Happy early holidays! You guys might think I’m crazy for already starting to think about holiday gift giving, but I just like to call myself prepared. Ha! No but really, every year I wait until the last minute to buy Christmas gifts and this year I told myself I’m just not gonna let that happen. Also, I think I’m just more excited about the holidays this year. To be completely honest with you guys, growing up I didn’t love Christmas. In fact, most years my brother and sister would have to drag me out of bed because I’d rather sleep another hour then wake up early and open presents. How bizarre is that?! I’ve never really understood why I felt that way about Christmas. It just wasn’t my favorite holiday. I think part of it was probably because I grew up in Massachusetts and it was absolutely freezing during holidays. And I’m just not a fan of the cold whatsoever. That’s part of the reason I moved to California the day I graduated from college.
Anyway, I couldn’t possibly be more excited for Christmas this year! And I absolutely know that’s because of Molly. She’s just about 2 1/2 now and she’s really getting into the different holidays. Last week, she was absolutely floored with all things Halloween! She loved the skeleton and ghost decorations all over our neighborhood and the costumes everyone was wearing. And of course she loved the candy! It made me see Halloween through fresh eyes and it was awesome. So I know this Christmas is going to be just the best! I can’t wait to decorate the house with her (if you guys watch my Instagram stories you know I’ve already put up one of our Christmas trees! Ha! I’m one of THOSE people now). I can’t wait to read Christmas books with her and sing Christmas carols. And I absolutely can’t wait to see her face when she walks down the stairs on Christmas morning and sees all the presents under the tree. That moment is going to be absolutely magical! Not only for her but for me and Kevin too! I could honestly cry just writing about it.
So with all that said, I’m in the holiday spirit this year for sure! And I’ve already started buying gifts! Not just for our family but also for donating. Giving to those less fortunate is going to be a big part of my holiday experience this year. We’re so lucky to have all that we have and I want to give back and teach Molly the importance of giving back. So today on the blog I’m sharing five gifts that I bought for different people on my list. Everything I’m sharing today is totally affordable and from eBay! Plus I just think they are pretty great gifts, so I’m sharing something I bought for Kevin, Molly, Riley, Owen and a gift I bought to donate!
And FYI for anyone shopping on eBay, I didn’t realize it until just recently that you can filter your search results on the site to only show you new products that ship for free. In fact, the majority of items on eBay ship for free! And over 80% of the items are new. Just thought I’d let you guys know since I used to think eBay was only for buying and selling stuff that was preowned. But it’s totally not anymore! And I found so many good deals on there!
Molly – A Toddler Gift
I’m gonna start with what I bought Molly because really Christmas is all about her this year. And I swear when I bought her this guitar my plan was to give it to her on Christmas morning. However, my little explorer happened to make her way into my office and into my closet and she found it the other day. Ha! This is our first Christmas where she’s old enough to get into things around the house so I’ve got to get better at my present hiding skills! I’m a newbie at this so cut me some slack. Ha! Anyway, I figured since she found the guitar I might as well let her have it and take some really cute pictures of her with it.
I got it for her because she absolutely loves music right now. And she’s super obsessed with the movie Coco so I knew having a guitar of her very own would absolutely thrill her! So I started looking online for one I could get her and they were all either bright colors or looked fake. I really wanted to get her one that looks like a real mini guitar. Mostly because my dad comes over once or twice a month and brings his guitar and plays it for her and one day she told me that she wanted one just like grandpas. So when I saw this child’s guitar on eBay for under $20 I knew I had to get it for her! And it’s so stinking cute! I can’t wait for my dad to come over so they can both play their guitars together. That’s gonna make for the cutest photo op ever! Plus I think getting kids musical instrument as gifts is a way to expand their minds and encourage creativity.
Riley – A Infant Gift
Let’s face it, newborns and infants don’t exactly need presents. When Molly was a baby and had her first Christmas I remember we wrapped a bunch of empty boxes to take cute photos of her sitting in front of them. We didn’t want to buy a bunch of presents for a baby when, one – they don’t need a lot of stuff, and two – it’s kind of a waste to spend a ton of money on baby gifts. But of course I still wanted to get Riley a few things! So I decided on a practical gift to start. I went with this inflatable duck tubby. It’s only $12 so it’s super affordable. But I honestly would’ve paid even more for it because we used this exact same tub with Molly when she was little and it was awesome (we gave it to a friend when she grew out of it which is why I’m buying another one). Basically you put it in your bathtub and fill it with water to give your baby a bath when they are too big for their sink tub but still too small for the whole bathtub. Plus, it saves money on your water bill because you don’t have to fill up the entire bath when you give them a tub! Well, when you have one kid. Now that Molly takes a bath in the big tub we’re going to put this little ducky tub in the bath next to her so Riley can start taking baths with her soon! Basically as soon as he can sit up on his own. Riley is such a big baby that he’s totally already starting to outgrow his sink tub at only 5 months old. How crazy is that?! He’s a massive child. Ha!
Kevin – For Your Hubby or SO
Kevin’s gift is really easy. He told me the other day that he needed to get an ugly Christmas sweater for work since they all wear them around the holidays so I started looking for one online. Some were so expensive! I couldn’t believe it! So when I was browsing eBay I was so happy to find some for under $15. So we are for sure ordering these this year rather than spending over $50 on something we’ll wear one time. Or at the most, once a year. Plus isn’t it a rule or something that you are supposed to buy your spouse UGLY PJ’s or something ugly for Christmas?! I also found an affordable pair of wireless earbuds that I think I will get him as well.
Owen – For the Dog or Dog Lover in Your Life
Our dog Owen is pretty easy to please. Give him some treats and a couple squeaky toys and he’s good to go on Christmas morning! But I wanted to get him something that would not only be fun for him but also be fun for Molly to play with him. And I found this massive tennis ball for only $9 on eBay! This is another one of those gifts that I should’ve put away so I can actually put it under the tree, but I got too excited when it arrived because it was hysterically big so I just gave it to Owen. I actually think this could be a good gift to give to an animal lover in general. One of the girls I work with is super dedicated to rescuing dogs and I’m tempted to buy one of these to give to her because I know she’d get a kick out of it. And it’s only 8 bucks so why not!
To Donate To Someone in Need
Last but certainly not least is the gift that I bought to donate. This is just one of many things I plan on buying throughout the holiday season to donate to a local organization that help those less fortunate. I went back-and-forth on a lot of things that I could buy. I know there are so many kids that just want a new toy, just one, under the tree this year. And I’ll definitely get my fair share of those to donate to put a smile on a kiddos face. But I wanted to start with something that is really needed. So I decided to get this 12 pack of mittens that are under $20. It’s affordable, so I hope a lot of people can buy something like this to donate this year and it’s something that’s desperately needed by so many children all over our country. I live in Southern California and they’re not exactly needed here, so that’s why I am bringing these home with me when I travel to the East Coast tomorrow to visit my family so I can donate to a local organization there. So I hope you guys join me in setting aside time, and if you can, some dollars to buy something this year for someone less fortunate! All it takes is a few extra dollars to do something nice for somebody else!
Oh and by the way while I was shopping I decided to include a little gift for myself! I found this sweater for only $16 and had to get it! I got a size medium for a little bit more of a fitted look, but size up if you want a looser fit! I feel like it’s much more fitted than it is in the photos online so just size up if you want a baggy look! Even consider sizing up by 2!
That’s it for me today! I just wanted to share some super affordable and cool finds to get you thinking about gift giving this year! Hope you guys enjoyed my gift guide today! Excited for everything this holiday season will bring!
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75 thoughts on “So In the Holiday Spirit!”
I completely understand being in the Christmas spirit already. I have a toddler too and this is the first year she will understand that she has gifts under the tree. So, I am done with all my shopping and when I say done, I am done with my husband and my family because even though I am done with my Meredith gifts every time I see something I know she will like, I get it and add it to her Christmas gifts. It’s going to be so much fun!
Oh my gosh!!! That is amazing!!! I can’t believe you are done! Way to go momma!
Amazon is my true friend 🙂
The inflatable duck tubby is SO cute, so perfect! I love it! And I’m totally already in holiday mood already 😉
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
It’s the happiest time of the year!
I started Christmas shopping October 1. 😀I live in Adams, ma and you are right Massachusetts gets so cold in the winter. With that being said about 4 years ago I started shopping at the beginning of October so that way I don’t have to be out in the cold!!! And usually I am completely done right around thanksgiving. This way I can really enjoy all the holidays. I have a 7 and 10 year old and two years ago we started the tradition of baking cookies and bringing them to the police, fire station and emt’s. This is a wonderful tradition to start!!
That is so smart! I am not a fan of going out in the cold either. Kevin and I just recently start discussing moving to Chicago but I am sooo worry about the cold weather! I grew up with it in MA, but I’ve lived in Cali for 13/14 years now, so I’m sooo not used to it!
Why do you want to move to Chicago? You have such a nice home and great jobs here in California, and much better weather.
Family is in Chicago.
This is why I moved from MI to CA then eventually home to stay in MI. Good luck with your decision! Not easy at all … but family. ♥️
And I do not care for cold weather either lol
Ahhh, that makes sense, but hopefully you will stick around a while in CA. BTW, I love that shirt, I might end up getting one for myself! Thanks.
You are absolutely right that Molly will be so much fun for the holiday season this year! Every little thing will make her eyes light up and will make it so special for you! I have 14 grandkids and one great grandson, and they totally MAKE Christmas for me. We do Christmas books, Christmas movies, I have some kid friendly decorations all over the house, but they also all know which decorations are ‘fragile’ and for ‘eyes only’, trained them that real early. I spoil them silly with lots of gifts but within all the gifts is one gift with several outfits and PJs, and another gift is books, coloring books, and activity books. I also do a magazine subscription, and even the 2 year olds love getting Peppa Pig magazine in the mail. I literally shop all year taking advantage of sales and such, because of so many kids. And yes, we also donate to Toys for Tots and local drives for mittens, hats, kids coats. Enjoy, Ali, and hope you keep us up on all your doing to get ready!
We need to start teaching Molly what is for eyes only! I like using those words rather than “off limits” which is what we currently say about things she shouldn’t touch. Thanks for the idea!
I always went over expectations before going in someplace. About 3 i would ask them what the expectations were and they could say it back. I also used “look with our eyes” if i saw they were wanting to touch/hold something they shouldn’t
I like the meaning behind your wanting Molly to learn to play the guitar…her Grandpa has a great musical talent that I’m sure she’ll inherit. Your Father’s artwork is fantastic too!
Reading your blog gave me the idea of getting my Siberian Husky RESCUE dog one of those huge tennis balls. (an early Christmas gift!!)
Trevor & I have had ‘Cookie’ for 3 wks. She’s a 6 yr. old well-behaved dog who was bred for breeding & was going to be ‘put down’ after having a total of 48 puppies, in 6 yrs. 🙁
I’m not used to having a large dog but I’m learning & I’m sure she’ll love the tennis ball.
Have a great visit with your family.
Poor thing. That breaks my heart. Cookie is so lucky to have found you guys to love her!
Omg love!!! Question, how do you edit all your photos? Do you use a preset or something?
I use 3 apps – Filmborn, Facetune and Pic tap go. But these photos were taken by my friend Ashley. She’s a professional photographer.
Gorgeous!! Anything specific you do on those apps? All your photos are so cohesive and nice!!
Can you do a blog post and show how you edit your photos please
Ali- I grew up in MA also… and learned to love the snow, but the cold I still can’t get over! Haha. I love getting in the holiday spirit! My little one will only be 3 months at Christmas but I am still so excited! We won’t be getting her much- but I do want to buy some gifts with intention that she can grow into … books and toys with intention…like Slumberkins.. they so cute and meaningful! We always donate coats, gloves, and hats to a local charity – the holidays are all about spreading love and comfort and joy! I love the sentiment of Molly’s guitar! That is very special! Have a wonderful time getting into holiday spirit with your family!
When Molly’s was only 6 months at Christmas we wrapped empty boxes and put them around her for good photos opps! I still have those empty wrapped gifts to decorate under the tree before Christmas morning 🙂
Love that idea!!!
Last year we wrapped a giant box of balloons for our 2 yr old. It was his favorite present 🙂
In Canada is is very disrespectful to the veterans to decorate for Christmas before November 11th. I wait until after because remberance day though not a holiday is an important day to reflect upon and think of all those who have their lives for us to have the privilege to enjoy Christmas. 2018 commentates the centennial of WW1 1914-1918. I have started online shopping though as I do a few gifts every month all year! No Christmas debt whatsoever😀I donate winter coats and warm clothes we live on the Canadian prairies and one of the most extreme climates!
Oh interesting. A day a remembrance is very important.
And good for you for having no Christmas debt by planning ahead! That’s so great!
I am all for getting Christmas shopping done early, but think decorating before Thanksgiving is a bit much. Do you really want to spend 1/6 of the year celebrating one holiday? I personally love it when people spend November focusing on being thankful and then turn their attention to Christmas.
I love the idea of giving back during the holiday season. When my finances allow it, I adopt a family from a local women’s shelter for the holidays. I get the gift request list and take my kids with me to help fill it. Not only does it help a family in need, it teaches my kids to be more grateful for what they have. It really grounds them to see kids their age requesting necessities (socks, underwear, shoes, etc.) for Christmas instead of the latest gadgets to keep up with their friends. When my finances are a bit tighter, we pick a tag from the tree at the mall and accomplish the same thing on a smaller scale.
I also love your sentimental gift to Molly. Such a sweet idea!
My tree and entire front room is already decorated. Stockings up and everything! Honestly I LOVE it! It makes the room feel so cozy.
I recently had a son in July and I’m struggling with how to do Christmas with him. I know he doesn’t need much and won’t remember anything but it’s seriously a struggle! How do you deal with that? And what exactly do you buy for a 6 month old for Christmas?!
By one or two gifts so it’s fun for you! But wrap a bunch of empty presents! That’s what we did for Molly! Or get the ducky tub for when he is older 🙂 Practical gifts are great for babies.
I always buy a couple things to grow into as well! Like a push walker, maybe some other developement toys! Remember by the time the next Christmas rolls around, he will be a totally different baby, and will need things to stimulate him before then 😉
Wrap diapers and wipes. And baby food!!
Ok off topic of this but what baby monitor do you have? I’m expecting my first and it’s so hard to pick which one. Also you are a great mom and I absolutely love reading everything you write! Xoxo
We love the duck tub for our little guys too!!! It’s actually really great for traveling as well. We just packed the box and inflated it when we got to the hotel. Super easy!
Also I can’t handle the cuteness of your kids faces. SOOOOOOO adorable. <3
So darn cute! Thanks for these ideas. Yes, I remember with my 2 year old for her very first Christmas she was only 3 months so we literally just got her a $3 rattle and she loved it! This year my second girl will be 4 months on Christmas so this inflatable duck is so so perfect for once she’s sitting up.
Ali, I wanted to ask you one small thing about sleep training. Did you wean Riley off the paci for sleep training, still use it or he just didn’t care for it anymore? Thank you!
By the way, my question regarding paci is for advice and not for judgement.
I was never too excited about Christmas until I had my son 6 years ago. Now that he’s older, he’s SO into Christmas. Last year, we did Elf on the Shelf for the first time, and he loved the crazy shenanigans the elf got into. I also got him a phone call from “Package from Santa” and a personalized video. We never celebrated Christmas when I was a child, so I go all out with my son. Haha.
We are starting Elf on the Shelf this year too! I’m soooo excited about!
To start off when I saw your insta story of you showing off your Christmas tree I started laughing. I saw myself 5 years from now. Christmas is my absolute favorite so the early we get to start celebrating the better 😂
I love seeing how excited you are for Molly during the holidays! I also love seeing both Molly and Riley grow up! I feel like I am apart of your family! Thank you for sharing such a personal time in your life with us! 💕
You are officially an extended part of my family!!! Yay! You all are! That’s why I love connecting on this blog so much!
Molly’s first real Christmas that she remembers will be wonderful. My daughter is turning 8, and it just hit me the other day how few Christmases we have left with actual toys under the tree. It goes so very fast. Enjoy every single moment!! ❤️❤️❤️
Awwwww. You still have lots of time! But I feel you. It’s already feeling too fast for us!
These are awesome! My niece has the same Rubber Ducky tub, we used it as a mini swimming pool for her in the hot summer weather. And I’m definitely going to get that giant tennis ball for my pup Charley, she is obsessed with tennis balls and anything that squeaks.
Good idea to double it as a pool in the summer! I am SO doing that for Riley this coming summer 🙂
I started listening to Christmas music the day after Halloween (no tree just yet) but it just makes me so happy!! Why not extend the season 🤗 Great gifts.
Also, I watched the video of Molly telling trick or treaters to come get some candy like 10 times. So funny. So cute!
Kevin’s dad was listening to Christmas music last month while mowing his lawn in Indiana. Ha!
I am dying to see your tree decor!
I just bought a 9 ft tree online and put it up! It’s so big and fun! I haven’t decorated it yet, but hope to soon!
This isn’t related and I know it’s a touchy subject, but do you vaccinate? The reason I ask is because we have 1 child fully vaccinated and 3 that aren’t at all. And let’s just say that the 3 are so healthy- never had an ear infection and never have actually been sick. With anything. They’re 4,3 &1. Our 11 yr old is vaccinated and is diagnosed with ADHD, mood disorder, gut issues and several other things. Cannot keep her out of the doctors office. The other 2 haven’t seen their pediatrician in 2.5 years because there’s absolutely no need. If you do vaccinate, I’d suggest do research and dig for yourself. I hope Molly gets better asap!!
I mean this with NO judgement at all (honestly) but I do wonder- you mention a big age Gap with the oldest (I too have a child 6 years older and 3 very close in age). My oldest was unplanned- I was young, my diet wasn’t as good, I didn’t find out I was pregnant until much later into the pregnancy, I parented her differently bc I was less knowledgeable Etc. My oldest has a different dad and different gene’s (her dad has asthma and so does she, she has SEVERE allergies)…My youngest were planned, I was healthy, in a more emotionally stable relationship….ALL of those things contribute to the over all health of a child. And with life threatening diseases back on the rise (and many in CA which has one of the highest rates of non vaccinated kiddos) I’d take ADHD over measles any day. Also please look into the sources of this research and the validity of the studies (are they peer reviewed, what are the credentials of the authors, size of studies).
Ali I trust that as a competent adult you don’t need to be reminded to do research on parenting decisions…
Also it’s probably implied but all of my kids are vaccinated. The younger ones have no chronic health issues. The oldest does. I think we as society like to blaim anything for something and sometimes it’s just bad luck! My point is that just because there are similarities does NOT mean there’s a correlation. Soapbox complete 🙂
Yes! Do a Christmas reveal decor post😍oh em gee I would seriously love a job to decorate trees in Department stores I love putting together different themes and colour schemes🤩my tree takes 3 hours to decorate I use pearls, lace, ribbons, artificial poinsettias!! It’s so much fun not sure if my husband agrees though🤪he does all the taking down since I’m the head tree designer! Lol my kids will also have a tree set up in their own rooms and they know mommy’s big tree is just for looking and their own tree has soft handmade type ornaments that they know they can play with if they want! You should totally get molly a pink one!! Snowed today so this post has given me the Xmas feels early and after November 11th I will be getting busy making Christmas🎄
I am working on one now!!!! I LOVE how we have our mantel decorated this year!
I finished early last year and then was so bummed that everything was on sale online Black Friday so this year I’m waiting on the big things. 👛
Molly will be better by Wednesday. Not to worry. A decongestant will help on the plane. 😉
Thank so sooo much for the advice for Molly. Poor little thing!
So cute! Try garlic and olive oil for her ear infection! It doesn’t interfere with any meds and it heals ear infections so quickly!
I left you a message on Instagram can you please check it out? I would greatly appreciate it! 😁
I’ve already started watching Christmas movies too! Love the Christmas season! Especially with little ones. I can’t wait!
That guitar is such a great find! My daughter is going to be two in December and LOVES trying to play my husband’s guitar. It would be so cute to see her play her own next to him!
My little boy is a few days younger than Riley and is a big boy too! The duck tub looks so great and looks like it travels and stores well.
Thanks for the ideas!!
I’m so obsessed with Riley – the rolls!!!
Ali! Its so weird how much I look up to you. My mom and I used to watch The Bachelorette together growing up, and its been so cool being a fan of yours through all these years! I’m 24 years old and motherhood is not something in my near future at all, but I love watching your motherhood journey on social media more than pretty much any netflix series 😂. I know there is a “mommy” community through your blog but just wanted you to know, that you inspire more than just other moms. You’ll always be my favorite bachelorette 💕
I love all these ebay finds! Would love to see more gift options that are affordable like this one! Maybe more ebay and Amazon?
Don’t forget, like I brought up a long time ago, donate to Salvation Army over Goodwill, which is 100% for profit.
I am from Newton Mass.,where are you from in Mass.?
I very much adore seeing your beautiful kiddos ,toddler and baby ages. My 2 sets of twins grew up in a blink of “DOUBLE “ eyes!! . My girls Dalia and Shaina turned 21 in October, my son Darric and daughter Sabra will be 14 in February.
Shaina my 21 year old lives home and commutes to college.She sees me glued to the tv , watching HOME and FAMILY. I truly love ❤️ it! And have gotten so many ideas from watching all of you ❤️BEAUTIFUL ❤️girlys that are so talented along with the guys,can’t forget them.
You look beautiful and with a lovely figure after having your son. 👶❣️My Holiday decorations are coming out each day as I have collected for along time ⛄️ snowmen ⛄️ over 200!!
I love reading your blogs!!
Enjoy , a FALLFABULOUS weekend🍁🍂❤️😘👶👧🏻
Much love ❤️
Ali, I just wanted to stop by and say how amazing you are doing as a mom! I’ve seen your Instagram stories about having difficult days (as all of us moms do… I have a 5 year old and there are still days when I feel like I just want to cry) but I just wanted to let you know that it is so clear how much love and attention you give your children. I can’t believe how much miss Molly can memorize, it’s so sweet to see her reading her books. You are doing great, mama!
Hi I’m Hannah. I am the sister/mom to my dog Maggie. I would love to meet Owen. I hope Maggie can meet one of her puppies. I would love to send pics of her to u. But I love that giant tennis ball gift. I have 2 other dogs and they would love that. Love u and ur work❤️❤️
I just bought a ducky tub when a friend had her baby shower. I bought a ton of things off her registry and some extra fun odds and ends, blew up the tub, tied a pink ribbon around the neck and arranged everything inside. It was the hit of the party and looked so cute on the gift table. Not everything fit so I wrapped the bigger item. So much cuter than using a gift bag 🙂
Hi beautiful mama! So I saw your formula post on Instagram. I am definitely a little crazy but I get our formula shipped in from Europe to the states. We use a European brand called Holle.
In Europe, they have higher standards for what they don’t allow in their formula versus the US. I breastfed too and had to start supplementing- this formula is definitely the best in the world and mimics breast milk. Hope this helps! Keep up the good work mama!
WHERE did you get these overalls?
Loved this post, Ali! Safe and happy travels East! ❤️
About the formula:
I pumped a solid year for my first. He would not nurse and I was overly obsessed with him getting BM that I feel like I missed the whole first year bc I was always pumping yet always bitter about doing it. The guilt ate me alive. With number two I swore I wouldn’t do the same. N2 actually nursed praise the lord but I was still struggling again bc I had two to take care of and BF was just dang hard. At 7 months I started looking for formula. Hated all the US formula ingredients. I found a blog by a mom who ordered her formula from Germany. I know I know you think I’m nuts. But seriously look into it. Best decision I ever made. Just do your research. I ordered mine from https://organicstart.com/lebenswert/stage-1/product
There are many brands but I used lebenswert bc it’s sweetened with lactose instead of corn syrup. Corn syrup causes gas and acid reflux. Plus it’s TRUE organic cows milk. I could go on and on but just do some research and you’ll see.
Good day! Look at a good offering for you.
I totally understand the Christmas excitement! I have a 2 year old and a 6 month old (a girl Riley!) and my 2 year old is so excited! Santa was actually one of her first words last year, and she was totally obsessed with all of the decorations but didn’t grasp the whole idea yet. This year we’ve already started watching Christmas shows & movies, listening to Christmas music & reading Christmas books! This weekend I’m hoping to start decorating. There’s something so magical about watching Christmas through the eyes of your own children!
Can you do a blog post with ideas of charities to donate for the holiday season? I put together a donation tree at my work and love new ideas of where to donate each year!
Very helpful article, Thank you for sharing. I love you