What are you getting for. . .

Tis the season of frantic emails between friends to say “hey, what are you getting for. . . the babysitter, your grandmother, the dogwalker. . . ” As I’ve talked about in the past few posts, gift giving is hard, expected, and exhausting. So let’s pool our ideas and try to figure things out. Here’s what I’ve gotten in the past (or am getting this year. So if you are my dogwalker, assistant, day care provider, or babysitter, stop reading now.)

Day Care Providers:

I mentioned in my Liberating Working Mom blog post last week that I’ve found a gift that works for our day care providers and I’ve stuck with it through the years. These blankets from Lands’ End are soft, cozy and look very nice. Who doesn’t like a nice cozy blanket? I write a note about how I hope that the blanket allows them to feel as safe and loved as they have made my daughters feel in the past year. Everyone seems to like the gift. You can even get it monogrammed. (And, if you use Ebates, you can get 6% back at Lands End right now!) I’m including a small tube of Aveda hand lotion for each as well since they wash their hands so often.

In addition to the main teachers in the classrooms (2 for each girl, so yes, 4 blankets!), there are classroom aides, the administrative staff, directors, etc. I like to be sure they know we appreciate how hard they work to keep our children happy and cared for daily. I send a box of Cheryl’s Cookies to the front desk for the directors and support staff. If there aides who are regularly in the kids’ classroom, I may get something small for them. This year, I’ve gotten the main aide in Lila’s class some salt scrub and a Theo candy bar.


I know not everyone is lucky enough to have their own assistant, but you may have people within the workplace who make your life easier in some way – be it the mail room attendant or the lady who saves you the last blueberry scone in the coffee stand. I’m lucky enough to have my own assistant and I like to make sure she is happy and feels appreciated because she does a lot to make me look good on a daily basis. She likes coffee and tea and delicious food. For this year, I got her some Starbucks coffee, a tea sampler and a gift card to Whole Foods. Nothing fancy, but something that shows I hope she has a very nice holiday.


So first of all, you’re probably beginning to realize it takes a mighty big village to run this family. Second, we love our dog walker. She has her own nicknames for Cal, she loves him and helps him get the exercise he needs while we’re at work. It’s an odd relationship since I have almost no personal interaction with her, but she has my alarm code, key to my home and cares for my pets. I also know nothing about her other than her love of dogs and reliable nature. So I’ll go generic, probably cash. It may be impersonal but I know she can use it as she would like.


I love our babysitter. She is awesome, amazing, and other than A there is no one I trust more with my children. So keeping her happy is high on my list of things to do. Being that she is a sweet and caring nursing student, I made a donation in her name to WorldVision to support medical care in the neediest locations. I want to give her something that she can use herself so I’m thinking of getting her a pretty scarf – I think she’d like this one from Gap. It matches her bright but practical style. I think I’ll get her a nice Christmas ornament too so that years from now when she no longer sits for us (heaven forbid) she’ll remember my girls, as I remember the kids I babysat for in college.


Grandparents are a big part of this blog’s readership, so let’s keep it simple and not give away all our secrets. Every year since the girls were born, grandparent gift buying as been pretty simple. Put a grandkid’s face on a variety of items = instant fantastic gift. I do calendars every year and they continue to be a hit. So much so that starting last year I make one for myself as well. There are many sites that can make photo calendars, but we have always used Shutterfly.

Do any of these gifts speak to you? What’s on your gift listĀ for all the supporting players in your life?

Gift Cards: Evil or Evil Genius?

So the holidays are here. Ho ho ho. I love the holidays, I really do, though I do tend to get wrapped up in all the to dos and out a bit. After a late arriving birthday party invitation through our weekend schedule into disarray this week, I may have had a small anxiety attack that resulted in me hyperventilating at my assistant’s desk. (You guys, the struggle is real in December.)

As I discussed over at Liberating Working Moms this week, gift giving is a huge part of the holidays and one that takes up a lot of energy. As the name Two Washingtons suggests, we still have lots of family and friends on the east coast. So their holiday gifts not only need to be purchased, but then shipped to the other side of the country to make it in time for the holiday.

This is our fifth (!) Christmas in Seattle, so I’ve got the shipping things done to a science. I know when things need to be shipped by, I know how to pack a box and what a great friend the self serve shipping machine is. It’s not the shipping that has my losing sleep this season. It is the what the heck do I get you thing that is killing me. It sounds sort of silly, but honestly, why do we have to give gifts EVERY year?

It is not the gift giving itself that I mind. I’m all for giving something to people that they want and can use. But it is the gift giving for gift giving sake that drives me crazy. The proliferation of stuff everywhere that accumulates from the need to just give something. I’d love to be able to find the perfect gift for everyone that I know they will love and use, and not feel like I am just needlessly contributing to the clutter in their lives. (Maybe this is partly me projecting that I do not know where we will put all the stuff that will accumulate in our house this holiday season. We want to move in the spring and every time something new enters the house I think, where will I put that and how will I pack it.)

So what are your gift giving tips? Honestly, I’m to the point of only giving gift cards this year. Part of me thinks it is a cop out but I spend so much of the holiday gift trying to find the “perfect” gift that meets my usabililty requirements, that I end up driving myself crazy. A gift card that allows the receiver to use as they wish – be that for more things or something they truly find useful – seems to be the best plan right now. I think the ability for them to truly buy what they want/need helps to reduce the guilt of sending the impersonal gift card.

Do you feel overwhelmed by stuff at the holidays? Have you found a good “non-thing” gift for your loved ones? (And to those on my gift list – SURPRISE! – you’re getting a gift card.)

How Do You Find the Time?

I’m pretty frustrated with my weight. I’m the heaviest I’ve been (non-pregnant) in the last 5 years. I know that I need to eat better. I’ve cut out some simple things like alcohol during the week and soy lattes. I’m working on the food part of things, though to be honest the holidays are a […]

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It is very easy to get overwhelmed in the holiday season. To wish that there wasn’t a giant meal to make, or parties to attend, or cookies to bake or gifts to buy. But the truth is, we are so blessed to have so many stresses. So many #firstworldproblems to deal with and no real […]

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Adventures in Wine Country

WA Birthdays in Woodinville

On my actual birthday, things were rough. I was 35, work was busy and Lucy was sick. We spent the night in the emergency room with her, splitting a Starbucks fruit and cheese box for dinner between the four of us. I went to bed exhausted, hungry and unimpressed with 35. Lucky for me, A […]

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How Zumba Taught Me How to Be 35

Zumba helping me come to grips with getting old

So I’m 35 today. I’m not overly excited about it. In fact, I’ve been dreading it since turning 34. I’m old. I’m cranky. I’m out of shape. Oh, and I’m tired. Oh so very tired. But in preparing to write this post, I tried to think about what the angle would be. I’m old and […]

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Thanksgiving Preparations (or Lack Thereof)


I am aware that Thanksgiving in the time of the Pilgrims was probably pretty difficult. I mean, finding and killing a turkey. Growing everything you were going to eat. Staying alive until the holiday. You know, stuff. But there are things that we have to deal with that they did not. Namely, Pinterest.     […]

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Earning a Relaxing Veterans Day

Veterans Day is always a funny day for me. The appreciation for those of us who chose to join the military is nice – as is the free cupcakes and coffee. The overabundance of commercialization of the day bothers me some – camouflage on every football uniform and other feel good actions. The day makes […]

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My Personal Fitness Assistant – ClassPass in Seattle

Class Pass Subscription Fitness Program Launches in Seattle

So here’s the thing. I’m almost 35. (If only you knew how hard it is for me to say those words.) I’m almost 35, I’ve birthed two children. My body is not exactly what it was when I met my husband. (I recently gave away the size 4 dress I was wearing the day I […]

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The Week That Was

Gratuitous Adorable Photo

While it has been quiet here on Two Washingtons, we’ve been keeping it real throughout the internets. Over at Liberating Working Moms, we started the week sharing our real life admissions and realizing that while moms may sometimes feel like everyone but them has their lives together, the truth is we all order Papa John’s […]

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