Instead of my usual righteous anger-type posts, today I want to talk about something pleasant. The Holidays are here, in case you haven’t noticed. It’s Winter, things are hectic and you probably have a list of people to get gifts for. I love to shop (which is hard as I don’t currently have a job, heh heh), so talking about my finds seems like a natural result of my hobby. In this little list of recommendations, personal grooming products abound. Why? Well, the reason is two-fold, really. First off, Winter is a dry, gross season for me (I love the Northeast, but dang, it can get cold up here), so I have to find products that help me get through it without my skin cracking off and my hair turning into a big puff cloud. Second, it’s fun to buy yourself something cute or nice while you’re out grabbing things for friends/loved ones/pets. So, the list will be a mingling of gift ideas for others…and yourself!
Old Navy Scarf Cardigans, $36.50
Sweaters are a natural choice for Winter gift giving. Old Navy has a very large selection, especially if you/the person you are buying for is in the 18-22 range, size-wise. Need a bigger size? Fear not! Old Navy’s Women’s Plus section has loads of cute sweaters, including the one pictured at left. This sweater comes in sizes 1 though 4x, and in my experience, the sizing can be generous on these sweaters. A 4x should accommodate anywhere from a 28 to 32. I am a 28 on top and I frequently have to size down to a 3x with Old Navy’s sweaters. Anyway, this particular sweater is a great item for this Winter because of the excess material up front, which is to be used as a scarf. It’s nice, and kind of artsy, and a breath of fresh air when compared to the usual Fair Isle-style sweaters you see around this time. Not that there’s anything wrong with Fair Isle! This sweater comes in great cold weather colors as well: black, baby spinach, gentle fawn and crystal peak. It remains to be seen if this will be a popular sweater or not, but I, for one, love it and it’s definitely on my wish list this Christmas. Note: Old Navy Women’s Plus is only available online, and shipping is seven dollars USD. They do, however, have free returns. If you file for an exchange on the return slip, I believe the shipping is free for the exchanged size, as well. As of 12.5.08, though, Old Navy’s sweaters are all on sale, so most of the prices I have listed are higher than the current sale price. If you’re thinking of getting any of these, pounce sooner rather than later!
Other Old Navy Picks: Cashmere Scoop Neck Sweaters $79.50, Cable-knit Hooded Cardigans $39.50
The Body Shop Satsuma Perfume Oil, $16.00
The Body Shop comes out with fantastic seasonal fragrances every year, but Satsuma (a fruit known to many as Clementine) perfume oil is a standby for me. I’ve worn it since I was 13 and would recommend it to anyone, especially in colder months. Citrus fragrances generally evoke thoughts of Summer, but this warm, zesty, orange-like scent is very cozy. Application of this oil to your pulse points allows the warmth of the scent to gently waft around you. This kind of orange is reminiscent of Pomander balls more so than the light, airy orange Summer citrus scents. As shown, the oil comes in a cute little glass bottle, and has a small plastic rod inside for dabbing/application. It’s easily slipped into a small box for wrapping. An added bonus of this product is that it can be added to lotions and some body sprays. You could start with an unscented base lotion (there’s one on this list), or, you could add it to a cinnamon or gingerbread-scented lotion for a super holiday feel. This product is available at any Body Shop (found at most major malls), or online.
Other Body Shop Picks: Zesty Satsuma Takeaways $25.00, Satsuma Body Butter $10.00-20.00, Cranberry Sheer Body Shimmer $20.00
MAC Lipstick, $14.00
MAC is famous for their lipsticks. Why, you ask? Well, their range of colors and finishes, coupled with their long-wearing comfort and comparatively low price tag on the department store circuit has earned them quite a following. Each lipstick has a light, but not overpowering vanilla scent and flavor. While there are literally hundreds of colors to choose from, for holiday giving, I like pale pinks. Pale pink is a great color for this season, but doesn’t look out of place in the warmer months (if the giftee uses lipstick slowly) or in warmer climates (where you don’t always see an apres-ski look in December-January). My current choice of pink is a color called Ahoy, there! It is, however, discontinued. MAC has loads of similar colors, though– for your very pale friends, Pretty Please is a good selection. For medium tones, try Syrup. Darker skin? Party Line. If pink does not suit you or the person you are buying for, try a beige such as High Tea or Viva Glam II. Added bonus: all the proceeds from Viva Glam products go to the MAC Aids Fund, which has done a lot to support those living with AIDS. The price of these lipsticks makes them great for groups of people. The women (or men!) at work, friends, teachers– there are a lot of options. You can find MAC in many department stores (Macy’s, Nordstrom, Saks), or in free-standing stores. MAC has a very helpful find store section on their website.
Other MAC Picks: Tinted Lipglass $14.00, Kids Helping Kids Collection $6.00-$7.50
John Frieda Collection Brilliant Brunette Shine Shock Leave-On Perfecting Glosser, $6.99
My hair gets super frizzy in the winter. No, who am I kidding? My hair is ALWAYS frizzy. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is– I’m the flyaway QUEEN. This product, though, is very effective. While my hair is still wet from being washed, I put a few squeezes of this in and work it evenly through my hair. My hair dries to a high-shine, low-frizz moderate wave. This was one of the first products I have used that has given me a good hair day! I love this stuff. It’s in a small bottle (2.4 oz/68g), but it’s worth the price for the effect it has on my ridiculous mop. It works well with the straight iron/curling iron, as well. It has gotten to the point that I don’t ever travel without a tube of this in my bag. No, not my luggage– my bag. It’s great to apply to dry hair as well. This is a great item to include in a spa-inspired or pampering gift basket to a relative or best friend– I don’t know that I’d give it as a gift alone, for fear of implying something by giving it. This is a great little something to get for yourself to try out. You can find this product almost anywhere: Wal Mart, Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS. I got mine at Wegmans, a grocery store in Buffalo, NY. It’s everywhere.
Other Hair Picks: TIGI Dumb Blonde Conditoiner $22.99, Lush Godiva Solid Shampoo $9.25
Vaseline Intensive Moisture Locking Lotion, $6.29
Let me start off by saying it seems like Wal Mart is giving out free samples of this product. Okay, on with my little review. Before I moved up to Maine, I lived in Buffalo, New York for almost five years. The water in Buffalo is notoriously hard, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you about the winters. My Cape Cod Winter-pampered skin simply could not take the harshness. Until I moved to Buffalo, I NEVER needed to use lotion. Suddenly, my legs were flaky and my elbows rough. I somehow stumbled onto this lotion and it was love. I still use it, even now. This lotion is hypoallergenic– no dyes, no fragrances. This is not your typical, watery lotion. This is a thick, incredibly creamy hydrator. This, like the last product, is not something I would give to someone as a gift, this is more of a winter survival item. It takes care of crackly, post-summer feet and crackly, mid-winter skin. You can find it at pretty much any major drugstore or big box store for a reasonable price. I have used lotions far more expensive than this that don’t do half the job this does. If I were to make a winter survival list, this would top it, hands down.
Other Winter Skin Picks: None! This is my go-to. You can use it sparingly on your face, as well, because the pump makes for sterile product inside the container.
Merrell Spirit Tibet High Boots, $130.00
I have the privilege of living but two hours away from L.L. Bean’s flagship store in Freeport, Maine. I have been visiting this store since my days in middle school. My mother and I would drive up to Freeport from Cape Cod and stay for Thanksgiving. It was always loads of Fun– Freeport is an outlet/shopping Mecca, for real. Anyway, I was in need of good winter boots, so naturally I headed over there. Pictures do not do these boots justice: seeing them in person, I was struck by their beauty. They are quite expensive, but the warmth, comfort and style these boots provide is unmatched for me. The suede outer looks and feels fabulous, and the grips on the bottom are perfect for slippery conditions. This is an ideal gift for someone who lives somewhere cold (Maine, Buffalo, you know). While a 130 dollar price tag seems steep, the craftmanship is undeniably quality. Boots like this will last years, and look good to boot! Hur hur, I said a funny. They reach mid-shin on me, and are larger-calf friendly. At the fullest point, my calves are 21″ or so. These fit quite well, so they are a good gift idea for your muscular/larger-legged friends and family. I believe other outdoor stores sell Merrill, but I choose to go through L.L. Bean due to their primo return policy.
Other Merrill Boot Picks: Puffin Mid-Height Boots, $100.00
Other L.L. Bean Picks: Maine Winter Socks $16.50, Bean’s Fleece Socks $15.00
Well, that’s all for now. There is a possibility of a second part to this gift guide, if the spirit moves me. I hope that a) people will read this and b) that it’ll help people find gifts for others! The holiday season is a great time to share and express love and joy to others, especially through thoughtful gifts. Please don’t lose sight of this amongst the throng of hysteria at all of the shopping malls and big box stores. Enjoy the season.