Quirky, Useful and Fun Gift Options for Everyone on Your List

I love giving gifts. Wrapping gifts in my super messy holiday workshop. Making it completely impossible to detect the contents of a package. The joy and delight when my boyfriend opens up a super special and romantic gift from yours truly. I can’t wait for Christmas to be here already!

While we’re waiting though, I can go ahead and assume that you failed on your resolution to be done shopping before Black Friday, amiright?

Good; me too.

The gift guide for everyone on your list

Some links used in this post are affiliate links and I’ll make a small percentage of dollars from any purchases you make. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve tested and tried all of these items on my own (many thanks to the kindness of generous sponsors) with the exception of the Harry Potter blanket and Alice in Wonderland purse. I hope you enjoy this year’s gift guide!

Luckily for you, I’ve put together the only gift guide for adults that you need this year. From stocking stuffers and toys for the children at heart to small kitchen appliances that girls like me dream about and everything in between, I’ve got you covered. Of course, if you’re not partial to this year’s list, feel free to check out the fantastic items I scavenged for last year’s gift guide or my wish list from a few years ago.

Stocking stuffers I can’t get enough of

X-Cube

The X-Cube is this year's it puzzle for stocking stuffers. Give them the gift of strategy and mind teasers with this tough cookie.

The X-Cube is this year’s it puzzle for stocking stuffers. Give them the gift of strategy and mind teasers with this tough cookie.

I freakin’ love puzzles. When we go to Gen Con, one of my big events is the giant puzzle quest (which is actually how I get to go to Gen Con next year for free!). I love puzzles in all their forms. Words. Tangible. Jigsaw. There’s this amazing puzzle cube extreme called the X-Cube. It’s like Rubik’s Cube on crack. In the best way possible. Want to spend hours trying to solve this thing? Give it to a kid, and you’ll be begging to play too. I am obsessed with this thing. Seriously. Everyone’s getting one in their stockings. Christmas Eve with the kids will be puzzlemania.

Card games

I always like to fill stockings with fun games that are super transportable. There are plenty of awesome card games you can stuff in everyone’s stockings whether you’re going for a traditional and simple game of Uno or looking for something a little more interesting like Cover Your A$$ets or Skull King. For the most adorable card games ever, try these tiny little gum pack games that are so small they fit in a pocket.

Gifts for the Danny Tanner (or you know…like a college student or something) in Your Life

Shark Rocket ® Powerhead

Okay, so Brian is no Danny Tanner, but he’s more than willing to pick up a broom or vacuum and dominate our floors. I named our Shark Rocket ® Powerhead vacuum Jaws. Get it? Shark. Jaws. Har har har. Anyways…

If you’re not afraid the wife/mom/daughter is going to swat you for wrapping an appliance this Christmas or if your boyfriend/hubs/college age son is in need of a practical gift, this one’s it. My mom got me a vacuum for Christmas one year. It was awesome. It was purple. It was her hint that I needed to move out of her house and into my own place. Which I did. 7 years later with Brian. Who HATED my purple vacuum. So my friends at Shark hooked me up with my very own Shark vacuum (in exchange for my honest opinion) so my boyfriend would stop complaining about the girly, useless vacuum we used to own. So yes, Virginia, you can gift a vacuum for Christmas.

Give the Danny Tanner in your life a Shark Rocket Powerhead for Christmas

We have carpet, tile and hardwood floors to clean. And this vacuum knocks it all out of the park with a sweet design that’s made to adjust for your height and preferences. We can peel right through the fancy dining room floor, kitchen floor, and carpet in one full swoop. It also has fancy engineering that combines the motor and dust cup in the head of the vacuum, reducing airflow path and maximizing efficiency and power. The thing about this awesome vacuum, is that if I need to bust out and get down and dirty with the cleaning, this puppy is only 9 lbs. One of my biggest reasons for not being a huge fan of vacuuming is the weight of a vacuum when I have to move it around. That feeling is just not awesome. But the Shark is that awesome. Brian is convinced this machine will help me get over my fear of vacuuming.  Until then, he’s been enjoying Jaws, and I think anyone on your list who needs a vacuum will too.

Gifts for Foodies

Nutri Ninja® Auto-IQ™ Pro Compact System

Never in a million years did I expect to say that I drink and like a good kale smoothie, and yet, here we are. I drink and like a good kale smoothie. From my Nutri Ninja with the extra smooth boost. A little pineapple, a little kale, a little apple or pear…delicious. No joke. The Nutri Ninja is magical. Brian loves using it to make homemade salsa. I used it to chop veggies for my Halloween chili (and NO ONE knew that there were 10x more vegetables than meat in the chili).

I made a Kale Smoothie with my Nutri Ninja using kale, pineapple slices, and pears.

You can also mix cookie dough and other batters in this beautiful blender of multitasking joy. I even made funky pumpkin spice banana pancake batter (like all-banana-and-egg, no-flour pancakes) in it once (and let’s be honest, probably never again. Banana pancakes are not good, you guys, no matter what Sarah Michelle Gellar says).

I make green smoothies in my Nutri Ninja and love them!

My friends at Ninja thought I would appreciate one of these little machines, and boy oh boy were there right! I bought a Cosco-size bag of kale for crying out loud! It blends nuts, seeds, and all sorts of other goodies that go in my smoothies. I’m going to be healthy if it kills me. But it won’t. Obviously.

Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker

You guys, I am in absolute heaven.  I won one of these puppies at BlogHerFood a few weeks ago, and have been making nonstop sandwich experiments to really work this thing to the core. I haven’t cooked myself breakfast this frequently since I was unemployed…oh…wait…I spent two weeks without a job…making breakfast sandwiches in my breakfast sandwich maker. You can make other stuff too! I rocked out some afternoon sammies as well. Grilled cheese anyone?

Make your own Egg McMuffins with the Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker

I was originally skeptical. Really? My raw egg and cheese and bread and stuff just go in there like no big deal? Yeah. Right. But they do. They actually do. The egg cooks as much as you want it to. The well is deep enough that the cheese doesn’t touch or stick to the slidey part. It works so so so well. Aaaaaaaaaaaanyways, this magical little beasty is inexpensive, easy to clean and (wait for it) easy to store. For someone with as many small kitchen appliances as I have, counter space can seem daunting. This little sammy maker stores easily in my cabinets. This little guy is sure to be the bright light on Christmas morning for everyone (and every morning after that too!). If you want a double whammy, you can even get a two-sammy maker.

Tech accessories that make my life easier

iMagnetMount

Brian has been begging to find something to hold his phone in the Jolly Roger (our new vehicle). He likes to watch the GPS map when he’s driving so he knows where he’s going. Especially since I’m not very helpful when I’m all “Drive on, Jeeves” or worse, when I’m backseat driving from shotgun. He really hates that. I’m really good at it. Anyways…iMagnetMount offered to send me one to try and I was all, oh sure! Brian could use something like that. And guess who also loves it? Right. Me. The Jolly Roger is super fancy and has bluetooth connections and so I just keep my phone up there, and I’m all like, “OK Google, call Brian” And then Google is like, “Call Ryan?” And I’m like oh dear god no! Google. Pay attention. CALL BRIAN [LAST NAME REDACTED UNTIL BRIAN MARRIES ME]. And it works. All you have to do is put the phone-safe magnet between your phone and its case, and attach the mount to the car, and boom! Magnety sticky goodness. Just make sure you stick the mount on a CLEAN spot of your car. Dust and mount are not friends.

Winter Ice Welcome Box

Mighty Lifesaving Gifts for Clumsy Klutzes

Mighty Mug

The Mighty Mug is a serious lifesaver when you spill a lot like I do.

Okay, so it took me a hot minute to figure out how to make this work. Then I watched some YouTube videos of other people doing it and everything made sense. This magic mug (designed to NOT tip over when it’s full of liquid) protects me from myself. As you may well know, I spill things on myself, the floor, and other people with some frequency, and when I use my Mighty Mug, I’m spill free as I was meant to be. Mighty Mug sent me a mug to share with you because they knew I was a total klutz, and they thought I could use one of these. They were completely right. Skeptical as I may have been…they nailed it.

Speck Mightyshell + Faceplate

My Speck case helps keep my phone safe even in the bathroom when I'm taking Skinny Mirror Selfies and drop the phone twice because I'm so distracted...not that I did that or anything...

My Speck case helps keep my phone safe even in the bathroom when I’m taking Skinny Mirror Selfies and drop the phone twice because I’m so easily distracted…not that I did that or anything…

Okay, I know I mentioned Speck in last year’s holiday gift guide, but you guys, SERIOUSLY, I can’t tell you how many times my Mightyshell Speck case has saved me from having to buy a new phone. When I birthday gifted myself with a new Galaxy S6, my friends over at Speck hooked me up with a pretty pink industrial case and faceplate designed to withstand every test I could put it through. And believe me, I have tested its limits. I’ve dropped it, thrown it, stepped on it, sat on it…and the phone’s still kickin’ as if I had just purchased it. Everyone in your life needs one of these cases. I’ve been tempted to drop my phone from our indoor Juliet window as a test because I have so much faith in this thing, but Brian keeps telling me it’s a bad idea.

Gifts for kids from aunties (and uncles) who love them

I don’t have my own tiny humans, but my godson has said, “Auntie Chrissy gives the BEST presents.”

I chalk it up to the DINK phenomenon (double income no kids) and the fact that the toys live at their parents’ house and not my house…The louder the better, amiright? I realize that this will result in payback a few years down the road, but until the then… the louder the better.

Of course, not everything has to be loud. Sometimes, it’s just plain fun.

Versa Bricks (and Legos and K’Nex and Hot Wheels)

My godson is a die-hard Legoian. If that’s not a word, I just made it up and it’s totally a thing. But like, the kid seriously has so many freakin’ Legos, I don’t know what to get him anymore. Last year, I got him Brickstuff –  these amazing lights that go inside his Legos to light them up. This year, it’s Versa Bricks (thanks to my friends at Versa Bricks who offered  a set for my godson to try out and play with!) and some new add-ons that I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have. Hot Wheels and K’nex. The Versa Bricks make it possible to connect all three of these beloved kids’ toys and create and combine whole new worlds. He’s going to freakin’ love it. And I’m the aunt that wins all the love.

Board games

If you’re like me and training your nieces and nephews to be the ultimate gamer nerds, get them sweet gamer games for kids, like this one I got for my godson a few years ago, Catan Junior. If you’ve played Settlers of Catan, this game is the “junior” version, but it’s no Monopoly Junior. It’s a pretty solid beginner gamer game (and one that parents will actually enjoy too. See, I’m not all bad, parents!).

Barbie

This may set all the feminists out there ablaze, but I’m not going to lie, I’m still down with Barbie. When my cousin told me her daughter was finally getting into Barbie, I went out and bought a bazillion dolls like this windsurfing Barbie. Christmas done. I loved Barbie when I was a kid, and I still have my dolls for my future tiny humans. I remember playing with my friend’s mom’s dolls as a kid and it was awesome. So yes, Barbie for everyone!

And finally, gifts for the children at heart

I’m like a perptual 9-year-old girl. I want toys and games and nerdy book things. My assumption is that most adults do too. So this is what I’m proposing we give each other for Christmas.

Harry Potter blankies

This is the COOLEST blanket I’ve ever seen. Seriously. It’s the freakin’ Maurauder’s Map in blanket form. If you’re a Potterphile, you need this in your life. And then you need to watch and read all the movies and books again while wrapped up in your cozy blanky.

Alice in Wonderland purse

A BOOK purse, you guys. A purse that looks like a book! This Alice in Wonderland bag is seriously magical. You are welcome for this sweet find, people.

WHEW! That was exhausting! I hope you enjoyed my little blurbs and that maybe you found something unique or useful for someone special in your life. In honor of the holidays, I’m giving away another Swag Bag of goodies for you this holiday season! While I haven’t pieced it together yet, the value will likely be well over $50. To enter, just fill out the giveaway form below!
 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Another New Fancy Phone For the Win

I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for Sprint. I received a sample device to facilitate my review.

2014-12-28 15.31.01

So I’m really loving the Sharp AQUOS Crystal that I received from my friends at Influence-Central and Sprint. This beautiful fancy phone has a stylish look and runs on the Sprint Spark network, which gives it a one-up when it comes to watching videos, so watching Netflix was fantastic! I spent some quality time with this phone on the train watching some of my favorite shows, playing a game or two and just enjoying everything that the AQUOS had to offer.  This phone also comes equipped with Google Mobile services that I use regularly, including Google Search, Google Maps, Google Navigation, Google Talk, Google Calendar, Google+ and YouTube, so I can get all my Google on in one place. Sharp AQUOS Crystal

It comes pre-loaded with lots of apps with which to play

I love the style of the phone. The sleek AQUOS is thin, and the screen kicks serious butt with a five-inch, edge-to-edge HD design. The screen is clear and bright, and I think it’s awesome. My brother recently cracked his current phone’s screen and called dibs on this piece of tech that he oohed and ahhed over.

Sharp AQUOS Crystal

I love how thin the phone is

I wanted to show you the camera features, but I’m not a very talented photographer. There are a lot of sweet options to make this camera stellar, if you’re really good with a camera. I know that with a little more time, I could get to know the features better and my pics would look magnificent. So here’s what I was able to capture.

 

Sloth and Lillian Connelly artPhoto captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal

I thought I’d take a picture of my new sloth buddy, Ebenezer hanging next to my Lillian Connelly print. Photo captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal

Photo captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal

Photo captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal

Olive penguin photo captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal

Olive penguin photo captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal

Backyard Photo captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal

Backyard photo captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal in the 50-degree Chicago December

The Sharp AQUOS is only available through Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile. As a Sprint Ambassador, I have been given complimentary services on both Sprint and Boost networks, but I’m also an eleven-year Sprint account holder with a family plan that I do pay full-price for. We recently switched my mom over to Boost, and she’s enjoying services with them, as well.

Overall, I was a huge fan of this phone. The design, the HD quality, and the Sprint Spark bonus makes this a sure bet for this girl. If I wasn’t giving it to my brother, I’d be switching my service over to this puppy in a heartbeat.

What features do you look for in a mobile device? What about in a mobile carrier?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Big Hero 6: It’s Hip to be a Square

Science!
Tech!
Nerds!

Big Hero 6 Review

A year after Disney knocked it out of the park with Frozen, they’re bringing me something just as magical in its very own light. Bringing the Marvel world into animated Disney is a big step, and it worked really well this time around. Big Hero 6 delivers the beginning of a beautiful friendship franchise with the lovable medical marshmallow, Baymax, and his creator’s little brother, Hiro. Together, they form a team of super-smart, science-nerd superheroes to take on the mysterious masked bad guy.

The film starts with a very young high school graduate (13 years young and unbelievably brilliant to boot) named Hiro who has little direction in his life. With the help of his big brother, a med robot, and his friends, Hiro finds his ultimate path in life.

image

Without giving too much else away, I’m going to go ahead and recommend this one to cartoon and comic loving adults everywhere. As seems to be my Disney MO, I laughed, I cried, and I cheered. I sat on the edge of my seat through half the movie, eagerly and nervously anticipating what would come next. The emotional, feel-all-the-feels aspects of this movie really got to me, so if you have sensitive tiny humans, you may want to give them a year or two before checking this one out.

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Big Hero 6 takes you on an emotional rollercoaster that you’ll willingly jump on again and again. Baymax proves to be a robot of solid character and Hiro learns one of those important, and sometimes cliche lessons. Hiro is accompanied by his crew of newly found besties as they work together to think outside the box and save San Fransokyo.

San Fransokyo concept art

San Fransokyo concept art from Walt Disney Studios

I loved it.

Brian did too.

And DEFINITELY stay until the end of the credits. You won’t want to miss this one.

Way to go, Disney. I love that you’re making it cool to be a nerd.

Are you planning on catching Big Hero 6 this weekend? Have you read the comics?

I received zero compensation to write this review. I have a love of all things Disney, and was invited to see a pre-screening of the movie as part of the media. All images are used with the permission of Walt Disney Studios to discuss and share with you.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Tell Me Your Password And No One Gets Hurt…

The following story about password security is true and real and SCARY. So listen up. Don’t do what I did.

While we’re here, I figured I should mention that I’m a brand ambassador representing F-Secure KEY in the effort to change the way people think about passwords and security. While I have been compensated for my time, all opinions, stories, and ideas expressed are still my own.

Password Safety KEY app

Photo by Viktor Hanacek

A story about giving away my password

A while back, I committed the ultimate password sin. My then-boss called me on my personal cell phone, while I was at lunch. “Quick! What’s your work password?!” The panic in his voice and the anxiety in my system (which gets even more GAAAHHH! when I’m put on the spot) responded immediately and completely stupidly. I gave him my password.

Not only did I give him my password, I clued him into the type of password I was, at the time, prone to using. THANKFULLY it wasn’t the password that I was using at the time for anything but my work log-in, but it was MY password. The password that I’m not supposed to give to ANYONE.

Even worse? I found out later that he was on speakerphone.

Now, he didn’t think twice of it as something he was doing wrong. He genuinely did need my password to get into a computer for something. But he should have waited the 10-15 minutes it would have taken me to return and input my own password without giving it out.

After the chaos, I politely sent my boss an e-mail explaining how uncomfortable his request made me and that I felt it was a little inappropriate, and I would prefer not to be put on the spot like that ever again. It was then that he realized what he had done, and he did apologize profusely, promising not to compromise my personal security again.

Since that day, I’ve come to adopt a system of creating new passwords for different log-ins to ensure that I’m keeping myself digitally protected.

F-Secure KEY

Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Let’s talk about F-Secure. I’ve been using the app for about a week and a half, and I still haven’t integrated all of my passwords yet. But I’m getting there. And oh-my-God, I’ve had to change 3 passwords already so that I could input them into KEY – but I’ll never have to change them because I forgot them again! Obviously, I’ll need to change them every 6 months or so, but with KEY, I’ll have access to all the up-to-date passwords without a whole heck of a lot of effort. THAT’S what I’m talking about.

I’m not going to lie, you guys. This app? Totally not sexy. Although I’m AM a huge fan of the delicious purple color. But what this app does? TOTALLY important. One might say necessary, depending on how many times you have to key in your password before you get it right…which for me is often quite a few. KEY stores all of your passwords in ONE place, so you never have to remember the 27 billion passwords for all the sites you utilize. With the free KEY app, you can store your passwords on a single device, but with KEY Premium, you can use the app on ALL your devices, whether you’re a PC/Mac/Android/Little i. You won’t have to try to remember all the passwords, as the app will keep them for you. You’ll only need to remember your KEY password.

So who needs another flashy app when the function is what keeps you safe?

Just for you, I’ve got a code to try KEY Premium for two months, so you can see if less than $2/month is worth it to keep your passwords safe across all your devices. Download the KEY app and use the code PREMIUMKEYOFFER14 to check it out.  And even better? A giveaway.

Free KEY Premium for a year & iPad Mini 16GB Wi-Fi Giveaway

Oh look! The lovely people at F-Secure want to share their wisdom (and give you another device for storing your passwords)! All you have to do is enter, and we’ll do the rest. The Giveaway Tools form below will be open until September 30 at 9:00 PM Central Standard Time. Good luck!

Blog Friends, have you ever accidentally given out your password to someone? How would you have handled the situation if your boss asked for your password?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!