Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gift Guide: What to Get for...Friends with Kids

What to get the couple who has a child?

(Besides an IOU for babysitting?)

Well, most of my friends with children are scattered around the country so I head towards mail order gifts.  Also because I am the WORST when it comes to procrastinating and will probably not get around to doing this until December 24th at 9:00 p.m.  Even for my friends who celebrate Hanukah.


I'm usually reluctant to try new products when it comes to my home, especially if I can't hold the bottle and smell it in person.  I have an immense fear of cleaning product commitment. (I asked to have this included in the prospective DSM-V, but am still waiting for field trials.)  But I did try the Honest Co. products and really liked them.  All the products are eco-friendly and perfect for households with babies and kids and parents who are trying to eliminate harsher cleaning products from their homes.  Plus, they smell good!  

This would also be a great housewarming gift or for a someone newly out of college.

2.  Blue Apron Grocery Delivery


Going to the grocery store with a kid can often be like an expedition up K2.  Especially at the beginning, I would get home exhausted with a cranky hungry baby, realize that I forgot at least three key ingredients for any kind of edible meal, and melted ice cream.  I read about Blue Apron in a recent Daily Candy email and thought it was genius.  They deliver all the groceries you'll need for three healthy complete meals, plus the recipes.  For someone who loves to cook, but is often short on meal ideas (hand raised and waving around) this sounds amazing.  Blue Apron currently only delivers in the Northeast, but another great idea would be a gift card to Peapod, FreshDirect or any other grocery delivery service.  

3.  Julibox


I'll often read about all these awesome cocktail bars where people do crazy things like wear heels (!) and earrings (!!) and maybe even lipstick (!!!).  And then I think about how I'd have to get a babysitter, pay said babysitter, get dressed up, go to these bars, fight a crowd of cooler people, read a cocktail menu and pay $15 for said cocktail.  And honestly, I'd probably just end up with a scotch on the rocks and leave before the cool crowd even got to the bar. The idea of staying in my jammies and making cocktails with my husband (and maybe some friends) sounds really nice.  Enter Julibox.  Each month they send you all the components (booze and mixers), plus a recipe for a "mixologist" approved drink.  I heard about this from Belle at Capitol Hill Style and basically just want to get it because she tweeted a picture of an adorable tiny bitters bottle.

You could pair it with this giant ice cube tray for a cute gift or, if your friends are more wine people, check out the gift subscriptions to The Tasting Room.  Also a cool idea, these Pairings Boxes from Turntable Kitchen pair food and music delivered right to your door.



Look, no parent is going to get tired of pictures of his or her own child.  Seriously.  It's like an addiction.  So, instead of being forced to look at their iPhone for four hours at every meet-up, give them a gift to allow them to print out pictures in a stylish way.  I've seriously loved everything I've gotten from Pinhole Press, from calendars to note pads to framed pictures.  They have great customer service and the site is easy to use.  Highly recommend for all your indulgent baby photo needs.  Another option for those who love Instagram (and, who didn't? and still won't because we'll forget all about the terms of service kerfluffle) try Printstagram or StickyGram.

4.  Dinner Out...or actually...In

Alright.  This is kind of a cop out.  But truly?  The best gift you can give your friends with kids?  Time with you!  One of the things I miss from my pre-baby lifestyle is just being able to hang out with friends, have a few drinks, and not worry about getting back to a babysitter.  Make dinner or pick up takeout, bring it to your friends' house.  Bring prosecco and paper plates.  Ignore the pile of laundry and that stupid sound puzzle making woofing noises in the corner.  Enjoy.  Happy Holidays to everyone!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Duck, Duck, Duck Boots

When I was in high school, L.L. Bean was *just* about the coolest retailer ever.

And, yes, I am aware of how that sounds.

College visiting trips required a stopover in Freeport to pick up a puffer vest.  A new school year meant a brand new backpack.  Flannel plaid shirts were de rigeur over black pants and Doc Martens.  Sometime after the grunge movement faded, I went to college in California and forgot all about the New England preppy-practical retailer.

But now that I'm back in New York and ostensibly grown up, I'm rediscovering the appeal of some L.L. Bean classics.  For example: Duck boots.







As the fall weather has turned to winter, I find myself searching for something weather-worthy and good-looking for strolling around and playground runs with Reese.  Not to mention that my parents' country house has a newfound allure for my husband every Sunday (Two words: Redskins and DirecTV) and flats are a little too City Mouse.

Enter duck boots, formally known as Bean Boots.  I picked up a pair in the navy and tan combination and I'm so amped to break them in.  I'm thinking of pairing them with skinny jeans and thick socks, tights and thick socks, leggings and thick socks (you get the idea...).

Plus, as I get older, I'm seduced by the ancillary benefits of L.L. Bean.  Shipping is always free, products have a lifetime guarantee, and everything is made in the U.S.A.  But you know...even Angela Chase grew up and apparently joined the CIA.

This time, I'm steering clear of the oversized flannel shirts though.  With age comes wisdom.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gift Guide: What to get for...A Babysitter

While I'm probably the only person in New York (or at least the Upper East Side) who doesn't employ a steady babysitter, nanny, au pair, or the like, I still know that tipping and presents can be a tricky business.  Emily Post says (and I fully agree) that cash is still the best present you can give at the holidays, about a week's salary.  However, I think it's nice to also give a smaller gift to show your appreciation for all the hard work and love your caregiver puts in over the weeks.

I think the biggest pitfall to avoid for a babysitter is giving something that he or she will use in the care of your child (museum membership, stroller accessories).  It's not that it won't be appreciated, but I feel like gifts should be solely about the person receiving the gift.  Something fun, maybe a little frivolous, a little luxurious.

What to Get for...A Babysitter


1.  Falconwright Clutch.  Envelope clutches are eternally useful, in addition to being super chic.  You can carry it alone, or put it in a bigger bag for easy access to important stuff.  (Important stuff, people!) Everyone on the interwebs is bonkers about the Clare Vivier purses, which...don't get me wrong, they are beautiful, but also a little played out.  I think these Falconwright clutches carry the same style, but punch it up with fun patterns and come in a more budget friendly price range.  They are available at Madewell and also in lots of colors at Dalaga NYC, one of my favorite boutiques which finally has online shopping.

2.  J. Crew Continental Zip Wallet.  Do you know anyone on this earth who doesn't need a new wallet?  I mean, my husband's is practically held together with duct tape.  Mine looks like a dog dragged it across the lawn and through a sprinkler (maybe that happened, maybe it didn't, what of it?).  My point is that, even if the giftee doesn't need it now, she'll need it eventually.  It's a nice neutral gift that is practical, but not boring if you get a fun color like the pink at J. Crew.  I also like these Rebecca Minkoff wallets with cute sayings. (If I were British or pretentious, I would have said "cheeky" instead of cute, I spared you.)

3.  C. Wonder Monogrammed Mug.  Universal truth of gift-giving: Monogramming makes everything better.  Well, it certainly makes it unreturnable.  I prefer the single initial to a full monogram and I think in this case you could pair the gift with something else.  For example, this initial mug with a Blue Bottle Coffee subscription.  Or you could give a beautiful set of initial note cards.  Or an iPhone case.

4.  Butter London Heavy Metal Trio.  Beauty products are a nice gift, but not without some pitfalls.  Some beauty gifts could be a little too personal and picking out shades of makeup could be like walking a tightrope without a net.  After 6 beers.  I think nail polish is a nice happy medium, since it's fun and not that intimate.  This Butter London trio is neutral, but not boring.  This set of classic reds from Sephora is also a nice option.  Not a nail polish fan?  Try the Urban Decay Naked 2 eyeshadow palette.  Or, you could give the greatest gift...a HUGE bottle of Kiehl's Creme de Corps.

5. J. Crew Cashmere Scarf and Hat.  Alright, it's totally unoriginal, but, much like a wallet, a hat and scarf and gloves set is always a good gift.  My thoughts here are: go cashmere or go home.  I mean, life it too short and winter is too long to wear and itchy scarf.  Get a beautiful color, like this eggplant from J. Crew or a bold red or a pale blue.  Another boring but awesome option?  Gloves.  The ones that have the touch fingertips are a lifesaver like this pair from Echo.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Out of Words

Like everyone else, I am beyond horrified, shocked, saddened and sick over the tragedy in Connecticut on Friday.  I heard the news on twitter and followed throughout the afternoon.  As many people posted their own expressions and emotions, I could not.  I literally had no words.  As a parent, as a person, there is nothing I felt I could say that had not said been said or felt by everyone.

I did see that someone in my feed retweeted Anderson Cooper, saying that there really wasn't anything to say.  Words are too small for a tragedy of this magnitude.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gift Guide: What to get for...a Toddler

Before I had a baby, when gift giving time would roll around, I would pop into a toy store and reel off the genders and ages (which often had me saying, "I think he's like 3 and a half?  Or maybe seven?  Wears a diaper, but doesn't speak sentences?  Can't tie shoes, but eats with fork?") and wait for a recommendation from the sales clerk.

Honestly, I'm not much better now.  

But, I do know the things that other people have given my kid that she seems to really like, so I think it's safe to give them to other toddlers.

Toddler Gifts

1.  Tegu Magnetic Blocks.  I swear these must be awesome if only because you cannot find them in New York.  They sell out faster than Shake Shack burgers the day after Yom Kippor.  I like the pocket set because it's affordable and perfect for traveling.  Stash it in your bag and whip it out on the plane for an easy distraction that doesn't require food or batteries.  If you want to go all balls-to-the-wall awesome aunt/uncle, you could spring for the big set or you could add in some other travel friendly toys like these Green Sprouts disposable coloring placemats and Zoli snack stack.

2.  Hunter Toddler Boots and Wellie Socks.  Bad weather is here to stay and kids love puddles.  That's what I have to contribute now that I have my own child.  Hunter boots are amazingly sturdy and, frankly, amazingly cute.  The wellie socks add an additional layer of warmth (or are a great gift on their own if you know the child in question already has wellington-style boots).  If you don't know the right show size, go big.  He or she can always wear them next year.

3.  Mini Kick Scooter and Bell Toddler Helmet.  Scooters are everywhere in New York.  Apparently, no one has recovered from the dot-com era and just passed them down to the next generation.  (Not everyone has, but I swear, if I see one more legitimate adult on a scooter, I am going to stick my umbrella in that wheel.)  Toddlers love them...it's a nice alternative to walking or staying in the stroller, they feel like a big kid, and it's fast and dangerous!  What's not to love?!?  Get the helmet.

4.  Green Toys Tea Set.  I know this one comes in a variety of pink and purple colors, but really, this is a unisex gift.  At this age, kids really like to play "food" and "tea" and it's definitely not a girly thing.  Reese can sit for hours (1 hour toddler time equals roughly 20 minutes of actual time, less if you need to make an important phone call) having a tea party, cooking, toasting, making sandwiches, etc.  You could also go for one of the many food themed sets out there like this grocery bag and vegetables, the Melissa and Doug sandwich making kit, sliceable wooden fruits and veggies, or a set of pint sized pots and pans.  If you did want to go for a tea set but wanted something a little more traditional, this Beatrix Potter set is adorable.

5.  Roberta Roller Rabbit Pajamas.  You know how ladies love cool James?  Well, all children love soft pajamas.  I mean, who doesn't?  Reese received a set of these whale print pjs from Robert Roller Rabbit and I just love them.  The cotton is super soft, the print is gag-worthingly cute, and they wash really well.  They are definitely pricey, but worth it.  At a lower price point, I love love love the Serena & Lily/Hanna Andersson pajama sets and these Boden ones come in multi-packs with cute prints.

Also, if you are really rushed on time or the parents of the child in question are low on space (apartment  living means no basement full of huge riding toys!), consider getting a museum or zoo membership or a pass to a children's playspace.  In New York, we could probably spend every day at the Museum of Natural History or the Children's Museum of Manhattan and never get bored.  This is particularly good coming up on winter months when playgrounds are off limits and space to roam is hard to come by.  Plus, you might even get a little tax write-off.  Happy holidays to everyone!
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