Giving Without Fail: Homemade Gift Certificates

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It’s December 23. You actually have all of today to shop and in most places, a good part of tomorrow. The price, of course, is your sanity and a lot of your time. But supposing you’re done braving the crowds, or you get to tomorrow evening and you are desperate, or perhaps you want to put a little time into your final effort. Let’s talk about the homemade gift certificate.

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The World Didn’t End, Time to Finish Your Shopping

From Jezebel.com, “First Photo Out of Australia After the Mayan Apocalypse: It’s Not Good” — Just kidding. Christmas is still on!

To no one’s surprise at all, the world did not end, although I find the above photoshopped creation quite hilarious. Today we’re just rounding up all our recommendations in one single post. For most web shopping, today is your last day to get in orders for guaranteed Christmas Eve delivery (depending, of course, how much you are willing to bleed for overnight shipping – you may be able to push this back to tomorrow). This weekend look for our Last Minute Gifts – the Hail Mary of gift-giving, also known as the homemade gift certificate. Actually I delight in homemade certificates, but we’ll get to that on Sunday.

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Feeling All The Feelings: Responding to Newtown

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This time of year I’m holed up in a charming New England town in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont called Craftsbury Common. It’s a welcome change of scenery from Central PA in which to continue my work over the holidays – right now, studying in overdrive for my upcoming comprehensive exams. My cell phone doesn’t work here and internet is slow. The community is vibrant and in many ways, humming, but life is more streamlined for me here. I don’t go to an office every day. The dog, cats, and I go upstairs and sit at a small wooden desk to telecommute. This town is also a good place to process Feeling All the Feelings when terrible things happen in the world. As we have no television at our house most of the time, I’ve followed the Newtown, CT story on NPR, in the paper, and of course, on the internet. Last night Fair Play Boyfriend and I were watching the Patriots game online when NBC cut to the President’s address. I am proud he spoke to the issue of widespread gun violence boldly, and today, Fair Play will as well. Instead of talking about holiday gifts, I’m going to take you through the highlights of my own process of Feeling All the Feelings. Plenty of time to talk about Christmas later.

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Gift Guide: The Princess Problem (Gifts for 2 & 5 y/o Girls – doll, art supplies, scooter)

Instead of buying a Barbie, I bought this doll and doctor set for a little girl in the family I adopted for Christmas. It can be hard not to buy Barbies when children ask for them, but there are other options out there that may fulfill their interests and desires without indulging the Barbie or Princess factor.

Today’s Gift Guide is a little bit different. I’m using the Christmas List from the family I adopted for Christmas to illustrate how you might get around the Princess Problem. What is the Princess Problem? The princess problem is this: you might not want to buy the little girl in your life a princess (or Barbie)-related item, but she says she really, really wants it. What to do? Buy her what she wants? Ignore her wishes, and buy her something else? Call me heartless, but I vote the latter. There are some craftier ways to do that, though, so let’s use this list as an example:
Jenny, age 5. Gift Ideas: 1. Barbie and Barbie’s Horse. 2. Art supplies. 3. Princess Costumes. Jenny is very girly, likes art, books, princesses, and dolls.
Molly, age 2. Gift Ideas: 1. Dolls. 2. Balls. 3. Dressing up in costumes. Molly is a girly tomboy, she likes to draw, play dress up, and she is very active.

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Yellow Light, LEGO Friends (and Why Can’t Toy Companies Get Horses Right?!)

If you are well into your holiday shopping for a little girl in your life, or you’ve heard any holiday shopping-related news at all, you know that LEGO Friends, the new “legos for girls” are a hot item this year. From the voice of Get More Girls into STEM (science, tech, engineering, and math), some people love them and some people hate them. They were even nominated for a TOADY award (Toys Oppressive and Destructive to Young children). I don’t like them too much, and I’ll tell you why. You cannot find them in the Fair Play Amazon Store and I won’t link directly to them here. I trust if you need to purchase them you can find them all over the internet and in every toy store in America. I’ll also go off on a tangent in this post about toy companies and their treatment of horses in children’s toys because this is a lifelong pet peeve of mine. Happy Sunday!

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Gift Guide: Books for Parents

This new book by Paul Tough explains how higher order mental functioning, like regulating emotions, self-control, and planning action, is the key to children’s cognitive development. A great gift for parents!

Once again we are responding to a reader request in Gift Guide, a series where we post in response to reader letters or comments for particular kinds of toys, music, books, etc. Today’s letter is more of a repeated request I haven’t been able to adequately address until now. She has asked me about it in person more than once as well as by (now misplaced) Facebook comment. It goes something like this:
Can you recommend a book for parents about toddler cognitive development?

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A Defense(?) of Taylor Swift and Also Car-Singers Everywhere

Ok to be totally honest, T. Swift and I are not on the best terms of late. She recently gave an interview (or several) in which, in an unfortunate act of cowardice, she shunned the label Feminist and refused to take ownership of the empowerment her iconic status seems to have for a certain generation of teens. Why would you not own this? You are inspiring people, darn it! But, I also found myself reading a positive review of Red, her latest album (disclosure: I already know it by heart), on one of my go-to girl-positive parenting blogs, Reel Girl, and my first reaction was …really? You’re going to defend this person who only sings about her relationships? And then I scolded myself. Here is the written version of that scolding (and I promise you will understand why this warrants space on Fair Play).

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Gift Guide: Christmas Ideas for 6-Year-Old Twins (K’NEX, UNO, Jenga)

K’NEX Ferris Wheel set on Amazon.com, a possible gift for a 6 year old girl this Christmas

Gift Guide is the series in which we respond to reader requests for recommendations – generally but not always for gifts. Today we are responding to this letter from Facebook fan Nicole:
Hello Fair Play! This Christmas I am giving toys to a pair of six year old twins (a girl and a boy). I prefer to give toys that have educational value and my budget is approx $40 per child. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

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