Mother's Day Gift Guide

It's that time again. You want your Mom to feel appreciated because she's always been your personal cheerleader. Or maybe she's always been a thorn in your side but you don't quite want her to know that. Either way, it's time to start shopping for a great gift for Mom!

Now obviously, your Anti-Bad-Mood Sprays are a great gift for any Mom. But I've got a few other things I think might be the perfect fit.

First, a budget-friendly option: The Vidalia Chop Wizard. Someone recommended this "As Seen on TV" product to me and I love it. It's easy, fast, and it totally works. You can purchase the Chop Wizard via Amazon, Target and many other stores. But it's worth visiting the Vidalia Chop Wizard website just to watch the promotional video try to convince you that cutting tomatoes is "really dangerous." At $19.95, this is a great gift at an affordable price. Present it to your Mom with a bunch of fresh, organic vegetables or a new cookbook.

Another option would be to splurge on some skincare products that make your Mom look and feel great. I've been using Radical Skincare products for a few months now, and I can't say enough about them. I started first with the Radical Skincare Age-Defying Exfoliating Pads - which are AWESOME. I'd buy each and every one of you a carton - but I can't afford that. And then I bought the Radical Starter Kit so I could try the creams. I have dry, sensitive skin and rosecea, so it means something to me when I find great products. Here's a little description of the exfoliating pads:

Another great idea would be to invite your Mom for lunch and a spa pedicure. Choose her favorite restaurant and the nicest spa you can afford.Or you could finally give in to that one thing that she's always wanting to do together - but you never make time for. Just suck it up and go.

If your Mom lives far away, or isn't the pedicure type, there's absolutely no shame in sending a gift card. I think we all feel a little guilty sending a gift card - but we all love GETTING them, right? Who wouldn't love a little extra money to spend however they choose? Tucked inside a beautiful card with a thoughtful inscription - a gift card is a lovely Mother's Day present. Don't feel guilty.

If your Mom has passed away, considering taking a few moments to reach out to another Mom you know who might be feeling lonely. A simple phone call or card in the mail can do wonders for a person's spirit.

What are your favorite gifts to give (or receive!) on Mother's Day? I'd love to hear about them in the comment section.



Gifts to Buy Yourself

When I had a regular job (i.e., a regular paycheck vs. the wildly erratic income of a self-employed person), I loved to shop. I shopped with abandon all year long. Okay, not really. But I definitely spent way more on myself than I am willing to now. After ten years of working for myself it's impossible to look at a pair of pants without calculating how many hours I have to work to pay for them. And then descend into a never-ending spiral of questioning about whether the pants - THESE pants - will be worth it. Will they last? Will they stretch out in the butt after I wear them for a few hours? Will the tailor cut them too short and ruin them before they've even been worn once? How long do I have to keep them to make it worth my while? Will I lose weight or gain weight and make them unwearable before that time? WWQBS (What Would QuickBooks Say?) And then I just buy another pair of running pants and call it a day. But I digress.


THE POINT IS THIS: In those days - when I was more casual with my money -  I did a "thing" when I Christmas shopped - for every present I bought for someone else, I threw a few small things in for myself. And that made holiday shopping so much more enjoyable. It's also a way to please yourself instead of hoping someone else will do it. And I'm not sure that's such a bad thing. What if a miracle occurred and the universe did a reverse Christmas thing and you got to spend everything you usually spend on other people on things you really want for yourself? How much happier would you be? I know, right?


Here are my thoughts on ways to treat yourself this holiday season:


Guerlain Météorites Pearls are a blend luminescent face powders. You need this. I have the compact and the full-size set. They smell delicious and do amazing things for every skin tone. Every time you use them it is an escape from your everyday world into...I don't know...a walk down the Champs-Élysées or something. Actually, the Champs is not my favorite champs in Paris. My favorite champs is the Champs de Mars.


Go ahead and yourself that thing you've been wanting that will make your everyday world a little bit more efficient or [sucks breath in] more fun. My husband travels four or five days a week. On the weekends he cooks me an amazing breakfast - sometimes two or even three courses. We've been wanting a waffle maker for some time but we don't technically *need* a waffle maker. Until we bought this Waring Pro professional and found out that we do need a waffle maker. We've been making vegan waffles like crazy for weeks now and we love them. I'm glad a spent a little more than I had intended, because this $100 model is super easy to use and clean. No regrets. AND it's the gift that keeps on giving.


You might not want a waffle maker - but maybe you need a professional hairdryer so you can get ready for work in alot less time. Or maybe you need a new lamp because your bedroom is dark and it stresses you out while you read trashy novels. It's that thing you need but can't ask people to buy for you because it's too ridiculous. Whatever it is - go get it. 



When I'm stressed out I try to map out what would make me feel better. Do I need a good, healthy dinner? Some time with friends? A workout? It's usually all those things plus a massage. Because massage is the only thing I can do where I can be "checked out" while I recharge, it's usually my go-to stress reliever in times of trouble. The holidays are stressful. There's the shopping, the money, the relatives, the old family issues, the new family issues, the loneliness, the wanting. What are you going to do to get away from all that? If its a massage - book one. If it is something else, then do that.



Let yourself off the hook this holiday season.


Let yourself "off the hook." Without consulting anyone and without second-guessing yourself. Decide that you're not going to do whatever the things that make you miserable this holiday season. Stay in a hotel or with a friend instead of sleeping on a cot in your brother's moldy basement. Spend what you can afford on gifts instead of feeling pressured into spending to please others (because if they aren't pleased with what you have to offer - they never will be.) Stay home instead of driving six hours in snow and ice to have a miserable dinner with miserable relatives. Yes, you can.



Buy yourself a bottle of Apathy aromatherapy mood spray. It's a good scent to try if you're not sure which mood spray to purchase first. It's also my personal favorite. I love the pink grapefruit scent. Run a hot bath and mist the mood spray into the steamy air until you feel better. It really does help. One of the gifts I'm giving myself this year is a custom, off-label mood spray that is just for me - not for you guys. I think it's going to include eucalyptus and lemon essential oils.


How do you cope with holiday stress? Do you buy gifts for yourself? Have you changed the way you give to or spend time with family?



Gift Guide for People in Nursing Homes

If someone you care for is in a nursing home, you may be struggling to think of something useful to give this holiday season. They don't need much and what they do need changes quickly. I've made a gift list for nursing home, Alzheimer's and dementia patients to help you navigate the murky waters:


A picture phone can help an old person use the telephone with less stress.

A touch-dial picture phone can ease an elderly person's stress about using the telephone. Once familiar objects become confusing and those new-fangled cordless phones with all the buttons just aren't gonna work. Set the phone up for your Aged P. ahead of time - pictures included. If your Aged P. has dementia you might consider using a photo of the person from many years ago - older memories are often more stable than more recent times. A person with dementia might also do better with fewer choices - a four picture phone vs. ten as pictured here.


Bright colorful clothing will make nursing home staff respond more positively to the patient.


I work in arts management with a heavy side of theatre. Trust me when I say that there is a great deal of science behind the art of the costume. Snazzy loungewear like this top from Old Navy will make a big difference for your old person day-to-day. A bright, stripey top like this one will stand out in a dementia unit (or any kind of unit) and encourage a positive response to the patient from staff. Sad, but true. Jeggings. Because who wants to end their life in a pair of Walmart sweatpants? An orange cardigan. Things that are cheap, comfortable, and easy to launder. If you can find something with a little polyester in it so it doesn't shrink? That's not a bad thing. Staff don't take time to read care instructions. And things always need to be replaced. My experience is that my Mom burns through clothes pretty quickly. Pajamas, socks, and underwear would also be very useful items to send at the holidays.


A pair of Skechers will be both snazzy and functional. The lace-free elastic is great for arthritic hands and makes the slip-on shoe snug and supportive. They give your Aged P. the stability they need to get around but don't look like this. My Mom is the snazziest person on the memory ward.It makes a big, big difference in her mood when staff, family, and friends walk in and give her a huge smile because she's super cute.


Handwritten letter subscription available from


My handwritten letter subscription is a nice gift. You will never be able to give your parent enough training on The Email to allow them to use it the way you wish they would. Give up. Old people live for postal mail. LIVE FOR IT. They are clustered around the mailboxes every day anxiously awaiting the postie's arrival. There are signs posted at the nursing home reception desk that announce whether the mail HAS or HAS NOT arrived yet that day.

If your old person is in more advanced stages of illness they probably just want mail from you. Caregivers can always help read and share your news if your loved one is no longer able to read. Can you set a goal of a couple of postcards a week? Can the postcard be an old photo from your shared memory book? Twice a week sounds like a big commitment, but a week is an eternity for a person living in care. Remember that this is a relatively short term commitment. Can you reach out to friends, neighbors, colleagues and others and share the nursing home address, encouraging mail? This would be one of the best gifts you could ever come up with.



Consider hiring someone to do an oral history. This gift has a dual purpose: First, it will preserve precious family memories for years to come. Second, it assigns a work project of real importance in the patient's life. My sister did this for my Mom and it was a great idea. More than the book that came out of it - my Sociologist Mother enjoyed her weekly meetings with the archivist and the feeling of satisfaction that came from being on one last project. It's not cheap. But it was worth it.



With your parents' permission, arrange and pay for a trip to see an elder care attorney. They won't want to spend the money. Have the difficult conversations while parents are still able to participate and put them down on paper. Make them feel secure about how their end-of-life decisions will be handled. Execute Power of Attorney decisions for finances. File paperwork to protect their assets from caregivers. Make it clear which of the kids is responsible for what and identify who won't be able to handle it. I discovered in our elder care meetings that I supported my Mom's wish to "flip the switch" if it came to that, but I wasn't going to be able to do it. Better to know, now, than to be sorting through it at the last possible moment.



Soft toys are good company for a person in the later stages of Alzheimer's. Find a squishy, washable toy that's really huggable.


Gift cards for caregivers in a nursing home is a great idea.

A gift card to a store like Target. Not for your old person, but for each of their caregivers from your parent. It doesn't have to be much, but it is a helpful gesture of thanks to an overworked employee. Your parent's caregivers probably earn less than $10 an hour and deal with all the stuff you don't want to know about. Like the snazzy outfits, it helps caregivers see your parents as more than a room number. And everyone craves appreciation for a difficult job done. Right?


Here's a quick list of gifts I think you should avoid and/or discourage from friends and family: 

Avoid soaps, lotions, perfumes, candles and other cosmetic items. They may irritate sensitive skin or trigger allergies in other patients. Staff may just remove them from the room for safety reasons, anyway. Your Aged P. may be perfectly capable of knowing what to do with them but things tend to migrate to common areas or other rooms. You don't want someone in a more advanced stage of dementia drinking perfume. 

Avoid books and magazines. As sad as it is, your old person probably doesn't have the ability to concentrate and enjoy reading as they did before. They will pile up in the corner and you will just have to deal with removing the clutter later. They DO enjoy being read to - I read family papers and old letters to my Mom when I visit and she really enjoys it. She can remember many things from her childhood and family stories about her grandparents. She also just enjoys listening to my voice.

Avoid blank cards. I donated a garbage bag FULL of blank stationery from my mother's home.


I think that covers it! What other gifts are good for people in care? I'd love to hear your thoughts!     


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