I like to buy myself one special ornament each year. Though I love receiving ornaments, and I absolutely love handmade ornaments – I’ve made many on our tree, as have the kids – for years now I have kept my eye out for an ornament that feels special to me at the time. Many times, I picked up a little something at a craft show: a glass-blown snowman, a walnut santa, etc. Each year, I use more of these special ornaments and fewer of the standard ornament balls I bought for my first tree.
This year, I found an ornament that I’d been searching for all last year: a steam train! To me, steam trains will always remind me of Aiden’s childhood, as he loves them in such a special way. To see him play trains is to set his imagination free in a way other toys still don’t compare. I picked up this steam train ornament at Pottery Barn Kids early in the season and I just love it!
If you’re looking for a special steam train ornament, Hallmark seems to make them frequently (with moving parts!), with some past ones still available on Amazon.
Stay tuned for some insight into our tree decorating process with 2 kids – and to answer your burning question: just how is Damien doing with the ornaments?
Our family spends a lot of time at the Park & Tilford Gardens in North Vancouver. It’s a little gem of a place that offers us a convenient place to let the kids run around and explore after going for coffee and/or grabbing groceries. Their favourite spot has always been the fish pond, now iced over and beautifully decorated for the Holiday Hi-Light Festival.
We kept the kids up late last Friday to pay a visit to the lights, despite the sub-zero temperatures. We walked around the gardens, ending up making cookies and watching the live entertainment included on Family Friday Nights. Damien even had a little visit with Santa!
North Vancouver is an amazing place to live!
I know that most guys struggle to do the Christmas shopping. While us moms probably take on the bulk of the shopping for the kids and extended family, you probably struggle just as much to show that special someone in your life just how important they are. While she may have given you a few hints for her present, you’re left to your own devices when it comes to her stocking. I’ve reviewed many an online list for stocking stuffers only to wonder – who wants that crap?!
Fret not! I present to you…
A Guys’ Guide to Stocking Stuffers
- Games - stuff in a game you can play together, like Cards Against Humanity, Scrabble Slam or Bananagrams Pictured: Cards Against Humanity
- Soap or bath products - while bath products and lotions usually scream “generic” to me, I do appreciate a good quality handmade soap or some scented bath products. Skip the lotions – we’re too picky about those! Pictured: Saltspring Soapworks Pure Soap
- A cookbook or cooking magazine - I’m a sucker for new cookbooks, so I love these. I am addicted to the Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazines – healthy and easy for the family. Pictured: Everyday Food: Great Food Fast
- Gloves - whether you go for leather or cute or specialty touchscreen gloves, it’s hard to go wrong here. Pictured: Agloves
- Ornament - get a classy new ornament or something very much to her taste: Hello, Doctor Who ornament! Pictured: Swarovski 2013 Crystal Star Ornament
- Lip Gloss - talk to her Mary Kay consultant by phone or email or take a recent photo in to any good make-up store (Sephora, MAC) and they’ll help you choose the right colour! Pictured: Mary Kay NouriShine
- Eye Shadow - while you’re buying make-up, grab some new eye shadow in a new shade or, if in doubt, some new mascara. We can always use more! Pictured: Mary Kay Mineral Eye Color
- Candy – go to a specialty candy store for a little gift bag or jar of assorted candy. That extra touch goes a long way. Most specialty stores will have grab bags pre-packaged and wrapped! Pictured: Sugar & Co. Bonbon assortment
- Chocolate – it’s so important, it gets its own category. Forget candy bars and go for the dark chocolate bar or specialty chocolates. Pictured: Thomas Haas Chocolate Bar
- Scratch & Win - while I don’t want to encourage gambling (particularly for kids), I quite love getting some scratch and wins in my own stocking. Pictured: BCLC Scratch & Win tickets
- Scarf - easy to find just about anywhere, it’s a nice alternative to socks in a stocking! Pictured: Stella & Dot Union Square Scarf
- Charm it Up - start a Pandora charm bracelet or a simple charm necklace - if she has one already, perfect! It’s easy to add a new charm. Pictured: Pandora bracelet starter
- Coffee - grab some fresh coffee or quality loose leaf tea. Skip the grocery stores and look for specialty cafes and stores. Pictured: Moja Coffee Roaster Series 2013
This list should fill up your stocking quite nicely, without adding in junk products or useless kitchen gadgets and candles. Of course, if you know your wife really wants a new spatula, go wild!
A few weeks ago, I shared with you the wonderful cards we had printed last year from Minted. I recently received our 2013 cards in the mail and I just had to share them with you!
The cards feature the wonderful photos by Sarah Jane Photography, as I featured in my last post, and let me tell you, it was no easy choice as to which pictures to use! As much as I love the full sized photo shots in some card designs, I could use just one photo when there were so many nice ones to choose from! The design I used is called Cherished.
The card design I chose had a ton of customizable colours and options – from the sayings to the envelopes and even the option to print addresses. I was really tempted by the new foil-pressed cards… maybe next year! I love that you can preview them! Aren’t they cute?!
The ActiveMama family recently did our annual photoshoot with Sarah Jane Photography, who has been taking our photos for a few years now.
We went down to Shipbuilder’s Square at the foot of Lonsdale again, since we found last year that it had the perfect mix of backdrops for our photos. It’s not busy, it has an urban feel, the view is great and there are no distractions (like parks or bodies of water) that cause whiny kids! While I really wanted to hit up a forested area, it’s so hard to find the right light in the shade of the trees.
I couldn’t be more happy with the photos this year! Sarah did a great job capturing the kids in the chilly wind before they got too grumpy. Damien has some dermatitis on his face right now, which is worse in the cold, but Sarah did a good job clearing that out of the proofs. Thanks Sarah!
Check out all our photos here.