I’m a Christmas junkie. I love the season. I love the songs (well, hymns more than the songs), the decorations, the lights, the cheesy everything about it. But for the last few years Christmas has been a sparse affair with a family budget so tight that we can barely afford to do the celebrating; we generally got Tori a couple of presents and bought the cheapest fixings for our annual Christmas dinner, and that was it.
This year, things are better. While we’re not going to descend into consumer craziness, we are going to allow ourselves small things like a fresh local turkey instead of a frozen one and Charlie and I will likely buy each other small gifts as well as something for my mom (we’ve done zero presents for the adults in our lives for the last three years).
So, as a result, I’m feeling generally very warm and fuzzy about the holidays and this is what has inspired doing a gift guide this year. Most of what I’m sharing here is connected to friends of mine, small businesses and companies that I’ve met in the last year, and a couple of free things I really enjoy.
So, are you ready? For the record, by the way: I’ve received zero compensation or samples from folks for the stuff on this list. It’s just stuff I think is cool.
First up is my boyfriend, the PicMonkey Photo Editing web app. See that first image I did up there that says holiday gift guide? Yep, I designed that in PicMonkey. I use it every single day for making images for blog posts, and it’s also how I managed to make my avatar photo looks so… well, we’ll go with NICE. You can use it to make holiday cards; here’s some sample images to get you started. Once you’ve done the image, you can download it and then use it at any online card making site. It’s awesome. But you can also use it to make great Facebook cover photos, collages, and basically anything you want. You don’t have to be photo editing savvy, either. The folks who run the site are a really great group of people, too. And I’m sorry for sending you there and watching you give up your day.
You all know my BFF Sarah, right? I know, I know, I haven’t said much about her lately because we’ve both been super busy and haven’t spent nearly enough time together of late, but she’s still working hard every day to create amazing, beautiful, wrenching photos and self-portraits. And guess what? She’s having a huge blow out sale on prints of her work. You absolutely should buy something for yourself or a friend. You cannot go wrong with such spectacular art.
Words cannot express how much I adore Robin Plemmons. She’s a friend I met through blogging and she’s one of the most beautiful people and brightest lights you’ll ever meet. She’s also funny as shit and wrote the book on compassion. She’s an artist, and she sells handmade cards and small paintings on Etsy. You will love her stuff. Buy it for everyone.
This is probably the best gift you can give to the mothers in your life. Mamalode is a literary parenting magazine that features incredible stories, photography, art and poetry by mothers. It’s beautiful. Each issue I receive I read cover to cover and it’s more enriching and soothing than a day at the spa. No, really. They are also releasing an iPad app version as well if you want to be green about it (and have an iPad, which alas, I do not). Please check them out. They are amazing.
This one is for the kids in your life. Cricket Magazine holds an incredibly special place in my heart; my grandmother bought me a subscription to the magazine from the time I was five until I was in high school. She’d discovered the magazine because her college roommate had stories appear in Cricket, and thought it was a great gift for me. It’s the reason I’m a writer today; I began writing to enter their monthly contests. Sarah was nice enough to buy Tori a subscription and now she and I devour each issue together. I love them so; in fact, at Girl Scout camp I was nicknamed Cricket because I read the magazines while I was there. Yes, really.
Okay, this is a really cool thing. Sifteo Cubes are a crazy fun sort of digital board game thing. They are hard to describe; I saw them for the first time at the BlogHer conference this year and I was fascinated by them. We love board games in our family and play them regularly, and we’re also very geeky and love tech so this is perfect for us. They aren’t exactly cheap, but they are crazy fun (the company may send them to me; they offered but since I’m not doing a whole post about them I told them they didn’t need to, but full disclosure folks).
So there you go. A random collection of cool stuff I’ve found. I’d love to hear about any cool things you like!