Christmas Gift Ideas from the Sparrow's Nest

If you are anything like me, you think of a million cool gift ideas on December Twenty-sixth. On December twenty-third however, I'm usually found at the mall, buying the lame sweater or soap set. Or you might find me Googling "Christmas Gift Ideas." Excellent.

On the occasions that I have been proud of my gift giving, it is usually due to that fact that I've given something that a) I have loved or b) I can vouch for.  So I've compiled a list of things which I would consider gift worthy, including links to where you can find them… plus they won’t break the bank. I of course can’t use them… since I’d be duplicating + revealing my secrets to all those on my list… but hey… anything to lend a hand during the Season of Giving. (ps. you may ask.. no books? To this I say.. there will never be a post long enough... well maybe one day, but not today.)

Bonus: If you are in the Ottawa area I've included links to local stores where I’ve bought items (and loved the customer service ).

From the bottom of my heart, I bring you: help for Christmas:

<3 Sparrow

What to give INSTEAD of Starbucks Card/For the Coffee Addict

You really, really don't need a fancy bells and whistles type espresso machine to make excellent coffee at home.

The AeroPress is way different from a French press/Bodum, (though it does operate with a plunge and drip system)... after you try the Aero I swear up and down you have never had such an excellently home brewed espresso or coffee. It's that even, and smooth and strong.

Average cost: $24

Where to buy it:

In Ottawa: Chef's Paradise  (located at Bank and Riverside)

Elsewhere : Buy the Aeropress on

For the MOM who has claimed “Don’t buy me anything” since 1991

We've got two options here, which in case you missed it = two times the sentiment:

Option a) Sneak her stacks of recipes tucked away in books or makeshift recipe rolodexes. With photo copies compile them into a recipe binder/scrap book.

Average cost: $20-$30

Where to buy it:

In Ottawa: Chapters has a bunch of options but I liked

Elsewhere : Amazon sells a few different varieties

Option b) Moms really just love seeing their family together... try and pin down a date with the entire family (at some point over the Christmas holidays perhaps) and give her a gift certificate for a family photo shoot. Have someone come in and do an updated awkward family photo.

Average cost: $50-$75 (look for Groupon/living social coupons… they always pop up!)

For the Sinus Infection Prone OR the Yoga Guru

Do you have a friend or family member who is always complaining about being sick or run down? Maybe someone in your life has allergies, or doesn't know how to cover their mouth when they sneeze or cough?  Do yourself a favour and give the gift of health... in the gift of a Neti Pot!

The Neti Pot is explained here in awesome detail: Little Mountain Homeopathy.

If you are saying to yourself... I can't believe she is suggesting a Nasal Irrigation system as a gift - baby, believe it. For starters, there really isn't anything more thoughful then the gift of health, and to take away any other bad first impression, I affectionately call it “Neti” as opposed to Nasal irrigation, (which sounds more like nose farming.) A neti pot may appear ridiculously gross in concept, but in practice, I'm telling you, it changes lives. One week of using “‘ol neti” and I was cured of a chronic sinus infection… it helps with everything from sinus headaches, teeth pain or post nasal drip… but I don’t recommend writing that on the Christmas card. Side note: The neti-pot is also used by Yoga Gurus the world over (apparently it acts as a system cleanse, helps with deep breathing) so if you have a friend who is into yoga... put them to the test and get them one to try out! (Don't forget to pick up the little saline wash packages that go with them - it makes all the difference.)

Average cost: $15

Where to buy it:

In Ottawa: Soul Matters Located on Sunnyside

Elsewhere - Amazon sells them here: The Sinus Cleanse Neti Pot System but you can also find them at most local health food, vitamin stores or yoga studios.

IF YOU ARE CRAFTY (or Inspired to Make a Gift)

Make an Advent Calendar: Advent Calendars are the best of traditions - and they can be personalized which adds a nice little touch.

Make a Holiday Banner Set: Pennant banners: A Merry touch to any room, I find. For instance.. If I could, I think I would have a banner announcing every day of the week.  Make a set for someone including all the big holidays. Or, if you want to purchase, the pics below will lead you to a lovely land of homemade bliss:

Purchase what you see here @  It's an amazing online community of talented crafters. ETSY- Go there, love it.If you haven't been before,  you will find more then just banners, I guarantee it.

If you do feel like crafting buy supplies (In Ottawa) - Buy your supplies at DRAGONFLY FABRICS - Cutest little fabric store, and bonus they are having a 25% off sale on all Christmas Fabric this week!

For the Niece/Sister/Daughter Who Can’t Stop Texting

Send a message in the most thoughtful of ways, and replace the cell phone with something tactile, so as not to send your loved one into alcoholic-like withdrawal!

Knitting needles: Knitting is cathartic, relatively easy to pick up and oh-so-in. Pair it up with a pattern for a trendy cowl and she might even be intrigued! If you can spring for it, introductory classes are an inexpensive and great way to cap it off (I paid 75$ for four classes earlier this fall). You could search on Kijiji or Craig's list for someone in your area or check out the local craft stores to see what they offer.

Where to buy it (In Ottawa) - I learned how to knit @ this amazing store: KNIT KNACKERS WAREHOUSE It has an AMAZING array of patterns and various wools (there are also angora lop eared bunnies hopping around casually - which is worth a visit even if you don't knit!):

For the Kids who Love the Outdoors

Want to blow bubbles so big you could fit inside them? Yes Please!

The gift of giant bubbles - Wait... who am I Kidding this gift could be for anyone.. who doesn't love bubbles?!

Lee Valley  (A company headquartered right in Ottawa that offers as online shipping catalogue company of many wonderful things) offers a book and bubble making "tool" for 14.99 - very neat.

Cost: $14.99

Ottawa: Go directly to the Lee Valley store or order online with no shipping cost!

Elsewhere:  Lee (with shipping all over the world)

For the BFF

Fresh Water Pearls: a nice string costs a reasonable amount and they are the perfect dainty gift.

Average price: $15-$35

In Ottawa: There’s a stand in the Byward Market where a friendly gentlemen helps you pick out the perfect unique string –taking into consideration height and neck length.

For Hostess or The Secret Santa party

Yo Yo Ma’s Christmas Album: “Songs of Joy and Peace” – the cello is beautifully amazing and the newly arranged renditions of old Christmas classics will bring your hostess’ blood pressure down after three days of party preparations. Totally beautiful.

Average Price: $10-$15 depending on where you buy it

Vince Guaraldi Trio Charlie Brown Christmas – Classic Jazz for Christmas time that feels like a fuzzy fleece sweater when you put it on.

Average Price: $5-$15 depending on where you buy it

My Favourite Wine: JLohr Estates Cabernet Sauvignon (California Red): California reds… can they do no wrong?! It is inexpensive and oh so delicious (tastes like summer berries)!!

Average Price: $16-$23 depending on where you buy it HAPPY SHOPPING!