2018 Christmas Gift Guide For Little Girls!

Hi everyone!  Can you believe Christmas is only four weeks away?!  This year we are spending our Christmas in Michigan with Bryan's side of the family and we seriously can't wait.  Although it will be the first time either of our girls have flown on a plane soooo pray for us haha!

When it comes to Christmas gifts for our girls we typically stick to three presents for each, which doesn't seem like a whole lot but it works for our family.  BUT with one of our girls also having a December birthday I've decided to start doing my Christmas shopping in July.  Yes, July!  I know it sounds crazy but being on a budget I like to think ahead.  Plus it 100% takes the stress off of things when Christmas does finally come around.  I just want to be able to enjoy the season without any added financial burden.

But if you aren't quite as crazy as me you might still have some shopping to do.  So I thought I would compile some of the things that I have collected for my girls over the last several months.  Maybe it will give you some ideas for your own girls!

Shopping early is definitely convenient but also really tough.  Sometimes I have a hard time not giving these things to them right then and there.  So I am really looking forward to seeing them open their gifts this year!

1.  I wanted to get both my girls some sort of plushy this year.  They both love pretending with them plus I thought they would be something fun that they could both bring on the plane on the way home.  Hadessah is into babies right now.  Feeding them, putting them to bed, etc.  I thought this was a unique spin on your average baby doll.  I think she will be pretty happy to unwrap this one.

2.  This ballerina flamingo 100% matches Ezrah's personality.  It's pink, girly, and sparkly.  Perfect fit.

3.  Ezrah is getting to the point where we occasionally give her money for doing things around the house.  Just a dollar here and there so she can go pick out her own treat.  Of course she likes to be like mommy and put it in a purse.  So when I saw this sweet unicorn purse I thought it would be perfect for her.

4.  This is one thing that I am so excited about.  I really want to encourage our girls to write letters.  I am hoping that it will become really important to them, kind of like a family tradition.  This grandparent pen pal kit is going to be so much fun.  Included are all of these fun activities, which are designed in a way where you have to send things back and fourth.  For example there is a game of tic-tac-toe.  It has to be sent back and fourth until there is a winner.  How sweet is that?  I love that it encourages correspondence!

5.  Books of course are always included on the list.  Hadessah especially, absolutely loves books right now.  I definitely think she is going to be a reader like me!  I couldn't pass up this story about Jane Austen.

6.  I was recently putting together a puzzle, which I haven't done in years!  It was 1000 pieces and way more challenging than I had anticipated but I had a lot of fun.  Anyways, the whole time I was putting it together Ezrah couldn't resist asking to help.  I think 1000 pieces is still a little bit outside her age range but I found one that I think she will love!  It's such a sweet illustration and on the back of each piece has the country name in several different translations.  Education and fun all in one!

7.  We bought this kitchen set for Ezrah last year although Hadessah plays with it a lot too.  I just wanted to include it because not only is it the most adorable thing you have ever seen but it will last and last.  Our girls absolutely love it and I can see them playing with it for many years to come.  Hopefully one of them will pass it on to one of their kids one day too.  I would say it's defiantly worth the investment.

Well, that's it for my 2018 Christmas gift guide!  I really hope this helped you in some way.  I had a lot of fun putting it together!

Wishing you all the merriest Christmas ever!

Small Business Saturday: Why I Love Shopping Small Business and Why You Should Too!

We are finally past Halloween, which means that its time to start thinking CHRISTMAS!  I know that this is increasingly becoming an unpopular thing, to start celebrating Christmas so early but I personally just have no problem celebrating for two whole months.  I have always loved, loved Christmas so I like to get in as much as I can.

And no, of course I haven't forgotten about Thanksgiving.  I'm excited for that too!  Here's how it looks in my book:

October 31:  Halloween
November 1 - November 21:  Christmas
November 22:  Thanksgiving
November 23 - December 31:  Christmas

With Christmas approaching I know we all start thinking about gift shopping and of course that means Black Friday, which is also quickly approaching.  I have honestly never been a Black Friday shopper.  It all just seems a little too crazy for me.  I could just never really get behind it but what I can get behind is definitely Small Business Saturday.

I LOVE small businesses.  They are truly hidden gems among big box retailers and Amazon.  Don't get me wrong an Amazon package is surely not an uncommon site on my doorstep but there is something about independent retailers that are just truly special.  So I try to seek them out as often as possible.

One of the things I love most about Small Businesses is their owners attention to detail.  They are often so carefully and methodically curated.  And it could be the old marketing student in me but I so appreciate beautiful displays put together with the most attentive creativity.  When it's done right its like you are walking into an experience and not just a boring shopping trip.  (my enneagram number is almost a dead tie between 4&7.  I find myself trying to make everything into an experience a lot.  as with all of the numbers on the test, it can be a great strength and a great weakness haha!)

I think the thing I love most though, is the unique selection of products, that curated inventory.  I love being able to find things that aren't so easily found anywhere else (that number 4 coming out: the individualist)

I know that small businesses are typically a little bit more expensive.  They kind of have to be in order to remain competitive but they are also offering you something special and most likely higher quality.

Just as an example:  in the context of gift shopping for my children, privately owned toy stores are some of my absolute favorite places to look, even though it will cost more.  

I would say that we aren't really even a "toy" family.  Of course we love toys but our girls' rooms aren't bursting with them.  And that's just because we rarely buy them throughout the year aside from Christmas and birthdays and also because I can be extremely selective.  I like this idea of having less things but things with more significance.  When you have less you will find your little ones playing with the same things over and over again.  As ironic as it may seem I feel like their imaginations have room to grow off of less.  I also have this vision of the toys our daughters play with turning into heirlooms that they can one day pass on to their own families.  This is why I go for things that are more carefully crafted.  Of course there are exceptions to all of this but I guess my main point is that through small businesses especially I don't mind spending a little more on things that are special and that will last.

This is why Small Business Saturday is the better choice over Black Friday!  These owners work extremely hard all year round to stay competitive to other retailers who are quadruple the size of them.  These owners are artists and creatives who think beyond the basic money grab mentality of capitalism and for that I believe they should be rewarded.  Of course they need to earn a living but they do it with intentionality.  They have both their passion and their customers in mind.

Plus on Small Business Saturdays most businesses will run some kind of sale, which is really great for local shoppers because it's not something that many can afford to do very often throughout the year.

In honor of Small Business Saturday I decided that I would round up some of my favorite independent retailers.  Bear in mind that these are of course places from my region of the country and since they are one of a kind you won't be able to stop by unless you are in the area.  But I wanted to share them nonetheless just in case you ever ARE in the area.  And at the very least, hopefully they will inspire you to go out searching for your own small businesses and lend them your support! 

1. French Toast Baby in Spokane, Washington 

Hands down my number one favorite shop is this one (pictured above).  They carry children's toys, books, stationary, party supplies, and candy.  This shop has entered into all of my girly pastel dreams and brought them to life.  I honestly just want my house to look like this shop.  If you are ever in the area you HAVE to stop by!

Instagram here!

2. Captain Little in Olympia, Washington

This is a toy store that I used to go to all the time when we lived in Olympia.  It's magical and I feel just like a kid again when I'm in there.  This is where I discovered the beloved toy brand, Maileg, which is popular in our household.  We recently visited some friends back in Olympia and while we were there I made sure to take a special trip! 

Instagram here! 

3. Compass Rose in Olympia, Washington

Compass Rose is definitely an eclectic shop.  It has everything from stationary, to jewelry, to books, to kitchenware, to sweets.  It's the perfect place to find a unique gift because they have so many different things to choose from.  I especially love their mug selection!

Instagram here!

4. Always More Shop (Online)

I have been following Audrey Roloff's blog for years and have always been so inspired by her heart for the Lord.  So when I found out that she was opening up a shop I was onboard.  Her shop sells things like sweatshirts, hats, tops, and jewelry all inspired by her life mantra "always more" which derives from Ephesians 3:20 found in scripture.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us."

In Christ there is always more.

If you have never checked out Audrey's blog I highly suggest that you do!  Her heart bursts for the Lord and you will never leave without feeling encouraged.  She also runs another blog with her husband called Beating 50 Percent so if you are married or thinking about getting married it's a great resource.

Back to her clothing line though.  Everything has this casual comfy feel.  Anything you buy you can just throw on and go and still look cute while carrying truth.  I have one of her dad hats and I literally wear that thing every single day to drop off and pick up my daughter from school.  It's my favorite thing ever and I love supporting her ministry!

Instagram here! Website here! Audrey's Blog here!

5. Inklings Bookshop in Yakima, Washington

This is a new discovery for me since we just moved to the area but I absolutely LOVE this bookstore.  I could spend an hour or two just looking around.  They carry most new books so you can definitely get your hands on recent releases but they also carry special editions.  For example if I find a bookstore that carries any number of the Penguin Clothbound Classics I'm sold and this shop has a generous selection!  They also carry a lot of Rifle Paper Co. products, which is another favorite of mine!

Website here!

6. Pretty in Paint in Medford, Oregon

If you (or anyone you know) are into the farmhouse esthetic then this is the place for you!  Pretty in Paint sells the most beautiful up-cycled furniture that will give you all the vintage feels.  I bought one of my daughter's dressers from here and we love it!  I also came across my beloved butter dish that looks almost exactly like one I was eyeing at Anthropologie but only for a fraction of the price!

And I also found out that they will ship anything that you find on their Instagram account, which is amazing!

Instagram here!

7. Paddington Station in Ashland, Oregon

Every time I visit my parents I always try to make a trip to Ashland.  It's one of the most charming little towns in all of Oregon!  They have so many amazing small businesses but my favorite is Paddington Station.  This shop is full of the most unique finds in all kinds of categories.  I love browsing their book section because I always find things I have never heard of before!

Website here!

Well I could probably go on forever but for now this my top seven favorite small businesses!  I love small businesses for so many reasons and I really hope that this post inspired you in some way to go out in your own city to discover new retailers.  It's so much fun and a great way to support your community!

Oh!  And I am wishing all a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I hope your bellies get so full that you have to undo your pants!