Deck the Halls…

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Spotted in Rural Massachusetts (12/18)

Good Morning and Happy Tuesday! I hope you’re all enjoying this final countdown to Christmas as much as I am- although I have been unusually busy these past couple of weeks! Between finishing up my gift shopping (I only have a couple more things to pick up this week, and once they’re wrapped I am D.O.N.E. with hitting the malls and ridiculous traffic!), get togethers and dinners with family & friends- and non-stop Holiday shenanigans at work (like an ugly sweater party, a decorating contest, a Christmas cookie swap, a company luncheon, etc. etc. The list goes on!)– I’m pretty beat and looking forward to a nice, quiet weekend in the company of my immediate family at my mom’s house.

Posts have been scarce this month, I admit- and with the impending holiday and all the preparations that come with it- I don’t anticipate updating again until after Christmas is over and it’s time to get ready for New Years Eve. I’ve already started drafting my final thoughts for 2016 (and ooooh boy- what a year it’s been) that I’m looking forward to sharing before I head off to my still-semi-secret NYE plans- which I’ll divulge in my “In a Nutshell” post about the year that was. I’m disappointed in my lack of updates, since I had set such high expectations for myself and really wanted to share a multitude of festive things- but much like the rest of 2016 was for a lot of people- things just sort of unexpectedly popped up and sidetracked me.

Until next week, I did want to take a moment to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday. I know this time of year (and really this year in general)– has been pretty tough for many- but I hope you all find ways to feel comfort, joy, and cheer. I hope you’re all surrounded by people you love and who love you right back- and most of all- I hope each of you knows that things will get a little easier and a little better in time.

See you all next week! We can bid farewell to 2016 together!


Natick, MA. (12/18)


Last-Minute Gift Conundrum?

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In what I can only describe as a slightly early Christmas miracle, I’ve not only finished my holiday shopping within a reasonable amount of time- but I’ve somehow managed to get everything wrapped, bagged, and tagged- too! The only thing left to do is enjoy marathoning my favorite Christmas movies (hello, openly weeping at the endings of ‘Home Alone’ 1 & 2!), baking gingerbread cookies at my mom’s house, and drinking eggnog for the next few days until it’s time to make the rounds to hand deliver the goods to my friends and family throughout next week.

Even more impressive than my record-shattering speed at accomplishing this most stressful of holiday traditions was that I was able to put together thoughtful, clever, and fun gifts for my loved ones without breaking the bank- making this year one of my more successful Christmas shopping experiences ever!

But with a little over a week to go before the actual holiday is here and plenty of other people I know still scrambling to get those last minute presents or put the finishing touches on their gifts- I thought I’d offer some helpful tips, tricks and links to make the process a little more bearable and to hopefully assist those of you in a bind for time or ideas so you’ll actually be able to enjoy the days leading up to Christmas instead of spending them rushing from store to store ’til the very last second on December 24th.

There are plenty of brilliant blogs that have gift guides for different types of people and personalities (I plan to compile some of my own guides here on ‘Legally Redhead’ next year!) and those are all well and good when time is not exactly of the essence- but this post is more for those of you who need something and need it now or who are at a loss at what to get those one or two people on your Christmas list who are just impossible to shop for. I’ve been there- plenty of times- and a lot of this advice are things that I learned from my own past holiday experiences!

1. Trim that shopping list:

In the past, I bought Christmas presents for everyone- and I mean everyone. Friends, friends-of-friends, immediate family, family members I only saw once or twice a year, co-workers, my co-workers’ kids, my neighbors, my neighbors’ kids. The list went on and on- and by the time New Years Eve rolled around I was lucky if I had enough money left over in my bank account from splurge spending on everyone that crossed my path to afford being able to go out and enjoy ringing in a new year with my friends.

Keep it simple and trim your shopping list to save yourself a ton of stress from having to find the perfect gift for a ton of people and to save yourself even more money. Immediate family? Sure. Significant other? Of course. Close friends? Absolutely- but when your Christmas list starts to include the dog walker, the cashier at your local market, or that one guy who helped you reach something on the top shelf at Home Goods? Well, you need to take a step back, re-evaluate your shopping budget and figure out who in your life should reasonably be given a present during the holidays.

That’s not to say you can’t do something nice for the aforementioned dog walker, cashier at the local market, or that one guy who helped you reach something on the top shelf at Home Goods- which brings me to tip number 2.

2. Christmas cards are NOT a “cop out”:

There’s an unfair stigma I’ve seen attached to the act of mailing out Christmas cards in lieu of purchasing a gift/gifts for distant friends/family or acquaintances. Maybe it’s because many feel that cards lack a personal touch (ala the dreaded “corporate card”, where a company sends out the same holiday card to each and every employee with a pre-printed or pre-stamped signature and absolutely no indication that an actual person even glanced at it before sending it out) but that can easily be rectified by taking the time to jot down a few heartfelt words on beautiful stationary. Christmas cards are perfect- and a much more affordable option- to give to those you don’t see often, or who you don’t know that well- but whom you still want to know that you’re thinking of them this time of year.

PAPYRUS and The Paper Store have a wide assortment of beautiful Christmas cards and stationary to choose from- either sold individually or in bulk packages. I like to write fun, personalized notes in the cards to send to my cousins or give to co-workers or friends-of-friends (and yes, my mailman, too!) that I occasionally see in passing.

3. When you’re stumped for something completely unique- turn to Etsy:

My circle of closest friends and I have known each other anywhere from 10-20 years, so when it comes to buying Christmas presents for one another- we tend to veer off the beaten path and try to see who can come up with the most bizarre, unique and unexpected gift imaginable (which is much more fun than the conventional gift basket or fruit cake!). This year, when faced with the daunting task of finding something that stood out in terms of creativity but was also something that my friends would enjoy and/or find useful- I turned to Etsy.

It’s no surprise that the internet is filled with tons and tons of immensely talented artists/sculptors/designers/photographers/fabricators/etc. and Etsy is just the most convenient way to search through them all to find that one (or in my case- five) pieces of home decor, clothing, jewelry, art, bath and body products and anything in-between. Thanks to some fantastic shops set up through the site, I found a few video game and horror movie-related items that my friends are absolutely going to flip for when they open them next week- and my purchases helped support those artists, their work and their small businesses.

Seriously- if you’re at a loss for a gift- just start browsing Etsy and I guarantee you’ll find something unique and affordable in time for Christmas.

4. Pay it forward:

If you want to purchase a gift that also serves a greater good, you need look no further than charitable organizations and companies listed through My personal favorites are the companies that participate in “buy one, give one” promotions, like LOVE YOUR MELON– who, with each purchase of one of their really chic and comfortable beanies/caps- donates one to a child battling cancer. There’s also Everything Happy– who donate a blanket to a child in need with each one purchased through their website.

My friends have also purchased products through the Purple Buddha Project. This fair trade organization creates jewelry from fragments of weapons of conflict in Cambodia to raise awareness, and donates nine meals to disadvantaged children in the region with each piece sold.

Those are just a few- but there’s plenty more to check out!

5. “That’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year.”:

No, I’m not talking about a year subscription to the ‘Jelly of the Month’ club, but I am talking about monthly subscription services where products and samples are shipped right to someone’s door each and every month- like GlossyBox and Loot Crate (which I’m currently subscribed to!)

Many companies offer the option to purchase 3, 6, and 12 month subscriptions to their service/products- either for yourself or as a pre-paid gift to others- and there’s SO many to choose from that no matter what a person’s interests are, there’s bound to be a service tailored to their likes/passions- be it beauty products, food, gamer stuff, clothes, books, music and so much more!

If that sounds like a pretty good gifting idea but you’re not quite sure where to start- I recommend checking out My Subscription Addiction. MSA gives comprehensive and thorough reviews (and promotion codes!) for nearly every available subscription service out there, A-Z- so finding that perfect choice for someone special is made infinitely easier!

And finally,

6. When all else fails – gift cards:

It’s noon on Christmas Eve- and many of the stores are getting ready to close for the holiday. You’re standing there, staring in horror at your Christmas list at the names of the one or two people you vowed to buy a present for this year and realizing that time is out and you’ve got nothing for them…

…. Until you remember that gift cards are super easy and convenient.

Much like mailing Christmas cards, many view simply giving someone a gift card to a store/restaurant/service as “the easy way out”, but I don’t see it that way at all! You’re giving someone the opportunity to purchase something they like, on their own terms- without having to spend their own money. There’s nothing wrong with that at all- it’s actually very thoughtful and considerate- and I can tell you that I have always appreciated and enjoyed every Starbucks, Sephora, dining, etc. gift card I’ve ever received because they’re practical and they’re useful.

The holidays can be stressful- there’s no doubt about that- but I hope some of these ideas are helpful to some. They might not be overtly specific “gift guides for the (insert personality type here)” but these tips/tricks have always helped me- especially this year.

And of course it goes without saying that Christmas isn’t about presents or spending money. It’s about coming together and spending time with those most important to you (and it’s also about peppermint mocha lattes and gingerbread cookies) and taking care of one another- but that also includes taking care of yourself. Don’t get too stressed out with your holiday shopping. Your sanity is important, too.

Good luck!


Christmas in Nantucket

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Although I am no stranger to Cape Cod, often visiting a couple of times every other Summer and sporadically throughout the “off-season” (see: Fall/Winter months), it’s been a really, really long time since I stepped foot on the island of Nantucket. So long, in fact- that I can’t quite remember when it actually was. I obviously must have been little the last time I ventured out that way- because my return trip there near the end of last week to visit my cousin who is currently residing and studying on the island was like seeing the small, seaside community with fresh, new eyes for the very first time.

The great thing about beach communities around Christmastime is that they are rarely, if ever crowded. You can walk down the streets without bumping into a handful of people (or a ton of tourists) at any direction and the shops, restaurants, and attractions that remain open year-round are usually priced much more fairly as opposed to mid-June or July when rates go up as available space in hotels or places to eat go down.

But the best part about visiting a beach community this time of year- and specifically Nantucket, which is just gorgeous in it’s own right with it’s cobblestone streets and very old and historic homes and neighborhoods- is that you get to marvel at the beautiful holiday decor the locals take the time to set up.

After hopping off the ferry from Hyannis and greeting my cousin on the dock- my day on the island was essentially a non-stop walking tour through Nantucket’s historic downtown shopping district, along the waterfront and surrounding docks (where I got to see firsthand exactly how seagulls hunt for food and dear God- is it brutal and fascinating at the same time!), and beside a festive-looking and fully-functioning lighthouse.

The weather was unusually warm and sunny for most of the day (I didn’t need a jacket over my sweater!) which made my visit even more enjoyable since I wasn’t freezing with every step I took.

We also stopped for a delicious early dinner at the Rose and Crown as the sun began to set and the temperatures gradually began to drop little by little and before I had to catch my ferry back to the mainland. If anyone visiting the area stops by- I highly recommend their grilled cheeses and bacon jam baguette sandwich- which is what I ordered and proceeded to wolf down shamelessly since it was so good. I think I’ll have to attempt to make my own one of these days.

All in all, I had a beautiful day. It was wonderful to see my cousin again and spend a good amount of time with her since her initial move there a couple of months ago- and I have fallen completely in love with Nantucket. I plan on visiting again shortly after the New Year and hopefully spending an extended weekend there to do more exploring (and shopping!)

Below are just a few of my favorite photos I snapped throughout my stay- but they don’t do the island nearly enough justice. It’s such a beautiful, peaceful place- and many of the locals I encountered were unbelievably friendly!