holiday gift guide: for the workplace


without further ado, the final gift guide for this holiday season. this is for all your favorite co-workers. even though I might be out of the professional workforce, we still have holiday gifts to shop for mike’s team. it seems a lot of the gifts we receive are focused around alcohol (not complaining), but for that reason we try to stray from that category to make sure people are not inundated with bottles of wine or liquor they might not drink.

  1. mark & graham: anything and everything from here is a great choice. you have tons of options in all different categories and can personalize the gifts which adds a special touch. does your team travel a lot from work? consider one of the leather roll-ups to keep chargers, air pods, etc. all sorted. the possibilities are endless here! if you do want to go the alcohol route, kick it up a notch with one of these adorable wine bags.
  2. entertaining plates: we know the holidays are all about entertaining! I like to give something bought with a little something homemade. we love these plates and dipping bowls from macy’s and bought them for mike’s team members that are married or have families. we’ll make christmas cookies and fill them up!
  3. alphabet cheese board: I love these from pottery barn and they are a steal right now! add a cheese knife and a pretty bow and call it a day! this will be something they use during the holidays and beyond.
  4. holiday plaid mug: similar to the entertaining plates, buy the mug and fill it with something yummy! coffee lover? maybe a gift card to starbucks or a local coffee shop. tea drinker? a favorite loose leaf tea and steeper. not sure? go for a hot cocoa bomb or hot cocoa mix and marshmallows.

some other ideas that I have loved doing in the past: buy a few winter scarves on black friday deal from old navy or gap and tie them around a cozy scented candle. one year i made homemade lasagna in keepsake baking dish (this is because i like to cook, am italian, and had the extra time. don’t think this will be happening this year ha!) also, don’t underestimate the enjoyment of an Amazon gift card, especially this year. that’s what all the under 30/single crowd will be getting on mike’s team! we’ll toss in some cookies too, but we know of all the things they want, they will use this the most.

holiday gift guide: for the grandparents

this one is for all the wonderful grandparents we have in our lives. our own grandparents, but more so for our parents turned grandparents. our favorite thing to do is gift experiences. given the current situation with COVID, we are very limited with the type of experiences we have to choose from. instead, here are a few personalized and heartfelt gifts to spoil the ones who love our littles the most.

  1. minted photo calendar: we did this last year for my in-laws and my parents and it was a huge hit! pack the calendar full of sweet photos of the grandkids from the year and they will be delighted! bonus is you include important dates so they always remember birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc.
  2. memory of the year ornament: I love our ornaments from Old World Christmas and Bronner’s too. they make gorgeous glass ornaments and some very unique pieces you can’t find other places. unfortunately, the masked santa is sold out which is perfect for 2020, but think of some other things that are unique to the year for whomever you are buying for. for example, brady is getting a school bus because he LOVES wheels on the bus. landon became obsessed with golf this year, so he’s getting a golf ball ornament. we have done ornaments based on travel or life milestones in the past!
  3. personalized ornament: this will be the 4th year doing this for our families (and ourselves too!). I love looking back at each year’s on our own tree, so I hope they do too. we usually include a family photo on one side and one of just the grandkids on the other.
  4. digital photo frame: this is self explanatory, but I particularly like this one because of it’s style. we share so many photos digitally now and it feels like we never get them printed. resolve the issue with this frame! or resolve it by printing a bunch of favorites and wrapping them under the tree. I can argue digital or old fashioned any day ๐Ÿ™‚
  5. something homemade: anything homemade by the grandkids is always a crowd pleaser. look on pinterest for ideas! we have done little canvas “mistletoes” and handprint ornaments. I really need to step up my game again without school helping with ideas!

holiday gift guide: for the developing toddler


gift guide number 2: the developing toddler. I put brady in this category at 23 months, however, most of these gifts are great starting at just 6 months of age. they can easily grow with your child well into years 3 and 4. believe me, landon plays with more of “brady’s toys” than his own…

  1. the nugget comfort: I recommended this for the active toddler, but also for your developing toddler. this transformer of couches can make a variety of obstacle courses specifically directed toward gross motor development. heck, add a mirror and you even have a great spot for tummy time in those early, early days.
  2. YBike: this is another great toy to encourage gross motor development. you can encourage standing, pushing/walking like other push toys, riding and striding, etc.
  3. melissa & doug poke-a-dot books: have a child who actually does not like reading? I do. one that loves to read and another that hates books… so here is your solution to getting some interest in books. these books (in a variety of themes) have little finger poppers (think: the packaging bubble wrap) that your child can point and push to create a POP sound. both of my boys love this book! it’s also great for fine motor development – specifically index finger isolation to encourage pointing!
  4. fat brain spinagain stack: another multipurpose toy, this spin again stacking toy. first off, it’s entertaining for your child. win. second, it’s a great fine motor tool, but also think about it for speech development with offering choices between two of the stackers or describing the colors. third, use it for gross motor development by putting it higher up and encourage reaching or standing!
  5. stringing beads: we like these with our OT specifically because of the size (don’t have to worry about choking hazards) of the beads and also the skill level. this is obviously more geared toward fine motor skills, but use the cars (aka beads) to encourage speech development with “beep beep” and “vroom” noises.
  6. fine motor hedgehog: it’s exactly as described – a fine motor toy. much like your typical shape sorter, this fun little guy lets your child place the spikes into the slots. brady loves this guy with his OT and I know the grandparents already bought this one for christmas! win!
  7. fat brain duo dimpl: I can recommend every fat brain toy for every child, they are so great! but this one was a surprise favorite from last year’s christmas (thanks babci and papa!). another great finger isolation tool, but also speech tool. not to mention, very entertaining for your child. brady can play with this independently for 20 minutes! I am adding the simple dimpl to my cart as we speak for a great stroller and car toy for him!
  8. lovevery playkits: this is a subscription service that provides playkits based on your child’s age. the toy I am most excited about for brady comes in the babbler kit for 13 month olds. it’s a ball popper that is taller, but also has a peek-a-boo box at the bottom to catch the balls and encourage other skills. I am currently trying to adjust the age range kit I can order for brady to match his developmental stage (I’ll keep y’all posted), but this is a great gift and ongoing gift for your child or a friend who is expecting!
  9. stacking wood blocks: good old fashioned stacking wood blocks. we have a slightly different set, but this would be fun for kids of all ages. think about the stacking skills, counting, color matching, and shape sorting you can encourage! not to mention cause and effect with stacking and knocking down! brady’s favorite thing to do with these is to knock down all the towers landon builds and help put the blocks away (he really loves putting things in bags or buckets)!

that’s it for toy recommendations this year! I shared a few bonus toys in my instagram stories, so make sure you are following me there too. next up, grandparent and co-worker gifts.

holiday gift guide: for the active toddler


here it is. the first of four gift guides for this holiday season. everything in this gift guide we either have and love or are planning to get for landon this christmas. landon is our ACTIVE toddler, and I mean active. he can play outside all day long and still have the energy to run laps around our kitchen after dinner. we are always looking for more ways to help him expend all of his energy.

  1. the nugget: I recommended this last year and will continue to do so. we make climbing courses, obstacle courses, crash pads, tunnels, dance stages, etc. it’s such an open ended “toy.” buy some felt and cut out shapes to stick to the fabric to use as an art board. really, you can do anything with this!
  2. over the door basketball hoop: you know this is a favorite in our house. we have two! one stays in landon’s room and is the perfect thing to keep him occupied while I am getting dressed or when he wakes up too early in the morning. we also use this for Brady on the back of a kitchen chair to encourage standing!
  3. little tikes indoor trampoline: this is on our list this year. with the weather turning cold, we need more and more ways to make indoor play both fun and exhausting!
  4. micro kickboard scooter: we got landon a different (cheaper) brand scooter and it was the pits. it wouldn’t glide over the smallest bumps or cracks outside and we were constantly worried that landon would bite it. learn from my mistake and splurge on this one. it will last and actually be something they can safely ride! don’t forget to throw in the helmet ๐Ÿ™‚
  5. balance bike: this is the ONE thing landon has been asking for from Santa, a new bike. we have decided to go with this particular balance bike that can also transform into a two wheel bike with pedals. we anticipate it will take some time for him to understand the balance bike aspect, but hoping that shortly after that he will be ready for pedals!
  6. leaf blower bubble machine: two reasons we love this – first, because it mimics what daddy does daily in the fall. second, it’s the best bubble machine. my brother gifted once similar to this from target for his birthday and both boys (plus all the neighbor kids) are obsessed.
  7. ride on motorized car: if you watch my instagram stories, then you know landon loves to drive brady around in this. when we were looking for a big birthday gift from the grandparents, this immediately came to mind. it comes with a remote for parents to use (read: intervene) with when necessary. now that landon has the hang of things, we really don’t have a need for the remote. what makes this one great is the power and two seats!