Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Stuff I Want for the Holidays

It’s been a crazy few weeks for me, what with moving to a new home and trying to get settled in before Christmas so Santa can find a path to the tree. So, in lieu of holiday gift guides this year, I’m making a list of stuff I’d be happy to receive. If nothing else, this will make things a little easier for my husband, and maybe some of you will find ideas for your loved ones or for yourself (feel free to send a link to people buying gifts for you). And if you need ideas for dudes or kids or just additional gifts ideas for the women in your lives, check out the numerous gift guides from years past that I wrote when I wasn’t supervising renovations, unpacking, and helping a first-grader with Common Core math homework (oh my God, if you don’t know, consider yourself lucky).

I have a bathtub now that I don’t have to share with my kids, which is such a luxury I want to cry. But I don’t cry. Instead, I soak in the tub and shave my legs in peace and it is bliss. Bliss, I tell you. This year, I would love all those bath products that people think are too generic to give as gifts to someone you’re close to. I want the generic bath products, like a bath bomb (this one is currently 25% off with code FRIENDS), calming bath salts, some invigorating body wash, my fave washcloths, and a cool caddy to put it all on (including a glass of wine).

Ooh, and I need a good book to read in the bath, too. I especially love memoirs and this one seems right for closing out 2017.

Last year, Drew gifted me with a subscription to Vellabox and once a month, all year long, I got high quality candles hand-poured by artisans, combined with some little gift (tea, chocolate truffles, bath salts) in a cute package. There are three different monthly value subscriptions available at 3-, 6-, and 12-month options.

This sweatshirt for Hanukkah because even though I’m not Jewish myself, my husband and kids are, and I know they would appreciate the sentiment. Also, this.

These sheets, because we need some new ones and I heard these are like butter, but not so greasy.

These earrings. Or these!

Tom’s slippers.

This is my favorite brand of skin care products and I’d be happy with anything Eminence (my friend, who’s an esthetician, uses this line almost exclusively), but I think I’d especially like to try this.

My hands are constantly dry in the winter, so I like to have hand lotion in every coat pocket and tote bag I carry around. This is a favorite.

All of this stuff would be extra nice, but, you know, all I really want for the holidays this year is for this nightmare to be over. Come on, Mueller — we’re counting on you!!

50 comments… add one
  • Lianne December 5, 2017, 8:12 pm

    I’ve been on the hunt for new sheets. Just bought these! Thanks for the rec!

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    • ktfran December 5, 2017, 9:40 pm

      I marked them down too! We’ll have to buy soon.

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    • Dear Wendy December 6, 2017, 8:38 am

      Oh, good! You’ll have to let me know what you think. I’ve heard only great things.

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      • Lianne December 6, 2017, 9:34 am

        They already shipped! They get a gold star for speed 🙂

    • Vathena December 6, 2017, 10:33 am

      We need new sheets too. This company has been stalking my Facebook feed (along with Rothy’s, which I’ve almost cracked on) so I will also need a report! 🙂

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      • Moneypenny December 6, 2017, 1:01 pm

        I can speak for Rothy’s- they’re worth it! I’m wearing mine right now. They’re really comfortable and have held up really well for all of the walking I do. 🙂

      • Vathena December 6, 2017, 2:38 pm

        DANG IT now I gotta spend more money…

    • LisforLeslie December 6, 2017, 10:42 am

      Same – I’ve been looking for a specific color, which I didn’t see , but the gray might work. Definitely want to hear about them. Scratchy sheets are awful.

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    • Lianne December 6, 2017, 10:44 am

      I will report back sometime next week!

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  • Copa December 5, 2017, 11:10 pm

    Those slippers look SO cozy.

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    • Dear Wendy December 6, 2017, 8:38 am

      Don’t they?!

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  • Freckles December 6, 2017, 8:12 am

    I keep hearing about common core and how terrible it is. I don’t have kids so I’m not familiar with it.. Can someone explain to me what it is and why everyone hates it so much?

    Also for the holidays my husband and I both have two full weeks off. We’ll be traveling to see my parents for a few days around Christmas, and then back home just the two of us. I cannot WAIT. We have so many projects around the (new) house we want to do and we’ll actually have time to do them together!

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    • Dear Wendy December 6, 2017, 8:37 am

      I don’t know that Common Core is terrible, per se; it could be a really great way for kids to learn. But it’s frustrating for parents because it’s an entirely different way of learning than how we were taught. Instead of learning (and writing and calculating) 2+2= 4, a first-grader now has to draw “number bonds” and explain WHY 2+2= 4 and draw apples and oranges and create graphs and charts and diagrams draw lines from here to there and, I’m serious, it’s a whole huge to-do over 2+2=4. My kid LOVES math, he’s super good at math — it’s just the way his brain works — but all this rigamarole of calculating 2+2= 4 exhausts even him. He’s like, “Can I just write 4? It equals 4?”

      If you can look at this and not have your brain stop dripping down the back of your head, you’d probably do fine helping a 1st grader with his or her common core math homework.

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      • ktfran December 6, 2017, 8:47 am


      • Kate December 6, 2017, 8:47 am

        I know nothing about it, but it sounds like they’re trying to teach kids, like, data visualization, which, if true, is valuable and I can get behind. But yeah, shit, it doesn’t make it easy for those of us who learned the “old math” to help with homework.

      • Dear Wendy December 6, 2017, 8:52 am

        Yeah, I can appreciate the rationale behind this kind of teaching (I think). But it’s really fucking hard as a 41-year-old parent who isn’t very good at math to begin with and who learned it the old way back in the 80s to help her 6-year-old diagram 2+2=4 15 different ways. I am lucky that Jackson really excels at math and in the past few weeks has needed less and less supervision/help with his math homework, but I do worry about the years to come as the math gets more complicated, and as Joanie joins the school ranks. It’s too early to tell, but she may have inherited my math genes, in which case, oh, shit.

      • Kate December 6, 2017, 8:48 am

        Also, that sounds unnecessarily complex. All clients want is dumbed-down infographics anyway.

      • ktfran December 6, 2017, 9:11 am

        So, I think I mentioned on here before that I tutor. I’ve tutored the same kid since 5th grade, and she’s a Sr. now!!!! Anyway, grades 5 – 8th, she’d ALWAYS bring math homework. Long division, fine, I can help with long division. Most algebra I remembered pretty quickly. But fractions. Man, I sucked at fractions in school and I suck today. I was on my phone A LOT looking up problems.

        Wendy, I wish you luck.

        Also, they learned multiplication a lot differently than I remembered learning too.

      • Kate December 6, 2017, 9:28 am

        Even with the old math, when I was a nanny and helped the kids with their homework, I’d be on shaky ground after elementary school.

      • Lianne December 6, 2017, 9:37 am

        I feel like the concept is fine, but why the overkill with how many ways you can demonstrate it??

      • Copa December 6, 2017, 11:44 am

        Is common core a new nationwide standard? My family moved around a lot as a kid, and I constantly felt behind in math because California public schools taught math a different way from Michigan public schools, which was different from how they taught it in New Jersey, which was different from how they taught it at international school. (And for one year at one teeny-tiny, Little House on the Praire-style international school, I had a math teacher who had us teach ourselves math.) We moved in the middle of the school-year when I was in fourth grade, and I failed my first test — a math test — because I had no clue what they were doing in my new class. It was SO different. And I remember being told a few times that I was good at math, but I dreaded and hated it and was just done with it by the time I was a junior in high school because it was always such a shaky transition for me, and I felt stupid. My poor dad would try to help me with homework, but by the time I got to high school calculus classes, I realized that he was studying the textbooks himself just to help me. So, yeah, good luck!

      • Dear Wendy December 6, 2017, 12:57 pm

        Common Core is nation-wide, yes (in public schools at least). I will be useless at helping with math homework past, like, second grade. Seriously, it’s already such a steep learning curve for me trying to figure out common core 1st grade math. I’m counting on Jackson to continue doing well enough that soon he won’t need parental help, if Joanie needs assistance eventually, he can help her.

    • Skyblossom December 6, 2017, 10:20 am

      The thing that helped me help my daughter with her math was that I bought the textbook and had it at home to see how to do the math their way. Once you know how to do it the math is much simpler.

      Now that they have chromebooks and I never see a textbook it is again harder to help with math.

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    • Fyodor December 6, 2017, 11:22 am

      SOF’s* teacher was showing us at (1st grade) Parent/Teacher Night the math concepts they were going to be learning and almost none of it was recognizable to me. I have a degree in physics and have taken a lot of advanced math and didn’t recognize most of the terminology.

      *Spawn of Fyodor

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      • Dear Wendy December 6, 2017, 11:35 am

        I never imagined I’d spend so much time Googling help for 1st grade math. I also didn’t anticipate an hour of homework each night for my 6-year-old (not that we actually make him do that much — but that is what he is assigned every day).

      • MissDre December 6, 2017, 11:42 am

        I didn’t know you had a degree in physics! That’s super cool. My partner is a physicist, and while I don’t understand much of what he does, I feel smarter just by being around him 😛

      • Fyodor December 6, 2017, 1:38 pm

        It was just undergrad and it’s been nearly two decades-I doubt I could do much useful physics these days.

  • Moneypenny December 6, 2017, 1:08 pm

    I have found that when I give my parents a list of a few things I would really like, they usually completely disregard it and don’t get anything from it. Instead I get slippers or pajamas or something. (Which I don’t need, because they usually got me the same thing the previous year…)
    I asked for a new fitbit (the Flex, as mine is on the verge of dying completely), a 23 and me kit (which I’m not expecting but I really want to try!), and a gift card for some new workout gear. My sister is getting me a crock pot (also something I asked for!)
    Gotta say though, those are some cute earrings!

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    • Moneypenny December 6, 2017, 1:14 pm

      Also to add: the folks always ask me for a list of what I would like, so I oblige with a couple of things. And I started making lists of what to get for my family on my phone back in September, because I’ve been looking forward to this time of year since then!

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      • ktfran December 6, 2017, 1:19 pm

        I send my mom a list too. She knows I’m super particular, so she’s pretty good at gifting off that.

        This year, my sister and I got our nieces tickets to Wicked and in turn, my mom got the three of us those as well. We go on my birthday!

      • Moneypenny December 6, 2017, 2:09 pm

        Ktfran, Wicked sounds awesome! I am more into giving experiences than stuff for my parents, mainly because they don’t really want/need anything. I’m getting my parents tickets to the symphony this year (I did one other year and they loved it). In years past I’ve given them restaurant gift cards so they can go out to a nice dinner or two.

      • ktfran December 6, 2017, 3:55 pm

        That will be so much fun MP!

        We like to do experiences for the nieces. Two years ago, it was Lion King! This year, I’m getting the husband Broadway in Chicago season tickets.

      • Moneypenny December 6, 2017, 4:13 pm

        That sounds really fun KT!! And also a good thing for you if the tickets are a pair 😛
        I buy myself ballet season tickets- I can pick my own performances and get them pre-sale at a discount. It’s a treat for myself and I always get pairs of tix so I can invite a friend or my mom.

      • ktfran December 6, 2017, 9:22 pm

        I have a friend that’s buying herself season tickets to the ballet. So fun!

    • va-in-ny December 6, 2017, 2:07 pm

      I had to explicitly tell my mom this year to please not get us toothbrushes (we have one of those sonic ones), hats, scarves, and gloves.

      They are always thrown in there as small additional gifts (like stocking stuffers, I guess) and when we moved, I uncovered a LOT of hats and gloves with the tags still on them!

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      • Moneypenny December 6, 2017, 2:12 pm

        Oh my! I’m glad I’m not the only one then… I know things like scarves and gloves and slippers are good go-to gifts, but there are really only so many you need and they just don’t wear out that fast! 😛

    • Copa December 6, 2017, 3:31 pm

      I gave my sister a Crock Pot a few years ago, and I think it’s one of her favorite gifts she’s received.

      My mom buys me socks every single year. They’re actually the same brand/style in different colors from year-to-year. I actually had to tell her that I cannot get more socks this year because my sock drawer is literally at capacity.

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      • Copa December 6, 2017, 3:33 pm

        Also, I think I’m great at surprising my sister with things she didn’t ask for but ends up genuinely loving. I can’t remember what I got her last year, but I’m looking for a great weekender bag for her this year. She’s always borrowing mine so I feel confident that’ll be something she truly likes while still being a practical gift.

      • ktfran December 6, 2017, 3:54 pm

        Check out Lo & Sons. I like all of their weekenders. If you can catch a 30 – 40% off, the price isn’t outrageous.

        I have the Catalina and I take it everywhere.

      • va-in-ny December 6, 2017, 4:07 pm

        OH! You’ve just given me an idea. I think I’ll get my sister-in-law an Instant Pot for Christmas this year. She’s been one I can’t find anything for this year. I love my Instant Pot!

      • ktfran December 6, 2017, 4:09 pm

        I bought my mom the insta pot last year and she has yet to use it. Jerk! I might have to commandeer.

        I even bought her a cookbook and the glass lid.

      • Moneypenny December 6, 2017, 4:09 pm

        Copa, my sister gave me a Herschel bag a couple of years ago and I use it as a weekend bag (or for trips where I pack light). It works great and it’s also bubble gum pink so it’s easy to spot (like at the airport). I recommend it!

      • Copa December 6, 2017, 11:26 pm

        @ktfran I LOVE the Catalina! What size do you have? I don’t own any bags from Lo & Sons, but I believe I learned about the brand from DW and have been admiring the Catalina online for maybe a year now. That bottom compartment seems so handy!

      • ktfran December 7, 2017, 8:45 am

        So, when I bought mine, all they had was the basic Catalina. I have taken it on nearly every trip since getting it. I can easily fit a three or four day trip in there.

        With the new versions, I think I’d buy the deluxe small. On-line, that bottom pocket insert looks pretty cool. You could fit it under your airplane seat too, if you wanted a normal carry on as well.

      • Copa December 7, 2017, 10:05 am

        Yeah, I’ve thought about the small or even the tote. They have photos of two models holding the bag so you can get an idea for size. I’m shorter than the 5’4″ model and the regular Catalina looks absolutely huge on her.

      • ktfran December 7, 2017, 10:12 am

        YES! I like the tote too. I thought about ordering it for my mom for Christmas.

        My next bag purchase needs to be a stylish backpack. My work laptop is so effing heavy and a shoulder tote just doesn’t cut it.

    • Another Jen December 6, 2017, 4:19 pm

      Here’s my mom’s newest go-to gift move: I show up at Thanksgiving wearing something new. Mom says, “I love that, your birthday is next week…I’d love it to be a gift from me…how much was it?” And then proceeds to write me a birthday check in that amount. Weird, right?

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      • SpaceySteph December 6, 2017, 5:06 pm

        Not for everyone, but my mom has done this forever and I love it. Then I’m like “sweet, found money!”

      • Moneypenny December 6, 2017, 5:44 pm

        That seems a little weird to me, but also at the same time, kind of nice. Because, money! 😛

  • Ange December 6, 2017, 5:07 pm

    My family and I dealt with Christmas angst by just not doing gifts anymore. Honestly it was great, we just go to dinner or have a get together instead.

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