Category: All Kinds of Gifts

2014 holiday give & get, list & links

unnamedToday we share gift ideas at many different price points in three categories: toys, books and whole family gifts. Thanks to those who responded to the survey with their kids’ faves.  We hope you find some inspiration below!

*indicates multiple votes / perennial favorites





For 3-5 year olds
Marble Run*
Water Wizard
Art Supplies*
Inflatable guitars
EZ steppers
How to Train your Dragon DVD and related costumes and sticker book

For 6-8 year olds
Minecraft (& Minecraft games, toys and books)
Lego sets*
Magic set
Science kit
Snap circuits*
Weaving loom
Razor scooter
Sockem Boppers
Sockem Bopper Power Bag
Nerf all conditions football
Frozen DVD

For 9-12 year olds
JD Bug Scooter
Perplexus Epic Maze
Bounce Back Net (for sports)
Taylor Swift concert tickets
Magazine Subscriptions (Muse, Ask, Cobblestone, Sports Illustrated Kids)
Razor ripstik
xBox 360

For 13+
Gift Cards (Starbucks, iTunes, GameStop, Target)
Make up / Sephora Gift Card
Frisbee (Ultimate regulation weight)
Handmade marbles
Magazine subscription (eg People StyleWatch)
Locket necklace
Concert tickets


For 6-8 year olds
Gooseberry Park
Ivy and Bean
Ramona series
Diary of A Wimpy Kid -The Long Haul
American Girl Smart Girls Guides
Scat by Carl Hiassen
Guys Read Other Worlds by Jon Scieszka
Skink: No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen

For 9-12 year olds
The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex
City of Ember Series by Jeanne DuPrau
The Greenglass House by Kate Milford
The Mysterious Benedict Society Series by Trenton Lee Stewart
Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Divergent series
Alex Rider series
Minecraft, The Complete Handbook Collection, by Stephanie Milton
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
Holes, by Louis Sachar

“Movie Night” (share a favorite DVD, movie sized candy selections, microwave popcorn)
World Atlas
Holiday Concert tickets
YMCA / gym membership
Ice cream maker
Popcorn popper
Doodle dice
Badminton set
Bird bingo

hand blender

Hand BlenderOK, look out: here comes a post about housewares. With the autumn chill in the air, we’ve recently revisited our love for our hand blenders and decided to mention in case there was anyone out there who still doesn’t yet own one of these fabulous little gadgets. I once blew the top off of my blender and sprayed hot kelly green all over a depressingly large portion of my kitchen during the “blend” step of making spinach soup. My mother-in-law was the one who saved me soon afterward with the gift of the hand blender. For the many years since, I’ve plunged that thing into pots of soup and sauce, and let it whirr with gratitude, to say nothing of relative safety. Even for someone (like me) who likes to keep the kitchen relatively simple and old-school, this plug in is a favorite.–t

For anyone still with great gift ideas to share, click here for the annual give-and-get survey. Results to posted in this blog soon!

lists of gifts

what we’re sending (to welcome a new baby)

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 12.06.28 PMMy cousin and his wife just had a baby!  In deciding what to send to welcome her, I thought back to the gifts that brought our family the most lasting enjoyment: music and books. When my first child was born, a friend whose kids were a few years older sent us a CD of their family’s favorites songs. At first it seemed like a long time before this gift would be relevant, but soon we came to love the songs their family introduced us to. It’s an idea I have borrowed many times since. Similarly, when I was fighting to keep my head above water in the early days of new motherhood, enjoying books together seemed a long way off. Yet in the following months, each time we read a book we received as a gift, I thought about the sender and was grateful.

So today I’ll share the 5 books I’ve sent to welcome the new baby (spoiler alert to my cousin who occasionally reads this blog)–some of my family’s favorites:

  1. I Know a Rhino
  2. Is Your Mama a Llama
  3. Farfallina and Marcel
  4. Tumble Bumble
  5. Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball

Wishing you many hours of snuggly reading together, –n

diy microwavable rice pillow

photo 1Know a mom who tends to overdo it at the gym, someone who could use a de-stressor, or a granny who would welcome some soothing warmth? The microwavable fleece Rice Pillow is a great DIY gift year ‘round, and a simple project if you’re looking for something to do with the kids (or by yourself) for Mother’s Day. A friend gave me one a few years ago for Christmas. While at first I missed her usual delicious baked goods, the Rice Pillow was truly a gift that kept on giving. I’ve used the thing a million times.

Here are some basic steps in making your own. This one will be about 16” x 8”, but you can make any size you’ve got the rice for.  You’ll need:

  • A piece of fleece (folded in half it will be about the size of your finished product)
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread
  • Rice (e.g. long grain, jasmine, basmati)
  • A funnel, pitcher with a spout, or paper to make a funnel to fill the pillow

Things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t use instant rice – it may catch on fire when heated.
  • A microwave is necessary to heat the finished pillow (i.e. if your grandmother doesn’t own a microwave, this will be a lame gift).
  • Measurements aren’t critical to the success of this project!

The Step-by-Step:

1. Fold the fleece in half, right side in, and stitch the side edges closed. Sew the top, leaving about 3” in the center open. If hand sewing, make sure your stitches are close together so that rice can’t escape.








2. Turn the rectangle-with-the-small-hole you just made right side out through that small hole.


3. Stitch a few seams from the fold to about an 1-½”  from the top (parallel to the edge). The space at the top will allow you to fill the sections.


4. Fill each section ⅔ – ¾ full with rice using the funnel or pitcher. It’s easiest to fill the outer sections first. Over a sink is a good idea!








5. Sew the hole in the top closed.








6. Wrap with a card containing instructions! This thing can look like a blob, and a wide ribbon around a rolled up pillow really does wonders for presentation. Instructions: Heat on high in microwave for about 2 minutes–smaller pillows obviously will take less time than larger–add time in 30 second intervals until the heat is just right…aaaaahhhh. Kick back and relax.

for deserving moms – a mother’s day special!

MD gift wrapNeed a baby gift for a recent arrival?
Know a young family with a great mom?
Or want to have some pre-wrapped baby gifts ready
for when you get the good news?

Perfect timing – the annual Food for Thoughtful Parenting
Mother’s Day Special is on!

For each copy of Food For Thoughtful Parenting sold from April 22 to May 6, we’ll make a donation to The Watertown Family Network, an organization that supports families through educational classes and playgroups, “helping parents become the best parents they can be.” We’ll gift wrap for free and include a card to announce the donation. Great gifting and do-gooding all in one!

Offer good from April 22th through May 6th. Orders must be placed on this site. Unless otherwise noted, all books will be gift wrapped and sent to the buyer with a gift card included. If you’d like us to send the book directly to someone with a personalized note, please include the desired text in “special instructions for the seller” during PayPal Checkout and provide recipient’s address in the shipping section.

And please pass this along or share on Facebook with anyone else that might want to know about this offer. -n&t

the truth about santa this year

Yes, there is a Santa ClausLast year around this time I shared a favorite Santa story (below). Several people mentioned being glad to have heard it, glad to have thought about what is wondrous and special and real in childhood, and how to navigate the times when others’ beliefs challenge what is important to us.

We all know that it is so important to be honest with kids. How else can we as parents build and maintain trust, establish ourselves as a resource for our kids, someone they can depend on? I never wanted to be one of those parents backed into a corner, stuck behind some expedient fib, having to reinterpret where babies come from. And so, for all of you thinking about Santa, a wish for a wondrous holiday and the chance to enjoy all the magic of the season. And now, the truth about Santa.

My son has a friend who grew up in a proud and pragmatic family free of fairies and magic. For them, there was never any Santa. One evening we were sitting around the dinner table and my son, then 5, asked directly, “Is Santa Claus real? Because Ethan told me it’s just your parents.” A silence came over the room as everyone—including my older children and my husband—waited for an answer. At that moment, taken off guard, there was no choice really but to tell the truth. “Santa is real,” I replied, “but when kids stop believing, their parents usually do take over.” Everyone, with relief and what seemed like renewed hope, happily returned to their dinner. –t

10 stocking stuffers idea for kids & teens




A quick list of 10 “little” ideas to stuff the stockings of kids and teens!







1. Spy glasses

2. Magic tricks

3. Mad Libs

4. Stopwatch

5. Head lamp

6. Corn starch (easy tactile fun – just add a little water)

7. Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty (lots of kinds)

8. Fake mustaches

9. Shaving cream (great bathtime fun for littles)

10. Balsa wood airplanes



1. Ear buds

2. Head lamp

3. Magazines / subscription

4. Cozy socks

5. Gift Cards (Starbucks, iTunes, Sephora)

6. External Battery Back Up Chargers

7. Throw-in-a-backpack travel mug / thermos

8. Nail clippers / file

9. Flash Drive

10. Touchscreen Gloves

12 favorite stocking stuffers for women (for easy forwarding)

holiday gift ideas: the last minute potpourri

playsilksThese are more ideas that came through our survey. Lots of stuff for active kids (for inside and out), a handful of fun little things for stocking stuffing, and added by us, a 2 day sale on copies of our book.

For mid-December inspiration, survey says: mini trampoline, pogo stick, basketball hoop, kids’ xc skis or snow shoes; fort-making materials (fabric, silks), magic tricks, nerf swords, binoculars, tent, headlamp (for exploring), field guides (fish, flowers, birds!); hair accessories, beach ball, fuzzy socks, ace bandage, vitamins, bubble bath, shaving cream, corn starch.  And copies of food for thoughtful parenting for $12 (with free shipping!!!).

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