toilet' this go to 'waste', 'well' done on surviving another year, which are sure to get a groan or two out of them. The best thing is that these gifts will change peoples lives and you get to be part of that, its really a gift that keeps on giving.

Classic/childhood movie - when Finding Dory came out this past year so many of my friends I raced to go see it as Finding Nemo was a huge part of our childhood, but it made me realise that I don't have some of those films on DVD that I grew up watching. So a great idea is to find out what are some classic films (or TV shows) for them and track them down (   JB Hi-Fi is my go to place for dvds). Examples are:

  • Finding Nemo
  • Monsters Inc.
  • The Incredibles
  • Ferris Buellers Big Day Out
  • The Princess Bride
Include a pack of popcorn and/or some chocolate and you are good to go! A bonus is that most of these DVDs are available quite cheaply so its a gift that won't break the bank.

Earrings - one of my go to gifts is a nice pair of silver earrings, I keep an eye on sales leading up to Christmas and will often buy multiple pairs when there's a good sale on. I LOVE Magnolia jewellery and every piece I have from them is beautifully made and I get loads of compliments on them (also check out Lovisa, Prouds, Sheils and Zamels). Pictured earrings here from Magnolia.

Mind games - you can buy puzzle books or actual mind games at game stores (such as this one). There's always a variety of these around with varying levels and challenges. These always make great gifts especially for those hard to buy people.

Personalised packages/hampers - these days you can get nice hampers made up but they are always on the expensive side of things when you can easily put together your own for a fraction of the cost and they can be on the more personal side of things. Ideas include:
Tea lovers - nice package of tea (such as T2), tea diffuser (if you are giving loose leaf tea), tea cup and cookies (hand baked if you have time).
Pamper pack - nail polish, body wash/scrub, loofa, lip balm, face mask, hair band.
Baking- apron, cooking utensil of some kind, cookbook.
Camping kit- aleo vera gel or sunblock , glowsticks, marshmallows, multi tool/torch, camping chair,  pack of cards or travel game.
Study buddy- pencil case, pens, notebook/journal, gum, key ring.
Book worm- a book, chocolate, tea, cute bookmark.
Summer time - water bottle, towel, beach bag, sunblock.
Girls night in - chick flick, chocolate, popcorn, face mask, magazine

Can't Clutch This - firstly can someone please buy me a subscription to this for Christmas? As a girl I love bags and am always after a way to make my every day life fun (which explains why my keys have so many keyrings on them haha). Studio DIY has come up a great idea where every month you get an awesome new clutch (which she designed) sent to you for $20 (add another $3 if you live outside of US) which would make such a fun gift! A girl can never have too many clutches and its a gift can stretch over a whole year :)

Nude by Nature gift sets - I always fine Nude by Nature's gift sets value for money and a bonus is
that its all mineral makeup. With sets starting at $20 they won't break the bank either and there's a variety of sets available from the basic loose powder sets to brush kits finishing off with their new eye shadow range you are bound to find something for the make up lover in your life.

DVD box set - I love to binge watch tv shows and recently a friend gave me the complete box set of Friends to watch (because its a
must watch show I am told) as a going away gift (she was returning home after a working holiday here). I know box sets are expensive but they can make great couples gifts, alternatively you can give a couple of seasons of the show to them, so enough to get them hooked (which makes more sense if the show is still airing). I find comedy is always a safe bet but don't be afraid to do some snooping and ask them what they have or haven't seen! Shows that are worth looking into include:
  • Scrubs - JD and Turk = relationship goals, its a hospital comedy that's just what the doctor ordered.
  • The Office (US version) - who knew a paper company could be this interesting?! I am almost finished it and will be sad when its over, plus it has a receptionist called Erin in it which is fun bonus (and I totally relate to her personality). Its from the same guys as Parks and Rec so you know it's good.
  • Parks and Rec - Lesley Knope for president is all I can say and you will too once you've watched it.
  • Brooklyn Nine Nine - Jake Peralta is one of New York's finest detectives and its fun to watch him take on the crime with the rest of the Nine Nine crew.

Things to make:

Christmas decorations - over the past few years I have been big on making Christmas decorations and I find they make great gifts. This year I have made over 80 handmade decorations and while that may seem like a lot it didn't take me that much time or money. I bought supplies off ebay, discount stores and craft stores and used some leftover materials from last year. Pinterest is a great source to get ideas from and if you have kids you can get them in on the action too.

Baked goods - every year I spend a day or so in the kitchen making some treats that freeze well. I then package them up into bags with some Christmas ribbon and I am good to go. Last year I made 2 varieties of truffles and some candy cane bark. I go on a variety of cooking blogs to get inspiration, my only requirments are that they must be easy, yummy and package/travel well.

Stocking Stuffers:
Gift giving is my love language and while I don't have the money to give everyone a big gift I love to give out small well thought out gifts. Some gifts that won't break the budget are the following:
  • Letter keyrings - I love the Smiggle ones and I have a slight obsession with them (this one is my current favourite)!
  • Cute pens - individual pens are relatively cheap at stationery stores or you can get sometimes cute multi pen packs (like these) and separate the pens. Places like  Kikki K, Smiggle and Typo always seem to have cute pens. I have also had great success with buying pens off ebay just search for 'cute pens' or 'cute stationery'.
  • Stickers - a bonus is that they are easy to post, check discount stores and news agencies for cute packs.
  • Travel sized body products like body wash - check out the body shop for limited edition Christmassy scents
  • Nail polish and nail files - pick some Christmassy metallics like gold, silver or copper and include a nail file and you are good to go.
  • Lip balms - Urban Rituelle's are the best but the body shop's are also good.
  • Christmas decorations - I make a heap every year (see above) and everyone loves them. Alternatively keep an eye out for nice ones in the lead up to Christmas, I find Myer and Bed, Bath N Table always do nice ranges, you can also check out specialty Christmas shops.
Experiences:
I loved going to see The Next Step in concert with Megan this past September as an early birthday
gift to her and we had such a fun time and she is still talking about it whenever someone makes a comment on the concert poster which she has stuck on her door. Experiences are a great gift as they are something the person might not always do and they make great memories. You can often buy vouchers for general ticket places (like ticketeck or ticketmaster) that can be used towards upcoming concerts which are good if you don't know exactly the persons tastes.
Movie tickets are another good gift as some insurance/phone companies offer discounted tickets if you purchase through them (which are then sent/emailed to you) and if you include a pack of lollies you are good to go.
Other good experiences are:
  • The Zoo 
  • Local Science Museum
  • Theme parks 
  • Ice skating 
  • Other museums such as maritime or army
  • Historical place tours like old prisons, ghost tours (if they are into that), army barracks 
  • Cooking/art/craft classes 
  • Sporting event tickets like to the basketball or football
Also check out local coupon sites like Groupon for great deals in the lead up to Christmas.

Christmas shopping shouldn't be stressful and its always a good idea to keep a list of people you need to buy for and write down what you have bought for them (or are going to buy then tick it off once you have purchased said item).
Just remember at the end of the day Christmas isn't about the gifts or the food or the twinkly lights its about the day that God sent us his son Jesus who is the greatest gift of all.

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