All posts tagged: Holidays

In Defense of Over-Holidaying

My husband grew up Jewish, and when we started dating, it fell to me to introduce him to Christmas as full-fledged participant, rather than exasperated outside witness. He couldn’t have chosen a better person to adopt Christmas with. With my cookie-making, casserole-baking, community-volunteering tendencies, I’ve been in bootcamp for Christmas mentorship my whole life. But even I was unprepared for how much more fun—how defiantly extra—Christmas could be with someone who’d never had it. On a frosty morning in December, my brand-new Christmas Jew and I were the first customers at the neighborhood tree stand. We struggled back to our studio apartment with a tree no less than five feet in diameter, coated it in lights and tinsel, and spent the day sitting on the couch, staring at it. We were just getting started. Reader, we roasted a Christmas goose. Have you ever tried roasting a goose? Don’t. We ate roasted chestnuts, also disgusting. We went to the Messiah, and my Jewish boyfriend stood up and bellowed “Haaaale-lujah!” with the best of them. We adopted Operation Santa kids, ice skated …

The Season of Giving In

I’m just going to come out and say it: I am not doing well. I am spent. I am drained. And now we are entering the season of giving? Ladies, I don’t know about you, but I am tapped out. I’m a mom of two boys, two and four years old. They are brilliant little crazed monkey lunatics. My heart is on my sleeve and in my throat every minute of the day. It’s exhausting. Strangers see my tight face in the grocery store as my boys have a screaming match in aisle 9 and offer me, “These are the days! You don’t want to miss them!” Seriously? Cause I gotta tell ya, if I ever have a moment to myself, I am daydreaming about dropping them both off at a highly-rated Charter school with after-hour yoga care while I, I don’t know, take a hike or finish reading a paragraph in a magazine or simply do the dishes without someone clinging to my leg or wiping their nose on my jeans. I’m also gut-wrenchingly …

13 Homemade Gifts that Don’t Suck

I’d guess I was about seven or eight when I made my dad an ashtray for Christmas. I’m pretty sure everyone in art class made their parents ashtrays for the holidays that year. We might even have been told to. Who knows. Mine was quite the specimen. It looked like I had taken a misshapen ball of clay, jumped on it with a pogo stick, dropped it and then fell on it. Oh – and stabbed it in with an eraser and etched a shamrock on the side with a pencil (because I actually did those things). Had my parents smoked, it at least would have been a practical gift – function not form and all. (In my defense, the glaze was spectacular. A nice emerald green. Ye olde Irish ashtray.) Let this be a lesson: Don’t do stupid homemade gifts. Don’t decoupage anything, don’t use papier mache unless you actually have talent, and – whatever you do – don’t bedazzle anything. NOTHING. Hear me? If you’re dying to express your creativity or don’t have …

11 Gift Guides From a Few of Our Favorite Women Bloggers

(Photo collage: Erica Hornung/TueNight) We are smack in the middle of the alleged most wonderful time of the year, and I have one question: Are you still shopping? Because I am. And when I’m in this kind of cyber-December-retail mode, there is no enabler like the internet, home of gift roundups of every size and focus. Some of our favorite women online have made lists of the best gift ideas for anyone on your list. If you’re still out in the internet streets looking for the as-yet elusive perfect gift for anyone or everyone, I can help. Read on: 1. The gift guides at Petit Elefant include this one with great ideas for women. The Complete Works of Jane Austen in a beautiful hardcover boxed set and a blanket scarf from ModCloth are just two of the picks your sister, your mom, or your best friend are likely to love. 2. The gift guides at Girl of a Certain Age are a double treat—packed with cool presents, and fun to read. I’m loving her list …

8 Gifts You Can Buy at the Drugstore Super Last-Minute

Photo collage: Erica Hornung/TueNight I know all of you smart people are done with your holiday shopping, and I’m proud of you, honestly. Every year, I fight my natural procrastinating tendencies; some years I win, some I lose. But even when I’m ahead of the game, I invariably find myself short one present on my way to a gift giving event with nothing but a drug store in front of me. This year, I decided to do something about that. Not buy my presents earlier, duh. I decided to plan for that moment, for me and for all of us. I plundered my own local drug stores to find gift suggestions for when you’ve literally waited until the last second to buy presents and you don’t want to look like the dummy you kind of are. 1. A digital camera CVS has a beefy photo and camera section where I found this cute Vivitar digital camera my own 9-year-old daughter uses. They’re small, durable and, best of all, inexpensive, so no need for monitoring, even …

Margit’s Note: Wait! One More Thing

(Photo: Stocksy) We are in the 11th hour of 2016 with 11 more days left. (I don’t even want to ask, “Well what else could happen in 2016?” because, heaven knows, a ton.) So what’s left to do? Did you send out your holiday cards yet? Well, DID YOU. No judgment. No panic. They can be New Year’s Cards….again. Look, there’s no shame in waiting until the last minute. This column is usually pieced together the day before or very often the day of. LIKE TODAY. You’d never know, right? Don’t answer that. Panic-induced inspiration can be a beautiful thing. Pondering and meandering left behind, you’re only left with the core task at hand and it must be done. And who cares if you bought those gifts on Christmas Eve; no one’s the wiser and you got it done, didn’t you? Good things can happen at the end of the year: You spend money on your health savings account, you give final donations to worthy causes (a few we might suggest), you tip your mail …

6 Gifts That Give Back — With Style

There’s no denying that the holiday season provides plenty of opportunity for self-defeating habits and thoughts: We eat too much, sleep too little, plan more than could possibly be done and then feel bad about all of the above. Really, though, the holidays are meant to be a time to feel joy and happiness and sweet relief from the daily grind. Fortunately, there is gift giving to help us correct the balance. There’s a particular thrill to getting just the right gift for a friend or family member you love—and we all know the simple trick of doubling your pleasure with a gift that “gives back” (with a portion of the proceeds supporting a cause you care about). But let me propose a third dimension of uplift and awesome: By buying one of these gifts that give back, we are also funding the thriving American ecosystem of idealistic entrepreneurs, the believers and doers who literally can’t sleep at night because someone is hurting, hungry or in need. Each of the below organizations is about helping …

7 Handmade Gifts for Your Girlfriends

(Graphic: Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight) Here at TueNight we love to think of ourselves as crafty and creative, but the fact is we’re busy and distracted and still haven’t quite finished that scarf we started knitting in 2007. That’s why we’re grateful for our relationship with Great.ly and the textile designers, artists, jewelry makers, knitters and carpenters who actually put their tremendous skills to use. There’s no better way to say “I care” than by giving something handmade while supporting a true artisan. You can finish that scarf next year. 1. Flower Designs Coloring Book For your work friend who knows more about your daily life struggles than your mom does. These grown-up coloring books are ravishingly pretty yet inexpensive enough to justify as a sweet treat. And there’s a reason these books are trendy among stressed-out adults; they’re highly meditative. $15, great.ly 2. Gold foil lip print There’s something so Debbie Harry about these luxe gold lips. Remind your old college pal of your youthful indiscretions with this fabulous minimalist print. $43, great.ly 3. Leather …

10 Hostess Gifts They’ll Actually Want to Use

(Graphic: Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight) Our household throws a lot of parties. And although I’ve never expected a hostess gift for our efforts, it’s always lovely to receive something thoughtful. Host gifts are tricky gifting — you don’t want to clutter up someone’s home, but you also don’t want to be the odd guest out who arrives empty-handed. With those caveats in mind, I’ve pulled together my dream list of host gifts — all for less than $50. 1. Linen Dish Towels I love receiving gifts that are a luxurious upgrade to life’s regular, cruddy routines. These natural linen hand towels are the luxurious upgrade you didn’t know your dishes wanted. $32, Etsy.com 2. Footed Aeirum Upgrade your host’s desktop with this adorably footed container for some sweet little plants. Moss, lichens and Tillandsia will change as they grow, or you can add an air plant (starting at $14) for even more magic. $32, floragrubb.com 3. Multi-function Cake Stand Responsible for bringing a dessert? Leave behind this multipurpose cake stand, which also becomes a chip-and-dip platter, …

Gift Wrapping Tips For Every Type of Gift (You’re Welcome)

(Graphic: Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight) Growing up, my mom and I had the best agreement a person with a love for wrapping could hope for: I wrapped ALL the presents and, in return, not only did I get to know what everyone was getting but my mom would also indulge my every wrapping-supply whim.  For me, wrapping presents always starts with the theme. Yes, that’s right…THE THEME. I’m pretty sure it all started when I was about 13 when she dared to suggest I use the — gasp — leftover paper that had been sitting in the wrapping bin for, like, the last 100 years. And, in true teenage fashion, I’m sure I gave her that look that only teens can give that said, No Way. Mom then decided my wrapping skills were worth a few extra rolls of new paper. Each year, I chose a set of colors and/or design attributes — a theme. Some years, it would be the classic red and green or silver and gold or a delightful plaid. I would gather my …

12 Gifts for Aspiring Bartenders & Drink Lovers

(Graphic: Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight) Craft cocktails have skyrocketed in popularity over the last decade, moving some to try their hand at making these drinks at home for gatherings or for themselves; avoiding the $15 per drink cost. For those who want to revive the lost art of home hospitality and entertaining, or for those who just love the art of drinks, here’s a list of gifts that any expert or novice would love. 1. Tovolo Sphere Ice Molds  Ice is one of the most important things for bartenders to consider. If a stirred drink calls for a cube of ice or someone requests a whiskey on the rocks, a good bartender will reach for one solid hunk of clear ice both for appearance and to provide the slowest dilution rate possible — no one wants a watered down drink. Though bartenders in Japan will hand carve these spheres, these silicone molds are the easiest way to make them at home. $10, amazon.com 2. Cocktail Kit with Canvas and Leather Tote For those who love to travel …

Margit’s Note: I’ll Be Home For Christmas

(Graphic by Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight) Last weekend, I stood in front of a slew of bulb-emblazoned items and felt the rush of retail — I wanted it all. A tinsel pig. A glowing paper lantern. A stormtrooper tree skirt! (Seriously, so cool and actually quite tasteful.) I purchased the latter two, though I still covet the pig. Turns out my brother who lives in Philly bought two tinsel pigs. Weird sibling serendipity. I can’t remember the last time I stayed put for Christmas. Maybe never? My husband and I are usually on the road to one of our family homes. Our own apartment decorations have only ever been teensy little Charlie Brown table trees and holiday cards on the fridge. This year, however, because of some unforeseen, aforementioned health-related snafus, I’ll be Brooklyn-based. And I figure if I’m going to feel like crap, I might as well Santa-up my surroundings. This means, finally, a real TREE. The hubs and I nabbed the biggest we could find from one of those French Canadian guys who sell …

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8 Merry & Bright Home & Office Gifts

(Graphic: Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight) I had a trifecta of goals as I searched for items to include here: First, to bring you my usual explosion of patterns and brights (I am nothing if not consistent; this is my MO every year Tue Night asks me to compose a gift guide). Second, to only include items that are everyday useful because even the most workaday things in your life should be bold and fun. And finally, to feature only items that’ll run you $75 or less. Done, done and done. 1. Pendleton Bowl Pendelton is a fantastic resource for good prints and not just on their famed blankets. This bowl, in their Suwanee Stripe pattern, comes in a set of four and brings just that much more excitement to your morning oatmeal. $39.50, pendelton-USA.com 2. iPhone Case I just think this iPhone case is gloriously pretty. Enough said. $32, shopbop.com 3. Cork Coasters The fact that these playful cork coasters come in a set — but each have their own look — is pretty cool. $16, …

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8 Under-the-Radar Indie Beauty Gifts

(Graphic: Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight) I love introducing the people I love to high-quality, under-the-radar beauty brands, and what better way to do it than by tucking it in a stocking or gift bag? These goodies are all under $100 and made by some of the best beauty brands you’ve never heard of (yet!). 1. Hand in Hand Bergamot & Ginger Sugar Scrub Swirling with notes of ginger, green tea and sweet orange, this exfoliating sugar scrub makes a great stocking stuffer — plus, the Philly, PA-based brand saves 100 square feet of rainforest for every scrub purchased. $24, Handinhandsoap.com   2. Olie biologique Limited Edition: The Ultimate Oil Collection Facial oils are not for everyone, but as a recent convert, I urge everyone to at least give them a try. This limited-edition collection contains five of Olie Biologique’s bestsellers (including my favorite, the amazing Huile Radicale Rejuvenating Oil) and has such pretty packaging, you can absolutely skip the wrapping paper. $62, Oliebiologique.com 3. Beautycounter Holiday Hand Collection For the eco-conscious, organic beauty lover on your list, …

9 Passive Aggressive Gifts They’ll Love. I Guess…

(Graphic: Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight) Ah, the holidays. ‘Tis the season to rejoice, make merry, listen to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” and bite one’s tongue when one’s confronted with the time-tested barrage of unsubtle passive aggressive comments from friends and family. Well, two can play that game. In the name of holiday harmony (and your sanity), why not bite your tongue as you wrap the world’s most passive aggressive gift ever? Why say it when you can pay it forward with a gift that does the indirect communicating for you? Why not give something that says you care enough not to say exactly how you feel but not enough to not be somewhat passive aggressive about it in your gift-giving? What? I was only joking! God. You don’t have to get so upset. 1. Fiberglass Confetti Eiffel Chair The gift that passive aggressively says “your taste in housewares is beyond basic.” $395, Modernica.com 2. Basic Repellant Phone Case For your “friend” who IS basic. $38, Valfre.com 3. Shut Up Cards The gift that …

tuenight gift guide bethanne patrick books

Books and Bookish Gifts for Your Well-Read Friends

(Graphic: Helen Jane Hearn/TueNight) Each year I try to solve your book-gifting problems by choosing a handful of titles you can present to the, shall we say, “particular” people on your list. This year, I’m adding a bonus round: A few waggish book-related items for the reader who has everything — or to bundle up along with a carefully selected tome. (And I take care in selection so you don’t have to!) 1. For Your Fiercest Kitchen Queen: My Pantry: Homemade Ingredients that Make Simple Meals Your Own by Alice Waters First, she’s Alice Waters, founder of Chez Panisse. Second, this book, written with her daughter Fanny (Fanny’s Granola namesake), is beautifully produced and has an internal spiral binding so the book will lay flat as you gather your amateur “mise en place,” meaning you can try Alice’s chicken stock, or tomato sauce, or… 2. For Your Hard-to-Impress Aesthete: The Master of the Prado by Javier Sierra Is it a novel? A manifesto? A museum tour? A mystery? The answer is all of the above. …

Comfort and Oy! Raising Kids in a Mixed-Faith Household

(Illustration: Nancy Gonzalez/TueNight.com) When my daughter was eight years old, she came home from school troubled. “Someone in my class said that Santa is not real,” she said. Her younger brother laughed. “But of course Santa is real! Otherwise, who’s that guy at the mall?” Thankfully, my daughter seemed satisfied with this answer. I sighed with relief and, not for the first time, thought, “I am completely unequipped to handle this Santa stuff.” I grew up Jewish, in a suburb of Boston. We celebrated Chanukah. We did not have a Christmas tree, or give each other Christmas presents. On Christmas day we did what all Jewish people do: we saw a movie and then went out for Chinese food. Many of the kids in my neighborhood, and in my school, were Jewish, so it never occurred to me to feel left out, or different. I married an Episcopalian, and while neither of us is terribly religious, both of us feel it’s very important to pass our family traditions on to our children. So we celebrate …

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The TueDo List: Movies, Shopping and Holiday Cheer

(Photo: Courtesy Zürich Film Office) Hanukkah is happening. Christmas is nearly here. And the crush is almost over — as well as the chance to order anything in time for, well, anything. I’m not sure I can take one more bold type e-mail from a retailer, telling me that “THERE’S STILL TIME,” which of course implies the opposite. (There is still time for stocking stuffers, and there are some fun ones all day today on Amazon Prime.) Here’s how to catch up on some last-minute odds and ends for the people in your life. You can buy most of them from home, so you’ll also have time to relax and enjoy the weekend, holiday-style. Movies and TV I already told you I love my Roku, and I can’t stop talking about it. I’ve already got a Netflix membership, but I only have Hulu free for three months, so I’d love to get that picked up for me by someone who loves me. Sometimes, it’s the coolest thing to have someone else spring for a relatively small splurge item like that. If someone cares …

Margit’s Note: Hey, Let’s Take a Trip!

I’m hearing that Jonathan Richman song, “Let’s Take a Trip.” He rocks out, “I’ve got my jeans and things and I’m ready to go.” The idea of quickly packing up the essentials, hopping in the car, and meandering into the unknown. Can we leave, like now? Sure, most of us are travelling out of familial love and duty this time of year, but we can also plan and dream for a different trip sometime next year. A hut on Vanuatu. A corner of sand on Coney Island. I’m not picky. This week, in addition to serving up some brand-new stories, we’re highlighting several of our Second-Time Travel pieces, as well. You know, those places you may have been once? We track down the secret alleys and hidden gems to see the second time around. It’s an insider’s guide of sorts. (And if you’d like to write one of these for us, pitch us at hello@tuenight.com!) So let’s go go go… Lilit Marcus does the writer’s trip to Dublin. Courtney Colwell extols the virtues of solo travel. …