Category Archives: Holidays

How To Stuff Your Wife’s Stocking

By far, my favorite thing to open on Christmas morning is my stocking. I’m not exactly sure why… maybe it’s because when I was little and always the first to wake up on Christmas morning, it was the only thing I was allowed to open before anyone else was awake. So there I would sit, in the living room at 4:30am, salivating over the mountain of wrapped gifts under the tree for my sisters and me, diving into my stocking because I needed to open something.

I’ve adopted the same philosophy that my mother had for stocking-filling: a little practical, a little fanciful, always filled to the top (or overflowing, if you can). Even if it was just filled with things like new toothbrushes, some Noxema face wash or hair ties, you throw a New Kids on the Block cassette in there and the stocking is THE BEST THING EVER TO GET!

So if you’re a husband reading this, I’ve put together a list of things you can put in there so you can be the best ever stocking stuffer… (hey now).

(and T-Bone, I’ve linked to the specific brands for you.. you know, just to be helpful 😉


Because She Likes to Feel Beautiful

I highly recommend going the make-up and toiletries route. They are things she’s going to end up buying anyway. But it’s more fun if you get it in a stocking!

Hint: for your wife’s specific brands, snoop through her makeup stash and just make note of the brands and colors she uses. It’s too easy.

Another Hint: unless she already uses anti-wrinkle face and eye creams, or has outwardly mentioned she would like to buy some, DO NOT BUY HER ANTI-WRINKLE CRAP UNLESS YOU WANT HER TO CRY ON CHRISTMAS MORNING. But she probably already buys it.

1. Expensive or semi-expensive night cream. (I like the Korres Black Pine Firming, Lifting & Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream)

2. Mascara (you can’t do better in my mind than Benefit They’re Real mascara)

3. Lip balm. The more the better. (Get the Rosebud Salve. Get two.)

4. Some lip gloss or a fun lip color. (The Nars Satin Lip Pencil in Rikugien is always a winner. I’m no expert, but it’s so neutral I think it could work on just about anyone)

5. A new powder brush (What girl could say no to the Sephora Classic Multitasker Powder Brush?)

6. Eye Cream. (This ROC 5-In-1 is pretty awesome)

7. Some travel-sized hair products (This Living Proof Happy Hair Days Kit is fun!)

8. A mini perfume. I’m not really a perfume gal–I’ve had a bottle of the same stuff for several years–but when I do wear some sort of scent, I love Philosphy Amazing Grace. It’s light enough that it’s pretty non-intrusive, but you know it’s there.

9. A cream face mask. (Seriously, T-Bone, if you could get me this Origins Active Charcoal mask that would be awesome… it’s been years since I’ve had this and I loved it so much. Please and thank you? 🙂

10. Travel-Sizes of her face wash and moisturizer. (I use this Aveda Botanical Kinetics, honey)

11. A foot exfoliator of some sort. Maybe it’s just a simple pumice stone or foot scraper or maybe you want to get her this hard-core awesome/disgusting Baby Feet Chemical Foot peel, every gal likes to try to take care of her tootsies.

12. A gal can never have too many emery boards or nail files.

13. A good hand cream or hand scrub, like this Bath & Body Works 60-Second Manicure Hand Scrub.

14. Razor blade refills. There’s a good chance she’s like a billion other women and uses the Venus razor, which takes these refill blades. But just go take a second to look in the shower and see which brand she uses, ok? She’s going to buy them anyway. By putting them in her stocking, you’ve saved her an errand to run.

15. It’s big ticket, but hey… go big or go home, right? A Clairsonic Mia.

16. Spa socks. These Bath & Body Works lounge socks do the trick.

17. Some inexpensive jewelry. You don’t have to go the take-out-a-loan-to-buy-a-big-honking-diamond jewelry route. Even a simple handmade necklace or Alex and Ani bracelets can get the job done!

Because She’s Practical

18. Can you have too many Purells? I don’t think so.

19. Do you have any flashlights in your house? Probably. Do you have any flashlights that you are certain have live batteries in them? Probably not. Problem solved: hand-powered flashlight from Ikea. Boom. (Also great for kids stockings!!)

20. Get one of these USB outlets and put it in her stocking. When she pulls it out, tell her you’ve already booked a handyman/electrician to come install it. She’ll make out with you, especially if you pair it with….

21. This retractable phone charger that will never leave the outlet you will be installing. She’ll never search for a charger again!

22. Even if she’s not all that organized, you can bet she wishes she was. A label maker is an awesome gift. If she already has one (you know if she does if your sock drawer has a sticker on it somewhere that says “socks”), get her refill label tape.

23. Stain sticks.

24. Travel toilet paper.

25. Travel toilet seat covers. Pairs well with the Purell.

26. Be still my heart. It’s a toothpaste tube wringer.

27. Some headbands, like these Under Armour Braided headbands. They’re awesome.

28. Single servings of wine, from Giuliana. Or a bottle of Kim Crawford Spitfire Small Parcel Sauvignon Blanc. Mmmmmm….

29. A Moleskin notebook. These are Evernote friendly. If she doesn’t have Evernote, you may want to get it for her. I use it daily…. it’s my external brain. But even if she doesn’t want or need Evernote, a nice standard Moleskin that she can tuck away in her purse would be thoughtful. Give her a nice pen, too, like my favorite Pilot G2 Ultra-Fine Gel Roller.

Because She’s An Awesome Wife/Mother/Person

30. This book, “You Are Doing a Freaking Great Job,” might make her cry. Get it.

31. Every time I go into Paper Source, I see so many sweet, lovely things that I love to look at and would love to buy, but they’re just not the think you buy for yourself. Like this sweet Heart of Gold pouch. Or you could pretty much go with anything at Paper Source for your wife.

32. Again, she probably wouldn’t buy a “Mama Bear” mug for herself. But she would probably like receiving one.

33. This could probably be it’s own gift, rather than just a stocking stuffer, but buy (AND FILL IN) this “What I Love About You” Journal.

34. I’m putting the On The Go Game Pad in this category because she will continue her streak of being the Best Mom Ever when she whips it out the next time the kids are losing their shit at a restaurant.

35. This Book of Questions is a great way to spark some new conversations with your wife beyond talking about the kids.

36. If these were just plain old Clorox wipes, they’d be in the “practical” category, but because they have a sense of humor about them, the OCD Hand Wipes belong here.

37. Coloring stuff, like colored pencils and these Enchanted Forest Postcards. I know everyone is saying adult coloring is a fad, but I don’t care… I’ve loved to color since I was a kid and now I’m just glad they’re making more mature coloring books, so I don’t have to keep coloring Hello Kitty and Dora the Explorer books!

38. Well aren’t these Wine Glass Writers fun?

39. Help her up her instagame (did you see what I did there??) with an iPhone camera lens!

40. A new Starbucks cold cup to replace the one she dropped and broke one evening while ironing your damn work-shirts while you were sleeping. 😉 *T-Bone Alert. Mama needs a new Starbucks cup!*

Because She’s An Awesome Cook/Baker/Reservation Maker

41. I’ve seen these ceramic Berry Baskets and I always want one, they’re just so darned cute, but they seem impractical for someone to buy for themselves. So buy one for her. They’re adorable.

42. Also adorable are these Vintage Flower Storage bowls.

43. Go open your oven. I’ll wait. Is there a thermometer hanging off one of the racks? No? Then get this Taylor Ambient Oven Thermometer. Did you know that the internal thermometers in most ovens aren’t really calibrated well, and can be off by a lot? I’ve set my oven to pre-heat at 400 degrees, and when the oven beeps signifying it is done and at 400, I have opened up to look at my Taylor thermometer and seen that the oven is actually at 325. So get one of these. It’s one of the best tools out there. (T-Bone, no need to get it. We have one.)

44. These adorable nut cups. (Dirtiest name for a kitchen product ever.) They’re cute and look great in a stocking.

45. Do you think your wife makes enough cookies? No? Then buy her this Silpat baking mat. It’s the best. And she’ll make you more cookies. I swear.

46. I have no idea what the hell you would even use this for, but if I got one, I would search far and wide for any practical (or impractical) use for it. Behold the most adorable thing ever: the Le Creuset Petite Cocotte. Miniatures of ANYTHING automatically take the stocking to an 11.

47. I swear you cannot have enough good paring knives. I love the Kuhn paring knives, which also come with a sheath so that she doesn’t mangle her hand reaching into her stocking.

48. You also cannot have enough tiny cutting boards. Especially if you have toddlers who have to have every damn thing cut for them.

49. A lovely metal whisk, perhaps?

50. Does she love tea? Then definitely get her this Tea Stick.

51. A simple can-opener, to replace the too-complicated-to-actually-work-every-time-tupperware-brand can opener that I curse every damn time I need to open a fucking can. Please T-Bone, get me a simple can opener.

52. A useful Spatula Spoon, so she can make you more of those cookies.

53. Gift cards to her favorite restaurants, or even better, a deck of 52 Restaurant Cards like these for Chicago-area eateries. (Only do the 52 card deck if you have reliable/consistent/cheap baby-sitters)

Because She Has a Sense of Humor

54. Who doesn’t need a Handbook For The Recently Deceased (you know, from the movie Beetlejuice)?

55. Golden Girls Prayer Candles.

56. While we’re on the subject of the Golden Girls, she could probably use a “Picture It, Sicily, 1922” mug

57. Record coasters are good.

58. She probably needs a Rest In Grease spoon rest.

59. These Star Wars Han & Leia Hand Towels are awesome.

60. You should get her Wonder Woman earrings.


Ladies! Anything to add??

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A Cautionary Halloween Tale

If I had to give one piece of advice to a new homeowner, it would be this:

When you buy a house in a new-to-you neighborhood:


I’m not being funny. I’m being for realsy. Let me tell you a little story.

When I was a kid growing up in an idyllic working-middle-class suburb outside of Cleveland, Halloween was the most magical day of the year to me. I would don whatever homemade costume my mom made for me (or made for my sisters and then handed down to me) and with pillow case in hand (you could get more candy in a pillow case than a bucket, I reasoned), I set out house-to-house in our densely packed residential area, coming home with a nice, satisfying bag of loot. There were a lot of kids in our neighborhood, but there were a lot of older people whose adult children didn’t live there anymore, so I suppose that kept the crowds to a minimum. There were always lots of people, I though, a nice steady stream of friends from the neighborhood and friends from school.

This was my candy bowl at 2:59p that day. All filled with sugar and full-sized bars and optimism. I ran out of all three of those things at 4:45p.

This was my candy bowl at 2:59p that day. All filled with sugar and full-sized bars and optimism. I ran out of all three of those things at 4:45p.

When we moved to our new house in Oak Park, just outside of the Chicago, I didn’t ask my new neighbors what Halloween looked like in our neighborhood… it never occurred to me that it would be something different from what I grew up with. I expected it to be busier than any Halloween I experienced while living in the city (when you’re in a third floor walk up, surrounded by many non-married post-college “kids” like yourself, you don’t get many trick or treaters), but I didn’t know it would be the kind of Halloween that we had:

Fucking pandelerium.

I’m telling you, our street was packed with cars—people coming in from Chicago neighborhoods, just to trick-or-treat in our neighborhood. Minivans would slow—not stop—and I’m not kidding dozens of kids spilled out of the moving cars to go collect candy. When trick-or-treating started at 3p (wtf time is that to start?? Half the kids and parents are still in school… but whatever), throngs of kids, some in costume, some not, started appearing at my door. Throngs. Dozens. Myriad. And I panicked. It was my first homeowner-Halloween so I wanted to live out a fantasy I had as a kid as being the ‘Full-Sized Candy Bar’ house. This was a big fucking mistake. Also a mistake was letting the kids pick out their candy from the bowl. They would reach in, grab handfuls and throw it into their buckets, turning and running, not a thank you to be heard. Sometimes the moms standing in the background on their cell phones would reach in and grab themselves a few candy bars. Hardly anyone said thank you. I was kind of appalled. Occasionally there would be a very polite kiddo that just made me so proud… that kid would get two candy bars.

But I started panicking… by 4:30p, I was down to about four pieces of candy. Seriously? When I ran out, I had to turn off my light and pack it up—we weren’t even halfway through the trick or treating hours! But even turning off the porch light and blowing out the candles in the jack o’lanterns didn’t stop the hundreds of kids from knocking on my door, looking for candy. I felt like such a jerk, standing in my dark house as mobs of kids kept on knocking on the door.

As I went house to house with my own kiddo a bit later, I started talking to my neighbors… “This is insane!” I told one. She replied that yep, this is what it’s like in our neighborhood… she will usually buy 800-900 pieces of candy every year and always runs out before the end of the T-or-T time is over. Houses in the neighborhood had signs up on their doors that read “Sorry! Out of candy” and one had even carved the words “No More Candy” into a pumpkin and left it illuminated on their porch.

So this year, I’ve made this sign, printed it out and laminated it, so that when I run out of our (fun-sized) candy, I can hang this along the bottom of my porch steps, alerting the kids that we have no fun for them anymore before they have to traipse up the stairs. Feel free to do the same!


And yeah… definitely no more full-sized candy bars. I’d have to take out a second mortgage to provide full-sized candy bars for everyone that comes knocking.


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