One-a-Day Hostess Gifts and Cool Stocking Stuffers for 12 Days of Christmas

Give thanks to party hostesses and brighten up the season with these 12 hostess gift ideas and fun-sized stocking stuffers that will come in handy for the holidays, New Years and beyond.

Put a Cork in It

Give a hostess a little something to help her chill out, in her favorite wine — the Corkcicle, a non-toxic, reusable ice tube attached to a cork that in inserted in a bottle to maintain the perfect temperature or to bring reds down to a suitable cellar temperature.  Comes in party-inspired pink, orange, blue, green, yellow and white colors.  $24.95 at corkcicle.com.

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On a Pedestal

 

Your hostess or host will make an impressive display of holiday treats and appetizers on the Williams-Sonoma Victorian-inspired cake and dessert stand.  The pristine white-glazed stoneware stand features a fanciful edgework that will bring a sophisticated accent to a buffet table.  Available in three sizes, $24 to $34 at Williams-Sonoma.

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Pop Couture

Your hostess is such a sweetie, so return the favor with a Zoku Quick Pop Maker, an ingenious pop mold that you pre-chill in your freezer to create customized frozen treats in as little as seven minutes.  The Single ($24.95) is perfect for gifting, or for your favorite couple make it a Duo ($36.95) or for a family the signature Zuko Pop Maker makes up to nine pops at a time before refreezing is required.  The kits include a base, pop remover tool, reusable pop sticks and reusable drip guards for tidy eating.  Accessories include a Character Tool Kit ($14.95) to make funny-faced pops and the decadent Zoku Chocolate Station ($19.95) for dipping Zoku pops in melted chocolate to create a yummy coating or drizzling and sprinkling with dessert sauces, nuts or candies.  Available at Williams-Sonoma.

What a Case

For the cell phone addict whose smartphone is their most prized possession, the rugged and stylish Otterbox Defender Series Studio Collection of cases will ensure their device doesn’t become the next Angry Bird casualty when the kids play rough with it or it takes a tumble.  Available in plain colors at national retailers or AT&T, Verizon and Sprint stores.  Designs and create-your-own-color-combination cases for iPhone 4/4S are available for a limited time at Otterbox.com.  $49.95 to $59.95.

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Band on the Run

If holiday road trips or air travel makes you or your kids a little queasy, slip on PsiBands to calm the motion sickness.  These FDA-cleared acupressure wrist bands, available in cute kiddie designs, apply gentle pressure to relevant wrist pressure points as a drug-free way to relieve nausea.  Also great for nausea related to pregnancy, chemo or medicine side effects. Water proof, adjustable, reusable and made of eco-friendly materials.  $15 for set of two.  Available at CVS, Rite Aid, REI, Babies “R” Us, and Whole Foods.

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Chocolate Karma

For those who believe chocolate is a spiritual experience, give them a treat for body and soul.  Delicious artisanal Sushumna Chocolats are crafted with seven flavors that honor each chakra point.  Stimulate your Root, Sacracl, Solor Plexus, Heart, Throat, Third Eye and Crown with spiritually inspiring and beautifully packaged chocolate treats.  Available in mini 5 oz. bars, 1 oz. cameos, and large bars.  $3 to $7.50, at Sushumnachocolat.com.

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Ranch Hands

Give the worker bee on your list soft winter hands with a skin care product made to hydrate even the roughest hands.  O’Keefe’s Working Hands, the utilitarian salve formulated by pharmacist Tara O’Keefe in her kitchen more than 25 years ago for ranchers and other hard working hands, comes in a non-nonsense flat tub for easy carrying.  Its companion, O’Keefe’s Healthy Feet, is formulated as a foot balm.  $7.99. Available at Bed Bath and Beyond, Home Depot, Target, hardware stores and pharmacies.

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Soy to the World

Forget the sugary candy canes.  Treat kids to SOYJOY snacks in their stockings, in flavors like cranberry and dark chocolate cherry that will satisfy their sweet tooth while energizing them with real fruit ingredients, protein, fiber and soybean goodness.  Also great for moms and dads with coffee or as a work pick-me-up.  $13.57 for 12 bars at http://www.soyjoy.com. Also available at Target, Rite Aid, and grocers nationwide. $1.27 for single bars; $3.99 to $4.79 for five packs.

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Dog Watcher

 

Cozy up with a fun holiday family movie while you take a trip down memory lane with 80s icons Shelley Long (Cheers) and Michael Gross (Family Ties) and Dean Cain (Superman) starring in The Dog Who Saved the Holidays, from Anchor Bay Entertainment.  Set in Malibu, the story revolves around an old Golden Lab named Zeus and Eve, a new puppy, who have to save their family’s prized Christmas tree star from a couple of bumbling burglars.  $14.  Available on Amazon.

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Wrap it Up

Make wrapping gifts, school projects and other tape tasks more fun with the deliciously adorable pink Cupcake Tape Dispenser.  It’s sure to add a tasteful accent to a kid’s activity table or desk.  $8.99 at Staples.

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Make if Briefs

For the lady who thinks those cotton granny panties are the only option for serious underwear that hold up to washing and wearing, give her a pair of Exofficio’s Give-N-Go Lacy Bikinis.  These sexy performance underwear are lightweight and can wash and air dry in a couple hours.  Perfect for travel.  $22.  Available at REI or Exofficio.com.

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Hot Chick

It may be winter, but if the woman-of-a-certain-age on your list is having her own private summer, give her relief with Coldfront, a discreet long-lasting ice pack kit in an insulated carry-along case that fits in a purse or backpack for quick cooling on the go.   $49.95.  Available at mycoldfront.com.

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The Dangerous and Daring Gift Guide for Boys and Girls

Holiday Gift Ideas for Awesomely Adventurous Kids

When The Dangerous Book for Boys became a bestseller in 2007, many parents were upset – not because the book promoted sling shots and other potentially perilous play things, but because girls were left out of the fun.  That was soon remedied with The Daring Book for Girls, because we all know girls love adventure too.  For those independent and exploring young minds on your holiday shopping list, give them gifts that will stimulate their desire to discover for years to come.

Downhill from Here

Grab your little luger and head for the hills for awesome sledding on the Stiga Snowracer Curve Royal Snow Sled, featuring a twin-tip front ski and rear skis that allow riders to remain stable and ride backwards down the hill. The durable steel sled includes a high tensile braking system with a two-component steering wheel for navigation. Ages 3 and up. Sale price $142.10 at www.afterschool.com.

 

I Scream, You Scream for Snow Screamer

 

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Cruise down the hill at breakneck speeds with the Flexible Flyer Snow Screamer. Made of lightweight foam, the Snow Screamer includes a slick bottom surface that encourages high speeds, along with two sets of sturdy handles.  The 47-by-21.5-inch sled can accommodate two riders at once. Ages 5 and up.  $35.97 at www.afterschool.com.

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Angler Management

They never forget snagging their first fish, or their first pole.  Bass Pro Shop’s entry-level Stampede Spinning Reel ($25.99) sports light-but-strong fiberglass two-piece construction, a forged aluminum spool and a foam grip for all-day comfort.  Other features include anti-tangling technology and fast-cast trigger system for easy one-handed casting.

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Cast-Away

For the youngest fisher-folk, Shakespeare’s Mickey Mouse Lighted Fishing Rod and Reel Kit for Kids ($14.99) is the perfect starter reel.  The pre-spooled 2’6”rod features a spincast reel that flashes lights when the thumb button is pushed. The kit includes a fish-shaped practice casting plug so your little one can hone their casting technique. Reel is pre-spooled with line. Available at www.basspro.com

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Cave Dweller

The Coleman MAX Ultra High Power LED Aluminum Flashlight is a little spelunker’s best friend, featuring a lifetime bulb, 500 lumens output and eight and a half hours of run time on high and 28 hours on low.  Its water resistant, aerospace grade aluminum body is durable and weighty, just in case it’s needed to bat a bat.  Available at Wal-Mart.  $59.99.

Coleman MAX Ultra High-Power LED Flashlight

Lock and Load

Aspiring Sons and Daughters of Anarchy know that a bike is a kid’s kingdom, so keep bikes secure with a family pack of three colorful 8127TRI MasterLock 6-foot cable locks ($18.29), all keyed the same for ease of use when the family rides together. 8127TRI

Or chain up bikes, or a school or gym locker, with super cool a MasterLock 1500iD Speed Dial padlock ($13.39) that operates by movement (up, down, right, left) in a pattern that you set.  Available at retailers nationwide.

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Fly Guys and Gals

Forget origami!  With “Making Paper Airplanes,” by David Woodroffe (Sky Pony Press, November 2012), kids can turn a stack of paper into their own elaborate private air force. Packed with diagrams, 250 full-color graphics, this easy-to-follow activity book for all ages offers instructions for making a Stealth Bomber, Dragon Desk Kite, Firefly Space Shuttle, Swallow Glider, Flashdance Stunt Flyer, Golden Flame Racing Plane and many more paper aircraft. $12.95 at www.skyponypress.com

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The Head-to-Toe Women’s Gift Guide

Gifts on the Top of her Wish List for Under the Tree

Whether the woman on your gift list loves to travel and explore the outdoors or prefers a night in watching a movie or listening to music, here are 10 great gift ideas that will make her holidays bright.

Hot Iron

She will love making herself gorgeous for date night with Paul Mitchell Pro Tools, like the limited edition peacock printed express ion smoothing iron, constructed with a blend of silicone and ceramic to speed up styling times and fight frizz with negative ion technology for a shiny, elegant finish. Available at Paul Mitchell schools and professional salons found at www.paulmitchell.com. Prices vary by salon.

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Getting Warm-Her

She’ll stay cozy and comfy this winter with an Exofficio Women’s Storm Logic Vest, featuring rip-stop water repellant warm-even-when-wet Primaloft Sport fabric, a fleece-lined collar and pockets and an interior pocket. The vest not only looks great as casual wear and performs like a champ as sportswear – it also converts into a travel pillow in its own built-it sack. $120.00. Available at REI or www.Exofficio.com.

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Girl in the Hoody

For a casual day out, she’ll look smart and sporty in the space-dyed Exofficio Chica Cool Long-Sleeve Hoody, featuring SPF moisture-wicking fabric, four buttons down the front, a drawstring hood and kangaroo pockets for hands or small items. $75. Available at REI or www.Exofficio.com

ExOfficio Women's Chica Cool Long Sleeve Hoody

Pajama Mama

Whether it’s lounging around on a lazy Sunday morning or snuggling up for a Roku all-nighter, she will love hanging out in PJ Savage’s Monkeying Around PJ set. The vintage velour thermal shirt and drawcord waistband pants are soft and luxurious and as comfy as they are adorable. Available at www.pjsalvage-shop.com, $100.

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Heeling Power

The hard-playing female athlete on your holiday list feel like a champ in the VIONIC Women’s Casade by ORTHAHEEL. These super hi-tech sandals worn by many Olympic athletes post-competition are designed to help the body recover from sport activity and relieve heel, knee, leg and back pain. The lower heel bed is reminiscent of the Earth shoes of the 70s, but the rest of the shoe is space age, including the materials (VIBRAM outsole, triple-density EVA) and the styling (leather uppers with a bungee strap overlay). Available at www.orthoheelusa.com. $99.95.

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Travel Assure-Her-nce

Give her peace of mind when she’s on the road with a travel safe that protects her valuables and comes and goes with her. MasterLock’s 5900D SafeSpace Storage Security features a hard case with an integrated cable that can be wrapped around a fixed object and locked for safe keeping. Perfect for safekeeping small valuables like her cell phone, MP3 player, jewelry, wallet or medicines. $27.59. HomeDepot, Sears and other national retailers.

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Hi-Fi Wi-Fi at its Finest

You love that she’s such a good listener, so reward her with the ultimate gift of music, anywhere she wants it. The Sonos wireless music system allows her to stream music from an iTunes library, Pandora , SiriusXM talk or whatever is her listening pleasure on an expandable receiver speaker system controlled by a computer, iPhone, iPad, or Android device. The Sonos PLAY3 ($299) is a great starter kit, which includes a compact player that can operate alone, or pair it with an optional wireless-signal-boosting Sonos Bridge ($49). For a limited time, PLAY3 and Bridge are packaged together for the price of $299. Available at Target, Best Buy, Amazon and www.Sonos.com.

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Opa Fekkai Style

For the stylin’ woman whose hot looks come by heated hair tools, the Fekkai Advanced PrX Reparatives collection, fortified with silk proteins and keratin, protects and repairs hair that is porous, dry and damaged due to heat styling or chemical processing. The formula is enriched with a cornucopia of fruity fragrances, and promises up to 98 percent less breakage in one week when the mask and conditioner are used. Shampoo $30. Conditioner $30, Intensive Fortifying Mask $49. Intensive Reparative 3-Day Transformation leave-in treatment $100. Available at Frédéric Fekkai Salons, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Lord &Taylor, Ulta and other select fine beauty retailers.

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This is 40?

Whether she’s hit the big four-oh or not, she will appreciate lovely skin just like “This is 40” actress Leslie Mann who uses First Aid Beauty (FAB) as part of her daily skincare routine. The FAB Uplifting Serum is infused with bio marine extracts to protect skin, firming polymers for sculpting, and advanced peptides, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, humectants and emollients to smooth and firm skin overtime, delivered by a no-touch roller-ball applicator. $46.00. Exclusively at Sephora.

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Stone Cold

Make her a cold one in seconds with SPARQ Whiskey Stones, small cubes made from soapstone that you keep in the freezer and then drop into your drink to chill it without watering down your liquor. The reusable and dishwasher safe stones can also be heated to keep hot drinks warm. $24.95. Available at www.sparq.com.

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Home Goods for the Holidays

Gift Ideas for the Happy Homebody on Your Holiday List

 Whether or not the weather outside is frightful, some folks just like to spend time at home.  So bring the holidays home to the nester on your list with these five fabulous home goods gifts.

Christmas Cookery

Forget the poinsettias.  Make the centerpiece of your beautifully set holiday dinner table a Silit Oval Roaster Pan – also a wonderful gift for the cook on your gift list. The German-made cookery combines style – in vivid colors like wild orange, energy red, and crazy yellow on the outside and a dark thermo-conducting interior – with craftsmanship and technology to heat food quickly and evenly, up to the rim, for perfect browning at high temperatures or gentle simmering.  Your holiday turkey will roast up scrumptiously, and the roaster looks so good it can double as a serving dish.  Various cookware pieces priced around $100 and up.  Available at select Bloomingdale’s. See all of the Silit collections at wmfamericas.

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Figgy Pudding Now

Give a holiday gift that will bring the recipient warm feelings for years to come, a Haier 1.1 cu. ft., 1000 Watt Microwave oven.  Its shiny black-as-a-lump of coal exterior will look sleek and stylish in a modern kitchen, and its touch control panel features six pre-set cooking programs for quick and easy cooking.  Defrost features allow thawing at low-level power either selected  automatically or by weight.  A multi-stage setting allows for cooking at multiple powers and time settings without having to stop and re-set and re-start cooking.  Other convenient features include a quick minute program and a child lock.  $105. Available at Walmart.

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Good Things Cook in Small Packages

For the lightweight cook who doesn’t need to fire up a big oven for a tray of chicken nuggets, the Calphalon XL Digital Convection oven is one hot gift.  The digital LCD control allows selection for precise cooking customized to the food – whether it’s toast, cookies, pizza or a chicken.  The oven’s digitally controlled heating system features internal sensors that monitor temperature to promote crisp, even browning and uniformly cooked food. The time display lets you know when the oven is preheated and counts down the minutes until it’s done. The oven comes with a heavy-weight coated cooking tray and two wire shelves.  The spacious interior can fit a 9”x13” pan, 12” pizza or six slices of toast, and the front-access crumb tray and nonstick sides, top and bottom makes for easy cleanup.  $199.99. Available at Bed Bath and Beyond, Macy’s and other retailers nationwide and online, as well as on Calphalon.com.

Calphalon Convection Oven

 Holiday Mixer

Mixed up about what to give the foodie on your gift list?  Whisk yourself the store chop chop and whip out $69.99 for the Mitutto Hand Immersion Blender, the do-it-all kitchen tool that aerates, purees, blends, dices and more.   The holidays will go smoothly and no one will be crushed to get this handy wand for blending drinks and shakes; making hummus, dips and spreads; stirring up some soups or any of its other many uses for food prep and finishing.  $69.99.  Available at Miallegrostore.com or Sears Stores and Sears.com.

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Peppermint Par-tay

Sometimes the best ingredients for happy holidays are … ingredients.  Fine flavorings from Nielsen-Massey can make the perfect gifts for hostesses, and they can make your holiday treats superb.  The manufacturer of the pure, kosher and gluten-free extracts may be best known for their vanilla products, such as vanilla beans, vanilla extract, and Madagascar bourbon pure vanilla powder and bean paste, but they have a full line of pure flavorful extracts including peppermint, chocolate, almond, orange, lemon, coffee and rose water.  $10-$20.and up. Available at Williams-Sonoma and grocery retailers nationwide.

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A Parents and Kids Guide for the Best Ever Winter Break

Be Prepared this Holiday Break with Toys and Games for Fun Indoor Play, Whatever the Weather

No School + Math = Fun

Just because school is closed doesn’t mean learning has to take a break.  Prep your little genius to be the next math whiz with Wooky Entertainment’s Mathable the board game that reinforces useful math skills in a fun and engaging way for kids.  Designed for 2 to 4 players, the game challenges players to score by using basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division equations.  Mathable Classic ($17.99) is for Ages 9 and up, and Mathable Junior ($14.99) provides an introduction to math for ages 5 to 9. Available at national toy and game retailers. iPad app available on iTunes.





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Give them the Birds

A day indoors doesn’t mean a day of video games, but if Angry Birds is your child’s fave app, take the game a step up with the K’nex Angry Birds inspired building sets, including “Ice Bird Breakdown,” “Crater Crash,” and “Breakin’ Bacon.”  The sets feature K’nex snap-together building system and characters from Angry Birds including Super Red Bird, Lazer Bird and Frozen Pig.  Each includes a functional launcher for use with all K’NEX Angry Birds sets. Ages 5 and up.  Sets and accessories $4.99 to $39.99.  Available exclusively at Toys “R” Us.

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Puzzle This

If cabin fever has your kids seeing double, take things up a notch, to triple.  The top name in puzzles adds a new dimension to favorite snow day pastime with the Ravensburger collection of Chromadepth Puzzles with 3D Glasses.  The vividly-colored 100-piece themed puzzles, Fascinating Underwater World and Wild Jungle, are perfect for young puzzlers’ little hands with durable and easily interlocking pieces for ages 6 and up. $12.99.  Available at national retailers or ravensburger.com.

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Trace Amounts to Fun

Crazy making, or making art?  You choose.  Keep kids occupied while they stretch their creative muscles making beautiful illustrations on paper with Ravensburger’s Xoomy  activity toy.  The carry case doubles as a light box which projects images from a variety of provided screens onto a see-through plate on which the pictures are traced onto paper and then colored.  $24.99.  Available at national retailers or ravensburger.com.

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Easy Listening

Kids can enjoy an afternoon indoors or outdoors sans boredom with the Sansa Zip Clipa, a clip-on MP3 player that that can go anywhere with them.  The tiny 1 ½ x 2-inch player packs a ton of features, like a microphone, stopwatch a voice recorder and built-in microphone, a color screen for album art, and an FM receiver for playing and recording stations. With the included Rhapsody trial membership kids can download (with parents’ permission) from a vast library of DRM-free iTunes music or audiobooks. Add capacity to the 8 GB memory with an optional SanDisk microSD/microSDHC card. $69.99.  Available at Amazon or SanDisk.com.

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The Active Kid’s Holiday Gift Guide

Get kids outdoors this year with some great gifts that will keep them going all year round

A long winter break means lots of time for play this holiday season, so give on-the-go kids holiday gifts that will keep them busy and having fun ‘til next year, and beyond.

Classic Ride

You never forget the sound of a Big Wheel rumbling down the sidewalk, and now kids can make their own fond memories on the updated version of this 40-year-old iconic ride-on toy.  The oversized trike for big kids is back in several new styles by Kids Only, including the 9″ My First Big Wheel, the 11″ Big Wheel Sidewalk Screamer and the 16″ Big Wheel Spin Out Racer.   $59.99 at toy retailers nationwide.

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Kick It Good

Not all soccer balls are created equally.  Senda soccer balls are made with fair trade labor, so your our child can play with pride, and you can feel good about supporting the craftspeople who made them.  The hand-stitched ball features a high-quality, water resistant synthetic leather cover over a cotton-polyester liner for optimal bounce, durability and shape retention.  Senda’s premiere competitive balls are available with latex bladders for better touch and flight.  For kids, the Valor Training ball is perfectly sized and weighted.  $21.99.  Available at SendaAthletics.com, on Amazon, and on Ebay.

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Let’s Roll

Kids can roll in style with the latest line of Heelys wheel-in-the-heel skates, now in lighter styles resembling athletic shoes for active and sporty kids.  Other new styles look like street shoes, and the new lifestyle fashion-forward line is designed for girls.   As with all Heely’s, the wheel can be removed and replaced with an included heel plug for walking.  $47 and up.  Available a sporting goods and specialty stores nationwide.

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Fun Pack

Every kid needs a backpack – for school, playdates, overnights and other outings. So get them a versatile backpack made to last from the pros at Kelty, like the lightweight Minnow ($29.95) for little ones who need to pack a lunch and blankie for preschool, the sporty Grommet ($34.95) for kids 5-10 to carry their notebooks, school supplies and a water bottle for school or a day on the trail, or the comfy Captain ($80) for the high schooler or college-bound kid, or even mom or dad, for carrying all you need for classes, a day about town or a weekender.  Available at REI or kelty.com.

Kelty Captain Blue

Water Balloons, Water Balloons Everywhere

Nothing spells fun like a water balloon exploding on your back.  Kids will love to build their arsenal for the equivalent of a warm-weather snowball fight with the Kaos Tie-Not Battle Pump.  The portable one-gallon filling station features a carry handle and an easy-to-use nozzle with a notched tool for quick and easy knot tying, and the pump comes with 250 water balloons to get the party started. Watch a fun video about the pump at vat19.com.  $14.99.  Available at vat19.com.

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Guess Who’s Coming for the Holidays?

Get Your Home Ready for the Season’s Visitors



All Snug in Their Airbed

When you have more guests than beds, the Aerobed Luxury Pillowtop Airbed will keep overnight visitors comfy and happy.  The built-in pump inflates and deflates the bed with a touch, and a control wand adjusts the bed’s firmness or softness for up to seven memory settings.  A plush pillow top cradles the body while reinforced sides keeps edges firm.  When not in use, the bed stores in its own carry bag.  $299 in queen. Available exclusively at Bed Bath & Beyond.

AeroBed Luxury Pillowtop Airbed

Winter Cleaning

Get your floors sparkling clean before holiday guests arrive with the Quickie Home Pro Steam Mop.  This power mop heats up and is ready for use in 30 seconds, so there’s minimal waiting if you need to stop and refill the large capacity reservoir while cleaning especially large areas.  The 17-foot cord helps you get around without unplugging, and the stainless steel handle is built to last.  A steam output control helps you regulate the amount of steam you need for tougher-to-clean spots of built-up dirt.  A second included microfiber cleaning mitt makes the Quickie a particularly great value.  $44.99.  Available at Walmart, Shoprite, HomeDepot.com and Amazon.com.

Quickie Home Pro Steam Mop

Chestnuts Roasting in a Toaster Oven

 

Home is where the hearth is, so make your guests feel at home by outfitting their guest house with BrylaneHome’s all-in-one Toaster Oven with Double Burners.  Your guests will be able to fix their own early-morning breakfast or late-night snacks while you snooze, and the auto-off feature adds safety in case the oven is left on accidentally.  The dual 6” burners heat up quickly so your guests can stir up whatever their appetite desires, and two moveable wire racks adds versatility to accommodate various sized pans and crockery. The black steel design of this space-saving and energy-efficient oven looks good in any kitchen which also makes it a perfect holiday gift for dorm and studio apartment dwellers. Sale priced at $89.99.  Available at ByrlaneHome.com.

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Yule-Tidy

 

Don’t let your trash can overfloweth when guests are over.  Be prepared with the BrylaneHome Stainless Steel Trash Can that looks stylish in your kitchen and can handle all you throw in it with its large capacity bin, which fits a standard 16-gallon trash bag. The spring-loaded lid pops open with a touch, and the 33” height makes it easy to toss away trash and lift out the bag for emptying without bending over. $59.99.  Available at BrylaneHome.com.

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