simplified gift guide: for pets

If you're a dog or cat lover, your pet is probably part of the family. So, I rounded up a few gift ideas for your furry friends! Scout usually gets a new toy and a special treat at Christmas, so I shared some of my favorite ideas below! Most of these have dogs in mind, but many of the companies listed also cater to the feline friends as well :)

1. A cozy bed, neutral enough to keep in the living room.

2. Flying frisbee, for hours of backyard fun. Bonus: this company guarantees their products, so if your dog ever bites through the material, you can send back the ruined pieces and they replace it for free! It's taken nearly five years and two dogs to tear ours, and I'm sending it back next week for a new one. My last dog would rip a regular frisbee to shreds in about twenty minutes, so these frisbees are the real deal.

3. Fancy shampoo, for keeping Fido's coat nice and shiny.

4. Sleek food scoop, so you can finally throw out that battered old plastic cup. Okay, so this is a really a gift for you. Don't tell anyone.

5. Customizable pet sweatshirt. There are some hilarious ones already on the site, but you can also add anything you want to the back of this snuggly shirt!

6. Gorgeous ceramic food bowl - dishwasher safe! Okay, okay, so this is also sort of a gift for you. Who's counting?!

7. Gourmet treats made of premium ingredients.

8. A new leather leash, built to last for your pet's whole life.

simplified gift guide: for kids

Hi friends! It's been so fun doing these gift guides, and I hope you're enjoying them! Today I'm back with another installment: gift guide for kids. Specifically, my curious, rambunctious, sweet little boy. Xavier will be 15 months by Christmas, so these toys have that age in mind. Also, I should mention that I do think experiences always trump things, but at this age it's hard to tell what experiences kids would enjoy or appreciate. So we're going with a "less is more" approach to gift-giving, and gifting Xavier a few thoughtful, intentional, well-made toys we think he'll love for years to come. Here are some of my favorite picks. Enjoy!

1. Fun wooden fishing set.

2. A warm hat, with ears, because every little one should wear clothing with ears for as long as possible, amen?

3. An ethically made tshirt, with a slogan to take to heart.

4. This ramp race, which would entertain any wheels-loving kiddo for hours. Okay, at least ten minutes.

5. A play kitchen I wouldn't mind keeping out. A wooden play food set and a set of dishes would make perfect coordinating gifts! (IKEA also has a dreamy play kitchen, and there are tons of ideas for how to hack it online.)

6. These adorable dog puppets made out of recycled wool are too cute. They don't have delivery outside of the UK listed, but it says you can email them for rates.

7. An all-in-one music set, because anything noisy is automatically a winner, amiright?!

8. Of course, beautiful board books. I love the All Aboard! Books by Haily Myers, the alphabet books by Greg Paprocki and the bilingual books by Patty Rodriguez!

9. Periodic table block set, because it's so nerdy it's awesome. These blocks are made in the USA, and they have several other versions, including a Spanish set and a French set!

10. A cuddly friend, made responsibly in India.

simplified gift guide: for her

Next up in my simple, ethical gift guides are gift ideas for the lovely ladies in your life. Your mom, your sister, your BFF, your babysitter. Enjoy!

1. Classic gold studs, to go with everything.

2. A statement necklace she'd love to wear.

3. Beautiful, handmade bookmark (pair with a beautiful copy of your favorite novel for an extra treat!)

4. Beginner calligraphy kit, because it's always fun to learn something new.

5. A baby-friendly necklace, for all the mamas in your life.

6. An heirloom pie server for her world-famous apple pie.

7. Coffee mug guaranteed to make her chuckle.

8. Lovely smelling bath salts, because every woman needs some extra pampering. (This charcoal mask also looks great.)

9. Leather clutch, for tucking all the essentials into her purse.

10. One-of-a-kind camera strap that benefits those in need.

simplified gift guide: for him

This week, I'll be sharing my 2016 gift guides! I'm focusing on ethically made items, so you can shop intentionally + responsibly this holiday season! Be sure to check back throughout the week for my gift guides for him, for her, for kids, for hostesses and even for pets! 

First up: a simple + ethical gift guide for him.

1. A warm beanie for keeping his ears toasty during the winter months (A less expensive but still ethical version here.)

2. Customized leather cuff so his Yeti doesn't get mixed up with others at the office.

3. Sleek + minimal dopp kit, because it's high time he upgrades from holding his toiletries in a ziploc bag.

4. Handcrafted travel wallet, perfect for adventures big + small. 

5. An updated laptop case, made of leather that will last forever.

6. A brain teaser puzzle for work breaks + airport layovers.

7. Gorgeous, hand-blown whiskey glass that will be passed down for generations. Add in a solid wood muddler and set of whiskey stones to round out the gift. (These whiskey stone shot glasses also look awesome!)

8. You can't go wrong with a classic black sweater he can dress up or dress down. (If he's not a sweater guy, this ethically made black tee is another great pick.)

9. A stack of photos of his favorite people (ahem, you!) to display in a gorgeous wooden block on his desk. The wooden block is made from reclaimed Colorado pine - so cool! (I also love the simple beauty of their wood calendar.)

10. Super soft sweatpants for lazy Sundays around the house.

I hope these ideas sparked some ideas of your own for the men in your life. If you have any others, feel free to drop them into the comments! Happy ethical + intentional gift shopping, my friends!

PS. I didn't include them here, but there are some great brands that have timeless products that used to be made in the USA but are now manufactured overseas. A classic Stanley thermos, available on eBay, and vintage Leatherman tools are more great options, among many others. Definitely check out eBay and antique stores (including online antique stores like those on Etsy) if you're looking for a specific brand or item that is no longer manufactured here in the USA.


Growing up, we never had a "themed" Christmas tree. Each year, in the days following Thanksgiving, my dad and brothers would haul down the Christmas boxes and we would assemble and decorate the Christmas tree. Out came boxes and boxes of ornaments - some vintage, some new, most handmade by us kids over the years. I loved that so many ornaments had a story behind them, and that they meant something to our family.

Matt and I have carried the same tradition into our little family as well. I like to call it a "story tree." As we decorate, we reminisce on the stories behind the ornaments and it's such a sweet time of recalling memories that are precious to us.

As we've minimized, I realized we had a bunch of sentimental and keepsake items that didn't exactly make the cut for displaying in our home year-round, but it also seemed like a waste to have them sit in the attic, never to be touched or seen unless we moved or cleaned. So, I set about turning a bunch of this stuff into ornaments to add to our Christmas tree! I love that we'll pull these things out each and every year, and get to remember the joyful memories attached to them. That's what stuff is about after all, right?

With a little bit of ribbon, twine and hot glue, you can easily turn any old thing into a beautiful ornament for your tree. These are perfect for even the least crafty of us - truly a ten-minute DIY!

some of my favorite homemade ornaments:

Tassles from high school and college. My husband and I each put our high school and college graduation tassels inside glass ornaments. I removed the year from the tassel and hot glued it to the outside of the ornament. Or, you could simply hang the tassle on the tree as-is!

Souvenirs from trips. We love to collect little trinkets from our trips to turn into ornaments. It could be as simple as a magnet from the cheap souvenir shop, or something more meaningful, like a shell you found on the beach. Some of my favorites are the slingshot I bought in a market in Haiti, the pair of wooden castanets we found at a street fair on our honeymoon in Spain, and the perfect shell I found on the beach in Hawaii.


Miscellaneous keepsake items. The coin my husband got when he graduated from paramedic class, our high school class rings and the chastity ring I wore, my "something blue" from our wedding with the sixpence I wore in my shoe, and the pennies I attached to my wedding bouquet (one for the years we were born, met, got engaged and got married.) Tokens from Matt's years in boy scouts. The first necklace he ever got me (the owl.) A silly ambulance I made for him in college. All kinds of random little things that have a story attached will now be hung our tree for us to reminisce about!

Race medals. Matt and I have each run a handful of races, and I like keeping the medals as a token of that accomplishment. But, it doesn't fit my decor style to display them, so they were just sitting in our keepsakes box in the attic, until I had the idea to turn them into ornaments! Turns out John & Sherry at Young House Love had the same idea, so basically we're BFFs now because, same brain and all that.

Items from loved ones who have passed away. When my Mimi passed away this summer, I went through her things to claim a few items to hold onto, to remind me of her. I was going through her jewelry box and found, randomly, a regular old plastic red and white bobber. My Mimi loved to fish, and fishing with her is one of my fondest memories. So I took the bobber, glued on some ribbon, and every year when I hang it on my tree, I'll be reminded of her and all the memories we have fishing together. And when my first dog passed away unexpectedly right before Christmas in 2012, I turned her tags into an ornament as well. Or there are the crocheted slippers my great-grandmother made. They've been sitting in my keepsakes box for years, but I was never going to wear them. So, I cut them up and made them into an ornament, that way they actually get remembered and used. There are any number of things that could be turned into an ornament in a similar way. Maybe you have a super ugly tchotchke from a grandparent that doesn't fit your decor, but you can't bear to get rid of. Make it into an ornament!

It's possible to be minimal AND sentimental. Going minimal doesn't mean getting rid of everything that's meaningful to you! It might just mean thinking outside the box, and looking for ways to use those meaningful items in new or unconventional ways.

Any other DIY ornament ideas? I'd love to hear! xo!