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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Roberts Family Christmas Playlist

Have I mentioned how excited I am to be home with my family for the holidays this year? EXCITED. For the first time in three years I'm able to relive the special traditions that I grew up with, and even better I get to share them with my main man, Spencer. I am truly happy to be home with everyone.

My fondest family memories are of us gathered together literally celebrating Life with themed dinners on holidays, birthdays, and other random days when we just wanted to. Sometimes we miss vacations in Hawaii so much we recreate island life in the backyard: complete with copycat versions of our favorite meals and wave sounds in the background. And now that I think about it the new direction I'm working on for the blog, of valuing the day-to-day story, probably comes from my family's knack for putting in the effort to build these moments for ourselves.

Family Christmas Party Playlist
Christmas, then, would be no exception on the list of times to party it up! There's plenty of tradition and festivities to go around this time of year. Plus you know we go all out. A Roberts family yuletide celebration comes with matching pajamas, a mug of hot chocolate, tons of family time, and the perfect soundtrack to make memories by. There is nothing more important than family and I hope you'll make time for yours this holiday season. To get your party started here's a list of some favorite holiday songs, from my family to yours:

If you enjoyed this playlist sign up for my email list for a secret Spotify playlist carefully selected by me and featuring Queens Over Kings' song About A Boy! Click here to start jammin'.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Holiday Gifts for the Hard To Buy For and Unique Places To Find Them

Hard To Buy Holiday Gift Ideas

Disclaimer: All the opinions in this post are my own. This post contains no affiliate links. I have not been compensated by any website, brand, or product included in this post. I simply wish to share some unique finds and bolster your holiday gift giving.

I have this thing about finding the perfect gifts for people. No matter the occasion I'm resolved that they can't just be anything. And then there's Christmas where I am even more determined that gifts from me reflect the thoughtfulness and whimsy that defines the season. It's easy to go for the gift card. At least the recipient can get what they wanted without you losing the guessing game again right?

Then you wait around for the perfect gift to appear on its own and you run out of time at which point you purchase something, anything out of desperation. Goodness no. There are few things worse than receiving a gift from a friend or relative, even someone at the office, and wondering what the heck made them think of you when they decided to buy this particular item. Do they even know me? Couldn't they have tried even a little harder? The same goes for us, friend. And yes that's "us" as in I have a tough list of special people to shop for too. In case you forgot, we're in this perfect present quest together. Now let's get this holiday party started.

Holiday Gifts for the Hard To Buy For

The Man Who Has Everything (Because He's Always Buying It Himself)
This guy can be a doozy and he tends to come in multiples. The trick is to go for something obscure yet useful, something he hasn't thought of:
  • Amazon Prime Membership - If he buys it all himself make it easy for him. Get his Amazon email and you can gift Amazon Prime for $99. If he already has it offer to pay up when its time to renew. UPDATE: I just found out about Amazon Household. You can gift Prime Membership to the whole family! Click or read on for more information.
  • In Home Custom Suit Tailoring - Yes, a professional tailor will come to a home or office to select fit, style, and fabrics for the ultimate clothes buying experience. There are luxury options, like the world-renowned Tom James, but a quick Google search can help with something closer to home. Bonus if they have gift cards or certificates that let you help towards the bill instead of paying it all up front to keep your costs low.
The Admired Grandparent
It's a toss up between Grandparents and In Laws for toughest gifts on my list. Finding something that is equal parts meaningful and practical seems impossible sometimes. That being said these ideas should at least get the gears moving on something extra special:
  • Keepsake About Me Journal - I have lost family members very unexpectedly over the years and now their stories are gone. So it's no surprise that I think about how I can keep family stories for posterity to enjoy. Enter the Keepsake About Me Journal filled with questions for the writer to answer about different stages and experiences in life. See a high end version here and a not so intense option here.
  • A Special DIY - Did your grandparent teach you a skill or spark your interest in a certain hobby? Put it to work! I'm not talking some cheesy Pinterest find. I mean truly make something. If you learned woodworking from your rustic Grandfather, create a one-of-a-kind family tree. Compile all those recipes Grandma taught you into a family cookbook. If you're into bird watching because of them go on a photo trek and frame your favorites. Talk about a tear-jerker.
The In Laws
My In Laws are amazing. I am so grateful that Spencer's parents have accepted me into their family and they have given us so much. Selecting the right gift for them is top priority. Usually we give them something memorable since we live so far apart. But this year I'm thinking something more fun:
  • Art for the Home - This could be traditional family photos or, my personal favorite, actual artwork. Keep things as simple as possible with the matting and framing already taken care of. Make the gift even better by working with a local artist from your hometown or theirs, maybe even someone they know!
  • Personal Chef Dinner or Professional House Cleaning - I think I would be happy to get this myself so consider this one for anyone on your list. Two things we wish we could get someone else to do are cook dinner and clean the house. With this gift you make the contacts but let the recipients decide when they want to use it. It's like a gift card but ten times better because there's no ambiguity. I'm already jealous of whoever you're giving this to.
The Teenager
I have three teenage siblings and whether they believe it or not I was one of them not too long ago. At this age the things they want are way too expensive and the things they need are seriously boring. What's a cool relative to do?
  • Learn a Skill or an Experience - The cool part about this is not just what you could give them but also where you might find it (see below). I've seen lots of things like cooking, circus training, fencing, maple tree tapping, paintball, zorbing. And all for less than you might think if you look in the right places. Plus they get out and discover life past the screen if you know what I mean.
  • Multi Tool - It's a mad world out there and being prepared for anything is becoming more than a mantra these days. I've been digging on the Wallet Ninja for a while, despite Spencer thinking it's slightly corny. I'm easily amazed... With 18 tools in one sheet of metal the size of a credit card how can you not be?? And ladies we are not forgotten. Check out the Clippa Lady from Monkey Business. It's a hair clip with a screwdriver, can opener, and more. With either of these you'll win best Christmas gift and coolest relative for years to come.

The Boss/Coworker
Hopefully your Boss is someone you actually want to give a gift to. If not, it's probably still a good idea to slide a little something her way. And just in case that Coworker you didn't know you were friends with presents you with "nothing," I'm here to make sure you're prepared:
  • Business Card Holder - They have them on their desk but do they have them everywhere else? I rarely have business cards with me because they're such a pain to carry around. They fall out of the pocket in my purse, are bent up or dirty, and blah blah blah. I know I'm not the only one so prevent this with a nifty carrying case. Here's some ideas from Etsy.
  • Personalized Notepads - I love love LOVE those notepads from Knock Knock. They're so fun and so spot on for all kinds of situations. This Nailed It notepad is perfect for the Boss that might need help with interpersonal skills. Or try the Office Citation notepad for the Coworker that knows a thing or two about office fouls.
That One Family
The long distance cousin and her kids that you are responsible for this year or the neighbors you enjoy spending time with, they deserve a special something too:
  • Annual Pass to the National Parks - There are all kinds of fun things to do at the parks, whether national or local. An annual pass to the National Parks could be just the excuse they need to make the trip to Yellowstone they've been dying to do. Or simply to get out of the house for a day. Since they can use it all year you can expect they'll try to get as much use out of it as possible.
  • UPDATE: Amazon (Prime) Household - I've already mentioned Amazon Prime for the Man Who Has Everything. Spencer practically lives off of it. I just found out about Amazon Households and I really wanted to share. Amazon Household allows 2 adults and up to 4 children profiles to share Prime benefits like free two-day shipping, Kindle ebooks, games, movies, and more with one $99/year Amazon Prime account. It doesn't allow free two-day shipping for Amazon Student (bummer), and thankfully kids aren't able to shop, but it's definitely a worthy gift that the whole family can use.
The Millennial Young Adult
Okay, okay this is a cliché and I'm sorry. But this could honestly be THE HARDEST person on your list:
  • Webinar - Chances are the Millennial Young Adult in your life is some kind of social entrepreneur. Think blogger, marketing manager, or rooftop farmer. Help build their skills and further their passion with an online class or webinar from a trusted source. There are tons of options out there. Type in your subject and let Google do the rest.
  • Bikeshare Annual Pass - If your Gen Y friend lives in the city it may be safe to assume their rent is more important than a car. The city bicycle rental here in DC is called Bikeshare. NYC has Citibike, and the list goes on. Find the one in your beloved millennial's city and give the gift of transportation!
So you've been through this list and you're not sold but you're still looking... I got you.

Unique Places To Find Your Holiday Gifts

Living Social - This is my go-to for pretty much everything. Living Social is a group discount site that allows local businesses to post promotions for their products and services that they wouldn't otherwise be able to give. There's lots to choose from in different categories (i.e. Experiences, Getaways) and it's usually pretty affordable. The best part is it's local so you know you'll find deals close to home for you or for those on your list.

Local City/County Recreation Calendar - Remember when I mentioned maple tree tapping? Yeah my county is doing that in February. I considered getting it for my 17 year old brother, but I was outvoted. Anyways there is some pretty sweet stuff out there! A lot of times its free and for the whole family too. Take a look at what your locality offers and plan something awesome.

Local Boutiques, Shops, Artisans - I know a few local artisans in my area and I turned to them this year. For example we ordered a print from family friend and fine artist Rose Datoc Dall. Another idea might be to stop by a random gift shop in your neighborhood. My mom and I did that last week which resulted in a pretty good haul, including some Christmas decor, touch screen gloves, and a wooden bowling set. You just never know.

Etsy - While this may be a given, sometimes you never know what you'll find on here. Keep in mind that Etsy is only vintage and handmade items so it can get pricey. Still you are guaranteed to find something unique. Also order way in advance to allow time for shipping.

Gifts.com - The site is a curated findall with gifts tailored for every type of person and personality. I'm usually only on the site around Christmas, but they have interesting suggestions all year round. For Father's Day one year I got my dad a plot of land in Scotland that entitled him to a lairdship. He loved it! This is also where I got the idea for the Keepsake About Me Journal mentioned above. Definitely on my rounds for gift finding.

Any of these ideas going on your shopping list? If you still need ideas hit me up, I'd love to help. Find me online and if you aren't on the Everything the Light Touches email list go sign up! You'll not only get posts and updates direct to your email but you'll also get access to a secret Spotify playlist that I made just for subscribers! 

Happy Holidays!

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Kristyn here. I'm really good at Googling, dreaming, and thinking outside the box. Someday I'm going to save all the puppies and perform on a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade float.

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