Giving Back: Operation Backpack

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I’m very lucky. I try to count my blessings often and every once in a while I am reminded of just how blessed my life truly is. For example, back to school shopping means accompanying my children and their 2-3 page lists of teacher-mandated items to Staples and Target, filling their carts and getting ready for the year ahead. This activity fills them with anticipation, excitement, probably some anxiety… and they get to exercise some control over the future (yes I want that pencil box, no not that book bag) and that’s cathartic in some way, I’m sure (ok, maybe it just is for me). It’s easy to take these things for granted: that I have the ability to provide for them, that they are happy, pretty well-adjusted kids living a safe, relatively normal life and that this is time we get to spend together.

It’s not like that for everyone.

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For Our Olympic Hosts: Union Jack Themed Gifts

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Like many others last night, I watched Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics, actually according to Matt Lauer it was “billions” of people–not very specific, but did give a ballpark–and was I the only one wondering why Meredith Viera was co-hosting, but I digress. In honor of our Olympic hosts here is a list of Union Jack themed gifts.

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10 Must-Give Bags You’ll Want To Bogart

20120727-215924.jpgOk…don’t hate me… it’s more like twelve but ten is so much catchier, right? Truth be told I added a whole other category at the last minute. Moving on…

When it comes to accessories, it doesn’t matter who you are shopping for, women love their bags. Here’s why: you can gain 10 pounds, loose 15, get pregnant, go through a growth spurt, change your part, color, cut, twist your ankle and not be able to wear heels for a season…it does not matter your bags will never let you down. They are democratic, diplomatic and they will always hold your unmentionables and not complain. Below you will find for your consideration and perusing pleasure some hi/lo alternatives covering a variety of tastes, styles and prices. And like the title suggests, I guarantee some of these finds you’re going to snag for your own.

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Gifts For Moms & Grandmas

July 4th Lobster Bake: Three Generations
From left to right back row: my grandmother, mom, aunt
Front row: my son (2) and daughter (4.5)
I am behind the camera

My mother’s birthday is at the end of August–sometimes falling right in the middle of Labour Day weekend (if you want further proof of this, see my earlier post on her Summertime Tea Party). What’s really interesting, or at least it was for me, is when you see your mother in action as not just “mom” but as “grandma”… particularly if this is to your children, and in my case since I was my mothers’ only child this was the only way that was going to happen. Putting on my gift-giving hat, this is a very cool challenge because I get to think about different kinds of gifts for her from my children and work with them on the selecting and assembling.

Summer’s Hottest Toys by Age (0-13)

20120724-203407.jpgEvery month, I’ll recap the hottest toys for kids ages 0-13 based on Amazon popularity and, of course, will throw in personal choice picks culled from my own gifting that month. So whether you’re looking for a birthday gift, new sibling gift, graduation present, tooth fairy surprise or just want to make someone’s day special, here’s what’s cool right now for itty-bitty newborns to the toddler set, for preschoolers to grade schoolers, all the way up to tweens and (*gasp*) early teens. Then toys are not cool. Try these other guides on skulls and spikes instead.

NOTE: Prices listed are the manufacturer list price, and do not necessarily reflect the current purchase price on Amazon (read: AMZ is possibly cheaper–and always changing–so don’t let sticker shock stop you…check it out and see).

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What I Bought With My Gift Cards & Other Presents

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What’s fabulous about a birthday? Gift cards! This year I got a few and thought it would be fun to summarize what I bought with them. Psst… There’s a money saving offer below too.

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Anniversary Gift Tips

20120722-010432.jpgMy husband and I are about to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary and as we prepare to surprise each other (or try to) I started to think about all the pit-falls we have encountered along these last few years. Here’s a list of what to avoid when shopping for an anniversary gift for your better half from both a male and female POV, from me, the Gifting Whisperer and my man, the Gifting Whisperers’ Husband. Hope this clears up any confusion or provides some entertainment…best case it does both. Below is our wedding picture, taken almost five years ago.

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Unique Place Card Holders (as Favors)

Nothing gussies up a table like place cards and a holder can serve a couple functions. There’s the obvious, of course, but some holders can be favors transforming into paper weights or picture frames after your guests have gone home. I had gold cherubs at the dinner party following my wedding which today holds a small family photo on our coffee table. This last Christmas Eve I used little snowflakes on my table that held a mini Polaroid photo my kids snapped of each guest as they walked through the door paparazzi-style. Guests took their snowflake and photo home as a keepsake. But that was then… These are place card holders I’m looking at for future dinner parties (or fantasizing about). Psst… Look for any savings opportunity marked with an asterisk (* or **), details in the footer.

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6 Really Cool Stationery Sites

20120719-232119.jpgWhen I was a little girl, I was given a set of Crane’s stationery for my First Communion from someone I don’t now remember. Because of the simple and clean look of the stationery, that gift really came in handy at that time because I used them to send thank-you notes. However, stationery has come a long way, and the web has given shoppers and gift givers options like never before from variety to customization and crowd sourcing. Here are some options on my list to give AND get (remember, even if you get stationery, you’re going to be giving it to people over time).

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Gifts for Golfers

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Golf runs in my family. Perhaps you have a strain of that DNA too? My grandfather, uncle, cousins…not me but my kids are taking lessons this summer. If you know and love anyone who plays golf, and not just plays but LOVES golf you know this is a sport meant to be taken very seriously. As one golfer I know has told me many times: “go to the driving range, that’s where amateurs belong.” ‘Nuf said. These are gifts to buy your golfer that are “safe” when you don’t know WTF you are doing.

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