Episode #163: Gift Shopping Episode


This week, we’re chatting about the most creative and thoughtful gifts we’ve received, gift ideas, and how we’re wrapping our gifts this year.

You can find the podcast posts archive here.

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Show Notes:

Best gifts ever received: 

Emma – Trip to Charleston to see Prissy and Pop, a homemade book from her husband called First Year in Texts, and a horseshoe necklace that says Cloud Nine (the name of her book).

Elsie – A wedding video, a dollhouse from her husband, and record and artwork collections.

Gift shopping secrets:

Emma – Make notes on your phone when someone mentions something they want. If you see the perfect gift for someone earlier in the year, get it and save it for them.

Elsie – Collect things as you go and buy extra gifts to keep in storage.

Check out Elsie’s post about Teacher Gift Ideas.

Experience-based gift ideas:

Emma – Local business gift cards

Elsie – Passes to a local attraction, curated gift boxes, a local business crawl, or plan a trip.

How are you wrapping your gifts this year? 

Emma – Putting something handmade on top of the gift.

Elsie – Wrap each kid’s presents in the same wrapping paper and don’t tell them until Christmas morning which one is theirs.

Check out our Holiday Gift Guides.

If you could create your own Disney attraction, what would it be?

Emma – The Great Mouse Detective Murder Mystery Dinner

Elsie – A haunted hotel with A Nightmare Before Christmas-themed coffee shop

Listener Question: How do you decorate around a white thermostat box?

-Paint the wall a dark color and paint the thermostat box to match

-Cover it with a shadow box frame

-Cover it with a medicine cabinet mirror

Here is a picture of Rachel’s wall of mirrors:

Leave us a voicemail at our ABM podcast hotline – 417-893-0011.

Voicemail Question: Do you have any tips for choosing a paint color when the room is dark and the way the color changes based on the time of day/when a light is on?

-Test a lot of paint colors

-Look for brands that give big sample stickers

-Use accessories to add color

You can leave us a voicemail at our ABM podcast hotline anytime at 417-893-0011.

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Episode 163 Transcript:

Elsie: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess Podcast, your cozy comfort, listen. This week we’re chatting about the most creative and thoughtful gifts we’ve received, ideas for gifts big and small, and how we’re wrapping our gifts this year. We’re glad you’re here. So grab your coffee or tea.

Emma: Or wine.

Elsie: Let’s jump in! So last week was our Thanksgiving break. So I thought we could talk about our Thanksgiving for a sec before we jump in because it was so exciting! We had our first Thanksgiving in Emma’s new house. So I was like, “Jeremy drop me off at Emma’s house in the morning, give the kids a nap, and then bring them back for lunch.” And he was like, “A-OK.” I did a salute if you couldn’t see. So he drops me off but everything was already made because Emma is a superstar in the kitchen. She only had to do like two things. So we pretty much just sat around and talked for two or three hours. It was awesome.

Emma: Yeah, we read, Joy The Baker, magazine. I had the Holiday Edition. Elsie was like, “Give me that”. I was like, “Here you go.” We talked about the cookies we want to make from that edition. But yeah, I made all my stuff the night before mostly because as you know, sometimes kiddo naps don’t work out. So I was like, well, just in case I better make my stuff because otherwise I’ll have a little one and a half year old hanging off me the whole time and I won’t get it done. He just wants to touch everything and tell me that everything’s hot. And I’m like, “I know. It’s hot. Don’t touch it.” He’s just very obsessed.

Elsie: I saw he has one of those little toddler stools. What’s it called?

Emma: I think they’re called Learning towers.

Elsie: It’s so cute.

Emma: It’s like a way that they can climb up it.

Elsie: I love that.

Emma: We’ve made cookies before, he likes it. There’s a Daniel Tiger episode where they go to the bakery and make cookies. So he gets it. He knows what to do.

Elsie: Yes, everyone, Emma is now entered fully into her Daniel Tiger era. And the Daniel Tiger era is one of the best parenting eras. It just is. It’s so sweet. I’m in the Iron Man era now. I’m way past that. I’m in the Ninja Turtles era and it’s not as cute. It’s not as adorable as Daniel Tiger. I miss it. I love it.

Emma: It’s very sweet. I told Trey, we were both philosophy majors in college, and I was like they could do a whole class that’s the philosophy of Daniel Tiger. It’s just life lessons because honestly, this is pretty good overall. So some of them are real tear jerkers and some of them you’re like, great point, but the songs annoying. So just depends.

Elsie: Yeah, that’s true. I was telling Emma one time when we were at Disney World. I was a little bit drunk. I think it was actually after dinner. I had a glass of wine or something. Don’t get too crazy. Don’t get too many ideas.

Emma: She clarified it was after dinner.

Elsie: It wasn’t at nine in the morning. I told Jeremy that I wanted to get a Daniel Tiger tattoo. He said, “no you don’t.” But I still kind of think it’s a cute idea. I definitely am not going to get it but it was going to say, “sometimes you feel two feelings at the same time and that’s okay.” It’s so sweet.

Emma: Yeah. My favorite episode is the one that’s like, families are different and that’s okay. It’s like one of the kids only has an uncle or only has a mom or you know, just different things.

Elsie: Right.

Emma: Yeah, families are different.

Elsie: Yes, they are. Anyway, it was a magical Thanksgiving. It was fun to christen Emma’s new kitchen. I loved it. I had so much fun. I didn’t do anything. I baked one pie and I made chex mix. I hung out and it was wonderful. I loved it.

Emma: You made a salad too!

Elsie: Oh yeah I forgot. I made a salad. Anyway, okay, so this week we’re doing a gift shopping, gift wrapping. I don’t want people to think this is a gift guide like what we’re posting on Instagram. This is more like ideas. There’s an emphasis on experiences and creative ideas and homemade stuff. The cute, special stuff that you can’t buy at Target. You know what I’m saying? Yeah, I’m excited for this episode because every year I like to do my Christmas shopping, my strategy is the faster the better. I like to do it in one day if I can, but definitely in a week. One week at the most. Okay, this is gonna sound really cruel but, I’m just gonna say it because I think a lot of people will relate.

Emma: Let’s hear it.

Elsie: I don’t really enjoy Christmas shopping except for buying gifts for myself and my kids but everyone else is hard. Everyone else is hard and difficult, you know? So I like to just marathon it really quickly. Obviously, do my best, do a good job, make it special. With my kids, it’s like a whole month of adding little things, but it’s harder to do the whole rest of the family after you have children. Have you started to notice that yet? Or maybe it’ll take a couple more years.

Emma: I’m generally forgetting everything. As we’re recording this, I literally don’t have any Christmas decorations up in my house yet, none. I pulled out a few Christmas mugs. I’m just generally behind on life and I’m gonna go ahead and blame my son.

Elsie: You can also blame your move because you just moved like two weeks ago. So I think that’s fair. You’re still getting things set up. Blame it on whatever you want.

Emma: It was a month, but yes,

Elsie: It’s not your fault.

Emma: I’m fine with it. It’s just funny. You know, it’s just very funny.

Elsie: It is funny. I feel like as a blogger, I only have two speeds. One is to decorate for Christmas in August and the other speed is now that it’s December I still haven’t done some stuff that I want to do. I’m lagging behind. I feel like, so which one is it? I don’t know. Am I too early or too late?

Emma: I’m kind of the same. There’s a piece of me that’s like, I already missed it. Oh, well, I’ll try again next year.

Elsie: Oh my god! That’s the most relatable thing, I definitely have that part of my brain broke as well but we haven’t missed it. It’s December 5.

Emma: No, it’s fine.

Elsie: Okay, so let’s start off our gift chat with I think the hard or the most difficult question. I’m trying not to say hardest if you can’t tell, because I’m really afraid someone will say, “that’s what she said,” lol.

Emma: And she did it herself.

Elsie: I try to permanently remove it from my vocabulary. Okay, so the best gifts you’ve ever received but I kind of wanted to alter this question to be the best gift you’ve ever received, but also given, because I think that it’s kind of both, it’s like the best gift ideas that you think were strong winners.

Emma: I wrote down three things. These are literally gifts I was given, not ones I gave to someone else. One’s an experience and two are objects. We’re going to talk more about experiences on another question, but I’ll just say my three and then you can say yours. Okay, well here’s my three. One was a birthday gift, not a holiday, but it would be cool for holidays too. Elsie gave me a gift to Charleston to see Prissy and Pop the pigs. This was back when it was just Prissy and Pop so many, many moons ago. I was obsessed with those pigs, still am by the way, but very much so back then. So it’s just a very thoughtful and also quirky and weird gift. It was fun to go on a sister trip. Then kind of part of the destination was seeing the pigs and I loved it. It was so cool and it was just so me. So I like that.

Elsie: I feel like I won the contest of giving the best gift. Oh my gosh.

Emma: Yeah, one of them was from you. I thought you’d like that.

Elsie: I’m very satisfied.

Emma: That’s not why I picked it but it was the first thing that came to my mind when I read this question. The next one is the gift my husband gave me. He made me this book that’s called, our first year in text, where he literally took all of our text messages from the first year we were dating and he printed them into a book that’s a hardcover and bound together. It even has all the emojis and all the pictures and they’re very old looking pictures with old looking filters and things like that. It’s really fun to read through and it was a really sweet gift.

Elsie: Is there anything embarrassing in it?

Emma: Probably. When I read it I didn’t feel embarrassed but I guess if I read it out loud to someone, I probably would be like, hey don’t read that but I don’t really remember anything. It’s not like we were sending all sexting or anything.

Elsie: That’s basically what I was trying to ask.

Emma: Oh Okay. There might be something, I can’t remember. I feel like it’s mostly sweet and then also a lot of jokes, and then a lot of logistics of like, can you pick this up? Let’s meet there at this time, you know, like things like that. And so in a way, it’s almost like a little diary because I remember everything we were doing, like meeting his parents or you know, just different stuff. So anyway, that was really sweet. I also like that there’s no service that does that for you, so he had to go to kind of a lot of effort to put these all together and get it printed.

Elsie: Oh Yeah, it actually sounds like so much work. Especially if you’re texting every day.

Emma: Yeah. I’m not saying a present has to be hard in order for it to be good. That’s what she said.

Elsie: That’s what she said, oh my god, haha.

Emma: I thought you’d love it. I’m not saying, it’s only a good present if you put in a lot of effort. I wouldn’t say that. I think that there’s lots of different types of presents, but I do think that’s an element of it with this, it was so thoughtful and sweet and I knew he spent a lot of time putting it together for me. So anyway, and then the third thing I wanted to mention was when I finished writing my first novel, which I called, Cloud Nine, and it has horseback riding in it, various things. I’ve mentioned in the podcast before so if you’ve been a longtime listener, you probably already know. Anyway, a friend of mine gave me a necklace that has a horseshoe charm on it and on the clasp, it says CLOUD NINE engraved on it, which I didn’t even see the engraving for a while.

Elsie: Oh my god, what a great gift.

Emma: Yeah, really thoughtful. It was a gift that she gave me to mark something in my life that I’d done that I was really proud of and that I hope to make a part of my future, like writing. And so it was just very sweet, it’s my friend Morgan, and she is just a really thoughtful note writer and gift giver. You could never top her. So yeah, it is very sweet and thoughtful gift.

Elsie: Okay, that is actually a coincidence, or maybe not, because I was going to mention something that Morgan’s husband Brandon gave to me as one of my best gifts. So maybe they’re the best gifting couple.

Emma: That’s interesting.

Elsie: And they’re gonna get a couple’s award,

Emma: They might be.

Elsie: So my first thing is photos, photo books, videos, anything like that. Anything that’s personal. A framed photo is great, a photo book even better. The thing I wanted to mention, one of my personal best gifts I’ve ever gotten in my life was from Brandon. He made us a wedding video that we didn’t ask for. We didn’t hire a wedding video. We were poor when we got married. We just didn’t, it just wasn’t in our plan, but he just did it. He just showed up and made it and we still watch it every year. It’s so absolutely incredible. There’s other videos like that that are really special. One Christmas my brother and my niece spent the night at our home and we woke up together for Christmas morning and Jeremy made me a video of that. That’s still one of my special relics from her childhood, because she’s 13 now, and things have changed. Anyway, that sort of thing, I think is very wonderful. I want to share what I’m giving Jeremy this year because I am pretty much 100% sure that he won’t hear this and it’s totally safe. That 1% chance, I’m willing to take it. So yeah, I think when he turned 40, we made him a photo book that was just like, or maybe it was Father’s Day, I can’t remember. It was a photo book that had lots of pictures of him and the kids and then lots of artwork. So it took us weeks to make. It was a big hit. So I like these photo albums called CoLo. They’re just basic photo albums. It’s kind of like an old-fashioned scrapbook where it’s just like paper pages and then you use your glue stick and put in the pictures yourself. They’re just nice and very simple, minimal. So this year I grabbed one of those for one of his Christmas gifts. For five years now he’s been making a collection of those little paper portraits of our kids at Chucky Cheese because he’s the Chucky Cheese parent. He goes to Chucky Cheese with our kids and I almost never go, it’s like his thing that he does. So he brings back these photos every single time because they have like a ride, I think two rides, that do photos. And so it’s like you see them grow up. It’s like, Nova when she didn’t even have her tiny pigtails, then when she has her tiny pigtails and then when she has a little bit of hair, and then all of a sudden there’s two kids. There’s lots of pictures where there’s just bad faces or just a really honest portrayal of parenting and growing up and stuff. Not like you know, Instagram portraits. They’re just, they’re perfect. And so yeah, I’m gonna make him a photo book that’s just those for Christmas this year. I’m really excited about it because I always knew that eventually, I would. Finally, recently, I got a couple more and I was like, I think it’s time, our stack is so big now. That’s a little idea. And then Okay, so the best gift I’ve ever gotten from my husband is this doll house that he got me for my birthday last year. Just because, this is what I have written down, weirdly personal. I love a weirdly personal gift where it’s like no one in the world would want this thing except for me. Kind of like your cloud nine necklace. It’s just a thing that’s just special for you. I think that those types of gifts, I mean you can’t always find them, I think you should let them happen naturally. You know, like when the ideas come and when they don’t. It’s okay not to have them but I think weirdly personal gifts are the greatest gifts of all time. The last one that I’ve just been thinking recently, I want to start this collection. When we were younger, our thing was records. We would always get a record for every holiday. We got one of our first Christmases together, we had a record player and it was just a gift that kept giving. Because, you know, there’s always going to be a new record or two that you want every year. That is just an easy, great gift and it’s a great collection. So I’ve been thinking about starting to collect art now. One of the gifts I want to give Jeremy is a piece of art for his studio this Christmas. So I think, yeah, just little things that you can collect and things that you’ll see every day. I feel like at this age, that’s what means the most to me, more than boots or coats or all the stuff that you already have, like at a certain point.

Emma: I love it.

Elsie: So the next thing is, do you Emma have any gift shopping secrets?

Emma: Yeah, I have two things. One is something that I do and one is something that I try to do, but I actually think you do it better so it might be on your list. Here’s what they are. So one is I try to make notes in my phone, like the Notes app, or whatever equivalent you have on your phone. Just somewhere where you can write down little notes. So anytime someone mentions something that they really love or something they wish they were going to get, but maybe it doesn’t fit their budget right now or I don’t know, whatever, you know, try to make a note of it and try to do that throughout the year. So then when their birthday rolls around, or when Christmas rolls around, then you already have some ideas. Yeah, this works best for adults who I actually think are a lot harder to shop for anyway because kids can mention something nine months ago and now they are totally over it. So it doesn’t work as well for kids.

Elsie: 100%, never buy a kids gifts months in advance. I have struck out with that one.

Emma: Exactly but I do feel like kids are a little easier to shop for anyway.

Elsie: True

Emma: So you know, I think adults are a little bit harder because we tend to buy our own things that we want, right? Because we have money, unlike kids. So anyway, so that one, making notes in your phone or wherever you could take notes. Then the other one is shopping ahead and saving it. So if you find the perfect gift for someone at a flea market, but it’s June, buy it anyway, and just save it, which does require you know, depending on the gift, a little bit of storage room, like top of your closet or something but it can be totally worth it. Plus, then when December rolls around, or when the person’s birthday rolls around, whatever, it’s already there and it feels like you did something ahead of time.

Elsie: Yeah. Is that the one that you thought I was better at?

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: Okay. So I made a gift closet last year. It’s actually just like a little cabinet in my office. It’s a cabinet, it’s like a cupboard. So I think it’s good to kind of collect things throughout the year. So as far as sentimental gifts, I do think when you see it by it, especially for adults. The next sort of career milestone, I have a present saved for Emma that is so special. It’s one of a kind. It’s the kind of thing that you couldn’t just think of it and buy it. You know what I mean? It’s something that one day, it just magically appeared and I was like, Okay, this is the thing, but now I have to save it for a really long time, which is fine. The present I got for my mom, it was a custom thing made from Etsy. I got it in the summertime and then I put it in my closet and forgot about it but I know it’s there. I knew that if I waited until gift shopping season, it would already be too late. It’s notoriously hard to get custom gifts from Etsy when it’s already November or December. So yeah, my suggestion is to collect things as you go. The other thing is in your gift closet collect just extra cute things. If you go to a local boutique, and you’re like, I just want to support this, you have that feeling in your heart. I want to shop local and support this person, just buy a couple of extra candles or things like that, that you’ll always need extra gifts to give friends or you’re like, Oh, I’m going to lunch with this person and I didn’t remember to buy something. Then you reach into that closet and you pull it out and it’s already there. It’s the best feeling ever.

Emma: It makes you seem like you have your s#*! together, which you do.

Elsie: It’s an adult heck, I love it. You can also do re-gifting. I’m not a big re-gifter because I feel like if I didn’t love it, then maybe someone else won’t. I will say if someone gets you like you know when you’re a parent, a lot of times you get like a kid’s book that you already have or things like that, I think those are great to keep in there. Unless you make a little mistake like one time I gave a book to my niece and she said, “why does it say on the inside, To Nova? Whoopsie

Emma: Yeah, I’m kind of the same with re-gifting. I think it’s totally fine. I just think it still has to be something that seems like a good gift. So I’ll throw this out there for anyone who’s friends with me and listening. If you ever receive a food-scented candle, like blueberry muffin, chocolate chip cookie, latte, whatever, and you don’t like food-scented candles. I love them. So you can just go ahead and save the food-scented candle for me. I would love to receive that. I don’t care if it’s re-gifted. You know some people, I feel like candles in particular and scents, you have the ones you like and you have the ones you’re like, this isn’t mine. This isn’t for me.

Elsie: I only like Christmas tree and things that are cinnamon and spice, that type of candle or in the springtime maybe something even more neutral than that. But yeah, if I get a pumpkin spice latte candle, I will save it for you.

Emma: Give it to me. I would love it.

Elsie: Nice.

Emma: I will burn it in February when I’m sad. Oh, that’s so sweet.

Elsie: Okay, you’re gonna get a whole bunch now. All I get ever for my gifts is Christmas tree ornaments that are food, which I love but it’s all I ever get because everyone knows that I love it. I feel like if you put yourself out there to the world, then you yeah…

Emma: I hope so. Trying to manifest more food-scented candles into my life.

Elsie: That’s hilarious.

Emma: Plus, I know they’re polarizing for some people. I think the same goes for, let’s say you’re gifted some red wine and you’re like, you know what, I don’t really drink wine, or I definitely don’t like red wine. That’s another thing that I’d be like, oh, you should re-gift that because it doesn’t mean it’s bad. It just wasn’t your thing that you wanted or whatever.

Elsie: 100%. I agree with that. Okay, the next one is some ideas for experience based gifts. I love this because first of all, it’s like the gift that keeps giving because you’re giving someone the ability to make new memories, start new traditions, and things like that. Also, if you don’t know a person super crazy well, it is a lot of pressure to give them something that they have to keep. You know what I mean?

Emma: Yes

Elsie: It’s a lot of pressure to buy someone a decoration or a candle. We should link this in the show notes. I spent a lot of time on childhood magic, writing this post about what to buy teachers. I got comments from our Instagram, people. It was hundreds of opinions, but there were so many commonalities and the main top level comment was do not buy specific things for someone you don’t know very well and don’t buy food for someone you don’t know very well. Don’t buy scented candles. Don’t buy scented bath products. Buy things that are more neutral or things that are more flexible. Even though gift cards are, I think, they’re verifiably one of the least personal gifts. Like they’re not super special but they’re useful.

Emma: I will say though, I wonder if we could change that narrative in society a little bit because I love a gift card. I love using a gift card. Especially if someone gives me a gift card that seems a little bit thoughtful. By the way, I’ll take an Amazon gift card or even one of those Visa gift cards where you can use it anywhere, whatever, great, especially if you don’t know me very well, or some kind of gift exchange. That makes total sense. But something more specific, which I actually think this fits perfect in the experience gift ideas because a lot of the things I wrote down is get them a gift card to something specific. So for example, I got a bunch of food gift cards for our parents last year and it was all locally owned places. So a locally owned wine center and Perry Pie, which is like a pie place. They do pot pies and a place called Scolly’s, which does ramen, you know, just locally owned places that I wasn’t sure our parents had been to. I felt like oh, they’re gonna get to go have lunch somewhere different and it supports a local business so that’s fun. Some other specific places that you could get gift cards to that would be more experience, like food isn’t experience, but I would also say more like activity based I guess. So like, what about rock climbing, or one of those places where you paint pottery and then they fire it for you. You know? Depending who you’re buying this for, if it’s kids if it’s a family, and they’re going to do it together if it’s a couple, and they’re going to do it together, there’s lots of different types of things you could do. Many of these things are going to be something that’s locally owned, even if it’s a franchise, probably someone in your community owns it. So it’s a way to spend your money where people are getting more out of it than just an object. Also, it probably goes into your community in some way, which is pretty cool.

Elsie: Yeah, I love that.

Emma: So I like gift cards. That’s what I wanted to say.

Elsie: Ahhh, okay, I had a couple different schools of thought for my experience gifts. The first one was to give some kind of a pass. I think this is kind of an epic gift. This is the kind of gift that a grandparent would give or for your nieces and nephews because it might be a little bit more pricey, but for a local museum. In Nashville, we have this awesome science center. If you have a botanical garden, places like that. I think that is such a fun year long pass that you could give, and a place where parents can sort of get some hours of entertainment on a weekend when you’re exhausted. What’s that place you guys have in Springfield? Like the little kids, little tiny place.

Emma: Itty Bitty City.

Elsie: Yeah. I don’t know if that is a thing that people have in other cities. It probably is, but if they have a path to that, that would be a really good gift. My kids loved it, especially when they were a little bit smaller. It’s so cute. It’s just like you definitely can get a break. I could sit there with Jeremy and get a chance to talk which is hard to do with toddlers. The other idea I had is to give a gift box that is like a curated experience. Keeley gave me this idea. She got some kind of like rom-com bingo or something for watching rom-coms with her family during Thanksgiving, and I thought it was such a good idea. Okay, so for movie night, I thought it would be so cute to get a big popcorn bowl and you could stuff it with some microwave popcorn, some candy, maybe a blanket, how cute is that? I think that would be just an adorable, easy, simple gift that’s different and unique. Another idea, this is kind of similar to what you said for what you give to our parents, a local business crawl somewhere where it’s like you would eat dinner here and then get dessert here or get a drink here or shop here you know, things like that. Then the epic one I had is to plan a trip, which gifting a trip is a big deal and it’s definitely for one of your inner circle loved ones. I think it’s one of the most special things you could ever give someone because once you receive the gift of the trip, you get to look forward to it for months usually before you get to go. So I think that is so sweet.

Emma: That’s honestly one of my favorite parts of travel is looking forward to going.

Elsie: Yeah, and all your outfits, you know, research, what you’re gonna do, where you’re going to eat. I love the researching part of travel, I think it’s really fun.

Emma: Yeah, sometimes I’ll read menus ahead of time of a restaurant I haven’t been to and don’t even know if the menu is up to date on their website. I’m just thinking about what I’m going to order when I’m there. You know? I don’t know. It’s fun. Okay, what’s the next one? Okay, this one is about wrapping gifts. So we’ve talked a lot about gifts we’re buying, great gifts we’ve received. So how are you wrapping your gifts this year?

Elsie: So I don’t remember where I heard this idea. I’m sure it was definitely from either a podcast listener or blog reader because I always get all my best ideas from our listeners. So the idea is for my kids presents for Christmas, I use two different colors of wrapping paper. So I got a couple of rolls of wrapping paper in each of the colors. Then I wrapped all of Nova’s in this polka dot paper and all of Goldie’s in this geometric paper, but then they’re not labeled, so they don’t know whose gifts are whose until you tell them on Christmas morning. I love this idea. It’s like a mom hack for when your kids get old enough to start messing with the gifts, trying to figure things out. The not labeling is actually really nice because it does actually get a little annoying when they start to just want to read every package just to see if it’s theirs or not.

Emma: Or count how many they have versus their sibling or how big theirs is compared to their siblings. All those little things you endure. I feel like we did this so much when we were growing up.

Elsie: Yeah, as a parent now I fully understand, mom and dad if you’re listening, how challenging it is to have, I have one kid that asked me for like, 6 to 10 good gift ideas. Then I have one kid who’s asked me for 3 or 4 bad gift ideas. I still have to get an equal number of top quality gifts for each kid. Right? It’s challenging. It’s a big challenge for parents to always be like finding those balances.

Emma: I feel like our parents did a lot of hiding the gifts too. I like your idea with what you’re doing with the coordination. That’s great. Hiding is really good for Santa, you know. So I remember, I don’t know if mom really wants to tell this story, but one year our mom fell and broke her wrist not long before the holiday season. That was tough because there’s so much to do around the time you’re wrapping presents and cooking, you know and if you enjoy that stuff, it’s just a bummer. So anyway, she’s mentioned that that year, she just had left all our gifts in the trunk of the car because it was just hard to get everything out with one hand and three kids and all that. That turned out to be the best hiding spot ever. No one found the presents that year.

Elsie: I was like a devil child who went searching for presents.

Emma: You really were.

Elsie: One year I opened them. One year I even opened it and told mom that she got me the wrong thing. It is so bad. It’s so bad. I would hate to have a kid like that.

Emma: I think you might have one of those. You can guess which one I think it is.

Elsie: I don’t know. So far they’re both so much better than I was as a child. So we’ll find out later. Okay, so do you have any gift wrapping ideas?

Emma: Oh, man. So as I mentioned, I haven’t even got any Christmas decorations up yet. And I’m a blogger, and I love holidays. So I am just a little bit of a mess this year with how our lives been. So I literally just bought two rolls of wrapping paper from Walmart yesterday while I was buying groceries. So I guess that’s my plan. One of them has dogs on it and I thought Oscar would love that, he loves saying doggie. So yeah, but other than that, I’m definitely going to do the thing where all of his presents, I’m going to keep them in the little boxes. We also always have extra boxes around so if they’re not in a box, I’m going to put them in a box. I think half of it for him is opening the box and messing with the box, you know, so definitely gonna do that this year for his age. Then another thing I do most years and I’ve done it this year, oh, I’m going to show you, our listeners won’t get to see but I’m showing you on skype. I made little ornaments for the grandmas. I mean Oscar, it has his handprint and it’s on a little festive thing. I won’t say too much about it cuz this one’s for my mom and I want to put it on her present. So honestly, if I see her before Christmas, I’ll just give it to her. I like to put a handmade something, like a card or a little ornament that Oscar’s made on top of the gift as kind of the bow. I feel like that gives it a little something.

Elsie: I love that. So sweet. Okay, well that’s everything we had planned in our gift shopping and gift wrapping. In our show notes will link to our gift guides that we put up on A Beautiful Mess as well if you just want general gift ideas, I think the sentimental stuff is where it’s at. Then obviously fill it in with whatever other cozy gifts. It’s great. Okay, so recently I was on a little trip with Keiko, and we made up this fun game. I wanted to play it with you because it was so fun and then all of our listeners, you’re all invited to play along as well. Please do email us or DM us with your ideas because I want to hear them. I want to hear everyones. This is the game. So if you could create your own Disney World, Disneyland attraction, what would it be? So it can be a ride. It can be a hotel. It can be a restaurant. It can be a character meeting. It can be anything that’s within the Disney spear. It can be seasonal it can be not, it can be anything. It makes my senses tingle. I love this game so much.

Emma: I love it. Yeah, you wanna hear mine?

Elsie: Yes.

Emma: I obviously love the classic Disney movies, the well known ones. I feel like we watched Lion King tons growing up and Little Mermaid and all that. When I read this, I was kind of like, huh, I feel like those already have a lot of playtime at the parks. So what are some of the movies that I grew up watching a ton, but maybe I don’t know if there are a lot of attractions for them yet because that might be something interesting. The one that immediately came to mind was one that our Grandma had. She had like five VHS Disney movies growing up, so we would just watch those over and over again.

Elsie: Yes.

Emma: And one of them was the Great Mouse Detective.

Elsie: Oh cute, that one, Yes!

Emma: I think it came out the year I was born. It’s a pretty old one. It’s a mouse, kind of the Sherlock Holmes type character, and he’s solving a mystery. He has a assistant who might have been named Watson. I’m not sure. But anyway, it’s really cute. The villain is actually pretty spooky. So anyway, I was like, what about Great Mouse Detective? It’s like he’s solving a mystery. What would be a fun experience around that? So idea was, what if there’s a restaurant where it’s a murder mystery dinner theater, and there’s three shows a day, lunch and early dinner. A kid murder mystery. So the little kids can participate, they can be a part of it. It’s for their age range, and it’s cute and fun. Then there’s a later dinner show, that’s adults only and it’s a murder mystery for adults who want to do more of an adult experience and not for kids.

Elsie: Yeah. Every time we go to Disney, there’s a surprising number of adults. Like, you know, couples, adults, like a person my age with their mom and it’s very one wonderful.

Emma: People on their honeymoon. Yeah, totally.

Elsie: Okay. I’m so excited to unveil my idea. So my idea is, so my favorite Disney ride is the Haunted Mansion. It’s vintagey. I love the paintings, the unroll. I love the little faces in the crystal ball. I just, I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. The ballroom everything. So my idea is A Haunted Mansion themed Hotel, where it is like a spooky hotel. I always wanted to design a hotel that was a haunted hotel, but where everything is obviously fake and staged and full of gimmicks. I just love that idea. I think it sounds so fun, and really not spooky at all. Just joyful. Then inside of my hotel will be a nightmare before Christmas themed coffee shop because I think Nightmare Before Christmas does not get enough play. Actually, it kind of does but it’s so cute and aesthetics are just really great. So I thought it would make a great coffee shop because you could also have little treats like little cake pops with Jack Skellington and all of that. That’s my attraction idea. It would be so cool if it really happened. But if not, it can just live in my head forever.

Emma: So it’s a hotel that you really do stay at, like you spend the night there and stuff? But then it has a coffee shop and anyone could come in and go to the coffee shop kind of thing.

Elsie: Yes.

Emma: Yeah. Cute. I love it. I feel like every time you’d try to stay in a different room, you’d be booking ahead. Yeah, like the different experiences, you know, it’d be fun.

Elsie: Themed rooms would be, I think I’ve said this on the podcast probably 90 times but designing a hotel is one of my greatest aspirations that I want to do before I die. I just want to be a part of it. I just want to be one member on a team. I don’t want it to be like my hotel or anything. I just want to contribute.

Emma: Well, I feel like that could happen.

Elsie: Fingers crossed.

Emma: We have an email question from Rachel. She says, I have a minor petty decorating dilemma for a while now and I thought I would email you guys about it. By the way, I don’t think it is minor or petty, Rachel. I have a little hallway in my home that is visible from the front door and basically every living space on the first floor, hashtag open concept problems. I hung my collection of vintage mirrors on the hallway walls, it’s visible and it brings me so much joy. The only issue is the wall with the cute vintage mirrors also has the white plastic thermostat box in the middle. I’m at a loss for how to make the thermostat box less ugly. Yeah, I get that. She also goes on says I guess the mirrors distract from it and I’m always adding more little mirrors as I find them. So that’s one bonus. My husband I don’t feel like it’s worth it to put the time, money, energy, to move the thermostat controls since it’s really just a small visible annoyance. We aren’t “smart home” people, the smart home is in quotes. So we aren’t planning to upgrade the controls to something touchscreen. Also, I feel like the touchscreen might be even worse than the plastic box. Yeah, it might be. So yeah, that’s her dilemma, basically ugly thermostat on a cute wall with a cute vintage collection and she sent us a picture and it is a really cute little collection of mirrors. The box kind of takes away from it. She’s right. It’s not a big deal but it does kind of take away from the mirrors and that’s a bummer. So I totally get this.

Elsie: Okay, I have two solution ideas. The first one is to paint the wall a dark color, I’m thinking black or navy or green, something like that, and then paint the box along with it to match. I do this all the time. I paint my outlets, the outlet covers, and then just leave the switch. So you don’t have to paint every single little part of it but just painting the big white part of it can really help it blend in and sort of become invisible. The other solution that I would have would be to cover it with some kind of like shadow box type frame or something where it’s a little bit empty in the back where you can have something hanging over it. But the only issue with that is, if you’re going to cover something that’s like a utility thing, then I feel like you have to remember, if you have a houseguest or something, to remove it so that they see. You’ll always remember where it is, but other people wouldn’t. I have a lot of things in my house like that where there’s something covering a box or you know, it’s concealing things, but it’s not always the most functional if anyone is staying in your house besides you.

Emma: True? Yeah, I think one solution for that, because I totally agree is having something like, especially if you have house guests fairly often, having something on your refrigerator like a piece of paper that’s kind of like house rules. It can have your Wi-Fi password, it could say heads up, this little controls in the mirror on this wall, you know, or whatever. All the little things you might need and you just leave that up all year, so that way, because I feel like a lot of times when we have house guests, it’s someone whose house sitting and we’ve just, you know, trying to finish up work and pack everything and then we’re gone. Then I’ve completely forgotten to tell them, Oh, by the way, can you make sure to feed Steve at these time. You know I’ve forgotten that part. So something like that. It’s just up all the time, can be good. But yeah, that was where my mind went was maybe something that could go over it if she doesn’t want to paint the wall. I thought her collection is vintage and it sounds kind of eclectic. So it could be something like, I was thinking about those old medicine cabinets, where the mirror literally is on a hinge, so you can open it up. You’d have to cut out the back somehow. If you found something cute like that and you hung it over it, it would be so easy just to open the medicine cabinet. In a way it would almost even look like you’re supposed to open the medicine cabinet because everyone knows what a medicine cabinet is.

Elsie: Yeah.

Emma: And we all love to snoop. So we’ve all opened a medicine cabinet before.

Elsie: Every one of us.

Emma: So then you find the thermostat. Yeah, if you see one, you’re like, Ooh, let’s see what creams this person has.

Elsie: I love that idea. And yeah, as a side note, if anyone has a suggestion, I would just love to hear this. What thermostat do you think is the best? It’s nice, it’s functional, but it’s not the Nest thermostat because my husband and I are kind of Nest haters. I am not gonna go for that again in the future. So I would just love to hear what is the best option that’s not that. I want something that looks new, but that maybe is more traditional or blends in a little bit more. The Nest, they light up a lot. I think they’re more obtrusive than I thought they would be. So I do agree and I totally get where Rachel’s coming from on that.

Emma: Yeah, we have the Nest, so I like it fine. There is one in our bedroom and it does light up whenever you walk past it. So if someone gets up to go to the bathroom, it is a little annoying but I do think they’re easy to use, and I really liked that. You can set them to be a little bit more green if you’re going to be gone, you know, stuff like that. I think a lot of them have that functionality. So anyway, thermostats.

Elsie: Okay, so we also have a listener question that came into our voicemail box. So if you want to call our podcast hotline, you can anytime the phone number is 417-893-0011. So let’s go ahead and listen to the question.

Voicemail: Hi, Elsie and Emma. My name is Johanna and I am a longtime reader, first-time caller. I’m calling to ask about paint colors. So we moved into our first home about two years ago, and it’s been really fun, gradually making it our own. I feel like I have generally a pretty good instinct about what colors I like and what will look good in the space and most of our rooms have a lot of natural light, which is awesome. Some spare room, near the back of our house does not have a lot of natural light. Just today I brought home some paint swatches and they all look really different than they did in the hardware store. You have a color scheme for a home but the colors that look great in a room with natural light look not great in that space. I’m wondering if you have any tips for choosing the paint color when the room is dark. And the way that a color reads varies so much based on the time of day or if a light is on and such. Thanks.

Elsie: Hi Johanna, thank you so much for listening. This is a great question and something that I have trouble with too. Couple of things, the first thing is, I think that the paint aisle at the store can be so deceiving. I remember in my first home, I went and bought probably 10 gallons of paint and then I got them all home and I hated the color. I had no idea that it could look so drastically different in your home than it does in the store. So here’s what I think is the problem, when you look at all these like if you’re looking for a pink color, or green color, and you look at all of the colors together, it can really trick your brain. Because you’re like, oh, I don’t want this super bright, because there’s ones that are literally neon colored paint swatches, and you’re like, Okay, I don’t want this super bright one. I don’t want this one that’s dollish. So I’ll pick this one in the middle, and then you get the middle one home and it’s way brighter and way more pigmented and almost obnoxious, more than you thought. So this is the difference between the perceived color and the comparative color. When you’re comparing a pink to a pink, like on Instagram, before when I’ve been choosing colors, and I put up like a baby pink, and then a muddy pink, I will get the meanest, direct is a nice way to say aggressive, comments that are like, that is not pink, it’s brown. But when you paint it on your wall or your door or whatever, and you’re not holding it up next to another pink, all of a sudden, you’re like what a beautiful shade of pink. And so that’s where it gets really messed up. So I think test, test, test, test, and look for these brands that give the big sample stickers. I know Clare paint does it. I’m pretty sure that Behr paint does it. I think looking online honestly is better than looking in the paint aisle because you cannot tell how it’s going to look until you get it home. I’ve had so many times when I thought oh, this is a nice color of white. Then I get it home, put it on my wall and I’m like, oh, that’s like gray. Or you know, it looks kind of yellow, it looks kind of pink, you just can’t tell. So if you can get the big stickers, do that. And if not, then get the little tiny tiniest cans and just paint swatches all over your walls. I know it’s an extra step. I know it’s more work. I know it’s annoying, but I really believe it’s the only way, if you don’t do the testing phase, and you’re a picky person, I don’t know if you can be happy with your paint colors.

Emma: Yeah, I pretty much agree. I think doing the test swatches is kind of the way to go. Especially if it’s a room with tricky lighting or if you are somewhat particular or picky. So yeah, I would to do that. That’s my number one. The next thing that I thought about as I was listening to her voicemail was it sounds like this room might be kind of darker, or just have kind of weird lighting. I once had a room where we had a lot of really tall trees outside of the one good window. So the room always kind of felt a little bit green, we didn’t have actual green lighting, but the room just always felt kind of green. That really affected what the paint and furniture and really people looked like in that room. So anyway, so it sounds like this room might have something like that going on. So another thing is, if you’re just not loving any of the paints you’re picking out, you just feel like they’re not turning out the way that you want. You could also paint the room a white or some version of white, a cream, whatever something more neutral, it could even be just a more neutral color. Then whatever colors you’re having your heart set on, try to find some interesting art or throw pillows or rugs, something else that might just work better than painting the walls that color just to bring in that color that you’re excited about but in a different way. Then if the room is painted more neutral, especially if it’s like a white or a cream, it might kind of brighten it up and make those elements, whatever it is you got, a rug, art, whatever, be a little more true to that color. So it might end up being a result that you’re a little bit more happy with.

Elsie: Love it. That’s great advice. Thank you so much for listening. Thank you for your support all year. This has been an amazing year. Next week we will be back with our best of 2022 episode and it is actually our last episode before holiday break. So we will be back next week.

Emma: Bye.

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