Holiday Gift Ideas for Busy Parents

Colored Pencil Vase

December for many parents is usually a blur. With five kids (four of them in school), I have to worry about class parties, Nutcracker plays and juggling Elf on the Shelf…not to mention six teacher gifts to purchase and tipping the babysitter, dog walker, postal worker…you get the point. So what do you get for the teacher…or your neighbor? And what do you bring for the hostess of the next ugly sweater party?

I credit my Rodan + Fields consultant, Rebecca Peroulas, and the lovely ladies at Style Shack in Highland Park, Sherry Levin and Dawn Pye, for providing me with some inspirational and affordable gift ideas.

I asked many teachers (none of my children’s current ones) about the best and worst gifts they’ve received. They all agreed that cash is king. Gift cards for manicures/pedicures came in second along with restaurant gift cards. Teachers seem to frown upon Visa and MaterCard gift cards, saying they often don’t work. And just about every teacher said they have enough coffee cups, ‘#1 teacher’ ornaments and paperweights to last a lifetime. Here are few picks from Style Shack

Teachers deserve the spa treatment! Locally designed and manufactured, pedicure socks ($20) keep your feet toasty and stylish.  Affordable and fun.

Made of 100% soy wax, the NEST candle ($34) offers luxurious scents including Moss & Mint, Moroccan Amber, Grapefruit and Bamboo. Its packaging is sleek and it’s designer label highly recognizable.  Many Hollywood celebrities, including Elton John, have been seen promoting this product.

The ‘Merry Kissmas’ package includes: lip microdermabrasion ($16), which removes dead skin cells and exfoliates flaky skin on and around lip area; Lip Shield SPF ($8); and daily lip balm with broad spectrum SPF 25 – proven peptides plus lipids smooth, hydrate and defend the fragile barrier. Then I added mistletoe ($2) and some Hershey kisses. Available at Rodan + Fields.

A warm Infintiy Scarf ($40) in winter is always a welcome gift. Add pizzazz to a black coat with a splash of color. An infinity scarf is particularly easy to wear because it’s a loop; it will never get lopsided or twisted and look good no matter the temperature. Available at Style Shack.

Tired of running out of battery? Try an ePurse ($120) – a wristlet purse that charges your phone. Style Shack imports this item directly from Australia. This luxury leather bag will give you eight hours of charge time. Good for travel and moving around town.

Kids will look adorable with pajamas from Sara’s Prints. Soft holiday inspired pajamas from Sara’s Prints, your friends and their children will love these bright colorful and comfortable pajamas created by a special education teacher and her husband.

Inspired Generations of Northbrook’s Tear Drop Bowl Set ($40) has an unusual shape, and the spoon it comes with hooks conveniently on the side. A practical yet elegant gift. Plus, I love to support local designers.

Chocolate Olives ($20) are charming sweets look exactly like olives except they are not! It’s chocolate. Pair them with an olive spoon ($14) and you’ll be sure to impress your recipient.

Both gifts available at Style Shack.

If gift giving is not your thing but tipping is, here are some suggestions:

  • Make a list; think of everyone who has helped you throughout the year…not just December.
  • Keep tipping laws in mind; postal carriers can only accept gifts valued at $20 and under.

Tipping Etiquette:

  • Nanny: one weeks pay
  • Housekeeper: tip what you pay for a cleaning
  • Dog Walker/Pet Sitter: one days pay
  • Hair Stylists/Manicurists: cost of one service
  • Personal Trainer: cash up to the cost of one session or gift
  • Massage Therapist: cash up to the cost of one session or gift
  • Garage Attendants: $10 to $30 or gift
  • Handyman: $15 to $40 or gift
  • Yard/Garden Worker: $20 to $50 each or gift
  • Doorman $25-$100 each

Happy Holidays!

Christine Bachman

About Christine Bachman

Christine Bachman is founder and president of Plan It PR, a public relations and marketing firm. The mother of five shares tips and survival stories in “Play Dates and Power Lunches.” Ms. Bachman started working public relations after a long career in broadcast journalism, which included work as a television anchor, reporter and producer.