Get ready for the Christmas season with our clever tricks to simplify the holidays. Including crafty Christmas wrapping ideas, must-try ideas for hosting guests, and why-didn't-I-think-of-that Christmas shortcuts, our tips for the holiday season are guaranteed to make your life easier.View Slideshow
Take 30 minutes and get through all the hard-to-shop-for people on your list. How does it feel to be done?
It can be tough to find the big cheese a gift that strikes that perfect balance between genuinely thoughtful and sucking up. These picks strike just the right tone -- now can I have that promotion?
Marimekko makes gorgeous porcelain mugs that add a dash of bold to a boring office. Porcelain mugs by Marimekko, $17.50, available at: PlasticaShop.com.
Photo courtesy of Plastica
She'll love a gift that reminds her she's not just a mom, she's a hottie.
Theme Fragrances are easy to apply (no spills with this roll-on) and small enough to pop in the diaper bag, and they smell heavenly. Six Theme Fragrance Perfume Sample Vials, $10, available at: ThemeFragrance.com.
Photo courtesy of Theme Fragrance
Artist Alena Hennessy silkscreens her lovely floral prints onto comfy, cozy cotton jersey wraps. Your friend can throw one on with jeans for instant chic. Flora on Charcoal Scarf, $28, available at: AlenaHennessy.com.
Photo courtesy of Alena Hennessy
A little thoughtfulness goes a long way, especially if you want to call on your sitter again next year.
CandyArt's tin box is a kitschy-cute way to store hair bands, post cards, or notes from secret admirers. Fill it with cookies the kids helped you make or her favorite candy. CandyArt Tin Box, $13.95, available at: TheSillyWagon.com.
Photo courtesy of The Silly Wagon
This cozy sweet-meets-punk scarf tells her you think she's cool. Even better: She'll think you're cool too. MTcoffinz Skulls & Cupcakes Scarf, $18, available at: ShanaLogic.com.
Photo courtesy of Shana Logic
Your kiddo's best buddy is at your house so often, you're kind of his honorary mom. Get him something that you and your kid can wrap up together.
Kids know that drinks just taste better when sipped through a crazy straw. Strawz lets them concoct their own -- the wackier, the better. Strawz, $14.95, available at: SpoonSisters.com.
Photo courtesy of Spoon Sisters
AppleBlossomBaby's handmade doodle caddies hold a set of crayons and a small pad in a pocket-size roll. He can pop it in his backpack so he's ready when inspiration strikes. Doodle Caddy, $12.50, available at: AppleBlossomBaby.etsy.com.
Photo courtesy of Etsy.com
If you're even considering a #1 teacher mug, well, don't. Instead, go for this witty trompe l'oeil porcelain mug with a silicon lid that not only looks cool, it teaches students a lesson in conservationism. I Am Not A Paper Cup, $20, available at: Momastore.org.
Photo courtesy of Museum of Modern Art
This designer clipboard is a giant step up from the dingy brown ones that come standard. Couture Clipboard, $26, available at: Violet.com.
Photo courtesy of Violet.com
Regular caregivers deserve a big fat check for the holidays above all, but it's nice to accompany it with a little something personal too.
We love this mod coated-cotton cosmetics bag in goes-with-everything black and white. Perhaps with a gift certificate to Sephora inside? Aruba Cosmetics Bag in daisy black, $18, available at: HenryRoad.com.
Photo courtesy of Henry Road
After a long day with your kids, a calming cup of tea is in order. Rooibos has all the antioxidants of green tea, but none of the caffeine -- and the flavor combos are amazing. Orange Chocolate Rooibos Tea, $12; available at: HerbandGinger.com.
Photo courtesy of Herb + Ginger
Surely there's something more original than piano key note cards or toe shoe figurines for your kid's favorite instructors -- here's what we found.
This set of six coasters made from recycled 45s not only keep drinks off the piano, they're fantastic conversation pieces all on their own. Set of 6 Record Label Coasters, $19.95, available at: RockPopGallery.com.
Photo courtesy of Vinylux.com
The handmade, durable wool felt Mediapocket totes an iPod (or cell phone) in sustainable style, whether it's holding 20MB of Black Sabbath or Brahms. Mediapocket, $19, available at: BranchHome.com.
Photo by Branch
Random acts of kindness deserve one in return. Be a good neighbor by gifting yours with one of these finds.
Scrumptious Fleur de Sel caramels in flavors like chocolate walnut with a pinch of ancho chili are made with all-natural ingredients sourced locally in the US, and 10 percent of profits goes to charities. Plus they taste divine (give them away fast). Das Caramelini Fleur de Sel caramels, $6.99, available at: DasFoods.com.
Photo courtesy of Das Foods
Yummy-smelling artisanal soaps seem too decadent to buy for yourself (you can get 10 bars for that price at Costco!) but you lust after them anyway. Hook a neighbor up with one of these gorgeously packaged all-natural bars from McBride Beauty, whose products are inspired by the natural home remedies of the owner's Irish mother. Soy & Coconut Cleansing Bar, $12, available at: McBrideBeauty.com.
Photo courtesy of McBride Beauty
If your doc goes above and beyond, a little extra gift besides the standard kids photo card for the wall is called for.
Fortunuts makes delicious gourmet nuts packaged in fun Chinese-inspired containers with a fortune inside. Large Kraft Box of Sweet and Salted Walnut Halves, $7, available at: Fortunuts.com.
Photo courtesy of Fortunuts
MD Moms, makers of the Baby Silk babycare line, has come out with a set of 10 whimsical note cards featuring toddler finger paintings, with 100 percent of the proceeds going toward a mobile hospital playroom program for sick kids who need the fun brought to them. Oscar Litwak Foundation Charity Note Cards, $10, available at: MDMoms.com.
Photo courtesy of MD Moms
Let other guests bring the wine and flowers -- bring her something inspired that will guarantee your place on the guest list for years to come.
Present one of ceramicist Shoshona Snow's modern, hand-fired dishes filled with holiday chocolates, cashews, or a small tea light. Mod Square Porcelain Dish, $15, available at: Shoshonasnow.etsy.com.
Photo courtesy of Etsy.com
We love the new handmade felt "Miseltoe" ornament from Hable Construction -- the hostess can hang it high so everyone can get a turn underneath. "Miseltoe" Wool Felt Ornament, $18, available at: HableConstruction.com.
Text by Liz Gumbinner, photo courtesy of Hable Construction.
Liz Gummbinner is co-founder and editor of Cool Mom Picks, a blog about the latest products for moms and kids.
Copyright © 2008 Meredith Corporation.