Presents and shopping

These two related topics dovetail nicely so they are posted together.

Holiday Gift Giving

by North of Boston

OK, Totebaggers, the Holidays are upon us, so let’s talk presents. What are you planning to give your loved ones? What are you hoping to get? Are you changing your gift-giving habits this year (e.g. expanding or contracting your recipient list, or spending more or less on gifts than you have in the past)? And if you’re stuck on what to get someone, here’s your chance to ask for suggestions!

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Shopping Deals

by Finn

With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, that can only mean one thing: Black Friday is also approaching, to be followed by Small Business Saturday, then Cyber Monday.

Are you looking to take advantage of any deals offered in this shopping season? What are your strategies? Are there any great deals out there that you’re willing to share?

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125 thoughts on “Presents and shopping

  1. DH and I usually answer “my two front teeth”, but this year it might be true. My teeth are getting yellower and more chipped. I’m considering getting them capped, which seems to mean crowned in real dental-speak. But then crowns don’t last that long so I’m not sure.

  2. I am buying less, but that is as much a function of my kids’ ages as anything. A couple of major electronic purchases, and tickets to an event or two that we’ll attend as a family.

    I typically avoid Black Friday shopping, although I did go out late one Thanksgiving night with my then-teen daughter. This year my husband wants some electronics that are on Brst Buy’s Black Friday sale, so I may order online for store pickup and call it done.

    We are driving to see relatives today, and I am in an irrationally good mood about spending 8 hours in a smallish car with four people. I love everything about the holiday season, except the food. My tree is up, outside lights are hung, and I’ve done a little shopping. We are staying in a hotel at my in-laws and at my families (my sibling’s family is staying at my parents’ house), so we get a break when we need one.

  3. I would like a long nap. Uninterrupted me time would be blissful. Divine really.

    No big purchases – we had to replace our fence this fall because of Hurricane (TS? don’t remember) Hermine.

    We will shop SBS and start in a new city this year and work our way back towards our house. We’ll see how DS does. He may need a break for a nap, then we’ll go out locally afterward. Hell, I may need a break – I tire so easily this pregnancy.

    I need ideas for a 20 year old girl (no college – FT work) and an almost 11 year old girl. My nieces stump me all the darn time. Suggestions for the 11-13 yo set would be useful too (all girls).

  4. One gift that has proved very popular for my kids are a certificate for a day of unlimited screen time and also a stay up as late as you want certificate. DD is now 16 and has outgrown these (since she has an iphone, she pretty much has unlimited screen time) – but my 11 year old loves it. He combines the two although the first year, it didn’t occur to him until he’d already used the unlimited screen time and then decided to use the stay up as late as you want certificate on a later day. He was mad when he realized the missed opportunity. Needless to say, he has not repeated this mistake.

  5. Rocky – DW got a bunch of porcelain veneers a few years ago. I think that’s similar to or the same as what you’re talking about. She’s had no issues with it.

    Question – Are name brand Magnatiles worth the price premium? My youngest has them, or a knock-off, at preschool and wants them for Christmas.

  6. I often have a hard time thinking of things but this year I really want these running lights. A friend has them and it sounds like they light up the path so you can see where you’re going. I run in the morning before work – and in winter, it’s pretty dark and in a couple parts of my route, it’s difficult to see where the pavement is uneven or giant puddles.

    https://www.amazon.com/Night-Runner-270-Lights-Running/dp/B018EK6RUY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479833540&sr=8-1&keywords=night+runner+270

  7. My kids have outgrown the toy stage. I send gifts to younger nephews and nieces. Both my kids were very happy to get hand me down Kindles that their grandparents weren’t using. Grandparents will get new iPads.
    DS wants a laptop computer which will make it a bit easier to do certain assignments so that maybe a gift. It probably will be a shared device, get rid of the family PC and put a laptop instead.
    Nothing new or exciting that anyone wants.

  8. DW got a bunch of porcelain veneers a few years ago. I think that’s similar to or the same as what you’re talking about. She’s had no issues with it.

    Oh, really? See, when I asked my dentist, she said they’d be “crowns”. I should read up on this online. Thanks for the info.

  9. We do have a few things on the list. I will get new boots that I can wear at work too. We bought the new Ninja coffee bar and tried it once. DH said that it did not make that great a cup over his regular coffee maker for the price, so it will go back to Costco. DH also bought a Bose Bluetooth speaker. But since he is giving me hassle about spending money on a new Roomba, I pointed out his own purchase of unnecessary items and so along with Ninja, the Bose speakers will go back too.

    We both need new clothes and need to get some new furniture to go with the newly remodeled house. So money will go there I guess. The kid already has more than enough and gets shopped for throughout the year.

  10. SSM – brilliant on both fronts. DH struggles with when to run after the time change, because it’s dark by the time he gets home and he does not enjoy running at the gym. I am ordering those for him. And the gift certificate idea is great.

    Oldest DS has requested a “nice watch” for Christmas. I am pretty sure he means a Garmin style watch, with fitness settings. He doesn’t want one like mine (Forerunner). Any suggestions?

  11. No shopping for us this year — two sets of relatives in two states over four days for T-Day this year, so I am just planning on enjoying the time we have with them (and hoping I don’t have to work — stupid $%%^&@ back injury has cost me time the past few days). Luckily, Taos again for Christmas, so everyone gets $ to go buy fossils with. Makes it easy.

  12. Starting last year or the year before we gave my parents a ‘wine of the month’ delivery. Their birthdays are in June, so we do that for them then, too. They LOVE it. The company picks the wines sends a bottle each of red and white (it can be all red or all white also, whatever you want).
    I get texts when it’s wine day at their house.

    Oldest (22) wants just cash, but I’m thinking he needs a new computer which we’ll happily buy and he can try the cash/gift card angle when others ask. For middle (and oldest if he really does not want a computer) we have also given Stubhub “gift certificates”. Quotes because I just do them in powerpoint and tell them they have $X on us at Stubhub, or other sporting/concert event which they can charge to the family visa card. No Idea yet on youngest, though he has talked about a $999 drone which ain’t happening…even if he funds half like he offered this past weekend.

    Nothing on my list, yet. But I haven’t thought about it either. Probably need to update the ~7yo family laptop but it works fine for what I need so maybe not. The Christmas gift season is a PITA for me because my B’day is fairly early in January so everyone wants to know what I want for that, too. And it seems no one just wants to give me one thing and call it good.

  13. RMS, you may want to consult a cosmetic dentist – might be extra $$ but worth it since its on your face!

    Rhode – the 20 year old might really like cash or a gas card – not super fun but super useful. I have no clue on the tweens. My daughter has become so highly specific that my mother is just going to take her shopping to get what she wants. I’ll get her some Hamilton stuff and then just take her to the mall too. Son doesn’t want a thing which is kind of terrific. We may just put some cash in his savings account – he’s getting to the age where he’s out and doing things with his friends. We aren’t home for Christmas this year and we are redoing our downstairs so there’s no tree or anything. Kind of sad but also a big relief. New grill for DH and just need brother and SIL gifts and I’m done. Parents I took care of ages ago.

    Also can we stop using gift as a verb? I really don’t like it.

  14. Oh and i don’t want anything at all. Getting kitchen and family room makeover and the sexy new gutters coming my way are more than enough.

  15. Fred, you and my husband have a lot in common. They are actually pretty nice to look at and it is nice to know the rain won’t leak in the house anymore!

  16. DH got his dad’s pristine-condition Shopsmith Mk V about a year ago, so he just wants various gadgets and extensions for it. Now that the basement remodel is finished, his workshop is all set up and he happily putters down there and makes a huge racket with the damn Shopsmith all weekend.

  17. RMS, are your teeth still straight? Is your bite still good, i.e., are the upper and lower teeth still touching together nicely?

    Several years ago, I started having some problems with my teeth. My dentist asked me about grinding, as he saw signs of some molars grinding, which had never been an issue for me before; a tooth cracked and needed a crown, and a couple fillings popped out and needed to be replaced.

    Turns out, my teeth were moving. The molars were sort of collapsing inward, and they were pushing the front teeth around. The big tipoff was when my lower front teeth starting hitting the backs of my uppers.

    I spent a bunch of money on braces, but that seems to have helped a lot. My bite is better, and my dentist says there’s no indication that I’ve been grinding my teeth again.

    But while braces might help with the chipping, I don’t think they’ll help with the yellowing.

  18. “The Christmas gift season is a PITA for me because my B’day is fairly early in January so everyone wants to know what I want for that, too. And it seems no one just wants to give me one thing and call it good.”

    Fred, you, DS and my dad and his wife all have the same issue. DS is born ~2 weeks after Xmas, so we create a Xmas/Bday list for both families. It’s kinda ridiculous, but hey, they can’t say we didn’t ask for things. My dad and his wife are both born Xmas week (one 2 days before, one 3 days after). They get combined gifts from us because I’m lazy and I know they don’t want 2.

    The tween set is the hardest for me… all girls ages 11-14. Ugh! The boys are slightly easier. but not by much.

  19. I liked Fossil watches a lot in my 20s- I think they are a “nice watch” for teenager. However, they are more the rugged leather look, not highly technical.

    I like holiday shopping. I like getting and giving presents more than I should as a tote bagger.

    Speaking of total lack of UMC credibility…. I just worked 5 12-h night shifts. While providing superlative patient care, I was able to spend roughly 58 hours watching to see if/when Hatchimals were in stock on any of the major websites. Not once!

    Of course, I got a solid night’s sleep last night and missed 4 alerts, one by 12 minutes.

    I have fond memories of really wanting a cabbage patch doll, knowing that they were impossible to get, and finding one under the Christmas tree. So, despite my children’s relative abundance, I think this might be a year where I can still create a bit of magic. Not for $300, though. One has to draw the line somewhere.

  20. We have a 5 present, plus a couple of consumable stocking stuffers, rule. It means a present from Rudolph (the practical reindeer gives things like bathrobes, pjs, alarm clocks, etc.), from Santa (something fun, but not the big gift), from Mom, from Dad and from sibling. This rule has kept Christmas manageable for us both financially and from making this a crazy holiday. When they get smaller things that go together, like coloring book and crayons, were either put in a bigger or odd shaped box or tie together with ribbon.

    Two DDs in high school. DD#1 just got a new phone for her 17th birthday this month. We also moved her off a prepaid plan and onto my monthly plan. Her plan is one they don’t offer any longer and the new plan that they keep trying to force her to is the same cost as putting her on my monthly plan. Now that she has more space, I know a Google Play card is in the mix. I really think DD#2 wants a “concert” flute (meaning higher quality than the one she has now) and will use her current one for marching only. I don’t think that fits in our budget just finding out she wants it this month! So, it gets harder as they get older.

    I have asked for one of these: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/pny-duo-link-64gb-usb-3-0-apple-lightning-flash-drive/5069300.p?skuId=5069300&ref=212&loc=1&ksid=131227c1-9543-4b28-aeb1-ac42a06bb1ed&ksprof_id=8&ksaffcode=pg199131&ksdevice=c&lsft=ref:212,loc:2 (hopefully the link works).

    I am hoping next year we will splurge on a holiday trip and it will be the “gift.”

  21. “My daughter has become so highly specific that my mother is just going to take her shopping to get what she wants.”

    My sister has done this with my kids, as well as her other nieces and nephews, several times in the past. She liked the time to hang out with the kids, and it took her about the same amount of time as shopping by herself.

  22. “Fred, you and my husband have a lot in common. They are actually pretty nice to look at ”

    You’ve seen Fred in person?

  23. Ada, good luck with those. It is so freaking liberating to not have to be competing for those gifts anymore. A little sad but mostly liberating – oh and the Elf. We still put him out but it isn’t the end of the world if no one moves him anymore! He’s a slacker elf now.

  24. Facebook suggested this to me the other day, and it proved their advertising algorithms are sometimes quite accurate. https://www.litographs.com/collections/t-shirts

    Basically, the whole text of a book (maybe not all of it, but who can actually tell?) on a t-shirt or tote bag. This will be making it under the tree for DH, as well as some other folks.

  25. My kids still want toys so I’ve been following the FB Group How Does She Save which is highlighting some pretty good deals.

    I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I’ve started selling BeautyCounter products because I love them so much, so my mother/sisters/MIL are all getting BeautyCounter.

    I got DH a neck massager thing for the car because he always complains about his neck and back hurting when we do car trips. Other than that we’re the same as Moxie, our kitchen and family room are getting redone so it will be small gifts this year. We’re scheduled to finish 5 days before Christmas right now and the kids are very worried about where we will put the tree (and haven’t really found a solution to that problem yet).

    Rhode – does the 11 year old like to read? My oldest (9.5) loves the Mother Daughter book club series. I also got my oldest this for Christmas (haven’t tried it yet) but it looks way cool:

    https://www.amazon.com/Original-Buddha-Board-Master-letting/dp/B0010TEFFQ/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&qid=1479596838&sr=8-1&keywords=buddha+board&linkCode=sl1&tag=wellnessmama-20&linkId=a405464362141fd1b995903d2dca251f

  26. Target has become a new favorite online store for me since I discovered they offer free shipping on everything. Their prices are good, and today they’re offering 25% off all beauty products.

  27. Finn – Going from a “student” flute ($300-$500) range to an “intermediate” or “concert” level flute ($1,000 plus). Her 2nd student flute has open holes (first one damaged beyond repair due to poor choices made by child) that the instructor has us buy plugs for initially, but now she plays without them.

  28. Rhode, yes if you have a reader my daughter used to like Cricket and now that she’s more mature enjoys her subscription to Cicada.

    Ada, I think they also have Etsy gift cards which is nice if you aren’t sure.

  29. My DD’s friend (HS freshman) wants a birchbox subscription. My kids loved the Cricket, Cicada, etc. series through Middle School.

  30. Milo – our kids love the Magnatiles. I don’t know what the generic ones are, but they’d be fine too, I think. We had a couple family members give sets for Christmas and birthdays, so we probably have 200-300 pieces. They use them with their other toys like making a zoo and then using their animals inside etc.

  31. My oldest wants a Wacom tablet for the computer. The middle one wants expensive Lego sets, and DD wants every piece of plastic crap out there. I have no idea what I want. We need glassware, so maybe I will ask for that. My DH has a shopvac on his wish list. God, we are boring.

  32. I am giving the kids cash this year. They go out regularly with their friends, so cash is helpful. Also, they don’t really want or need anything. BIL and my sister are always a challenge. I think I’m going to buy an Amazon Dot for them.

  33. Rhode – for girls, products or gift certificates to bath and body type stores, cosmetic chains or the pouches that Ada posted.

  34. Austin, don’t forget the used instrument market. You can google to find out what’s recommended as a high school / college level instrument, or just ask her band teacher, and then there are instrument shops that list on Ebay. That’s what we did for my daughter’s “new” trombone.

  35. Rhode, crafty stuff is good for tween girls. For teens, it depends on the teen, but good art supplies can be good.

  36. My kids’s lists are still works in progress. I basically bought myself a new wardrobe at Nordstrom and DH and I are likely buying a boat so we need absolutely nothing on our christmas lists. I would like a new curling iron and some smartwool running socks and some new tights. DH is getting a sodastream and a new foul weather jacket for sailing. Grandmas are getting wool ponchos from Orvis that are lightweight and good for travel. We might get the kids a Go Pro.

    My kids love the magnatiles and while they might be too old for them, I am thinking about getting them.

  37. Rhode – most years since I have had kids and worked full time, my biggest wish has been for more time in every day.

  38. Any ideas for my new stepmom? She is just under 70, likes to read and is not athletic. They have lots of house stuff and/or I wouldn’t know what to buy. Amazon gift card?

  39. Anyone have good suggestions for daily good deeds for kids and families? I am working on a family advent calendar that would involve giving back to our community or people in need, generally. .

  40. HM – We have a pretty small used market where we are now. But, even the used flutes are of that type are over $500. With some planning it will be easier to swing vs 6 weeks notice, so more likely a birthday present next summer.

    Last summer she got a used tenor sax that she and her sister share – Craig’s List, but still had band director check it out. Her sister uses the school sax, but practices on the one they share, I just bought her her own mouthpiece. Flutist also wants to learn picolo, but the school will have several of those at the end of this year that she can use.

  41. @ MiaMama – writing notes to people who have made a difference in your life is a good one (coaches, teachers, etc)

  42. HM – Yes, I’ve been looking since she mentioned it. But, still more than I’m ready to put out at the moment.

    We are unfortunately past the stage that a $15 present filled their desires.

  43. I have a pretty short shopping list. We don’t exchange with our own siblings, so that cuts out a lot. Starting to have more nieces & nephews though, which means more people to buy for. Cleaning lady gets cash. Haven’t decided what to do for subordinates yet.

    DH & I do not exchange gifts anymore, which is great. I found it to be kind of silly to buy each other things for the holidays.

    DS has a pretty short list – some World Series Champions stuff, points/credit for his PS4 games, baseball cards, iTunes gift cards, etc. He used to have nothing on his list, so it’s nice to have a few things to work with.

  44. We are short on cash this year owing to construction of a garage at the timber property, so any presents will be small. I may not get DH anything and just save money for a giant tractor and leaf vacuum for next year.

  45. Austin, now might be a good time to buy a flute. WWBW.com has a 15% off coupon on its home page now, and perhaps other merchants are also offering discounts.

    I’ve taken advantage of 20% off coupons to buy DS’ violin case (regular ~$560) and DD’s bow (~$800).

  46. Fred, does your son get an employee discount? If so, perhaps he should do all the computer buying for your family.

  47. Lakeshore Learning has magnatiles, and they accept coupons. It’s a great toy that will last for years. I’m sure the copycats are fine, as long as the magnets are secured in the plastic.

    My daughter suggested make up for 11 year old, but only if parents would permit. She also likes crafts and there is a bunch of stuff that you can get from Michaels that isn’t expensive. For example, tiny beads and wire to make bracelets. Some girls like the coloring books that are marketed for teens and adults.

  48. I want to load up the kids’ kindles with books to read during extended travels. They are boys ages 10 and 11 and I need a little less Big Nate/Wimpy Kid and more chapter novels. What books do you consider classics that should be read by all middle schoolers. Ideally, I would like for to us to be able to read a few of these books together.

  49. I always buy my kids some good art supplies as stocking stuffers. The really skinny sharpies are my younger son’s favorite for drawing.

  50. “What books do you consider classics that should be read by all middle schoolers.”

    Harry Potter?

  51. Ha – I actually deleted my last sentence before posting, which said: They don’t like Harry Potter (but I do).

  52. Finn – Will keep watching them. Yes, 15% off is good, but on their site, it would be off of a $700 flute. Not saying they are a bad deal, just a deal out of my budget this late in the year.

  53. Mia: summer reading lists from my kids’ school; not classics, but some ideas:
    Entering 6th GRADE
    Required reading by all:
    1. Holes by Louis Sachar ISBN-13: 9780440414803
    Choose two of the following four titles:
    2. Janitors by Tyler Whitesides ISBN-13: 9781609070656
    3. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen ISBN-13: 9781416936473
    4. Football Genius by Tim Green ISBN-13: 9780061122736
    5. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne ISBN-13: 9780385751537

    Entering 7th GRADE
    Required reading by all:
    1. The Rangers Apprentice (Book 1) by John Flanagan ISBN-13: 9780142406632
    Choose two of the following four titles
    2. Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz ISBN-13: 9780142406113
    3. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman ISBN-13: 9780060530945
    4. The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan ISBN-13: 9780803735002/
    5. Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Cholendnko ISBN-13: 9780142403709

    Entering 8th GRADE
    Required reading by all:
    1. Eragon by Christopher Paolini ISBN-13: 9780375826696
    Choose two of the following three titles
    2. Blue Skin of the Sea by Graham Salisbury ISBN-13: 9780440219057
    3. Heat by Mike Lupica ISBN-13: 9780142407578
    4. The Runaway King (Book 2) by Jennifer A. Nielsen ISBN-13: 9780545281465

  54. Atlanta, you’re going to have to let us know how that neck massager works out.

    I’ve bought a bunch of different massagers over the years, with mixed results (the massage chair from Costco is still far and away the best of the bunch). But I’ve yet to find anything that works well for my neck (and shoulders).

  55. MiaMama, I also liked the Dark is Rising series at that age and all of Tom Clancy’s books (but they are dense!).

  56. Those running lights are amazing. Never heard of such a thing but glad that so many of you are on top of the cool gifts. And love the book text on a T-shirt too.

    DH and I are going to France next month for a conference so that is our Christmas gift. Any suggestions for must-see or don’t-bother in Paris would be welcome.

    Hardest folks to buy for are my dad and MIL. Dad loves to read but hates for anyone to spend good $ on a book when the library is free. And MIL sadly suffering from serious memory issues so anything new is often left in the closet or on the shelf because she won’t recognize it as “hers.”

  57. MiaMama, when my DS was in 5th grade, his favorite series was The Last Thirteen. Also, the Theodore Boone, Kid Attorney books by John Grisham were great.

    I was going to say anything by Rick Riordan, but if yours don’t like Harry Potter they may not like Percy Jackson.

  58. My girls love the Eragon series, Eragon is just the first.
    The Percy Jackson series
    Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
    DD#1 likes anything Cornelia Funke wrote
    A Wrinkle in Time (the whole series)
    Tom Trueheart Series by Ian Beck

    Go to Goodreads, select lists, then search middle school and it will return several lists such as Top 100 Middle School Must Reads.

  59. How do I gift/say thanks for great service to my coffee place ladies ? The staff are so cheerful
    have great service and make my mornings great. They rotate duties so all are not cashiers every day.

  60. “Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones”

    I did not know the movie was based on a book.

  61. “Hardest folks to buy for are my dad and MIL. Dad loves to read but hates for anyone to spend good $ on a book when the library is free.”

    Donation to the library in his name?

  62. We listened to Huckleberry Finn on audiobook and they enjoyed it – it was a little easier on audiobook because the regional dialect is easier to listen to than read. I think Shakespeare would be good. I think I started reading it in 7th grade.

    They like Percy Jackson.

    Love the library donation idea – might be a good gift for my MIL.

  63. It’s past 4 for some people, so I’ll ask a somewhat related question:

    Early next year, DS will be in front of the orchestra, and as such will not be bound by the normal dress code (tuxes for males, long black dresses for females).

    Any thoughts/advice on what he could wear? Others seem to have gotten some good advice here on clothing.

  64. Ha ha, Finn. She actually does have a plastic trombone, bought when she’d only been playing a year. The tone when used with a metal mouthpiece is surprisingly decent. But among other things, I don’t believe there are any plastic trigger trombones. The new (actually used from early 70s) trombone ran us about $1400, and a new equivalent would have cost more than twice that.

  65. Mia, how about all those kid thrillers like the Missing series and other books by Margaret Peterson Haddix or the Gordon Korman thriller-type series (On the Run, Dive, Everest, Kidnapped, Island, like that). Or the Origami Yoda series.

  66. Fred – Do your kids go to a boys’ school? I am suprised at the march of white adolescent boyhood those lists represent (though I have read and loved a number of those books – just would expect a bit more diversity).

  67. A good fantasy series that takes the main characters from about 11 to 13 or 14: Giants on Ice, Witches and Wind, Sorcery and Snow, Enemies and Endings, by Shelby Bach.

  68. we read origami yoda and related books. I had not heard of any of the other authors mentioned and will look them up. Maybe we will get a sampling from the library from that list.

  69. @mia – re: good deeds. They could bring people’s trash cans up on trash day. Get up early on Sunday and put people’s papers on the front step for them . Rake leaves or shovel snow depending on where you live. If you receive good service somewhere (like a grocery clerk or server at a restaurant) write a letter to the person’s boss. If there is a chain that does good things (employee at Dominos) send a letter or email to corporate.

  70. RE: Paris Scarlett, what are you into?

    Do NOT miss Versailles since it will be cold you shouldn’t need a whole day to wander the grounds but still worth the trip. THere is a starbucks across the street from the RER station there so you can get some coffee or coco to go to ward off the chill while you walk from the train. It is also a reliable, clean bathroom.

    Everything in Paris is wonderful. All of the major sights are worth seeing.

    I’m green with envy!

  71. There is a discount now on a lot of “global brands” if you’re buying make up or handbags or close thing while you’re in France. It’s due to the strength of the dollar, and some of these brands haven’t adjusted their pricing in Euros or pounds.

    I asked my husband to pick up a few things in while he was there last week. Some of the prices were at least 25 to 30 percent less vs. the US.

  72. HM, DS isn’t very adventurous sartorially, so my guess is that’s about as far as he’d go, although I could see him perhaps using a different colored tie.

    If I had to guess right now, he’ll probably just use the same tux he normally wears, but perhaps with a white tie.

  73. Moxie – more good ideas. I saw something today that was interesting called Project Linus. Provides blankets to critically injured kids. We aren’t sewers or crafty in our household but thought some on here might be. I also asked our local non-profit that deals with kids in foster care and emergency placements if there are wish lists we can fulfill. Planned to have the kids do the shopping.

  74. On the appearing in front of the orchestra front, I was amazed at the number of combinations at our Macy’s of fun bow ties, vests, suspenders and pocket squares. All reasonably priced and likely darn near free when you factor in coupons that will likely be out for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc. I work in an office that is business dress but creative. Lots of funky hipsterish shoes, colorful socks, bow ties and interesting cuff links. They are inspiring me to jazz up the navy suits and blue shirts that boys will be wearing to a wedding coming up.

  75. Finn, that’s why lots of people who sew have started calling themselves “sewists”, which I kind of hate.

  76. I guess it says something that people are now coming up with special words for someone who can sew. It’s a skill that’s no longer taken for granted.

  77. No, it’s that the same word is used for those conduits that carry waste to the recycling plants. You know, like my civil engineer dad’s textbook “Sewerage and Sewage Disposal”.

  78. I recall hearing the word, “seamstress,” used when I was a kid. “Sewer,” besides sharing a spelling with another word, might make it onto Milo’s list (sewer/sore).

    Doesn’t “sewist” also have the connotation of not just making stuff?

  79. Mia, thanks for that tip. I’ll mention it to DS. If he gets stuck with DW at the mall this weekend, he can go to Macy’s (or Nordstrom’s, depending on where he is) menswear section to look at stuff like that. Perhaps he can dress up his tux with touch of color in the tie or pocket square.

    He’ll be standing to play, so he may not even need a cummerbund.

  80. I knew you meant that sewist was an alternative to sewer because of the sewage connection. I just had never heard the term “sewer” to refer to someone who sews. Seamstress and tailor have been around, with the implication that it’s someone who sews at a professional level, but when I tried to think what word I would have used to say that someone sewed a bit at home, I realized that we called those people “moms” when I was a kid.

  81. I guess it’s like the way you’ll hear, “So-and-so bakes,” for someone who turns out cookies on a regular basis.

  82. “someone sewed a bit at home, I realized that we called those people “moms” when I was a kid.”

    In many cases, they were also called, “sisters.” First sewing lessons were sort of a rite of passage for girls BITD.

    Another one for Milo: rite/right. I don’t remember where, but I recently read an article that referred to something as a “right of passage,” which I thought had more to do with transportation.

  83. I’m absolutely not a Black Friday shopper. I already have things for most people on my list, but am still looking for picture frames for my mom and a phone case with slots for cash and cards for my son. He loses his wallet frequently, but always knows where his phone is.

  84. Boy in Striped Pajamas for 6th graders? Holy cow! It is perhaps more current now, but that does nothing to lessen the nightmare potential. I’m all in favor of kids learning that history, but that is pretty young for a book that brings it home so personally.

    A classic for that age is Wrinkle in Time.

    Rhode, how about a beanie with built in (sewn in?) Bluetooth speakers? Perfect for boring bus rides or walks to school/work.

    I’m with the folks who have said their families aren’t into gifts. DS has gotten to the point where he is actively irritated by all the stuff. I knew that, so was fine with him returning a couple things I got him for his birthday. For Christmas, I’ve asked him to get a new strap to replace the one that broke on my purse. My family, however, is not at all on board with this. My parents have gotten him tickets to a Bway traveling show. He won’t like that either. I hope he can plaster on a fake smile before it, and that he’ll be surprised partway through that he likes it so much, like the Neil deGrasse Tyson talk we went to recently.

    WCE, new stepmother? How about family pix or things your kids make?

  85. Thanks for the France suggestions. First trip, and we have 5 days, so will get the Museum passes for sure. Was wondering whether Versailles would be too cold, but it was wind chill 25 here on Saturday and we sat in a cold stadium watching a bad game so Versailles should not be a problem after all.

    RMS, I love the flowers idea! Never thought of that. Thanks.

  86. Boy in Striped Pajamas for 6th graders? Holy cow! It is perhaps more current now, but that does nothing to lessen the nightmare potential. I’m all in favor of kids learning that history, but that is pretty young for a book that brings it home so personally.

    DD read it in 5th or 6th grade.

  87. Ada, my thought exactly when I saw that list!
    Mia, there is another book by Sacher (author of Holes, which is on the list) that deals more with gender, but I remember any more about it right now. Mighty Girl also has lists of books organized in various ways. I recently saw a list of good YA books with non-white protagonists, will post it tomorrow. Depending on reading level; the 39 Clues books might be appropriate. I think that series was put together by Scholastic. Whoever put it together, they lined up a bunch of current YA authors, so googling people who wrote books in the series would yield a bunch of good (but not yet classic) books.

    Scarlett, there are a ton of blogs by expats living in Paris. Might be a good way to find ideas outside the usual tourist track.

  88. Ada – yes, all boys. Certainly not all white boys (or even white + South & East Asian). Plenty more Black kids than they’d have in their classes than in our assigned suburban school.

  89. S&M, I haven’t read it, but DD wanted to see the movie after she read it so I watched it with her.

  90. The Book Thief was well liked. Call of the Wild and White Fang are also on the read list. I liked The Wednesday Wars. These are all taught in school here.

  91. Although others have criticized this idea, I enjoyed taking bus 69 as an introduction to viewing many of the traditional Paris sites. I took it all the way to the cemetery where Jim Morrison and other notables are buried, but that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. (Beautiful cemetery.) Bus 42 is also a good route. Both are alternatives to the hop-on-hop-off bus.
    https://www.parisperfect.com/blog/2012/09/the-69-bus-see-all-the-top-sights-in-paris/

  92. We read Wonder as an Audio Book – it was very good. Thanks for the book suggestions, everyone. I have a nice long list now.

  93. Saac, I got my son an Otterbox with the slots for a license and cards on Amazon. It has all the drop protection needed for a teen.

    Disclaimer that I have a personal connection, but the book The Detective’s Assistant is great for late elementary. It’s about the first female detective with the Pinkerton agency.

  94. Here’s another great idea for runners: https://www.gorunlites.com/ My niece has a pair and loves them.

    Re books for tweens: when my son was that age, he tore through Michael Crichton novels. I thought they were appropriate for middle-schoolers: very plot-driven, no graphic descriptions of sex. There are a few curse words, and I know some for whom that was a deal-breaker, but I figured it wasn’t anything he hadn’t heard already. And he kind of liked the fact that they weren’t YA.

  95. We have watched a lot of Hitler/Nazi and war documentaries with the kids so the topic would not be new to them, S&M. We haven’t read Diary of Anne Frank but that might also be a good one for our list. I really liked The Chosen as well but think I read it in 8th grade. My 9th grade teacher gave our class an option of participating in the class lectures and assignments or just reading a lot of books and answering two questions at the end that you would only know if you read the book. I loved it. Read 26 books that year. I am a better reader than writer. Love getting lost in other worlds of fiction (especially realistic fiction and historical fiction)….have no desire to write my own book!

  96. If anyone is still looking for suggestions, really good scissors are a nice go to gift for people who are crafty. https://www.amazon.com/Gingher-Epaulette-Inch-Embroidery-Scissors/dp/B000UU8O6W/ref=pd_sim_201_27?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B000UU8O6W&pd_rd_r=0M78GQMRAFHQRC5YTSAW&pd_rd_w=kzLd1&pd_rd_wg=kyn68&psc=1&refRID=0M78GQMRAFHQRC5YTSAW

    I also like the grommet for quirky stuff – thinking my dad and brother will get the super special bonding glue that cures under UV light.

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