In my world, the “Holidays” begin promptly on November 1 - I suppose that’s what 5 years of working for Disney World will do to you! And I’ve been working on lists for holiday gifts for months. Little makes me happier, at any time of year, than finding and giving the perfect gift to the people in my life that I love! But if you’re anything like me, your time & energy is precious: gift giving can quickly become a chore if you’re not prepared. Whether you have a few final gifts to purchase, or you’re just starting your list, I’ve curated a guide of awesome, thoughtful gifts that you can give to even those most difficult to buy for! The best part? Many of them are local businesses, so you are supporting our community (and yes, making them do a happy dance!) while shopping for the holidays!
This gift is perfect for: Couples, your employees, & parents of young children
Giving gift cards for the holidays has gotten a bad reputation, and being honest, I rarely gift them myself! But there are those folks that have everything, and need little, but who you still want to get something thoughtful. Rather than a store where they just purchase more “stuff”, a gift card to a restaurant gives them an experience that they can share with their friends or family! I believe wholeheartedly in the value of a delicious meal with people I love, and how that can be shared with a home cooked meal or at a restaurant. You can support a local establishment near where the person lives to give even MORE back to the community! My boyfriend & I have had a date night every single Wednesday for the past 3 years (only missing 4… we’ve counted!) and these are a few of our local favorites:
This gift is perfect for: everyone in your life who works so hard & deserves a little TLC!
Finally the self-care field is getting the LOVE they so deserve! How often do we focus on all-the-things for everyone else & neglect basic care for ourselves? I bet you can count on all fingers & toes the number of people in your life that deserve a treat that is reserved JUST for them, but rarely have the opportunity to do so. This is YOUR chance, awesome gift-giver! Give them a certificate for a massage: my clients, Sarah W. Culver, LMT in Greenfield and River View Massage in Shelburne Falls, are two of the most wonderful people I’ve had the pleasure to meet, and are also wildly good at their craft!
One of my few “splurges” in life is getting my hair done every few months, and I am here to testify that nothing makes me feel as awesome as a great haircut & highlight! I am obsessed with the gals at Sei Bella Salon in Amherst: they are vivacious, kind-hearted, joyful, all around good people, and again… so very talented & skilled in their professions! I’ve had my hair done for over 8 years by Keri Tilligkeit, Hair Artistry, who operates out of Salon Britton in Chicopee, who makes me feel like a million bucks each moment I’m in her chair!
More than just physical beauty, a self-care gift can give you joy from the INSIDE out. Taking dance classes at the studio where I also work is one of the best things I do for my MENTAL health. I find joy in connecting with other women in my classes, having a physical outlet for stress, and the mental capacity to learn each week. Ohana School of Performing Arts offers so many classes for folks as young as 1 to 101, and I see the change, exuberance, and fulfillment that they brings to folks every day! This is a simple gift for an EXPERIENCE that keeps on giving!
This gift is perfect for: bosses, teachers, co-workers & traditional Yankee Swap activities!
Every time I walk into a home that smells good, I feel instantly comfortable. Each time I use my favorite perfume or lotion, it starts my day on the best foot. That’s why I believe home beauty gifts are so delightful to receive! But a close look into the ingredients of your favorite mall-store products will leave you desiring LESS… less chemicals, less harsh ingredients! Combat this with buying local, homemade products made by people you can say hello to in person! My friend & client, Michelle, and her company, It Makes Scents by Michelle, makes the most deliciously awesome soaps, sprays, candles, and all the smelly-stuff you could want right in her own home! She is downright awesome at all she does & is committed to using only the best ingredients in her products: trust me, she’ll make your skin happy!
CLOTHING & ACCESSORIES
This gift is perfect for: Siblings, best friends, babysitters & teenaged relatives!
With the advent of Amazon & nearly-instant shopping experiences, there are so many things I purchase online…. But they don’t ALL have to be from big-box companies! I am in the stage of my life where I don’t desire MORE clothes as much as I want QUALITY clothes. I love knowing that when I purchase something from a local company, I am helping give a child dance classes or taking them on a beautiful vacation. Lotus & Compass Boutique is a local client of mine, run by 2 awesome parents raising their children, committed to the incredible clothing at affordable prices that make women feel GOOD. Melaney & Brandon work tirelessly to DO IT ALL, from marketing to inventory to deliveries. And plus… their clothes are CUTE!
I know I’m not the ONLY one who suddenly needs a new scarf / hat / gloves EVERY November?! I can’t help it… they are some of my favorite winter items! But I’m a bit over the cheap store versions. I met the owner of Woolnpurl at a craft fair, and not only did I purchase a hat for myself, but I’ve been gifting her products ever since! Her items are 100% handmade (especially fast production on cold-weather days!) with the softest materials, and working with a person that I can talk to about my need-by dates is the BEST. She makes all the winter gear, even including hair scrunchies! It’s such a special gift that I know will be used & loved!
This may not be a local company, but this product was my #1 purchase of 2018 and I love it TOO MUCH not to share & insist you put this on your own holiday wishlist! Back in February I was in Walt Disney World about to run a 10k with my family, when I discovered the Oofos brand at their Runners Expo. You guys… these are the BEST sandals I have ever, or will ever, wear! I only wore my tried-and-true Reef sandals once all summer… and regretted every moment of it! Oofos are recovery footwear made traditionally for runners & athletes, but also for anyone who needs extra supportive footwear (uh… all of us!) The OOfoam™ technology absorbs 37% more impact than traditional footwear foam materials to reduce the stress on your feet and joints. I have the flattest feet on the planet & constantly suffer from ankle & knee pain… and I kid you not, I could wear my Oofos all day & feel very little stress or pain! I have the Women’s OOriginal Sandal in black… and I will wear them until they fall apart. (And then buy a new pair!) #1 on my wish list this year are the Women’s OOmg Low Shoe… hint hint! You won’t regret these one bit for whomever you buy them for… including yourself!
This gift is perfect for: anyone. Seriously, anyone. Fashionistas in your life will get past the look of the shoes once they wear them!
Photo courtesy of Oofos.com
Speaking of DISNEY WORLD, my favorite place on planet Earth, if you have a Disney lover in your life, you need to get them the proper swag to travel with! I spent 5 years working in Florida for Disney and have tried all-the-products, but two of my most favorites are Allison’s Wonderland Co. and Blue House Blooms! My friend Allison makes the sweetest hand-crocheted cup cozies (and other happy crocheted items!) based on your favorite characters! She even sends stickers in her packages… I squeal with glee every time I get something from her! You can use these at the parks or at home when you need a dose of Disney magic.
Sure, you can purchase the famed Minnie ears at the parks…. But with Blue House Blooms you can CUSTOMIZE your favorite character into a set of beautiful floral ears! Carly, Caitlin, & Emilee were one of the first people I knew to design floral ears and I still think they’re the most beautiful! Each pair is handmade and they will happily create a pair that suits your favorite character! When I wore my Moana-inspired ears to the parks, I got more compliments than ever on them! They add a bit of pizazz to my outfit AND the day.
This gift is perfect for: anyone who LOVES Disney, especially one planning a trip to the parks in 2019!
Photo courtesy of @Jennawhiterabbit
This gift is perfect for: business owners, entrepreneurs, & close friends!
I am a huge fan of local libraries, but also admitting that I have to own my favorite books to refer back to regularly! There’s something about gifting a book, passing on knowledge, wisdom, and joy, that never goes out of style. Two of my clients in 2018 have been authors & their writing is as delightful as they are as people. Uncommon Bonds is a collection of essays, edited by Marcella Runell Hall & Kersha Smith, written by women representing multiple identities; all uniquely addressing the impactful experiences of race, ethnicity and friendship in the context of the United States. Richard Silvia of Yes Rising’s most recent book, “The Grace of Redefining Love”, encourages readers to transform their lives by embracing love, possibility, & inclusiveness. Both of which will inspire recipients to have thoughtful conversations & reflection. Can a gift get more beautiful than that?
I’ve committed to reading non-fiction this year, and a few of them have changed my perspective on life on this Earth. My faves have been:
Whomever receives these books will find the most awesome joy in reading them, I promise!
This gift is perfect for: best friends, your parents, parents of young children, & grandparents! The people closest to you in your life.
Experiences are some of the best things to give, especially when YOU get to be a part of it! Not only does the person get to enjoy the surprise in the moment, but the anticipation of the big day AND the day itself! Charter the Berkshires is a family run fishing expedition company in Western MA that charters trips to local lakes, rivers, & oceans. How often does one find the time to go fishing, especially as a first timer? Patrick makes the experience FUN for all: you’ll catch fish, enjoy the natural wonder around you, AND do all the hard work! He offers a variety of packages and experiences to choose from so that the trip is tailored to the party. & on the same vein of outdoor adventures, my dynamite clients at Wicked Powersports can gear you up for ALL of these experiences! Both Jen & Emily love this industry and can help you find the right gear to make winter and summer more enjoyable than you ever knew.
Outdoor excursions not perfect for those with little children? Never fear! Sunnytown Place is one of my clients that created an indoor playground of imagination for kids under 6 years old! Darlene, the owner, was inspired by the streets of Magic Kingdom… and when you’re at Sunnytown, that’s exactly what it feels like! Small children can have a field day in this playground while parents & loved ones watch on… and join in the fun!
Experiences are one of my favorite gifts to give! A few of my past favorites…
Season Tickets Exit 7 Players, a local community theater! 4-5 pre-planned afternoons of fun!
Tickets to a show on Broadway in NYC (or Boston, Hartford, etc.)
Day passes to Billy Beez, a local play place at the mall for kids (and the adults that join them!)
This gift is perfect for: That person who you have the PERFECT gift idea for, but can’t find it in a store!
When I discovered that I could create my OWN gift to give, the holiday game changed! I regularly think of an item to personalize to give to others for birthdays and holidays, and it makes the excitement of gift giving so much more thrilling! My friends Raeann of Cranstons Creations, Anna of Waite Creative, and Abby & Tina of Kaimuntarz create the most wonderful items for their customers… most of which they design themselves! But if you’re like me & are brimming with ideas, they are happy to bring your ideas to life! I can barely think of a birthday gift I’ve given where I haven’t given something personalized. It makes those days so special!
The most awesome items I’ve given as gifts with phrases/graphics/logos I’ve designed on them...
This gift is perfect for: Anyone with joy in their heart who loves a good game night.
Because I’m a girl who loves a good game night, I can attest that games are some of the BEST gifts! I own more games than I know how to handle, but having variety and ones that suit parties of all kinds makes evenings-in so much more fun! Ticket to Ride is my favorite game and has been for years. It’s a strategy game that you can easily become obsessed with, and also feeds my love of geography! This is a great game for small groups of people who take games a bit seriously… and seriously have fun! Wits & Wagers is my FAVORITE family game and perfect for all ages (at least 6 and up!). This game is part trivia, part betting… but the combo makes it easy for everyone! A trivia question is read, and the answer is ALWAYS a number. Each player writes down their guess on a small whiteboard, then reveals to the group. The answers are put in numerical order, and then all players bet on whose answer is correct! Even if you aren’t good at trivia, if you know who is good at what questions, you can still win! Even little ones can feel a part of this one!
There you have it, folks, I hope that this guide assists you in finding the perfect gift for someone you love this holiday season! Have you ever purchased items from the above companies? I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts! Happy shopping!