• Raising Boys

  • In The Kitchen

  • Family Travels

Thoughtful Gifts For 2020

The holidays are here, and not even a global pandemic can dampen the spark in the air that many of us feel this time of year. We’ve been sheltering at home, connecting through our computers and phones, and trying to work and learn from a distance. We all really want to connect and stay part of our communities, especially during the holidays. We may not be able to gather for large family holiday parties this year, but we can still let those who are important to us know they matter and we are thinking of them, with thoughtful gifts they will love ♥︎

Gift Ideas for 2020

Here are some of our favorite gift ideas so far this year:


Advent for Tea Lovers

My favorite part of the day is when I can sit for a few moments with a cup of tea and my To Do list and check off everything I’ve done. I feel a sense of accomplishment and relief. I love various flavors of tea, and the Christmas sets from Adagio Teas proffer a different surprise flavor each day before Christmas, as a sort of countdown. We tried both the 12 Days of Christmas and the 24 Day Advent Countdown set, and can easily give this our stamp of approval as the perfect gift and stocking stuffer for all tea lovers, teachers, friends, neighbors, and more. We sent them to our librarians, my hair dresser, the boys’ piano teacher, and I feel happy imagining them trying out a new Adagio tea flavor each day.

Why we love it: Teas in seasonal, warm flavors with sweetness and spice and everything nice! What could be better? Pick between 12 or 24 days, and enjoy a medley of wonderful Christmas inspired teas. It’s a gift that gives every day for the entire Christmas season. My personal favorite Adagio tea flavors are Candy Canes and Pipers Piping Fruit Medley. Soooo good! Find Adagio teas here.


Big Fat Middle School Help!

Online school classes aren’t ideal, but they are something, and everyone is pulling their weight to make things go as smoothly as possible. We looked for ways to supplement our boys’ studies so they don’t fall behind, since it’s hard to interact and ask for clarification on harder concepts with Zoom and masks and plexiglass dividers, and discovered … Big Fat Notebooks, which are basically the notes of the smartest kid in class, breaking down middle school math and middle school science into extremely easy to understand ideas and concepts so your child doesn’t fall behind.

Middle School math science help
Big Fat Notebooks

Why we love it: Big Fat Notebooks are affordable ($10 each), cover a massive amount of information to help both struggling students and kids who just want to review or have a clearer understanding of two important academic subjects, and they make learning fun. Complete with doodle graphics, simple explanations, and self-tests and reviews, it’s a really effective and fun way to make sure children learn, even when school isn’t happening. They are also pretty comprehensive, covering many years of science and math (the entire middle school years condensed into fun, easy to read books). Big Fat Notebooks are pretty spectacular gifts for students.


A Day at Big Snow

Experiential gifts (gifts where the recipients get to experience something new or fun or wonderful) are extremely popular, because let’s be honest, our memories are of all the wonderful things we’ve done, and who we did them with. We don’t have fond memories of things we own or have, and once people started to realize this, more and more people started to give gifts of fun! We recently spend an afternoon at Big Snow (read all about it here) and

Why we love it: It’s sooo fun! Both boys learned to snow board, and my older son also learned to ski for the first time. They had so much fun, and it doesn’t matter what they weather is like outside. Big Snow offers winter sports indoors even on the balmiest winter days, and it’s priced so that even large families can afford a fun family day. They offer everything you need for gear (you don’t have to buy all that expensive gear or store it in your house), and your kids will want to return again and again. This is memory-making! Check out Big Snow American Dream here.


Mario Kart Live & In House

Everyone is spending a lot of time indoors this year, and there are only so many books we can reread, and movies we can rewatch. At some point, the kids want to game, and Mario Kart Live is a more interactive video game in that it actually features your children setting up a race track obstacle course around your home, and then speeding an actual Mario Kart around (powered by the Nintendo Switch) and watching your live, in-house race on the Switch. A camera on the Kart tapes the race, so everything is from the view of the race cart, and as it passes around cones and cups and past certain cardboard gates it activates a scoring flag so your Switch keeps track of how many points and times your Mario Kart successful races laps around your home. It’s Mario World meets Virtual Reality, and it’s really cool! We reviewed Mario and picked up Luigi so both boys can race together.

Why we love it: It’s not secret my sons both utterly love their Nintendo Switch and everything Mario Brothers, so we love it because it keeps them entertained. The actual get-off-the-couch and race around aspect is a plus, and seeing our kitchen and family room from a Mario Kart floor view on the Nintendo Switch screen is pretty surreal- it feels like our house is a video game. It’s also cool seeing points rack up every time the Mario Kart passes a guide post we placed (lasers? sensors? how is this happening??), so we basically turned out home into a race track with cups and cones and arrows and gates. The game is a free download and you are only paying for the actual racing Karts (Mario or Luigi). If you have gamers and want to get them excited about a game that also gets them up (they can’t be too far from the cart, so if they want to race through the house, they are racing after it), this is our pick.


Baby Smarts

2020 was quite the year for my friends, many of who either had babies or are expecting. Gifts for babies that entertain them and engage them (safely) are wonderful both for the babies and the parents who enjoy watching them play. The DOLCE Primo Kangaroo is a huge bundle of cuteness that babies can snuggle and play with, and it really is big! Cuddly babies will love it because of the size, softness, huggable-ness, and the many noise-making and play adornments, such as a peek-a-boo door, a teether, and more. It encourages babies to focus and notice, use their hands and senses to observe and play different textures and shapes, and it includes a super cute baby Joey in its pocket as well as a shaker. DOLCE means sweet (and the DOLCE Primo Kangaroo is super sweet) but it also stands for Develop, Observe, Learn, Create, Educate.

The other gift we love for older babies (over one and 1/2 years old) is the Stick-O Forest Friends that let’s children create their own animals: an elephant, duck, caterpillar, bunny and anything they come with on their own. The pieces are magnetic and pull apart easily and stick together well, so they can create and play, then recreate and play some more. My sons grew up with magnetic blocks, and they were fun, but this set includes more interesting shapes for even more fun then we grew up with- think ears, flower part, funny shapes. It’s a toy that children will continue to enjoy for years (my 5 year old niece loves it too).