Spoonie Stocking Stuffers

Spoonie Stocking Stuffers: Gift Ideas for Your Friends with Chronic Illness (Blogmas 2018, Day Twelve)

While many of these items could be used in anyone’s stocking, I wanted to create a list of spoonie stocking stuffers others who live with chronic illnesses.  These small gifts could make a huge difference in the life of your loved one!

Read more about the spoon theory here.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see our disclosure for more information!

Lip balm

I’m absolutely lost without a lip balm on hand.  Not only is it a soothing product in general, but it makes a big difference with anxiety, for me.

Try Eco Lips 3-Pack*

Snacks

Sometimes I just don’t have the energy to cook a legitimate meal.  A healthy snack is a great way to make sure I’m still getting the necessary nutrients!

Try Rob’s Variety Pack (Gluten-Free & Vegan)*

Essential oils

They’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but if your loved one would appreciate some essential oils, the would make a great stocking stuffer!

Try this ECO best-selling trio*

Gift cards

This one’s not only fairly easy, but it’s incredibly versatile! Whether it’s for Amazon, their favourite coffee shop, or a well-deserved massage, you could go so many routes with this gift.

Try this Amazon Holiday gift card*

Jewellery

This doesn’t need to be something fancy, but a piece of jewellery that they can wear to feel close to you is a great gift!  I have a few pieces of jewellery that I’ve received from friends and family over the years that instantly remind me that they care.

Try this personalized name necklace*

Tea

Bonus points if it’s a tea they particularly like or one that will especially help them with a symptom.  I’m a fan of Yogi’s teas for the latter.

Try this Yogi tea sampler pack*

PopSocket

I got my current pop socket while working with Her Campus and it’s seriously been a lifesaver.  I can’t tell you how many times I would have dropped my phone (or wouldn’t have been able to use it) without the pop socket holding it up!

Try this black marble PopSocket*

Puzzle books

I find sudoku, crosswords, or word searches to be especially nice!  They serve as an excellent distraction from pain or other symptoms while not wearing me out in the process.

Try this variety puzzle book*

Muscle rub

A muscle rub or other sort of pain relief cream is a welcome addition to most spoonies’ arsenals.  Just be sure that they aren’t allergic to an ingredient!

Try this Icy Hot cream*

Headphones

Sometimes blocking out the world is a necessity.  Headphones or earbuds are a great way to do just that!

Try these Bose SoundLink*

Fuzzy socks

My feet are almost always cold (as I write this, I’m wearing fuzzy socks under an electric blanket and my toes still aren’t quite warm!), so I can’t have enough fuzzy socks, especially in the winter.  But they’re also just a great comfort!

Try this 6-pack*

Coffee

When I’m up all night from nightmares or painsomnia, coffee is a must-have.  Because of this, I like to keep a good coffee on hand!

Try this from Seattle’s Best*

Scarves

When my symptoms flare up but I still need to be a person, scarves become my best friend.  In the wintertime, cosy blanket scarves are perfect, but lighter scarves can work year-round!

Try this plaid blanket scarf*

Eye mask

Not only are these wonderful gifts for anyone who just wants a good night’s sleep, but you can also get versions that are infused with calming oils or that can be heated or cooled for ultimate soothing ability.

Try this 3 pack*

Cooling/heating products

Ice packs, a microwavable plush, a heating pad. . . there are countless options available to help your loved one to be more comfortable.

Try this reusable hot/cold pack*

Lotion

Lotion can help as a comforting item and to soothe the skin.  Just be careful or any sensitivities to scents or ingredients!

Try this from The Lotion Company*

Mugs

This is especially good if you’ve already got the coffee and/or tea from earlier in the list! Still, even on its own, I will never turn down a nice mug.

Try this gorgeous marble mug*

Craft supplies

Whether it’s some new tools for my bullet journal or something like a new embroidery set, craft supplies are another great pastime–and an effective distraction from troublesome symptoms.

Try this watercolour paint set*

Handheld games

I recently found my old Nintendo DS and have been reminiscing over Nintendogs and Zoo Tycoon 2.  Games like this are a great distraction, and a pretty easy stocking stuffer if your recipient has a gaming system already.  Plus, they can work in bed or on the go!

Try this tiny retro-style game*

Fidget toy

Teenagers may have over-popularised fidget spinners and their counterparts, but these tools really do have benefits.  I like fidget cubes and Tangle toys, myself, but there are so many options!

Try this 3-pack of TANGLE toys*

Water bottle

Are you at all surprised that I consider hydration to be crucial? A water bottle with a built-in filter makes it even easier to stay hydrated.

Try this one, with time markers*

Chargers

This would be especially great with the extra-long cords you can buy!  When I’m stuck in bed, my phone and other electronics keep me at least somewhat connected to the outside world.  With an extra-long phone charger, it’s even easier to stay connected!

Try this 10-foot iPhone cord*

Pill organiser

If your loved one takes any kind of medication for their chronic illness, a new pill organiser could be a welcome gift!

Try this twice-a-day daily pill organiser*

Prints or photos

If your recipient is often stuck in bed or on the couch, a nice print or some beloved photos can be a wonderful touch to brighten their worst sick days!

Try this upcycled dictionary art print*

Spoonie Stocking Stuffers

Are you buying any of these spoonie stocking stuffers this year?

Happy Blogmas

Book Review - The Traitor

Book Review: The Traitor by T.J. London

I’m thrilled to (finally!) share today’s book review of T.J. London’s The Traitor!

If you haven’t already (or need a refresher), be sure to check out my spotlight post for this book.  Though the tour has officially ended, I’ll link to the bloggers who participated below so you can check out their posts, too!

I received a copy of T.J. London’s  The Traitor through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for review purposes. As always, this review reflects only my honest opinions on the book.

Be sure to visit our HFVBT tag for more fantastic historical fiction reads!

About The Traitor

Publication Date:  October 26, 2018

eBook: 574 pages

Series:  The Rebels and Redcoats Saga, Book #2

Spy. Liar. Scoundrel. Redcoat.

Provocateur and spy for His Majesty, Captain John Carlisle returns to Fort Niagara with the secrets he stole in the arms of the beautiful Oneida innkeeper, Dellis McKesson. Determined to complete his mission and clear his name, he’ll see justice done—and damn the consequences. Now, he finds himself drawn into political intrigue as the British prepare to launch a three-pronged attack that will bring the Rebels and the Mohawk River Valley to its knees.

A dangerous revelation finds Dellis as whispers of intrigue insinuate her beloved is not all that he seems. Unwilling to wait for her lover’s return, she sets out in search of the truth as the Onieda begin negotiations with the Rebels, breaking the neutrality agreement with the crown. A bold move that will stoke a fire between the brother tribes and lead to a bloody inter-confederacy war—one Dellis predicted, and one John incited.

While war between the colonies and the King smolders, the punishing winter of 1777 allows the perfect opportunity for old enemies to settle scores, lying in wait, ready to exploit John’s one weakness—his heart. John is not an innocent man. The truth he’s long tried to hide from can no longer be ignored, the ghosts of the past seeking justice, and karma wanting payment for sins so dark they cannot be forgiven.

My Review:

I was excited to continue along John and Dellis’ journey in this sequel to The Tory.  Once again, I was especially drawn to the characters and, even more specifically, to their flaws.  Dellis was a favourite to learn about again, but what I found most interesting in learning more of the characters in The Traitor was the further development of Agnes’ character, especially beyond her work for Celeste.  While she still has some progress to make, she’s grown so much since the first novel (at least, from the reader’s perspective) and it was an awesome transformation to follow.

Like The Tory, this book was more violent than I anticipated–for me, this one was more triggering than the previous novel.  Still, this is very much the reality within the world of the books;  you can’t have a war without violence, even of the particularly atrocious sort.  Still, be warned that it does exist, albeit necessarily.

As the novel went on, more pieces of mysteries from the first novel fell into place.  Yet, even more questions arose, which is ideal–we need to have something to look forward to in book three,  coming in 2019!  I’m anxious to see how Dellis and John reconcile their differences as the war continues, and how they come to terms with the secrets that still lie between them.

Like its previous instalment, The Traitor was an enjoyable read and a great addition to The Rebels and Redcoats saga.

Where Can I Get a Copy?

The Traitor is available on Amazon.

About the Author:

T.J. London is a rebel, liberal, lover, fighter, diehard punk, and pharmacist-turned-author who loves history. As an author her goal is to fill in the gaps, writing stories about missing history, those little places that are so interesting yet sadly forgotten. Her favorite time periods to write in are first and foremost the American Revolutionary War, the French Revolution, the French and Indian War, the Russian Revolution and the Victorian Era. Her passions are traveling, writing, reading, barre, and sharing a glass of wine with her friends, while she collects experiences in this drama called life. She is a native of Metropolitan Detroit (but secretly dreams of being a Londoner) and resides there with her husband Fred and her beloved cat and writing partner Mickey.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 5
Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, November 6
Review at For the Sake of Good Taste (The Tory)

Wednesday, November 7
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books
Feature at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Thursday, November 8
Review at Hoover Book Reviews

Friday, November 9
Review at Pursuing Stacie (The Tory)
Excerpt at Donna’s Book Blog (The Tory)

Tuesday, November 13
Review at Jorie Loves a Story (The Tory)
Review at For the Sake of Good Taste (The Traitor)

Wednesday, November 14
Excerpt at Spellbound By History

Thursday, November 15
Feature at Donna’s Book Blog (The Traitor)

Friday, November 16
Review at LadyJ’s Bookish Nook (Both)
Review at Pursuing Stacie (The Traitor)
Review at Jorie Loves a Story (The Traitor)

Book Review - The Traitor

Holiday Travel Bucket List

My Holiday Travel Bucket List (Blogmas 2018, Day Ten)

Though I haven’t done much of it lately, I love to travel!  My travel bucket list is coming in the new year, but, in the meantime, I’m sharing holiday events around the world that I would love to be a part of someday.

I might not ever to get to any of these, much less all of them.  But, a girl can dream!

Winter Light Festival; Portland, Oregon

The Winter Light Festival is “a city-wide event showcasing illuminated art installations, vibrant performances, and stunning kinetic fire sculptures throughout our city.” If the pictures do it any justice, it’s absolutely stunning!

Last year, I visited a local home that puts together a gorgeous light display and I loved it–I can only imagine the beauty at this scale!

World Ice Art Festival; Fairbanks, Alaska

With my minimal talent in the visual arts, the fact that people can make elaborate sculptures out of pieces of ice is absolutely mind-blowing to me! The artists are incredibly talented and I’d be thrilled to see it in person.

Winter Wonderland; Hyde Park, London

I already know that I adore London, so this one’s near the top of my list.  There are so many ways to spend your time in Winter Wonderland that I’m not sure I’d be able to decide on where to start! An excuse to see London again and celebrate the holidays at such a wonderful (pun intended) spot? Yes, please!

Polar Express; Durango, Colorado

I’ve seen a few different iterations of Polar Express rides, but this one from the Colorado Railroad Museum seems to be the most “official” of them! I really enjoy train rides and Polar Express has undoubtedly become a modern Christmas classic.  That sounds like a winning combination to me!

Papal Mass; Vatican City

I’m a huge fan of the present Pope and would absolutely love to see him in person someday.  A  Christmas Eve mass would make for an even better version of this dream!

Tree Lighting Ceremony; Rockefeller Center, New York

I’ve been lucky enough to visit New York City near Christmastime a few times, but I’ve never experienced the full glory of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.  I would love to experience the tree lighting itself!  Plus, it would be an excuse to see Tiffany’s window display, which is always a plus.

Christmas Market; Valkenburg, The Netherlands

“Christmas Market Velvet Cave” sounds pretty darn good to me!  Like the others on this list, this Christmas market looks wonderful.  Plus, the proceeds go toward the Valkenburg Castle Foundation:  I don’t know about you, but I am always in support of supporting castles!

Rose Parade; Pasadena, California

Roses are my favourite flower, so this New Year’s celebration is right up my alley!

Charles Dickens Festival; Deventer, The Netherlands

Literary celebrations of anything are kind of my favourite, so this is perfect!  Bleak House is my favourite Dickens piece (I know, I know, I’m a pretentious English major ugh.), but I don’t doubt that I can get into the holiday spirit with some of his other works.

Hogwarts in the Snow; Warner Bros. Studio, London

Harry Potter and the holidays? Yes, please!  While I’m not totally sold on Harry Potter’s place in Christmas movie lineups, I still won’t turn down an excuse to watch the films or read the books . . . or otherwise celebrate the fandom.  It’s just a bonus that this happens to take place in one of my favourite cities, too!

Ice Skating at Ingólfstorg Square; Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik is another city near the top of my bucket list (I was almost able to visit while I was still in the UK, but unfortunately my plans fell through!).

Bath Christmas Market; Bath, UK

I missed the Bath Christmas Market by just a few weeks while living in the city and I’m still bummed that I missed out.  The city of Bath is absolutely amazing all alone, but I can only imagine how great it is over the holidays!  A bonus?  From their website: “This year, Bath Christmas Market is going green! Watch out for cheerful decorations made using recycled plastic bags and bottles, designed by Christine Leech, Creative Director of Marie Claire Runway Magazine.”

Check out our Traveller’s Guide to Bath for more about my favourite city!

Holiday Travel Bucket List

Have you been to any of these holiday events from around the world, or would you go given the chance? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Blogmas

Vegan Gift Guide

Vegan-Friendly Gift Guide (Blogmas 2018, Day Nine)

More often than not, your vegan friend’s holiday wish list is likely pretty similar to your own.  More gifts than you can imagine are accidentally vegan and cruelty-free!  But, if you’re looking for something special that you know will fit into their lifestyle, look no further.  Our cruelty-free and vegan gift guide is here to help you out!

Here, I’ve accumulated an assortment of vegan-friendly gifts.  I’ve included some larger categories to inspire you, plus some specific picks that I know I’d personally love!  Keep in mind that my picks are almost entirely wish list items, so I haven’t actually tried them for myself.

Even better, I have a few friends from Twitter who’ve kindly offered their suggestions of items to add.  I’ve linked to them throughout the post, so be sure to visit them, too!

Make sure you check out our list of small businesses to buy from this season, too!  Quite a few of them cater directly to vegans or offer a selection of vegan products.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see our disclosure for more information!

Health and beauty products

There are so many cruelty-free and vegan beauty products out there–many of which you wouldn’t expect!  While I’ve never been able to use their products myself due to the strong scents (darn migraines!), Lush comes highly recommended! Bliss is another great brand for vegan skincare!

Thank you to Katie for the recommendation!

My picks:

Bliss Drench & Quench*

Rosy Christmas (currently unavailable, 1/19)

Donation

Is there a particular charity or animal shelter that your vegan friend supports? Make a donation in their name!

Not sure of any they particularly support?  Here’s a list of recommended charities from Animal Charity Evaluators.

My picks:

The Humane League

Four Paws

Clothing

Whether it’s an especially ethical brand or clothes with a vegan message, this is another fairly easy one if you’ve got their sizes on hand!  Check out Everything Vegan for a great selection.

Thank you to a.k.a Aye Soul for the recommendation!

My picks:

“Herbivore Park” tee

“Feed Me Vegetable and Tell Me I’m Pretty” tee

Jewellery & Accessories

No Faux Vegan is just one of many shops you can visit to find amazing vegan jewellery, clothes, and accessories! I’m mildly obsessed with their Cornelia Cat backpack (it even comes in grey, to match Fitz!) and their jewellery is absolutely stunning, like this “Vegan From the Heart” necklace.

Thank you to Lav of Lavrax for the recommendation!

My picks:

Cornelia Cat backpack

Vegan From the Heart necklace

Dainty Kitty studs

Vegan script necklace

Cookbook

There are so many fantastic vegan cookbooks out there!  Give your friend the gift of lots of yummy meals to come with a whole cookbook.

More the DIY type?  You could personalise this gift by creating your own book or recipe box of vegan recipes you compile!

My picks:

Thug Kitchen 101*, Thug Kitchen

Fuss-Free Vegan*, Sam Turnbull

Meal delivery service

If your vegan friend isn’t the cooking type, a subscription to a meal delivery service might be better received than cookbooks.  Earth’s Friends has compared a variety of the best vegan meal delivery services to give you lots of ideas–and there are even more where that comes from!

My picks:

Vegan Sampler, Takeout Kit

Vegan Meal Kit, Sun Basket

Books

Have a vegan bookworm on your hands, but not a cookbookworm?  There are lots of books out there on veganism in general!  Snag them some print or ebooks that look especially good, or even a gift card for their favourite bookstore.

Be sure to keep an eye out here on For the Sake of Good Taste in the new year, too–we’ll be launching our book of vegan swaps not long after the conclusion of Blogmas!

Thank you to Allen for the recommendation!

My picks:

The Mindful Vegan,* Lani Muelrath

The Vegan Way,* Jackie Day

The Minimalist Vegan,* Michael and Masa Ofel

Gift cards

Speaking of bookstore gift cards, there are all sorts of gift cards out there that any vegan would love!  Look for one from their favourite restaurant or shop to give them control over their gift–this is especially helpful if you don’t know if they’ve already gotten the gift you have in mind!

Thank you to Koocha Mezze Bar for the recommendation–and be sure to check them out the next time you’re in Bristol!  I know I will be!

My picks:

Koocha Mezze Bar (Bristol, UK)

Vegan Treats (Bethlehem, PA)

Gift Hampers/Gift Boxes

For my UK/EU friends, Planet Organic offers an assortment of Vegan Hampers which are absolutely fantastic.  In the States or another spot where you can’t have these delivered?  Head to the site anyway–they’d be great inspiration for a DIY gift, too!

Vegan Town offers something similar with their Vegan Treat Box! According to the photos on the site, they could include Mini Moos, too, which are my all-time favourite vegan chocolate (and one of the things I miss the most from the UK–if anyone ever wants to make me the happiest person alive, the “honeycomb” ones would actually be the best gift ever!).

Thank you to Chloe of chlxemarie and Sarah of Sarah TRADEMARK for the recommendations!  

My picks:

The Ultimate Vegan Hamper, Planet Organic

Vegan Gift Basket*, Well Baskets

Vegan Treat Box, Vegan Town UK

Pantry Essentials

If you know some of your friend’s must-have ingredients, a few of them could make a great gift! Not sure of just what they’d like? Try some nutritional yeast* or tahini* for a great starting point!

Thank you to LIVEKINDLY for inspiring this one–check out their list of vegan stocking stuffers under $25 for more ideas!

My picks:

Nutritional yeast*

Tahini*

Apple Cider Vinegar*

Coconut Oil*

Specialty Vegan Goodies

Did you know that you can buy goodies like fair trade coffee and vegan wine to really make your friend’s holiday season merry?

Thank you to Nik and Amy for their recommendations!

My picks:

Kivu Noir Filter Ground Coffee

Thomson & Scott Skinny Prosecco

Gardening Supplies

Admittedly, not everyone has a green thumb.  But, if your go-to vegan has?  Chances are, your friend would adore the chance to grow and eat some fresh vegetables!  No space for an actual garden? Something like this indoor herb starter kit* might be the perfect fit!

Thank you again to LIVEKINDLY for inspiring this one!

My picks:

Indoor herb starter kit*

Garden tools set*

Organic vegetable seeds*

Vegan Gift Guide

Are you buying for a vegan this year, or are you vegan yourself? What’s on your wishlist?

Happy Blogmas

My Favourite Christmas Songs

My Favourite Christmas Songs (Blogmas 2018, Day Eight)

Despite swearing against it time and again, I started (willingly) listening to Christmas music just over a week before Thanksgiving this year.  I blame Blogmas–it’s been too festive for my own good!  Despite being drawn in rather begrudgingly, I really do love Christmas music.  So, today I’m sharing some of my favourite Christmas songs!

Be sure to check out my Spotify playlist featuring these Christmas songs at the end of the post!

Merry Christmas, Darling

I fell in love with Lea Michele’s rendition years ago and never looked back.

Last Christmas

You really can’t go wrong with George Michael/WHAM!.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

I think it’s the upbeat melody that gets me with this one.  It’s also my go-to title for all Christmas playlists (like this one!).

Christmas Eve/Sarajevo

Seeing TSO live is near the top of my bucket list!

O Holy Night

While I never got to experience it myself, my mom tells a story each year about her high school Christmas concert.  Each year, the choir would dress in all white for a stunning rendition of this song (which is already beautifully haunting!)

Christmas Canon

Thanks to Father of the Bride, Canon in D is a personal favourite in general (and will be played at my wedding!).  By extension, I love this one!

The Christmas Can-Can

Straight No Chaser can really do no harm in my book, but this one’s a personal favourite!

The Christmas Shoes

Ok, I’m not sure this one really counts as a favourite.  I can’t even say I listen through it once the entire Christmas season.  But this is only because it’s so good.  I legitimately can’t handle the level of emotion this song produces.

Carol of the Bells

This was always a favourite during my time as a flautist, and that has remained the case even now!

Somewhere in My Memory

Home Alone is one of my all-time favourite Christmas movies, and this song captures the poignancy of the season perfectly.

Baby It’s Cold Outside

Yes, it’s considered to be problematic by many (I like this breakdown from Vox that considers it from both sides of the debate).  Personally, I read it as what that article calls the “romantic” interpretation, especially given the historical context of its writing–I’m a self-proclaimed helpless romantic, after all. But, if you don’t like the song, or believe in the less-than-okay interpretation, that’s completely valid, too.

River

I only discovered this one within the past few years and it’s absolutely stunning.

Wonderful Christmastime

Thanks in part to my mom’s love of this song, it instantly conjures of images of ice skating and Rockefeller Center.

Feliz Navidad

My Spanish is sub-par at best, but this song does a pretty good job of making me feel like I’m a lot better at the language! Plus, it’s just so darn catchy!

Silver and Gold

I may or may not quote this one year-round, whenever the colours silver and gold are mentioned.  This kicks into high gear this time of year when we inevitably encounter lots of tinsel at every store!

Mary, Did You Know?

I’m by no means a very traditional Christian, but I sang this in high school and fell in love.

We Need a Little Christmas

Fact: you cannot go wrong with Angela Lansberry.

Dominick the Donkey

I’m pretty sure I like this song because a) I dream of visiting Italy someday and b) Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey is one of my favourite holiday films.

When Christmas Comes to Town

I tear up at this scene in The Polar Express, without fail.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Outside of the Christmas music context, I’m friends with a Hugh Martin in real life. Every year, when I inevitably run into a reference to Hugh Martin, composer of this classic Christmas song, I do a double-take yet again.  You’d think I’d have learnt to be ready for it by now, but nope.

Christmas Wrapping

I insist on playing this one every single time I wrap gifts.  So, it’s got all sorts of lovely Christmas-y memories associated with it!

What Child Is This

Another religious piece that I adore.  When we’d go to Christmas Eve mass while I was growing up, I always hoped this would be one of the hymns!

Text Me Merry Christmas

The ultimate Christmastime LDR anthem for the modern era.

We Are Santa’s Elves

Between Rudolph and the happy tune of this song, what’s not to love?

The Twelve Pains of Christmas

In addition to being absolutely hilarious,

What’s This?

I think Nightmare Before Christmas has earned its spot as a Christmas movie, and this song certainly qualifies as Christmas-y!

Nutcracker Suite

Another favourite instrumental piece!

There’s Always Tomorrow

Yet another piece from the Rudolph soundtrack, this song is wonderfully optimistic–perfect for this time of year!

Sleigh Ride

If you’ve never experienced playing this on the piccolo, I highly recommend trying it someday.  It’s one of my favourite musical experiences of all time!

Check out the playlist on Spotify

What are your favourite Christmas songs? Let us know in the comments!

My Favourite Christmas Songs
Happy Blogmas

Tips for Gift-Giving

Tips for Gift-Giving This Holiday Season (Blogmas 2018, Day Seven)

I’ve always considered myself to be pretty darn good at gift-giving.  I love putting extra thought into a present to make it as special as possible–because I probably think the recipient is pretty darn special.  That being said, today I’m sharing some of my favourite tips for gift-giving to inspire you this holiday season!

It’s the thought that counts

It’s a cliche for a reason!  A gift doesn’t need to be huge or expensive to mean a lot.  Not only does the very effort of giving a gift at all mean a lot, but putting some extra thought into it means even more.

Consider allergies

This is especially important if you might not know the recipient very well.  Your favourite fancy chocolate bar might be an awesome gift for most people, but it could create an awkward situation if the person you give it to has a dairy allergy (been there, done that).  A good rule of thumb:  if you don’t know that the person doesn’t have an allergy to something, avoid food items.

Look at gift guides

If your loved one has an interest or other unique quality that you don’t share, a gift guide could be a great help!  Even better?  We bloggers LOVE to make gift guides!  You can find everything from gift guides for bookworms to gift guides for people with chronic illnesses.  A quick Google/Pinterest search will bring you all the inspiration you could ever need!

We don’t have many gift guides on For the Sake of Good Taste just yet, but stay tuned!  

Consider gifting an experience

Some people really like stuff and that’s totally okay.  But for others, an experience like a spa day, trip, or dinner date could be the perfect gift!

Make the experience part of the gift

If you still want to get them a tangible something special, you could try incorporating an experience into the gift, like a scavenger hunt or treasure hunt (like Gabe from The Office (US), though hopefully a bit less . . . Gabe.).  Even just an extra fun sort of wrapping can be an all new experience!

Reference something from your relationship

Whether they mentioned their favourite snack one time and you took note or you know they loved watching that one movie with you that time, incorporate a memory into your gift!  They’ll be touched you remembered.  Don’t believe me?  Look to the teapot from The Office (US)–there are clearly excellent examples of gift-giving in this show; just don’t try to be extra-cool with a new iPod.

Start a new tradition

If this person is someone who’ll likely be in your life for a while, starting a new tradition can set you up for future gifts, too!  For example, my mom gets us a set of “Christmas jammies” each year that we wear on Christmas Eve each year.  At 23, they’re still one of my favourite parts of the holidays!

Creep a little

Now, I in no way promote stalking your recipient.  That’s the bad kind of creepy.  But looking out for little things like what kind of coffee they prefer or taking a quick scroll through their Facebook feed or Pinterest boards for inspiration is a better kind of “creepy” (I’ve always said you can get to know me best by looking through what I’ve pinned on Pinterest!).  Just don’t be genuinely creepy about it.

Pick something unique

One of my biggest anxiety-induced fears when giving gifts is that I’ll get something the person already has and doesn’t want to replace any time soon.  Unique or one-of-a-kind gifts are a great solution, if only because your loved one is less likely to have it already.

A sub-tip to consider:  refer back to our very first tip and remember that this person will probably love the gift anyway.

Make it personal

This goes both ways!  Make your gift especially unique by personalising it with the person’s name, monogram, or another distinguishing factor.  Or, make it personal from your end, like a DIY gift you’ve made just for them.

Enjoy giving the gift

I genuinely really enjoy giving gifts to the people I love, to the point that I’ll show up with one on a birthday or holiday and the person later says how bad they felt that they didn’t do the same for me (I’m working on it–but I also truly believe that giving a gift to them is gift enough for me!).

Personal anecdote aside, enjoying the gift-giving experience will truly make it a better experience for both of you!  Whatever the gift, it’s easy to tell when someone is proud of the gift they’re giving–and happy to be giving it.

Tips for Gift-Giving

What are your best tips for gift-giving?  Share in the comments!

Happy Blogmas

Alternative Wrapping Ideas

Creative Alternative Wrapping Ideas for Christmas (Blogmas 2018, Day Six)

Like most people, I love the shiny, festive wrapping papers that come out each Christmas.  But, this wrapping paper is neither particularly budget-friendly nor environmentally friendly.  That being said, here is a variety of creative alternative wrapping ideas for Christmas (or other gift-giving holidays!).

Brown paper

Wrapping a present in brown kraft paper might not have the glitz of traditional wrapping, but its rustic feel (I always imagine it tied off with twine!) has an appeal all its own.  If you want something a bit more festive, get crafty!  Make some festive doodles in holiday-coloured sharpies or craft some original decorations.  It will make the present even more personalised!

Mason jars

Now, you can’t expect a post this Pinterest-y to not include a few mason jars!  While they’re most commonly used when giving gifts like a baking mix, get creative!  They can hold not only foodstuff but any other small gifts (the bullet journaler in me immediately thinks of washi tape!).

Baskets and bins

You don’t need to order someone a pre-made gift basket in order to make the most of this simple wrapping method.  A reusable basket, box, or bin is a unique way to deliver your gift–and the recipient gets a bonus gift out of it!

Maps

Do you have a 1987 atlas for some reason, which you know you’ll never pick up? Use some pretty map pages to wrap your gift!

Gift bags and boxes

This one may not be as unusual as others on this list, but it is an alternative to wrapping paper.  For as long as I can remember, my family has reused gift bags among ourselves for birthdays and holidays.  We’re still using a few from when I was a little kid!  That’s certainly a lot longer lifespan than your average roll of wrapping paper.

Book pages

I’m not sure I could bring myself to do this to an actual book personally, but small gifts can be wrapped in the pages of books that would be otherwise thrown out.  Photocopies would probably work too, to save the book!

Yarn

This one takes some patience, but you can wrap your entire present in yarn!  I imagine it might be easier with a layer of kraft paper underneath.  Or, if you’re even more crafty (and far more talented than I am), you could even knit a reusable cover for some standard-sized boxes.

Newspaper

Call me strange, but I love the look of gifts wrapped in newspaper, especially the comics section!

Fabric

Put some leftover scraps of fabric to good use or use a fabric item–a bag, a piece of clothing, a blanket, etc.–as wrapping and a built-in gift!

Paper napkins

I actually heard this one for the first time while listening to the Who Knew? podcast.  You know those fancy paper napkins you buy for a holiday or event but can’t quite bring yourself to use?  Apparently, they’re perfect for wrapping small gifts!  I haven’t tested this one out for myself yet, but I love the concept.

“Bucket”

This one comes from How Stuff Works. But don’t let the wording fool you–you don’t necessarily need to go to the hardware store for this one!  Any bucket-like item can work for your favourite person.  Have a chef on your hands? A mixing bowl or pot can hold a gift! I’m sure there are plenty of interests that a bucket will fit perfectly, but get creative!

Alternative Wrapping Ideas

What alternative methods have you used to wrap gifts?

Happy Blogmas

My Dream Christmas Wishlist

My Dream Christmas Wish List (Blogmas 2018, Day Five)

When my mom asked me what I want for my birthday and Christmas this year (they’re just close enough to make a combined list!), I sent her a link to an Amazon wish list with quite the variety of things.  With more books than I need (I already need another bookshelf!) and a few special goodies, it was primarily things I need–vitamins, my favourite toner, some socks (I desperately need socks!).  With this almost-painful level of adulting, I thought it would be fun to share my dream Christmas wish list!

Of course, this in no way reflects any reasonable Christmas wishes of mine (unless someone really wants to perform a Christmas miracle, in which case I won’t stop you!). But, it’s a fun chance to daydream about a fantasy Christmas!

This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see our disclosure for more information!

Student loan bills paid off

I think the whole world would be a little better off (except the companies, but they’d manage) if student loan bills could magically disappear.

Farm animals

Just a few minutes away from my parents’ house, there are two miniature horses and, as of recently, an assortment of goats.  I’ve only interacted with them by freaking out as we drive by (“Mom, you don’t understand.  I love them.”), but I adore them nevertheless.  Now, I know I’m in no way cut out for an actual farm lifestyle.  But, this is a fantasy for a reason and I would love to have a group of them of my own (and maybe some alpacas and cows, too!).

A service dog

As you’ll know if you’re a long-time reader here on the blog, I was actually planning to adopt and train a service dog in my final year of college. But, the fates intervened and I got my emotional support cat, Fitz, instead.  But, with my various conditions slowly worsening over time, I’m reminded all too frequently of how much this need persists.  My dream match is a German shepherd named Capote (Poe, for short).

Unlimited amounts of coffee and tea

Preferably an assortment, so I’d never get bored!  I love both coffee and tea and would love an endless supply.

Nearly anything from Tiffany’s

This is another one you could probably guess if you’ve been around a while.  I have a bit of an obsession with Tiffany’s. While I do own a few pieces, I would pretty much always love additions to my collection.  To go full-on fantasy?  A Tiffany engagement ring would be the biggest of dreams (someone tell my future husband, okay?).

An apartment

I wouldn’t even need a big fancy house to be content!  #MillennialProblems.  A two-bedroom apartment with rent pre-paid (one room would be my office/library/cat room!) is pretty much the dream.

A rose gold Macbook

I’ve got to be specific on this one because I’ve got a slight obsession with all things rose gold.  I was able to get a Mac when I first went to college (thank you, scholarships!), but it died after just the first two years.  Nevertheless, I still prefer them to PC and would convert back in a heartbeat!

Universal vegan options

A poorly cooked eggplant or fries does not count here.  I’d settle for three solid options universally and be beyond content.

A universal ban on animal testing

Similarly to my prior item, a universal ban on animal testing would make me absolutely ecstatic.  I shouldn’t have to go through three different websites before buying a lipstick just to ensure that a new-to-me brand is cruelty-free.  I’m no scientist, but it seems like our science is advanced enough to test products without the brutality (I mean, brands that are confirmed to be cruelty-free do it, so. . . . ).

An iPhone that won’t be defunct in six months

Seriously, who can afford to upgrade these things every time they stop supporting features or old models?  An iPhone that will last a few years (and make it worth the hefty price tag) would be great.  As it stands, I’m probably moving to Android for my next device!

Healing powers

This one probably isn’t much of a surprise. I would love to heal myself and others, both physically and mentally.  I’ve seen so many wonderful people suffer from various ailments and I would love to alleviate the pain.

My favourite shows and movies on Netflix/Hulu

I’m infinitely grateful for streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, but there’s always a show or film that I want to watch and can’t find on it.  In a perfect world, I could just wish for them to be there and they would be!

The ability to increase animal life expectancies

The biggest problem with existence, in my opinion, is that animals don’t live as long as their humans. I know my life would be better knowing my beloved fur children could grow old beside me!

Infinite bullet journal supplies

Even if you’ve only read a few posts here on For the Sake of Good Taste, you probably know how crucial my bullet journal is to my day-to-day life. In the process of using it, I can’t believe how quickly some of my favourite pens die!  A never-ending supply would solve all of my problems on this front.

Record book sales

Now, I’m not talking actual world records here–even in my wildest dreams, that seems too far-fetched for my tiny chapbook! But, breaking my personal record for book sales with Mistakes Were Madewould be amazing.

A personal library

I’m talking Beauty and the Beast level!  My sole over-stuffed bookshelf can hardly hold my favourites, much less my TBR list.  A fully stocked, gigantic library? That would do just fine.

My Dream Christmas Wishlist

What’s on your dream Christmas wish list?

Happy Blogmas

Blogmas Post Ideas

50 Blogmas Post Ideas for Lifestyle Bloggers (Blogmas 2018, Day Four)

If you’re doing Blogmas this year, you may have had all of your posts scheduled way in advance.  Or, you may be posting daily as we go! If you’re in the latter camp, or if you’re reading this post preparing for Blogmas in the future, here are some Blogmas post ideas for lifestyle bloggers!

Of course, nearly all of these can be adjusted for your holiday of choice–please don’t feel limited if I refer to a Christmas post! Additionally, many of these would work for Vlogmas, too.

Be sure to check out our Blogmas 2018 posts for even more inspiration!

50 Blogmas Post Ideas for Lifestyle Bloggers

  1. DIY Christmas cards
  2. Winter Beauty Looks
  3. Gift Guides for ______
  4. Review of a holiday product
  5. Family-favourite Holiday Recipes
  6. Decoration Haul
  7. Ideas for winter break
  8. Reasons you’re on the naughty/nice list this year
  9. Gift Haul (if your recipients don’t read your blog–don’t give away their presents before they receive them!
  10.  Holiday Nail Art
  11.  Looks for the Holiday Season
  12. Favourite Holiday Quotes
  13. Holiday Crafts
  14. Hot chocolate recipes
  15. Copycat recipes of holiday favourites
  16.  Favourite places to buy gifts
  17. Things to be grateful for over the holidays
  18. Snow Day Activities
  19. Best Christmas stories
  20. How you’ve spent Christmas
  21. The best trips to take over the holidays
  22. Ways to spread the holiday spirit
  23. Favourite Christmas memories
  24. Best Gifts You’ve Gotten
  25. Favourite Holiday Outfits
  26. Ways to Include Your Pets in the Festivities
  27. Holiday Tips for Spoonies
  28. Guide to the Holidays in Your Favourite City
  29. Christmas Printables
  30. Pros and Cons of Christmas
  31. How to deal with difficult family members/questions from family
  32. Unique Holiday traditions from your culture
  33. Least favourite Christmas songs/movies/etc.
  34. DIY Decorations
  35. Ways to help those less fortunate this Christmas
  36. Elf on the Shelf inspiration
  37. Holiday activities for _____
  38. Unique/unusual gift ideas
  39. Inspiration for setting the Christmas table
  40. Best Christmas jumpers
  41. Holiday party ideas
  42. Tips/Ideas for festive Instagram shots
  43. Gingerbread house inspiration
  44. How to stay sane over the chaos of the holidays
  45.  Cleaning/organisation ideas for the holidays
  46. Testing Pinterest holiday ideas
  47. DIY gifts
  48. Favourite festive YouTube videos
  49. Celebrating Christmas in a warm/tropical climate
  50. Holiday perfumes/fragrances

Blogmas Post Ideas

Are you participating in Blogmas this year? What post ideas are you most excited about?

Happy Blogmas

Christmas on a Budget

How to Celebrate Christmas On A Budget (Blogmas 2018, Day Three)

Contrary to popular belief, there’s no reason to break the bank in order to have a merry Christmas!  We’ve compiled our favourite tips to help you to celebrate Christmas on a budget.  Whether you’re a college student or just an average person who doesn’t have extra hundreds or thousands of dollars to spend on the holidays, we’ve got you covered.

While these tips are focused on Christmas, many of them can be applied to other holidays this season (or year-round)!

This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see our disclosure for more information!

Make a list

And check it twice!  By keeping track of the people you’re getting gifts for and what you’ve gotten so far, you’ll not only be organised, but you’ll have a much easier time of staying on track financially.

Check out our holiday bullet journal spreads for some list inspiration! 

Make a budget

Actually make a paper and pen(cil) (or digital, if that’s your thing!) budget! Keep track of what you’ve spent and how much you’ve allotted and do your best to stay within those limits.

Consider Secret Santa

I’ve found this one works wonders for students, especially!  Rather than buying gifts for everyone in your friend group or family, consider Secret Santa to ensure everyone gets a gift and no one goes broke in the process.

Elfster is a great resource for setting up an exchange!

Utilise the dollar store

Dollar Tree is one of my favourite places, and for good reason!  Whether you’re picking up decorations, grabbing a pack of cards (yes, I still like to send paper cards–though digital cards will be even more budget-friendly!), stocking up on stocking stuffers, or even getting some small gifts, the dollar store can truly be a lifesaver (not to mention a budget saver)!

If you plan ahead, sites like AliExpress can be an excellent resource for low-cost pieces, too!

Track deals

I’m not saying you have to beat someone up over a $4 DVD on Black Friday, but some of the deals are absolutely incredible.  The same goes for Cyber Monday and the entire “shopping season” at large.  Try to make purchases (especially any larger ones) with one of these deals to make the most of it.

Make the most of cash back

If you have a credit card that offers cash back, take advantage of those extra bits of change!  But, don’t go overboard with the credit card–know yourself and pay it off to avoid nasty interest fees.  I haven’t tried it myself yet, but Debitize allows you to pull money directly from a checking account (like if you used a debit card to pay) while using your credit card, in order to make the most of perks like cash back.

Consider needs vs. wants

If you know your loved one really needs something, it might make a good gift!  I’ve seen a lot of tips across the internet that especially recommend this one for Black Friday shopping–if you know your household needs towels and there’s a great deal on a set of nice ones, it could be a smart buy!

Remember that you can show love without extravagant gifts

Do you know your love language?  Ever since I first learnt about these, I’ve given the concept a lot of thought.  I definitely find myself trying to show love through gifts.  Just remember that your loved ones will know you love them, even without the latest Xbox.

DIY it!

From gifts and cards to decorations, there’s endless opportunity to get crafty over the holidays.  Plus, you get a fun activity out of the deal, too!  Pinterest and YouTube are great resources for some DIY ideas (I love Hermione Chantal‘s Christmas playlist!).

Remember your year-round savings tips

There’s no need to throw caution to the wind just because it’s the holiday season (despite how it may seem in all of those adverts).  If you normally use Honey or eBates* before ordering something online, don’t forget to while shopping this Christmas!

Check out our favourite tips to save money to add some new ideas to your arsenal.  

Embrace minimalism

Even if you’re not a minimalist, you can make the most of some aspects of the practice.  Check out these tips for a minimalist Christmas from Becoming Minimalist.

Make your meals as frugal as possible

Whether you’re having the whole family over or bringing a dish to a potluck-style celebration, make yourself a budget-friendly dinner!  Compare sales and prices from different stores, buy generic when possible, and make sure to include lots of veggies and other money-saving ingredients to get the most out of your meal for less money.

Plan ahead

I love to pick up items throughout the year to spread out the expense of gift-giving and shop sales as they come. If this isn’t an option, you can even save ideas (I have an Amazon list and a Pinterest board) of gifts you’d like to give to save time when it comes to gift ideas later on–and give yourself that extra time to compare prices!

Christmas on a Budget

How will you celebrate Christmas on a budget this year? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Blogmas