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Nov 27 2012

Hanukkah Gift Guide 2012: For Moms

By at 11:14 am

She gave birth, and then oh-so-much more. Thank mom this Hanukkah with a thoughtful present. Here are our favorite picks from ModernTribe.

latke server from moderntribe.com

If you’re dealing with a cooking-friendly mama, she will be proud to serve her potato pancakes in style with this adorable Stainless Steel Latke Server ($6). Or if you’re looking for something she can use year round, they make the same server just for kugel. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 6 2012

A Birthday Party Without Presents?

By at 1:19 pm

As I was planning my daughter’s 6th birthday, I had to ask myself why so many of us continue to throw big parties complete with an enormous pile of presents. I recognize that the parties are large to avoid hurt feelings, but can we agree that the amount of presents the kids receive as a result is objectionably over the top?

I’m not against the idea of gifts as a rule. It’s wonderfully celebratory to open some beautifully wrapped presents that someone took the time to choose. But when parents feel pressured to invite the whole class, we are talking about 20 or so gifts. I don’t think a birthday is more memorable for our children because of that seventh, tenth, or 18th present. It’s the law of diminishing returns. Certainly receiving 14 new Barbies is no more joyful than receiving, say, four. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 23 2012

Kveller Gift Guide for New Mamas (With Awesome Discounts!)

By at 6:01 am

stack of presentsPregnancy is wonderful in that people are usually kind when they see you waddling around with a human bowling ball tucked under your shirt. Doors are opened, seats are offered, and people give you that kind smile–the one that says, “Bless your heart but I’m glad I’m not you right about now.”

But after the baby is born you’re all stretched out like Gumby and leaking from your secondary sex characteristics and all people care about is what you were able to produce after nine months of eating and 10 hours of pushing. Sure, he’s adorable but Mama needs some love, too.

Here are a few gift suggestions for first time, and especially not-so-first-time Mamas.

green your air kveller discount1. Plants, Not Flowers: Give the new Mama an eco-friendly gift that will last longer than flowers and may actually improve her air quality. Green Your Air is a mama-owned company featuring chemical-filtering plants that naturally cleanse the air you breathe. The pots are made of bamboo fiber, rice husks, wheat straw, and corn stalks so they are biodegradable, nontoxic, and safe for any use. These little plants would be perfect on a window sill or in the nursery.

{For a limited time Green Your Air is giving Kveller readers 15% off their entire order! Use code KVELLER15 at checkout!} Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 12 2012

Avoid Becoming “That Mom”

By at 1:29 pm

red leather thriller jacketWe just got hip to this new site, Gifts From Your Mom, whose tagline–She gave you the gift of life. She should’ve quit while she was ahead–says it all.

Red leather thriller jackets and vibrators abound on this new site devoted to the worst gifts received from your mother. We’d like to think our crew of Kveller mamas would know better than giving a filled-out profile on Spirtitual Singles, but if you need some help on what not to do, here you go.

Dec 28 2011

All My Hanukkah Presents Suck

By at 3:36 pm

“When you open your present,” I told my 5-year-old son on the first night of Hanukkah, “I don’t want to hear any complaints. Even if you don’t like it, don’t complain. Just say thank you.” An attitude of gratitude, as they say.

My son hit out it out of the park. Smiles and thank yous, the whole shebang.

I, however, did not. I got a present that, while perfectly lovely, did not match a picture that existed only in my head. And I kvetched.

I can’t remember when I became impossible to give presents to. For a long time I thought it was just my boyfriends, and then my husband, who couldn’t get it right—either because they weren’t applying themselves (i.e. did not sufficiently care) or were just plain incompetent.

A few years ago, however, I commented to my mother that I found her habit of sending me a check for my birthday kind of impersonal. That I’d rather her pick something out.

“You’re impossible to buy a gift for,” she said. “I’m scared I’ll get it wrong.”

That’s when I realized that I was the problem. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 15 2011

Eight Books About Books for Book-Loving Kids

By at 4:09 pm
little girl on pile of books

We fully support raising book nerds.

If you still need some gift ideas to fill in all those nights of Hanukkah, we’ve got an old-fashioned idea that’s sure to please any kid: books! And what’s better than books? Books about books!

Our resident book expert Laurel Snyder (author of Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to be Kosher and Bigger Than a Breadbox) tells us about her family’s long-standing book giving tradition, and shares her favorite picks for kids in this new article on Kveller.

With books starring elephants, monsters, dogs, and real life kids, there’s no doubt that one of these is bound to make a lasting impression on your young readers. And in Laurel’s own lovely words:

Winter is a dark season, and books provide as strong a light as candles. They shine and transform the nighttime. They put us to sleep, and teach us things. They give us a reason to cuddle up to our kids and share a few quiet moments.

Check out the full article here and then get ye to the bookstore!

Dec 9 2011

Every Hanukkah Gift Guide Under the Sun

By at 12:00 pm
blue gift with silver ribbon

Presents for the whole family.

Well folks, we did it. We looked Hanukkah gift giving straight in the eye and said, “Yes we can!” We’ve now posted Hanukkah Gift Guides for just about everyone on your list, from Bubbe to the childless aunt. (Sorry, childless uncles. You’re screwed!)

So if you still need to do your Hanukkah shopping, here are our best bets:

For Him (Star Wars t-shirts, a “schoodie”, etc.)

For Her (Kindle Fire, anything but a toaster, etc.)

For the Kids (Fisher Price record player, construction worker costume, etc.)

For Bubbe (Herb garden, mixed CD, etc.)

For Zayde (Pickle of the month club, personalized mug, etc.)

For Your Kids’ Childless Aunt (Hot chocolate maker, 5-pound gummy bear, etc.)

Remember, the first night of Hanukkah is Tuesday, December 20th. Happy shopping! Oh, and if you want to know about the, um, other parts of the holiday, read up here. And learn to make latkes! And doughnuts! And play dreidel!

Dec 8 2011

Hanukkah Gift Guide: Presents for ZAYDE

By at 2:14 pm

grandpa with golf club

Beyond golf paraphernalia.

Here at Kveller, we know that it can be hard to balance everything in your life–and then on top of it, people expect you to buy them gifts for Hanukkah? Not to worry, we’re here to help. This is the last in a series of Hanukkah gift guides aimed at the special people in your life. Enjoy–and happy shopping!

Buying for Zayde (grandpa) is rarely easy (unless he’s into golf, as there seems to be an endless supply of bizarre golf-themed paraphernalia out there).  Unfortunately (or perhaps quite fortunately), the zayde in our family is not into golf.  However, he was willing to share a number of ideas for Hanukkah gifts that he would like, and together we’ve made a list that should make gift-giving easy and fun.

1. It can be hard to remember family birthdays, especially as the family keeps growing. Zayde might appreciate a small notebook with birthdays and important dates pre-listed, or perhaps a laminated wallet card. (You can design the card at home, and have the lamination done at Staples, Kinkos, or any similar store for about $1.00.)2. If your Zayde is a frequent shul-goer, have the kids decorate a cover for his siddur (prayerbook).  Making a cover using a paper bag is easy and free, and the kids will have a blast with their markers, crayons, and stickers.  (Added bonus for Zayde—he’ll never lose his siddur at services again!)

3. Zaydes love their coffee.  What better way for them to show off their nachas at the office or bingo game than with a personalized mug?  We’ve had photo mugs made at Café Press, or you can also show off your little one’s art with this travel mug.  I also found this pre-made mug to be strangely appealing, or maybe it was just the giant pickle at the top of the page?

4. Speaking of pickles, how about a pickle of the month club?  (Or if pickles aren’t Zayde’s thing, how about a nice bottle of schnapps?)

5. If you’re looking for something a bit more seasonal, you might consider a menorah painted by the grandchildren.  (If Bubbe and Zayde already have 7 menorahs, you could also make a small bowl to hold cufflinks, change, buttons, or other tchotchkes.)  I wouldn’t recommend trying this at home, but there are a number of national chains and local places where you can take your children to paint ceramic pieces, which are then glazed and fired.  The prices are usually quite affordable, around $10-$40 per piece.  (Also, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon with the kids, and keep your own house clean!)

6. Zaydes love pictures, and while a nice 5×7 in a frame is always a good option, the modern Zayde might prefer a range of images loaded on to a thumb drive, which he can then transfer to his computer, smartphone, or digital photo frame.  (You probably won’t be surprised to learn that my daughter wants to give Zayde his pictures on this Hello Kitty thumb drive.) 

7. If Zayde doesn’t already have a tablet computer, you may want to consider getting him one, especially if he lives far away.  My grandmother (who is not terribly computer savvy) has an iPad, and uses it to check email, look at pictures of her great-grandchildren, and read her favorite books in large print.  iPads aren’t cheap, so if you’re looking to spend a little less money, you may want to consider the new Kindle Fire, which retails for $199.

8. While there are many great *things* you can get Zayde, he may already feel as though his life (and home!) are plenty full.  In that case, you may want to consider a few coupons for trips to the playground, ice cream dates, or even computer lessons for Zayde.  Alternately, you may want to make a donation in his name, perhaps to a cause that is especially meaningful to him, or maybe to your local Jewish organization.  If you’re looking for ideas, the American Jewish World Service fights poverty, hunger, and disease around the world, and Facing History and Ourselves combats anti-Semitism and bigotry through educational programs.

Hanukkah Gift Guide: Presents for BUBBE

By at 11:59 am

yetta from the nanny

Yetta, everyone's favorite TV bubbe.

Here at Kveller, we know that it can be hard to balance everything in your life–and then on top of it, people expect you to buy them gifts for Hanukkah? Not to worry, we’re here to help. Catch up on the other Hanukkah gift guides for the special people in your life. Enjoy–and happy shopping!

Let’s be real: For the woman who makes the best chicken matzah ball soup, who tells the best jokes, who reads the best bedtime stories, and gives the warmest hugs, you gotta do something special. Even if she says, “All I want for Hanukkah is to see my grandchildren,” (ahem) when it comes to Bubbe’s Hanukkah gift, you better bring it.

So here are some presents Bubbe might love:

1. Turn Bubbe’s favorite photograph(s) into a piece of jewelry. Sure, you can use the standard pics of her adorable, perfect, brilliant grandchildren, but why not also find one of those beautiful sepia snapshots of Bubbe’s parents and make a pendant for her to wear as well? If Bubbe isn’t the jewelry wearing type, you can make her another kind of photo gift like a mug or a sweatshirt (that’ll embarrass your teenage daughter but isn’t that part of the fun) or a keychain or even a jigsaw puzzle!

2. Now, ask yourself, what does Bubbe like? Yeah, of course her family is a huge priority, but it’s not the only thing in her life. Does she like dancing? Buy her tickets to the ballet. If Bubbe is into film, buy her the anniversary edition of her favorite movie. Does Bubbe like gardening? Get her a grow-your-own-herb-garden. (People, the herb garden is a win-win because when she uses the basil she grew to season her world famous brisket for Shabbos dinner, you’ll enjoy it, too. ) Hey, know Bubbe best–these are just some suggestions.

3. Child labor laws be damned, put your kids to work and have them design something special for Bubbe. A homemade challah cover is a great gift, and one that Bubbe will appreciate. If Bubbe isn’t the candle-lighting, Manishewitz-sipping, challah-blessing kind, then your kids can decorate an apron or a tote bag, or maybe a motorcycle jacket.  (Hey, after all it’s a new generation of Bubbes!)

4. If Bubbe likes music, buy her a CD of her favorite artist or composer. And if you’re feeling especially creative and have an extensive collection of legally (ahem) downloaded music, you can burn her a compilation of special songs. Mix it up:  Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Ke$ha, Snoop dogg, Joan Baez… make it original.

5. If Bubbe doesn’t already have an iPad, you might consider giving her one.  It’s easy and convenient, and a great way for her to check email and connect with family via video chat on Face Time.  And it will give her such nachas when her grandchildren teach her a thing or two about how to use it! (And if she already has one, try out this fashionable iPad sleeve to keep it safe.)

6. Does Bubbe like to read? A gift certificate to Amazon.com might be nice. And if Bubbe is the kind who likes to browse the bookstalls, then pick up a gift certificate to her favorite bookstore.

7. A luxurious article of clothing like an elegant scarf is a decadent gift Bubbe might enjoy. And every time she receives a compliment on it, she’ll be able to say “my family gave it to me for Hanukkah.”

8. There’s a touching story about a young man who sees an old man planting a young sapling.  When he asks the old man “Why plant this tree when you will never live to enjoy the fruits of your labor?” the old man replies, “While that is true, my grandchildren and their grandchildren and their grandchildren will.”  And planting a tree in Israel through the Jewish National Fund in Bubbe’s name is a poignant gift for the future.

Dec 6 2011

Hanukkah Gift Guide: Presents for KIDS

By at 3:15 pm

Here at Kveller, we know that it can be hard to balance everything in your life–and then on top of it, people expect you to buy them gifts for Hanukkah? Not to worry, we’re here to help. This is the third installment in a series of Hanukkah gift guides aimed at the special people in your life. Enjoy–and happy shopping!

Eight nights of Hanukkah–and, as your children will doubtlessly remind you, eight opportunities to get them gifts! Here are some ideas for your wee ones.

1.      Pretend and play doctor set: Let’s get over the whole “playing doctor” connotation and simply acknowledge that one of the best things you can give a kid is the opportunity to engage in pretend play. And pretending to be a doctor–whether helping teddy bears get over that stomach virus, or mending a doll’s broken leg–is a heck of a lot more fun than playing lawyer (which largely consists of revising documents, billing hours and slamming pretend phones down in disgust).

2.      My Own Hanukkah Set (With Latkes!): Perhaps you feel ill at ease about entrusting your child with matches–as well you should. This set allows your kid to “light” their own menorah, and even flip their own latkes. It’s also a great “dress rehearsal” item to help them practice the blessings and songs of the holiday.

3.       Construction worker girl costume: Face it – your daughter has enough princess gear to successfully rule Monaco, preside over a polo match or two and attend more balls than she’ll see in her lifetime. Mix it up a little! Combine this costume with her first trip to Home Depot (did you know that they give classes for little kids for free?) and a tool kit, and you won’t have to call the plumber anymore.

4.      Fisher Price Record Player. Seriously! Forget the kids for a second. I want this present. You know how sad it is that my kids had no idea what a “tape” is? I mean, honestly. Well, I refuse to let my childhood become Colonial Williamsburg to these kids, and you should too. I bet this gift will fascinate kids now as much as it did back in the day. You know, when I rode my horse to school.

5.      Personalized kids’ book: Little kids have a megalomaniac streak a mile wide. It’s healthy, don’t worry –they’re developing their ego and getting to know who they are as well as the world around them. So imagine how thrilled they will be when they get a storybook that features them! This particular book is a Hanukkah story, but other books are available as well – you send in your kid’s name, and the book is tailored to mention your child at various points in the story. It also comes with a bear. Not bad!

6.      Kids’ camera: This is a good idea for a few reasons. Not only will your child genuinely enjoy becoming your paparazzi (and you’ll enjoy the ego boost), but also, I guarantee that at least one of these downloadable pictures taken from a childs-eye perspective will be hilarious. I personally liked the one of our old dog’s rear end.

7.      My first easel/desk: This is a really nice gift, and encourages both creativity and independence, as it provides kids with a space to do their own work. Maybe they can learn from a young age to keep their workspace clean and organized. You know, the way I never did. Sigh.

8.       Let’s use Hanukkah as a chance to give something to others too–and this is a gift that children can participate in as well. The Gift of Life Foundation is a bone marrow registry where you can get involved just by swabbing your cheek. If you take your kids with you while you do it, and explain why you’re doing it and how it can help, they’ll take away something pretty amazing. (For more on Gift of Life, check out Mayim Bialik’s post about a 2-year-old boy named Ezra.)

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