I'm no Oprah, that's for sure. Generally, I refuse to even discuss Christmas until after Thanksgiving is given its due. But, since many of you are working on gift lists and will scurry to the stores "Black Friday" (not me, it will be "Nap Friday" here) I thought I would share some of my favorite finds. Unfortunately, I'm not a paid spokesperson for anything...
Disclaimer: Christmas isn't about the gifts. I don't want you to think I'm materialistic (except in the fabric sense LOL.) I try to make gifts when I can and I really cherish a quality handmade item. I also try to get things from small businesses or charities. My church sells great coffee from all over the world to support its mission ministry at discoverchristianchurch.org
My favorite things run in all "price points," so I am going to categorize by product type. Thoughtful gifts don't have to cost a lot. At the end, I will list some of my favorite stores and tell you why.
Lipstick: "O" by Mac Cosmetics, $18ish. This color is designed to look good on everyone. Looks great day or night. I have 20 or so lipsticks sitting in a drawer, but I nearly always turn to this one. At Sephora and better dept. stores.
Blush: NARS "Orgasm" and "Super Orgasm" powder, $20ish. "Super" is fairly recent and is the same color, but with added sparkle. Just like above, it was designed for every skin color. It's all I wear. At Sephora and better dept. stores.
Cover-Stick: Yves St. Laurent "Touch e'clat" (several color choices), Really pricey at $34, but I have tried dozens and keep coming back. Really cool goldtone applicator too! At Sephora and Saks.
Mascara: Aquacils Black by Lancome, $24ish. I have to have waterproof and this comes as close as any to staying on all day without smearing. At Sephora and better dept. stores.
Eye Pencil: Mac "Khaki" (a green/gold combo) they have other colors, some pretty wild. $11. I like it because it goes on smooth and doesn't break. You have to have a sharpener $2.
Shampoo/Conditioner: I have Fekkai, but find Pantene 2-in-1 for $3ish works great! Several varieties, available everywhere and there are always coupons.
No health food here, unless you count the nuts in some things...
Most of these are local companies, but have internet stores.
Candy: I used to think Godiva was my favorite, though I can eat a Hershey's bar just the same. Only a few minutes from here is Marie's Candies in West Liberty, OH. I love the dark chocolate peppermint chews, but my kids go for the giant pretzels with carmel, dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with toffee. I also like See's Candies and used to get it a lot when I lived in Los Angeles, I saw it here in a mall the other day. ''
Baked Goods: I would be remiss if I didn't mention Just Pies in Columbus, OH. They are the heaviest pies I've ever picked up. A huge list of seasonal choices. I believe this one was on Oprah's list. I can't keep out of Cheryl's Cookies' chocolate peppermint cookies (do you see a pattern here?) I love the citrus also. Sugar Daddy's Sumptuous Sweeties has OMG brownies. I never used to eat blonde brownies, but their "Nutty Blonde" is amazing! Sweet and salty.
Not so much for taste, but for lovely designs, I like Eleni's Bakery in NYC. Of course, Magnolia Cupcakes there is a perennial favorite and the line is always long. I have the recipe somewhere, but you can google it for a pretty good at home copy. They are moist and fabulous!
I'm really not a electronically-inclined person. I still write things down in a pocket calendar. But, I am trying to get more tech savvy. I hate my cell phone with internet, can't see the darn screen and it's a waste of money. Somehow I think I would love an iPad2, since our 5+ year old iMac is still really cool.
Nook E-Reader: I bought a factory-refurbished black & white one from Barnes & Noble last Spring for around $100, but the prices have fallen. I think you can get a new color one now for just a little more. They hold thousands of books, you can buy the books for a little less than paper copies (online and instantly download), you can borrow books from friends or public libraries and they have wi-fi for internet access (not the best for surfing though!) I got the Nook because at the time Amazon's Kindle didn't work with libraries or anything not Kindle.
The black & white versions of these are glare-less because they look like paper and aren't heavily backlit. The color versions are just like reading a computer screen. Both let you change the type size so you don't have to wear glasses! The battery lasts a long time.
UGGs: These are shoes and boots mostly lined in sheepskin. They keep your feet warm without sweating all day. I have had a pair of black boots several years (worn daily all Winter) and have only replaced the insoles for $11 on Zappos.com. They are available in better stores in many different styles at different price points. Mine were $165 and worth every cent.
180 Below Ear Warmers: Ear muffs that really work! You wear the strap behind your head so you don't look as dorky. A must for me when I have car or playground duty at the elementary schools! Under $20.
Harley Davidson Leather Goods: The gloves and jackets keep you really warm. The jacket is pretty heavy though.
Spanx: For when you have to suck it up! Not recommended for a gift unless you want slapped boys! Most of the pieces work well, but I especially love the hose and knee-hi socks that don't cut off your circulation.
Everyone should carry a Tide-To-Go!
I don't wear a lot of jewelry because I am too lazy to take it on and off all the time. I have my pearls, a couple really good watches, a few regular watches (gotta know what time it is at school!), my wedding/engagement rings and my cocktail ring. Used to wear a pair of gold hoops to death, but I lost one. Since I love the idea of "real" (but can't afford big honking diamond stud earrings) I am planning to get some white emerald ones. They are certainly real and not nearly as expensive! A good friend of mine (and fellow blogger) Sue Miller makes lovely silver, glass and crystal jewelry at Sunny Hawk Lane. Another good friend, actually Sue and I's mutual friend Sheree makes all kinds of neat art and gifts. I don't think she has a site, but google Sheree Green and see what you get. LMK if you need more info on either of the gals.
"Stores I Like"
If you have a Von Maur's nearby, please go check it out. It is above a Macy's and just below at Saks or Nordstroms. They also have an online store of course. Aside from the very helpful staff, the live piano music and free gift wrap... they offer free shipping and their credit card is INTEREST FREE! They have good sales at the end of seasons (but never have I seen coupons.) This family-owned store is always neat and not like some where it looks like a bomb when off in the clearance aisle. There is a gift section and gourmet food area. They carry lots of high end shoes and handbags.
I do go to Macy's a lot because I have a card there and the savings passes are very useful. I try to never pay full price there.
Trader Joe's is a grocery store with loads of cool things. They are less expensive than Whole Foods, but not quite the selection. Really good for ethnic items.
I love browsing local quilt and yarn shops. The big box stores don't carry the better and/or natural products or the high quality fabrics/yarns. Though Jo-Ann's has started carrying a little wool yarn, generally big box stores do acrylics, etc. You also get great personal attention and instruction. Good luck with that at the big stores (or even finding a clerk!) I do use Michaels and JoAnn coupons on stuff that is available everywhere, like most of the Martha Stewart Craft line.
Well, I hope this helps jump start your gift list ideas! I would LOVE to hear yours! Please post as a comment and the bottom so everyone can enjoy your favorites!
Until next time!