Tag Archives: Christmas Gifts

5 Gifts I Gave in 2015: Ideas for your 2016 Gift-Giving


Yeah, it’s been over two months since I’ve last posted.

That’s my longest stretch since I’ve started this little blog. And I have lots to say. So much that I kept writing and re-writing the return post in my head over and over. It seems like there is no satisfying way to jump back in, so let’s just do it with something easy.

It’s my annual list of holiday gifts I gave the previous year! I hope it spurs some ideas for you!

1 – Ornament Storage Box

Last year I shared how grateful I was that my husband’s mom gave him a new ornament every Christmas marked with the year. When we put up our first tree together, she made sure we got that box of ornaments. It’s just wonderful to have a tree filled with ornaments that have meaning and evoke precious memories!


I started to give my niece and nephews an ornament each year so that they’ll have their own collection when they become adults, too. Some years, I’ve done person-specific ornaments. Other years, everyone gets the same thing, but marked with their name and the year. Some years, the ornaments will be purchased. (Last year was Packer footballs!) Other years, they will be handmade. Although I’m not very crafty. If you are, check out last year’s post filled with links to all the crafty ornament ideas.

But then I started to wonder what happened to all of these ornaments when the kids took them home. Were they scattered about the house? Put in boxes? Would they even find them by the time they move out?

That’s when I had the idea to get them each an ornament storage box. There are so many styles out there, but this is the one I snagged for each of them on Black Friday for only $14.99 last year:



You don’t have to start the ornament tradition at birth like Rob’s mom did. It’s never too late! Give a box and start now with the very first ornament in the box. If you are crafty, you could even create yearly or special occasion ornaments. My hairdresser loved this idea so much that she thought about creating ornaments that represent each year; perhaps something from a vacation, an accomplishment or big moment in the year, a school photo. Then just put them all in the box to start!

Here is the note we included with the box for the kids:

Your Own Collection

Save all of the Christmas ornaments you receive over the years and store them safely in this container. When you grow-up and get your own place, you’ll not only have ornaments to put on your own tree, but also the memories of receiving them!


Aunt Carrie & Uncle Rob  ~ 2015


2 – Homemade Wine

You know all that wine we made in 2015? Well, our first batch was due to be ready on February 14th. Oh wow. That’s a little eerie typing that. February 14th has a whole new meaning for us now.

Anyway, we gave a bottle of my parents and a bottle to my brother and sister-in-law with a tag indicating the date it would be ready to drink. We had no idea if it would be any good, so I also posted a recipe to make to make sangria or mulled wine with it!

When the wine was opened in February, they all said (politely?!) that they loved it. I personally did not like it. But we’ve had some great sangria and mulled wine in the past year! 🙂


3 – Personalized Mugs

I just love giving personalized mugs. One year we gave Photo Magic Mugs that when hot liquid is added you can see a lovely photo of Sophie and Shamrock. Last year, I sent these to Rob’s parents, who live in Michigan.

I found the instructions here.  I found it difficult to write “Miss You” on the bottom of the mug like they did. So when I failed on the first one, I put it on the lip instead.


4 – Luxury

What you might find luxurious might be different for someone else. Have your gift recipient in mind. What would they find luxurious? A soft blanket? An electronic toothbrush? For a teenage girl, I thought a Venus razor set would be a break from the norm. I gave my favorite one. The type of razor does matter! One way to come up with a luxury gift for your loved one is to think of something they already like or already do and upgrade it. It doesn’t have to be expensive. You could get someone who likes to write a nice journal and/or pen.


5 – Books You Love

Now that I am finally back into reading, I’ll be giving a lot more of these this year. Last year I gave my teenage nephew A Dog’s Purpose – one of my all-time favorite fictional books that is written from the point of view of a dog.

What’s absolutely wonderful is that this past year, W. Bruce Cameron adapted his wonderful story for young readers (for 8-12 year olds, grades 3 to 7) and named it Bailey’s Story. (Shhh!!! My 9-year-old nephew is getting it this year!)

What’s more is that A Dog’s Purpose is now a movie and will be out in theaters in January! I can’t wait to see it, but am curious how it will be done from a dog’s perspective.

Tailor your gift to your recipient, thinking about what he or she likes. Or, offer up your favorite book(s) that you think might make them as happy as they made you. I’ve been trying to think of who else would like the book I’m reading as I’m reading it.

Best book I read all year? Kitchens of the Great MidwestI thought it was non-fiction, but it is a wonderful fictional story, especially if you live in the Midwest. It made me laugh out loud at times. Oh, but I listened to the audiobook version of this one. It was so worth it!


Want more unique gift-giving ideas? Here are a few of my posts from past years:

Looking for more ideas? Try these links!

Looking for more ideas? Try these links. Some are older, but I still think they have great ideas:

I’m baaaack…. (I think.)

What unique gifts did you give or receive last holiday season?




7 Gifts I Gave in 2014: Ideas for Your 2015 Gift-Giving


If you’ve ever read my posts around the holidays, you’ll know that I’m a fan of personalizing gifts.

I don’t mean just putting someone’s name on a gift, although that can work, too! What I truly mean is finding a gift that illustrates your relationship or shows that you really know that person. If you are giving a gift to someone who lives across the miles and are unsure what they already have because you don’t see them on a regular basis, these gift ideas might give you a bit of inspiration, too!

Here are 7 unique gifts I gave in 2014…


1) Magic Photo Mugs from Printer Pix

Last year, we ordered these special photo mugs for our parents. They are black, but your designated photo appears when you fill the mug up with hot liquid!

We got a pretty sweet deal through Living Social last year {just $7 each plus $5 shipping!}, although I am sure you can find other deals online. I was a little worried about quality because they were so highly discounted. But they turned out fantastic! We used photos of Sophie and Shamrock and labeled these as gifts from them.

One word of caution – these take a long time to ship.

Here is our experience: Last year, when I bought them, it said that they would take approximately 21 days to arrive. For us, this meant the mugs would arrive a few days after Christmas. {I am not sure if that has changed now if the company has grown and they have more staff/better turnaround. Check the website before purchasing.}

Every year, we send a holiday box with gifts to Rob’s parents in Michigan. For these mugs, we put a note in the box that Shamrock and Sophie had something on the way that would arrive just after Christmas. When I ordered the mugs, I shipped them directly to his parents. We spend Christmas with my family in Green Bay every year, so I had my parents’ mugs shipped straight to their house. I informed them if a package arrived for each of them before Christmas not to open it. My intention was to wrap them upon our arrival.

All mugs arrived before Christmas…

the last one on Christmas Eve at my parents!

Rob’s dad called and said to him, “Why thank you, son. But I’m not quite sure why you got us black mugs.” HA! Rob told him to wait and just use them for their coffee the next morning. Sure enough, we got a lovely message filled with joy from Rob’s mom the next morning gushing about how much they were enjoying their coffee in their new mugs.


2) Towels

Laugh all you want that I got this idea when I was cleaning! I really can’t stand how gross dish towels get over time and started thinking that I should buy a new batch every six months or so. But I just hate spending money on those sorts of things!

“If only someone would buy them for me,”

I daydreamed.

Then, the light bulb went on! I bet someone would appreciate that themselves…

However, I took it one step further… I had this idea to get my brother’s family all their very own soft, comfy, over-sized bath towel, each in their favorite color so that they could differentiate. {See how I personalized those?!} Who wants to buy more bath towels for their family of six? I certainly wouldn’t! I’ve been using the same bath towels for longer than I care to admit. But if you buy the really good quality ones, they do last a long time. You wouldn’t believe the sales on these this time of year, too. For the record, these gifts were from Sophie and Shamrock, too. 🙂

towelsBefore, I did this, I ran the idea past my mom to make sure it wasn’t too strange. She loved it and agreed with me that she hates buying dish cloths and towels, too. So that’s one gift got this year as well!


3) Personalized Growler

There was a Groupon for Red Envelope last year of which we took advantage. Have you ever shopped there? There is a lot of unique stuff you can personalize; but it can be a bit spendy. This personalized growler was perfect for my dad!


You supply the last name, city, state and year. We used 2014 to indicate the year we gave the gift. You could use your recipient’s birth year or, if they brew their own beer, the year they started brewing!

Because it had to be personalized, this one took a while to arrive and was delayed a bit. Luckily, it arrived the evening of December 22nd, so I could run to Indeed Brewing and fill it up with some Stir Crazy Winter Ale for just $10. Luckily, Indeed fills growlers that are not their own. Not all breweries will do this! The beer just had to be consumed in approximately 4 days. Dad shared it with us on Christmas Eve.

Tip: Make sure to order any personalized items well in advance because they take longer!


4) Something Very Personal to You

Last year on Black Friday, we pulled out our Christmas tree and other holiday decor. Then we got really motivated and cleaned out our basement storage! Well, Rob came across all of his baseball cards he collected as a child. There had to be at least 20 to 30 of those long old-school boxes! We wrapped two giant boxes filled with these for our teenage nephew who plays baseball.

Rob really couldn’t think of any need for them, nor did he want to go through them and determine any value. So he put my brother’s name on the box as well as Jake’s and it was one of the last gifts to be opened. Rob beamed when Jake exclaimed, “This is the best present I ever got!”


5) Something from Your Travels

I remember when I was a kid and my dad come back from his annual summer fishing trip in Canada. He didn’t really bring back any gifts. {Well, I think he did get my mom a Canada sweatshirt once.} He was usually in the boonies fishing!  However, he usually did give us a Canadian dollar bill or coin upon his return.

As a kid, I loved this because it was so foreign to me.

I once read that you shouldn’t have to worry about getting gifts while on vacation and just enjoy yourself instead. You are not there to be stressed about what to bring back. I remember feeling that anxiety on my first trip to Paris. Since I read that advice, I’ve taken heed to it. Nobody expects anything.

However, when we were in Australia last year, we picked up a few small, affordable souvenirs, with no real idea of who exactly would get them. This included boomerang key chains, clip-on koalas, Vegemite, t-shirts, etc. I divvied these up as appropriately as I could after we returned. We also had four remaining 20-cent Australian coins with the platypus on the back. Perfect for the kids! All you need is something little.



6) Ornaments

While putting up the tree last year for the first time in a few years, Rob and I had a wonderful time reminiscing about each ornament as it went on the tree – the ornaments from our travels, from friends and from the past few Christmases with my family.

But what I love the most is seeing Rob’s face light up every time he pulls out an ornament from his childhood.

You see, every year, Rob’s mom bought him an ornament {oftentimes reflecting something going on that year or something he loved or was into that year} and marked the year on it with a Sharpie. When we moved into our house, Rob’s mom gave him all of these ornaments. These are some of our most precious possessions.

Last year, Rob’s mom sent him the first toy she ever got him. She suggested we put it in the tree each year. That bunny melts my heart!


In fact, I wouldn’t have much of any holiday decor if it weren’t for my mom giving me her old artificial Christmas tree and Rob’s mom giving me so many decorations from Rob’s childhood. Combining that with a few of the things I’ve picked up over the years makes our house look festive.

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I decided that this was what I was going to do for my brother’s family. Each year, I will give them a special ornament. My mom and I have already been doing this on and off for the past few years or so. How much easier and more sentimental is it to have these ornaments when you move into your own home and set up your own tree than to have to buy everything from scratch?!

Here are some links for some great ideas in creating your own homemade ornaments:

Not crafty?

You could also buy one that is meaningful to you or relating to your gift recipient this year. Last year, for time’s sake, I bought some frame ornaments marked 2014. For our parents, I added a photo of us in Australia with a koala and  another one of Sham & Sophie.

The ones for my brother’s family were from the time they visited us and we dined at Burger Jones. At Burger Jones, they have these crazy pictures on the wall of people eating burgers. I’m not talking about pictures of people who came into this restaurant to eat burgers. No, these are stock photos on the wall!

When we were there, the kids were trying to recreate the photos of people taking big bites of their burgers or eyeing their fries longingly. My original plan was to frame these pictures for their own photo wall at home. However, I finally decided against that idea because the pictures are creepy enough at Burger Jones. Instead, I put them each in a 2014 frame ornament as a memory. A little less tacky, no?!


7) Homemade Dog Treats

I had fully intended to make homemade dog treats for my brother’s dogs last year! But I ran out of time, so the poor dogs went without a thing. This past year, I have tried these two recipes with much success! Now, let’s hope time doesn’t escape me before our trip to Green Bay.

And our dogs always receive their December BarkBox wrapped up under the tree. For our last review and a discount, click here.


There you have it – some unique gift ideas for this holiday. Also, it’s Cyber Monday, so today it’s even more important than ever to use eBates when doing your shopping – extra discounts, promo codes and cash back.

And for even more ideas, here are some of my past posts on holiday gift ideas:


6 Unique Gifts They’ll Actually Use


I’m not a Black Friday shopper.

But I do like to buy gifts. Sometimes I stress myself out because one of my favorite things to do is to find the perfect gift.

While I don’t always come up with the perfect ones, I definitely try to come up with some ideas that are either unique or something my gift recipient will actually use!

In past years, I’ve posted:

Top 5 Gifts for the Hard to Buy for Person Who Has Everything

His & Hers Gift Guide – What They’ll Actually Use

I still stand by those lists.

But I came up with a few more ideas that I’d like to share with you this year, as well as how to make them unique!



This may sound silly or unoriginal, but my in-laws requested their favorite Virginia variety from Costco this year.


If you’ve never had blister roasted peanuts, then you are missing out!

Make It Unique: Choose a variety or flavor you love, not just something generic: Blistered Virgina Peanuts or Marcona Almonds {one of my faves, find them at Costco or Trader Joe’s}, Blueberry Almonds or Bloody Mary Peanuts. Or, make your own! Of course, when giving nuts, consider allergies.


Sports Fan Gear

This is my first year as a Packer Season Ticket Holder. It was 90 degrees at our first game in August (a preseason one). I realized I had no gear for this! Our last game was just above zero. I didn’t really have much to keep me warm and show I was a Packer fan. I did happen to have a gold scarf, a cute {but not warm} hat and borrowed some gloves from my mom. Rob on the other hand had nothing to signify his loyalty!


Make It Unique: Buy something that they can wear to the game! Or make it classy. I love scarves, so I wish these NFL infinity ones weren’t sold out! And I just saw these in a magazine:




I’ve mentioned how true Champagne is always a great gift because it is festive and most people wouldn’t normally spend that kind of money on a bottle on a regular basis.

Make It Unique: Try a lesser known region. And if your budget is limited, get something unique like a special prosecco or a bubbly from New Mexico {one of my faves!} Then, add a list of festive cocktails to make with it!



Rob saw this book and just had to have it! Why? Well, if you haven’t read Missing Missy yet, where have you been? You will just die of laughter. Books can be personal or already read, so a gift receipt might be a good idea. Or…

Make It Unique: Give a humorous book to keep ’em laughing. Try to relate it to your gift recipient’s hobby or something they did this year. I’d recommend anything by Bill Bryson for the traveler. I’m currently reading this:



Shark Tank

Okay, so not an actual tank with sharks in it. Who would want that? But have you watched the show Shark Tank? Every time we watch it, I think of someone who would love the product they are pitching!

Make It Unique: You can find the entire list of products pitched on Shark Tank here at AsSeenOnSharkTank.net. I’ve always thought these Coffee Joulies {which keep your coffee hot} are pretty cool. Plated was also featured on Shark Tank, although I don’t know how you’d gift that. And I’ve been eyeing DDP Yoga for ages now. It’s through this program that this disabled veteran, who was told he’d never walk unassisted again, became strong and can even run.


Subscription Boxes

I’m still huge on giving these, though they can be expensive depending on how many months you decide to give. All you have to do is a simple Google search of your gift recipient’s favorite hobby.

Make it Unique: Type into Google the hobby + subscription box. For example “fishing + subscription box” just might yield TackleGrab“Get a box of baits delivered to your door every month.”

One of our favorites is BarkBox because it means we never have to buy treats. And Shamrock loves every time he gets a new toy.


My Subscription Addiction has a great list of nearly all of the subscription boxes out there, along with reviews and coupon codes!


Looking for more ideas? Try these links:

Share the love! Help give ideas!

What’s a Unique Gift You’ve Received and Loved?

What’s a Unique Gift You’ve Given?