Things That Say Spring

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Image Courtesy of Marcio Jose Bastos Silva / Shutterstock.com

Even though last week was the official start of spring, those of us in the north east aren’t quite feeling it yet. I won’t postulate about climate change and how a mere twenty years ago I was running around Central Park, the same time of year in cutoffs and a t-shirt during daylight hours (oops, I guess I just did)… but I will say that my insides are aching for a warm, delightful spring day and all that entails. So instead of dreaming, I thought I would put pen to paper (or finger to keypad as it were) and strut down memory lane until Mother Nature complies, as we know she ultimately will.

Top ten things that say spring:

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Labor Day Party Hostess Gift Ideas

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Photo credit: © George Tsartsianidis | Dreamstime.com

Labor Day gatherings are always bitter sweet. They mark the end of those lazy days of summer and the beginning of getting “back to business.” Back to school, back to “regular” work hours, regular clothes and closed toe shoes–but also the promise of crisp fall afternoons, leaves changing color and (of course) Halloween is coming…

But, when going to a party, you know my POV on bringing something that messes with the menu (if not see this prior post) so for Labor Day you want to bring a gift that is thoughtful, possibly seasonal and in keeping with your host and your personality. Here are my ideas for consideration. Happy Labor Day and be safe!

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7 Unique Gifts for Baseball Fanatics

20120813-001232.jpgI come from a long line of baseball fans… OK fanatics. And couple my tri-state location (some of my family is in Connecticut, I am a New Yorker) with an Italian lineage and you end up with Yankee fans… Shhh, my son is the rebel Met fan. My grandmother, may she rest in peace, used to religiously watch games and would pray for the players. I remember her telling me about going to a book signing for Daryl Strawberry (when he was a Yankee) and when she got up to speak to him, she said: “I’ve been praying for you.” Graciously, he replied: “Thank you, ma’am. I’ll take all the prayers I can get.”

When my husband and I got married, he made a few things very clear: loved me, the kids, his family and the NY Yankees and no one could say anything bad about any of us. His love of baseball goes very deep, and I wish he could have known my grandmother to be able to share this passion together and she would have loved to see her great-grandson get in on the action. So as I watch the Yankees play Toronto (actually I’m watching my husband watch the Yankees play Toronto), I put together this unique list of gifts for the baseball fanatic.

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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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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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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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A Birthday (Crab) Bash

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When I was a kid, my father began a very cool tradition for my birthday. I’m a July baby, which made me a Cancer–the sign associated with the crab–so every year we would go to a restaurant, called Sidewalkers, where they served a Maryland-style crab-bash. If you don’t know what a Maryland-style crab-bash is, you’re missing out. Basically you sit at a table covered with brown paper, then they dump a whole bunch of seasoned crabs in the center of a table (bibs are recommended). You are armed with a mallet, cracker and small fork and then you go at it.

The last time I celebrated my birthday in this way was 1997. It was the last time my Dad was alive for my birthday. I was 22. The morning after that celebration–about twelve hours later–he had a seizure caused by a brain tumor that he didn’t know he had and he passed away just eleven weeks later. It was the last celebration I had with him before everything changed and was the end of my birthday crab-bash tradition. That was fifteen years ago.

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Hostess Gift Ideas: Summer Getaways

Summers and getaways go hand and hand, don’t they? And what better way to enjoy summer weekends than with friends and family…even better, when it’s not at your house. When you’re lucky enough to get an invite for an overnight or a weekend (score!) it’s important to be gracious and show your host the same hospitality they have extended to you, especially when it includes your brood.

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Wedding Shower Ideas

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I must confess, most of my friends are past the wedding stage–although a handful are in the second marriage stage–but planning a wedding shower is one the most amazing things you can do for a friend and today there are so many more options for revelry than when I first got married. The list below includes some I have personally tried, but first a few questions to ask yourself:
– How adventurous is your friend?
– How many other showers will there be?
– What special interests or hobbies does the couple (or just your friend) partake in?
– Are you inviting family? How open-minded are they?
– Are you trying to make this a surprise?

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