Friday, November 24, 2017

2017 Christmas Gift Guide

Just over 1 month until Christmas and I have done my Christmas shopping! Of course I have been working away at it since October but if you have yet to start your shopping or still have a few people to buy for then be sure to check out this years gift guide.

Gift giving is my love language and I am obsessed with finding the perfect gifts for everyone on my list, but I can easily go overboard if I'm not careful! For the first time this year I decided to type up a table of everyone I need to buy for on Excel (#admintraining) including a budget, what I actually spent, the gift I bought and date I bought it. It's been really helpful with sticking to a budget and keeping track of purchases. I'm thankful that I don't have a lot of people to buy for outside of my immediate family, which makes things easier.

DIY Gifts
I am a crafty person and I use those skills to make people gifts, use the skills that you have to make people gifts and add a personal touch. Ideas for gifts you can easily DIY include:
  • Button magnets - grab some cute buttons, some magnets and some super glue. Glue the magnets to the back of the buttons and you have some cute magnets. You can even glue cute bottle caps, shapes made out of baked polymer clay, or pictures done on shrinkydinks to magnets. These are always popular and don't take much time or effort so perfect for co-workers.
  • Painted pictures - I love to paint and often paint canvasses for friends and family for gifts. My tip is to stick to small canvasses so they won't take up much space or time to do.
  • Baked goods - as a baker I really up my game during December and start planning what I am going to bake in November. Many sweet treats can be made Christmassy with the addition of Christmas sprinkles of course you have all your classic Christmas treats; gingerbread, shortbread, fruitcake ... and the ones I always seem to make oreo truffles, cookie dough truffles peppermint bark. Bag them up nicely and they will be well appreciated. 
  • Photo collages - it seems that people rarely print off their photos anymore so why not make a photo collage of their Instagram or Facebook snaps and put it in a nice frame. You can take it one step further and even paint/decorate a plain wooden frame (you can buy 3 packs at ikea) to make it really personal.
  • Painted pots with succulents - succulents are really big at the moment and something fun to do with the kids is grab some acrylic paint and paint some pots and plant some succulents in them. We actually did this at the mentoring program I volunteered at and everyone loved it. Make sure you varnish the pot before you put the plant in so it won't get weathered.  Perfect teacher gifts if you include a gift tag/card that says something along the lines of 'thanks for helping me grow'. 

For everyone:

Christmas decorations - every year I make a load of decorations to give to friends and family. Gift giving is my love language and I like to be able to present a small gift to those that are in my life but won't break the bank. I make my Christmas decorations in October because I always find November and December are crazy. As it happens to be the last week of November and first week of December are really hectic so I am thankful that these decorations are ready to be given.
I will say it again that if you aren't crafty you can find cute quality decorations at Kikki K (I love these metal stars), Bed Bath N Table and Myer. I actually picked up a heap in the January sales which cost me next to nothing with markdowns and deals (Kikki K did a buy 2 get one free on sale items so I bought a lot during that deal) so keep that in mind come January. I did stick to classic colours and styles as that way they can fit in with a variety of decorating schemes and styles.

Board games - I play a lot of board games with friends on Saturday night and these ones have stood
the test of time with us, I have mentioned a few of these before but it's good for a reminder:
  • Coupe - we still play this game years later, there's also an expansion pack too.
  • Codenames - this game will break you if you're an over thinker but its so fun and no two games are the same.
  • What Do You Meme?- a great game for millennials by millennials this one always brings laughter.
  • Spyfall 2 - seems like a simple concept but it will drive you mad and its always fun to think up different questions.
  • Apples to Apples and Apples to Apples Disney - either the original version or the Disney version are great. 
A fun print in a frame - I am actually scared to give away my perfect go to gift, the only catch is you need to know the person well enough to get the right print/quote. Go on Etsy and search for *insert the person's favourite tv show/movie* then under refine results click art & collectibles and sort by price. Many listings will say printable/digital download and will be between $5-$10 depending on the seller. Following the instructions for purchasing and downloading (most of the time they are instant) stick the file on a usb and go to a place where you can print things off (like office works). You could totally print it off at home but I like having different size options and it's so cheap so anyway that it doesn't seem worth it to do it at home. Once you've printed it off go and find a nice frame and you're done. A bonus is that once you buy the print it's yours to use so if you have any friends who like the same tv show/movie  you can gift them the print too (just change up the size/frame if required). You can get a nice personal gift for under $20 depending on the frame you buy. I like this print, this one and this one makes me smile.

2018 Calendar - pretty standard gift but you can find some really fun ones at the calendar stands popping up in shopping centres.

Movie tickets - there's quite a few movies coming out in January (Pitch Perfect 3, The Greatest Show Man and Coco all look good)  and going to the movies is always fun. I always find movie tickets are well received and can be given as a family gift (maybe include a few bags of lollies for the movie), plus its a gift that won't break the bank.

For her:

The Giving Keys - I love keys and have quite a few pieces of jewellery incorporating them! I was thrilled when I discovered The Giving Keys every piece purchased you help those transiting out of homelessness with employment opportunities. I knew I had to buy one for my sister for Christmas as she too loves keys. There are so many options and you get to choose the word to get hand stamped on the piece to or for an extra $5 a custom word. I will say as it's based in the US, shipping and the
exchange rate can make it a bit expensive but the pieces are good quality and you know by purchasing them you are helping people.

Decent makeup brushes - this is such a practical gift if you know the person wears makeup, the chances are she will appreciate some good brushes. I have quite a few sets and use them on a daily basis, I also like to have multiples of the same style of brush. The brands of brushes I have used and love include: Nude by Nature, Manicare, EcoTools and my sister swears by her Real Techniques brushes.

Something Monogramed - going the extra mile and personalising something really shows you care and I love the monogramed range from Kikki K, there's a huge range of things you can get personalised. Everything is leather too and will be treasured pieces for years to come (if someone wants to order me this clutch I would be totally ok with it ;) )

Nice candles - its really only been this past year that I have learnt to love and appreciate decent candles. I love how they make a room smell nice and when lit they have a calming affect. I have quite a few placed around my room in random places and its so nice to get a whiff of their scents. I love Dusk for candles and they have a wide range variety at various price points to suit your budget.

Beach bag - a girl can never have enough bags and beach bags are something practical for Summer that will be used. There's a lot of nice ones out at the moment, I just ordered this one for myself (a bonus is that it's half price!)  but this is a nice one from Jeanswest, as is this one from Sunnylife and this one from Typo.
Fun books - I love to browse through pretty books whether that be craft, cooking or party planning and I now have quite a collection! Some great books to look into:
  • Lauren Conrad Celebrate - this is such a well written party planning book and it includes pictures of her own wedding too. I have read this book cover to cover many times and it's such a beautiful book.
  • Cookies and Cups cookbook - I really like this cookbook as it doesn't have fancy recipes and everything I have made from it has turned out perfectly. 
  • Cake Pops by Bakeralla- full disclosure I have no plan on making these cakepops but I love looking at all the pretty pictures and imagining that one day I will (it won't happen as I wish to keep my sanity haha). There is also a Christmas edition too which is just as pretty.
  • Best-Ever Kids' Cakes (The Australian Women's Weekly)- this a thick cookbook but it covers so many cakes. When I was younger my favourite bedtime stories were cake decorating books (I was a strange child!) and after trying to resist buying this book I gave in and haven't regretted it. I love all the cakes and I have a dream of making every single one in the book eventually, plus its all doable and there is nothing super challenging about the cakes either.
  • Celebrate Everything - I impulse bought this book online one afternoon and have had the best fun looking through it. I love the illustrations and the stories included in the book regarding certain parties and family traditions. 
For Him:

Key Finder - if they are prone to loosing their keys a key finder is something I am sure they will find useful. This one not only emits a loud noise to locate the keys, and if you're out of range you can use the map to locate where the keys last were plus its waterproof.

Tickets to a sports game - whether that be football, cricket or something else. Find his favourite sport and get him a ticket to go along to a game. You could even get a group of friends and family members to pitch in and buy season tickets.

A hammock - my dad LOVES his hammock and spends many afternoons just lounging around in it. If you have a space for one, its a great gift and one that will be well used for those afternoon siestas that every man needs to have.

Multi-tool - even if they aren't a handyman the chances are they will need a multi-tool at some stage regardless of their hobbies and interests. They are super useful to have around if you need to tighten something up, open something, saw something off ... this one is a more budget friendly option which contains a hammer, and this one is a credit card sized survival tool which would make a great stocking stuffer.

Food and alcohol DIY kits - these are perfect for the foodie while they are expensive they seem like Fresh Cheese Kit, Italian Cheeses Kit, Hard Cider Kit, Cabernet Sauvignon Kit, Stone Pale Ale Brewing Kit, Cuisine R-Evolution Kit, and Gin & Tonic R-Evolution Kit.
fun gifts and are great for the person who spends a lot of time in the kitchen. There's a huge range of both food and alcohol kits that will be sure to impress them! The following kits look fun:

For the kids:

Duplo - my mum still has a box of this which we have collected over the years (some of it is easily over 20 years old!) and whenever we have kids over it gets pulled out and played with. It's a bigger version of lego and doesn't hurt when you step on it. I buy this for friends kids and it's a great baby gift too as it grows with the child.

Books - as a book worm myself I love to buy books for kids. Some great titles to look into include:
Beach toys - Summer screams beach and pool time and toys Summer family fun times will be well used. Plus kids can never have enough buckets and shovels. Sunnylife has some great ones that both kids and adult alike will love.

Activity packs - give the parents a break and give some packs filled with fun and hopefully some peace and quiet. Keep in mind the child's age and abilities when creating these packs and adjust where needed. 
  • Beading -  beads, elastic, wire and jewellery fittings all in a tackle box so they won't get lost.
  • Paint your name - wooden letters to spell out their name, acrylic paint and paint brushes.
  • Friendship bracelets - embroidery thread, beads and some instructions on how to make some basic designs.
  • Scrapbooking - note book, stickers, washi tape, scissors, glitter, ribbon and any other embellishments you can think of.
  • Outdoor fun - chalk, chalk markers, bubbles, toy cars, blow up beach ball or bouncy balls, water pistols, water balloons, sun screen and some outdoor game ideas.
  • Pamper pack - nail polish, nail stickers, fun hair accessories, face mask (you can get some cute sheet ones), moisturising cream and  possibly some make up depending on the age.
  • Sleepover kit - microwave popcorn/lollies/other snacks, sleeping mask, fun age appropriate movie, nail polish and a cute pillow.

Klutz books - these books are great in that kids (and adults) alike always love them and they cover a range of topics. Each book includes everything needed to complete the activity and clear instructions (including pictures). They also makes great gift for someone who loves to craft but never has enough time. 

Touchable bubbles - these are so fun and a great stocking suffer for kids. Its so fun to catch and try to build to build a tower of them.

I love shopping online and have bought quite a few gifts online just because I can get good deals and I can shop at home while watching The Office. The following websites are worth checking out:
  • Booko - I can't speak more highly of this website! Type in the book title you want and it will come up with the versions (hardback, paperback, year published) and a list of websites where you can buy the book for the best price including postage. It will even tell you where you can buy it second hand along with price trends. I use this website all the time and save quite a bit buying books by visiting this site first.
  • Hard to Find - this is a website full of unique, fun gift ideas with something for the hardest to buy for people. It also includes a wide range of personalised gifts too which is great if you want to go the extra mile.
  • Urban Rituelle - I just put in an order with them as I am addicted to their lip balms and I can't find them stocked anywhere, but all their products are amazing and smell so good. I am big on customer service and these guys go the extra mile so you can tell they really love their products. Shipping is free over $100 and you get 10% off when you sign up to their newsletter too plus every order gets a bonus depending on how much you spend so if you have a lot of people to buy for its well worth doing a big order to get a good deal. 
  • Etsy - like ebay but for handmade things, you can find so many things on here. It's great for unique gifts and you know that you are supporting small businesses too
It can be so easy to get wrapped up in the glitter, craziness and materialism of Christmas but remember that Jesus is the reason for the season and he is the greatest gift of all.

I have just started listening to Christmas music and I am loving Echosmith's Christmas EP, so give this song a listen.

Last years gift guide, 2015's , 2014's , and  (I think I skipped 2013) 2012's.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

When things don't go as planned

My life isn't going as planned and that's ok -  is what I want to scream from the rooftops when people
ask me how I am going. Maybe because I want to reassure or convince myself or maybe because I feel the need to let people that sometimes when things don't go as planned that's ok.
I never in a million years thought I would maybe going back to study next year, but I'm ok with it.
I thought when I was 23 I would be married by now or at least have a boyfriend, but I don't and I am seriously ok with it.
When I was younger I thought medication would 'fix' my anxiety but it doesn't alone, so I see a psych and do regular exercise and try to eat a high protein diet and I've never felt better.
I used to think volunteering was overrated and I could never find time to volunteer regularly or find an organisation I would be so passionate about. But then I discovered ReachOut and it's been almost 3 years of being a Youth Ambassador and I have no desire to stop anytime soon.
I didn't think I was a good enough writer to have anything published other than this blog, but I took a chance and submitted an article to The Mighty which got published and I am so proud of myself. I have since had multiple articles published and it's been a great confidence boost.
This past week things have started to go as planned, I got a job interview (it was only a first round interview but it was something!), I got accepted into a ReachOut program which seemed like a far fetched dream when I applied, I got a certificate recognising that I had raised $380 for ReachOut with my last fundraising activity along with an encouraging letter from them, I bought two cute tops from Jeanswest that made me feel confident and life in general seems great. But I can't help wonder how long this will last, sure life seems to be on the up but when will it start to crash down around me again? I am a planner by nature yet when things do go as planned I can't help but question when they won't. Over this past year I have shed many tears and felt hopeless too many times too count but I have gotten through it. I questioned what was going on and there were times I just wanted to give up (and nearly did) but through it all God had a plan and he helped guide me through it.
Yes things haven't gone as planned and I have no idea why, but I've survived it and I now know that when things don't go as planned that it's ok because at the end of the day God has a plan for me and he will guide me through it all and that's pretty amazing to think about.