Becoming Mom 2009 Holiday Gift Guide!

Phew! These lists take a LONG time to put together.. and I couldn’t have done it without you and your recommendations so THANK YOU!  Sorry it’s so long and rambling, I couldn’t figure out a better way to format it. And frankly if I keep fiddling with it I won’t be done until after the holidays are already over! So here it is, I hope you find it useful. Feel free to add more ideas in the comments.

Sorry it’s so sparse in the infant category… since I have a toddler as do most of you all, it’s all pretty toddler heavy!

PS, if you are in the market for a DSLR or any other expensive gadgets, now (as in today!) is an excellent time to purchase.. Several merchants are offering extra % cashback at www.bing.com/cashback – up to %20 even! For example you can pick up an xsi for just $471 from Dell.com after the 20% cashback. But many of these extra percentages end tonight at midnight so make up your mind quick :)

FOR INFANTS (0-12 MONTHS)

Every baby needs a Sophie Le Giraffe! ($17.61)
Trust me. Or trust readers Lindsey, Aggie and Amy who all also recommended Sophie.

monkeyhat

Monkey Earflap hat from Etsy. $28. Need I say more?

Skip Hop See Me Mirror -$8.99. I love that it rattles and squeaks and even better, comes with Velcro to attach to stroller or carseat!

Flenstead Sheep Mobile $29- Even little ones need to count their sheep sometimes! Check out the rest of their stock in tasteful mobiles.

seahorse

Fisher Price Soothe & Glow Seahorse $14.63
Jasper never had one of these, but I remember bringing him to BRU recently and he GLOMMED on to this toy! I didn’t get it for him because I thought it was for younger babies, but according to the rave reviews on amazon even toddlers enjoy this one! ( Recommended by readers Amy and Michelle)

Create your own custom board book $27.95 – A while ago I searched EVERYWHERE for a website that would let me do this.. and thanks to readerSusan, I now know where to get one! Perfect for printing pictures of baby’s favorite people or things.

FOR TODDLERS (12m-24 MONTHS):

Sevi Xylophone $34 from Oompa.com or from Amazon

*LeapFrog Learn & Groove™ Musical Table
(Recommended by reader Sara B.)

Sevi Pull Along Cowboy $39.99 from Oompa.com – Cute and whimsical!

blocks

notNeutral Wood Block Set $29 – A visually stunning modern twist on a classic!

Melissa & Doug Farm Wooden Chunky Puzzle

pull along elephants - eco friendly toy

Eco Friendly Pull Along Elephants $35 from I Love My Planet Toys – Eco Friendly and gorgeous, made from organic cotton and naturally sustainable rubberwood. See the other three animals here!

Melissa & Doug Magnetic Hide and Seek Board

Plan Toy Solid Wood Drum

Storkcraft Rocking Horse $39.88 (I know, storkcraft.. but I don’t think there is no recall on rocking horses!)

Schoenhut My First Piano II or This Version from Melissa & Doug
I think the Schoenhut one is prettier, but the shipping is less expensive on the M&D one!

Crayon Rocks – Just Rocks in an EcoBox – I LOVE these – can’t wait to get them for Jasper:

  • Crayon Rocks have vibrant colors and make beautifully textured art work.
  • All natural soy wax crayons made from USA grown soybeans and colored with natural mineral powders.
  • Designed to strengthen the tripod grip muscles, preparing fingers and hands for handwriting.
  • The shape allows small fingers to color in large, wide strokes creating pictures rich in color.
  • Used by occupational therapists to develop fine motor skills.

Use with the IKEA Mala easel ($24.95) that is a chalkboard on one side an a whiteboard on the other:

and don’t forget the paper roll!

LeapFrog Fridge Farm Magnetic Animal Set – $10

Jasper LOVES playing with fridge magnets and he broke most of the ones we collected from places around the world- these will be perfect for keeping him entertained while I’m preparing his food in the morning!
(Recommended by reader Sara B.)

playhouse

This Little Piggy’s House eco-friendly cardboard playhouse – $49.99

I LOVE that this is a playhouse and art canvas in one.. you also have to check out the individually hand-painted butterfly ones they offer for inspiration – gorgeous! (via the Focus Organic Holiday Gift Guide)

Every baby needs a Bimmer right? I just had to put this here for any of you car snobs.. Honestly though, at around $100 USD (+$20 shiping to the US) this isn’t much more expensive than some of the more “primary” colored plastic versions I’ve seen. And I’m sure it handles much better :)

growthchart

Giraffe Growth Chart Vinyl Wall Decal in customizable colors, $49.95 – Cute and fun all at the same time!

Remember my post about great music for toddlers? Here are two more albums to add to the list:

Renee & Jeremy - C'mon

C’mon, the brand new album from Renee and Jeremy (link goes to iTunes)

Family Time by Ziggy Marley (link goes to iTunes)

Woodpecker Baby Walker – Plan Toys $70, definitely easier on the eyes than many other versions I’ve seen!  (Recommended by reader Amy)

Little Partners Learning Tower $171 from Amazon.

Reader Carolyn just bought this one for her two year old. I keep coming across this toy and must say I’m intrigued. It’s pricey, but can you really put a price on toddler independence? Plus I love it’s versatility, from easel to puppet theater – this truly seems like a gift that grows with your child.

Pottery Barn Kids Anywhere Chair – On sale for $80 including slipcover!

Jasper is OBSESSED with being up on the couch. I am hoping that purchasing his own chair that seems like a “big person chair” will cure this obsession?  We shall see! Recommended by reader (and good friend) Dawn!

Munchkin Mozart Magic Cube – $15.  Recommended and purported to be non-annoying to parents by reader Shane :)

Edoche Sheepskin Moccasins, $40 – Keep those little piggies warm this winter the coziest looking footwear I have ever seen for toddler or anyone else!

For a more affordable option, I just bought these Ministar fur-lined boots for Jasper and they are sooo cute and warm:

$19 at your local Target or from Amazon

Reader Samm swears by the Classical Baby DVDs and if the 153 5 star reviews on amazon are any indication, I’m inclined to believe her!

FOR SHUTTERBUGS/MAMMARAZZI (ladies, send your husbands over this way! ;)

Say goodbye to your boring black canon or nikon camera strap and cover it up with something prettier and more fun! Seriously, I get happy on the inside when I see my Amy Butler fabric covered strap. There are TONS of these available on Etsy, but I liked this Australian seller’s fabric choices and the cute little lens cap holder:

From Etsy Seller HappySnapz

Crumpler 6 Million Dollar Home Photo Bag, Black/Gun Metal
Holds a ton of stuff and looks cute too!

Or, this one from Etsy that I am totally coveting right now:

$79 from Etsy seller GypsyRose.

ColorVision Spyder2 Express Win/Mac – $62.  Anyone semi-serious about taking good images (and getting prints made of them) should consider calibrating their monitor!

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8, $62 from Amazon or  from Adobe via digital download.

Most of the images I post here do NOT look that way right out of the camera – people email me asking how I got “that look” and part of it is equipment, part of it is skill and part (sometimes small and sometimes big) is editing the image with software.

I use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CS 4, but those are hefty investments. If you are new to image editing Elements will get allow you to get your feet wet and learn digital editing.  Highly recommended!

Impact Portable Backdrop Stand – $99 from B&H. Stop the wrinkled sheet madness! One of those things that you don’t know how you managed without after you have one. Use in conjunction with a roll of savage backdrop paper and a bamboo floor mat and you have an instant portable studio!

Digital Grey Kard – $19. The littlest thing that can save you HUGE amounts of time in post processing.. no more guessing at correct white balance, if you shoot in RAW and take a shot with this grey card in it simply use it with your neutral color picker in your ACR editor or Lightroom and voila, your white balance is perfect!

FOR WOMEN/MOMS

A Sterling Silver Hand Stamped Personalized Necklace from ByHannahDesigns on Etsy or

Tiny Tokens Designs.

Mommy Dearest Personalized Charm Necklace $35 from Charmed & Dangerous – my mom’s website :)

Lucy B. Wild Australian Jasmine – $42 or any of their purse sized roll on perfume oils for just $24. As if the beautiful bottles and sumptuous fragrance weren’t enough, these scents contain flower essences said to have vibrational healing powers!

FOR MEN/DADS

Dad’s job of “video taping” the holidays just got a whole lot easier – and cheaper! Do it in hi def and style with the Creative Labs Vado HD 8 GB Pocket Video Camcorder (this is the newest version of the one I use and cary in my diaper bag at all times!)

tie

Silk silver Lion Screen printed tie $30 from RokGear

cufflinks

Josh Golden Yellow Star Cuff Links $16

dagger

Love Dagger Cuff Links $25

Custom Sterling Silver Guitar Pick from Etsy – $46

Old School Funky Rugged Belt Buckle from Fosterweld

HOSTESS GIFTS

Williams-Sonoma Essential Oils Collection, Winter Forest – $39.95, Recommended by reader Jaimie. I can smell the minty freshness from here!

Clairebella Personalized Melamine Tray – $43 from Laila Grace

Jonathan Adler Bud Vases – $25 from Lavish Giving (which incidentally gives 10% to the charity of your choice with any purchase over $100 and has many beautiful and unique products!)

Flower Charm Bookmark – $12 from hookmarks, my parents’ website :)

Pewter Bird Cheese Markers from Beehive Kitchenware $52

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Kristen says:

LOL, I swear you’re my 6 months older cross-continent twin.

On Jackson’s list I have the Schoenhunt Piano, so beautiful, I have visions of photoshoots in my head with that. He’s had a Potterybarn chair since birth (with his name on it and I took his monthly pictures on in), and he LOVES it. I’m totally putting those Crayon Rocks on his list and possibly the Learning Tower. Our friends have the tower for their girls and use it in the kitchen when they’re older to help prepare food.

I have the exact Amy Butler strap from that etsy seller. I also got a lens bag from her, love it, great quality too. Calibration is already on my list!

Justina says:

Haha, I can understand, its the only button there, so they just HAVE to press it! I’m going to look for the shapes one now, thks!

Jenna says:

Love this!! Especially the camera ideas. Thanks for posting!

ariana says:

Sorelle, it’s on my list!

Justina, I installed the SAME baby piano ap and Jasper loves it, though his favorite is a game called “shapes” made by toddler teasers (its an ap) He gets so HAPPY when the kids say yay and clap when he gets it right. Problem with Jasper and iPhone apps is that he is always pressing the control button at the bottom which exits the app. It’s so annoying!

Dawn, right back at you – I ordered the PBK anywhere chair for Jasper last night! ;)

Dawn says:

Damn you! I just bought the cube, the playhouse (so awesome and original), the crayons and the flipping piano. I sure hope you’re getting a piece of this pie! Thanks for all the recommendations!

Justina says:

Wowee! Thanks for taking the time to compile such an exhaustive list!

We just bought Sophie the giraffe too… even though Jude’s like 10 months old, he’s still busy chomping on stuff, so its nice to think he’ll be chomping on natural rubber rather than all that plastic!

Oh, and as an aside point… remember you were talking about iPhone apps? Just recently found Peekaboo barn and Baby piano… which I think are pretty good at keeping kids occupied! Also, WatsApp is really good for text messaging! :)

Sorelle says:

Thanks for the list! I was hoping you’d recommend things cos we’re shopping for our 15month old nephew.
Also wanted to let yo know that there’s a new Vado HD out it was just released and its fantastic! (I can say so even if my husband designed it!!)

http://sg.creative.com/products/product.asp?category=833&subcategory=834&product=19070

Shane says:

For more Cuff Links – check out Cuff Daddy. He has TONS of designs and adds new things all the time.

http://www.cuff-daddy.com

Samm Ivri says:

Wow, thanks for the list. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the guitar pick.
This Classical Baby (HBO) DVD series is amazing. Mia can’t get enough and asks for it every day. And we love the music on it too. The best one is the Dance Show, but they are all good.
http://www.amazon.com/Classical-Baby-3-Pack-Music-Dance/dp/B0009WPKYA

Claudia says:

…his Pottery Barn Anywhere Chair. His brother Christian has one too and they are both in the playroom. Jordan loves climbing on them and whenever he goes in the room, the first thing he does is go and sit on his chair.

Claudia says:

Great list! I just want to let you know that Jordan LOVES

Susan says:

Awesome list Ariana! I’m finding it soooooo overwhelming this year, trying to figure out and narrow down what to get Violet…this helps sooooooooooooo much!!! Great ideas.

Michelle says:

what a wonderful gift guide!! I want to get Jack some of those crayons… we are trying to encourage creativity!

Smiles~ Michelle

ariana says:

LOL Linsay, I actually got Sophie as a gift and was like – “oh, a dog toy!” It takes actually SEEING baby with it to realize the brilliance :)

Lindsay says:

Thanks for compiling this list! On your recommendation, I bought my 5 month old son Sophie the giraffe and it’s his favorite toy! The neck is easy to hold and the legs are easy for him to get into his mouth to chomp on. The only thing is it drives my dog crazy because she thinks it’s a dog toy!

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