Gift Shopping List 2015

Are you working on your gift shopping list? Unless you are one of those people who starts buying holiday gifts in May, (in which case I am totally jealous that you’re probably already done!) then you may want to begin thinking about what gifts you’re buying for each of the friends, family and co-workers on your list! Because before you know it, it’ll be December 15th and you’ll be frantic, like I am every year!

Buying gifts for everyone in your life can be a long, expensive and stressful chore or it can be an easy and joyful experience! If you have the right resources and the right state of mind, buying gifts for everyone should be just as enjoyable as receiving them. Of course, starting early would help, too! I usually start “thinking” about gifts in the late summer, but that’s about all I do, until it’s way too late. Some people make nice organized lists of gifts and the people they are appropriate for all year long. Most people fall somewhere in between, though.

Isabella Ruched Sleeve Bamboo Cardigan

You may be stuck with a few people who have everything, some who are “hard to buy for”, or you may have people who just love anything you buy, but regardless, here are some suggestions of great gift ideas that could be perfect for almost anyone, to help you along:

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Buy Jewelry as a great gift

When women hear the word “jewelry”, many different pictures can come to mind. For instance, if someone is newly engaged to be married, then they might imagine a ring, one made of gold, embedded with diamonds, most likely! Getting ready for a first date? You would probably spend some time picking out a special pair of earrings. For men, jewelry usually means “birthday gift”! (Hopefully, for their mate!)

Anyone can appreciate getting a beautiful necklace or any piece of jewelry for any occasion. Jewelry always makes a great gift, but of course, picking out a piece of jewelry for yourself is pretty fun, too!

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Fine jewelry is something that not everyone can afford, but there are so many other types of jewelry to choose from, at all prices levels. But remember, you get what you pay for, so don’t scrimp on yourself, or your jewelry gift recipient!

Something I love is handcrafted silver jewelry, especially earrings, with antique stones, or antique metal details. And I’ve found that those make amazing gifts, too, because there is that added personal touch, as opposed to the usual department store cookie-cutter name brand varieties!

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Shopping for a new handbag?

Of all the items in the world of fashion accessories, I think handbags and accessories must be number one on the list of those that qualify for being both practical and versatile. Many women own more than several different handbags, and I know a few women who own more handbags than they own shoes! And of course, many men now carry their own version of handbags, sometimes awkwardly (to me, anyway) referred to as a “mag” (short for “man bag”).

Handbags come in an almost infinite variety of price ranges, shapes, sizes, materials and colors. Whatever your needs, you can surely find something to suit you. You may be simply looking for a fashion item, possibly to match an outfit or two, where practicality is not a priority, or you may need a handbag that is mainly used for day to day living, or work. I love a medium sized handbag with a longish, sturdy shoulder strap, for everyday wear, that has enough pockets on the inside, either zippered or not, to keep different items I use on a daily basis secured. Some handbags are far too large for my taste, and I get frustrated when smaller items get lost in the woods, so to speak. But many people can’t live without their humongous handbag, so they can keep everything known to man, including, yes, the kitchen sink, at their disposal!

handbag-tote

An adorable clutch bag is an essential item also. Smaller than most handbags, and designed to be worn for dressier occasions, clutch bags are sometimes the opposite of practical, but that’s ok! As long as at least our wallet, keys and phone fit inside, it’s perfect!

Always remember when shopping for a new handbag, to keep in mind where, and how often, you plan on using it, and what you’ll need to keep inside and you’ll be sure to end up with exactly what you need!

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Shawls can be worn in any weather

Everyone who wears clothes (that’s got to be at least 90% of the people I know!) has that one absolutely favorite item of apparel that they can’t live without! For many people, it’s that ancient, soft or hard hard-worn pair of denim; for others, maybe it’s their “lucky t-shirt”, or the classic little black dress. For me, it’s a shawl.

Buy Shawls, loosely constructed, and meant, usually, to be worn over some other top piece of apparel, blouse or otherwise, are one of the most versatile pieces of clothing out there. In essence, a shawl is almost like a gigantic scarf, a large square or rectangle of fabric, sleeveless, obviously, that would cover mainly the shoulders and arms, but could also cover the head. They can be very, very long, running down almost to the floor, or they can be much shorter and normally don’t have any sort of closure, zipper, buttons or otherwise, but that can be a variable also.

buy-shawl-greatest-stores

Although shawls have taken a back seat to other overwear in the past few decades, they have recently again become an “on-trend” item, showing up on the runway and on celebrities on the red carpet or just casually walking around town!

Shawls can be worn in any weather, depending on the fabric used. Shawls made of light cotton, might be good for spring or summer evenings, while heavier knit shawls would be more appropriate for winter wear, although Pashmina wool scarves are light enough to be worn any time.

Shawls are also fantastic travel bags items, since they are so loosely constructed, there’s no need to worry too much about how wrinkled they will get when you pack them! Just roll one up and stick it in your carry-on! The smaller ones take up very little space and without any drama, you’ve got a very neat cover-up at the ready, at any time!

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Candles in unusual scents and shapes

When I was growing up, I’m pretty sure the only candles I was aware of were those tall, thin ones that they call “taper” candles, that you put in candle holders on the dining room table. Elegant and simple, they rarely varied in color and were never scented. Their purpose was not necessarily to provide light but to add a bit of sophistication to your meal.

candle-tropical-two-wick-colorful-candle_1

Of course, candles have been around for many, many years, with the main purpose being to actually provide light, before the advent of electric light. But in the past several decades, a whole new type of candle has arisen, candles meant more for decoration, ambiance and mood, more than anything else, since we don’t need them for light anymore.

These days you can find candles in more scents than you can imagine. Some people prefer candles scented like flowers or foods, but you can also find candles in very unusual scents that you wouldn’t expect, such as laundry or the beach or wood. Scented candles are found in everyone’s homes, in all rooms.

Candles are also made in many different shapes and sizes, to fit anyone’s needs or wants. Some are poured into jars and some are tiny tea lights. Colors vary also, and there are even candle jars with multi-color and multi-scent, all in one jar! Some of the prettiest candles are the ones that have shells or other small items, such as different small shapes of contrasting colors of wax, actually suspended in the candle wax.

But of course, if you need them, you can still find those tall, thin taper candles, for that wonderful, romantic, home cooked supper!

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Buy Mixing Bowls

With the new year approaching faster than we probably realize, I know I’m going to be doing a LOT of cooking! (New Year’s Eve has always been a favorite holiday!) I always say, cooks LOVE their cooking tools. Who could even think about doing any of that cooking without buying a set of mixing bowls, right?

buy mixing bowls

I’m sure we all have a great assortment of mixing bowls at home, but I really love my brand new Melamine nesting set. Glass is great but it can be so heavy to work with. Melamine is easy to take care of, is dishwasher safe and so much lighter than glass. Not to mention, practically unbreakable! The set I have comes in a really bright assortment of colors so they actually can work as attractive serving bowls for parties, as well as preparing dishes, especially an outdoor party when the weather gets warmer again. And for leftovers, just top with some plastic wrap, and pop in the fridge!

Buying assorted sizes of mixing bowls is essential to cooking. If you’re like me, you’ve got a few things going at once, and different ingredients demand different sizes. I’m already planning my sweet potato casserole, which I know will need a fairly large mixing bowl, but I’ll also need a small mixing bowl for the lemon zest that will go in my cranberry sauce. A medium size bowl is great for chopped vegetables for the stuffing, my favorite part of the meal!

Nesting plastic mixing bowls are so convenient in other ways also, as they save space in the cabinet, which we all know can be a challenge and anything that can make my time in the kitchen more.

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Women’s Trouser Socks

This may sound weird, but whenever I think of women’s trouser socks, I think of “All in the Family”, the great sitcom from the 1970’s. (I don’t know if it was really necessary to explain that, but younger readers may not be aware). There was a scene about socks that I’ll never forget, where Archie and Mike (his “meathead” son-in-law) argue about the correct order in which to put on socks and shoes. You know the scene? Mike puts on one sock and one shoe on his first foot before dressing his second foot, and Archie tells him that “the whole world” puts on one sock and one sock, and THEN the shoes, and then they try to convince each other why their version makes the most sense. I found this scene hysterical, and since buying women’s trouser socks always reminds me of this scene, I always have good time when I’m shopping for socks.

Women Trouser Socks

I don’t usually go out for Halloween but this year I had a little party to go to so I decided to be a Dr. Seuss character. Not a specific one, just a sort of mash-up of many different characters: I wore a bright blue wig and very bright primary colored t-shirt and skirt and lots of crazy make up. So I decided I needed some really fun socks! I only own very plain solid color socks in mainly brown and black for work, so it was fun deciding what kind of socks to add to my crazy costume. I ended up with the logical choice: multi-colored striped socks. It really made the outfit, and what a hit it was!

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Qualities to Look for in a Golf Umbrella

I’ve been golfing for three years and need to buy a golf umbrella online. The one thing I don’t have in my golf gear collection is a golf umbrella. My golf partner has a personalized golf umbrella that he uses to block out the sun. He never golfs in the rain. In addition to his big golf umbrella, he has a matching mini golf umbrella to cover the opening of his golf bag!

The smallest golf umbrellas I found are 48 inches wide. There are larger umbrellas that come in 54 inches and 60 inches.

golf-umbrella

Qualities to look for in a golf umbrellas include:

  • Strong umbrella handle
  • Well-constructed grip
  • A non-metal shaft
  • Auto-open umbrella
  • Attractive umbrella color
  • Strong nylon or other waterproof umbrella material
  • A vent or double umbrella canopy that allows wind to escape
  • An easy opening and closing umbrella
  • Durability during high winds
  • A secure Umbrella attachment for a golf cart
  • You umbrella should include a waterproof outer sleeve

You’ll want an umbrella that’s big enough for two to share comfortably. After all, you need someone to hold it while you hit the golf ball!

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Picking the Right Backpack is Important

Picking the right backpack is important, a good backpack will last many years, which will defray its higher cost over time. Children seldom want to go with the ruggedly designed National Guard rucksack, they want to wear their favorite superhero or TV character on their backpack. You should also look for other features when back-to-school bag shopping these include water bottle holders, extra compartments, waterproof compartments, modest carrying capacity and fasteners that won’t break the first time they’re dropped.

Backpack-Water-Repellent

If you can find a backpack that is waterproof or at least water resistant, then you are in luck. This feature will come in to play more than you would think, spilled drinks ruin schoolwork just as well as inclement weather. Check to see if the school bag has padding on the shoulder straps, this will go a long way towards making the school bag comfortable when it chock full of texts from school. Toggle the zippers when you are inspecting the bag, if they jam after a minute of use then move on from that backpack right away. Make sure that the zipper itself is securely sewn into the material of the backpack, a common point of failure is the zipper tearing away from the fabric. Consider this caveat though, knowing what, and who, this schoolbag is going to be used for is more important than the school bag itself.

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Enjoy a picnic this summer!

When was the last time you went on a picnic? I mean the old-fashioned type of picnic with a picnic basket, checkered cloth, fried chicken, apple pie and lemonade! The picnic is a summertime tradition, one that our busy Wi-Fi connected lives do not always allow for. If you cannot get away for an extended vacation this summer, try a picnic as one of many “stay-cation” options.

picnic basket

Where I live near Philadelphia, it is just under a 2-hour drive to the New Jersey shore. Coolers are a staple of a day at the beach. The nearby Mann Music Center, a local Philly amphitheater, has events where music lovers are encouraged to bring picnic baskets to enjoy summer nights under the stars and live entertainment. A picnic is perfect for a fun family day or for a romantic date night!

It can be challenging to remember all the little things you need to serve a meal. Make a list of the food items you want to include in your basket. Then think of all the “accessories” that go into serving those food items. Be sure to include kitchen utensils for waiting, serving as well as cutting. Bring resealable salt and pepper shakers if you need them. A good cutting knife is one of the things forgotten most often. Refrigerate drinks before setting out on your outdoor dining adventure and keep them cold with ice packs.

Be sure to bring something to cover the ground. A large blanket, preferable one with a waterproof backing works well. There are also portable picnic tables that fold up and fit neatly into your car. No matter where you dine, you will enjoy reconnecting with this timeless summer tradition.

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