Board Books (an Addendum to The Best Baby Gifts)

childrens board books

I am not sure what I was thinking when I did not include baby books as a suggestion for The Best Baby Gifts in my last post.

Board books are a great newborn baby and first birthday gift. The heavier page is sturdy and stands up to the wear and tear of a baby or toddler. They are specifically made to protect against drool damage. They are a good price point and wrap very well.

Many classic children’s picture books that were originally published in traditional hardback with paper pages are now available in a board book version too. Board books are typically not longer than 30 pages, so you may get an abridged version of the original book in the board book style. If you want to get your money’s worth, go for the board book version as a first book.

What books have you given as a baby or toddler gift?

  • Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
  • Baby Faces and others by DK Publishing
  • The Cheerios Play Book by Lee Wade
  • Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
  • Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Jamberry by Bruce Deegan
  • Moo, Ba, La La La! and Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
  • My Truck is Stuck by Kevin Lewis and Daniel Kirk
  • The Napping House by Audrey Wood
  • 1 is One by Tasha Tudor
  • Open the Barn Door by Christopher Santoro
  • Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
  • Sheep in a Jeep and Sheep in a Shop by Nancy E. Shaw
  • Time for Bed by Mem Fox
  • Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and others by Eric Carle

1 is One page sample

The Best Baby Gifts

As with most things in my life, I have rigid guidelines I follow faithfully for choosing baby gifts.

  1. I refuse to shop from a baby gift registry (but always shop from a wedding gift registry).
  2. I never buy baby gifts that contain brown, black, or orange.
  3. I do not like anything that an adult would wear but has been reduced to infant size. These clothes are easy to identify because they usually have pockets. The last time I checked, a baby is not carrying loose change or car keys.

A baby gift is an opportunity to buy something sweet that the mom would not buy herself. Hey, I know that new mom will get a carseat. She has to have that to leave the hospital. Why should I get the practical gift when there are so many cute and tiny things available? Before I had kids of my own, I had a variety of baby gifts I liked to give.

bunnykins bowl

  • Royal Doulton Bunnykins baby dishes (do a Google search for sources). I really like their bowl with the wide base to avoid tipping and the two handled toddler cup.

kissy kissy

  • The brand Kissy Kissy makes unbelievably soft footie outfits with tiny little motifs embroidered on them. I love the little embroidery because it is the right proportion for a baby. They have some brighter colors, but most of the clothes are in soft pale baby colors that are RoomMom approved.

auruluz daygown

  • Auraluz daygowns were another favorite. For those of you who do not know, a daygown is an A-lined “dress” that stays open at the bottom (no snaps or anything), so it is easy to get to the diaper. And as I told my husband many times, yes, boys can wear daygowns too.

baby booties

  • I even went through a brief phase where I knitted baby booties. I could knit pink or blue if I knew the sex of the baby ahead of time. If it was going to be a surprise, I would give white booties and include a set of pink and blue ribbons to be added at the birth.

hooded towel

Since having children, I have honed my baby gift giving skills, lowered my gift budget, and settled on a present that combines sweet and practical. I always give a large hooded baby towel that is accompanied by a gift certificate to have the towel monogrammed. Since I like kits so much, I also add Aquaphor ointment (diaper rash, dry skin, cuts, scrapes, chapped lips), Baby Magic lotion, and Baby Magic baby wash. Finally, the gift includes directions for achieving The Perfect Newborn Baby Smell.

I have a monogram store near my house that sells large white hooded towels for $20 (monogramming included). At the time of purchase, they write up a gift card for me, so the mom-to-be can return to the store and have the monogram added. If the baby has been born or the parents know the sex/baby name ahead of time, I have the towel finished before giving the gift. I found this website that seems to have a white hooded baby towel that is similar to the one I like.

Do you have any favorite baby gifts you like to give? Do you prefer practical or pretty?

Essence of Christmas

essence of christmas

I used to throw an annual cookie exchange and would put together a little party favor for the guests. One year I gave each friend a bag containing the “Essence of Christmas”. This is something my mom always had simmering on the stovetop at our house during the holiday season; it makes your whole house smell like Christmas. It is easy to make in big batches, and if you are already in cocoa kit or rosemary nut production, you should have a large supply of clear bags and labels– perfect for packaging these goodies. Share with neighbors, teachers, co-workers, or bring as a hostess gift to parties.

essence of christmas close up


  • 1 t. cloves
  • 4-5 juniper berries (can be hard to find, Whole Foods usually has these with the bulk spices from Thanksgiving to Christmas)
  • 1 orange (navel oranges– cannot use clementines or tangerines)
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks


  • Slice orange and add slices with spices to a pot with 4-5 cups of water. Simmer on the stove to emit a wonderful Christmas fragrance. Refill water as necessary.

The Label

  • Include the directions listed above along with a little holiday message.

essence of christmas label

12 Days of Christmas Gifts, a Summary

After I wrapped up the Christmas gift series last week (ha ha– wrap, gifts…), I realized you have to do a lot of scrolling through previous posts to see the full gift list. So, for those of you who came late to the party, here is a summary of the 12 days of gift ideas. I probably should have done it this way in the beginning, but it sure does make one long post.

Click on the names that go with each gift day for links back to the original posts to get specific product information.

Happy Holidays and Happy Shopping!

Day 1: Watercolor Portraits

Watercolor paintings by Susan Woodard

Day 2: Jelly Marbles

Low price point, good stocking stuffer, great gift for children’s birthday parties

Day 3: Calling Cards

Give to adults or children, monogram or full name

Day 4: Monogrammed Ts

Purchase cotton Ts and take to your local monogrammer

Day 5: Man Gifts

Personalized steak branding iron

Reserve a spot at BBQ judging school with friends

Personalized needlepoint belts

Nike ID athletic shoes

Day 6: Mini Crock Pot

Keep dip warm at parties.

Day 7: Author’s Tool Kit

Write and publish your own book– order extra copies to give as gifts too

Day 8: Photo Gifts

Have a photo turned into a paint by number

Make “best of” albums to highlight any family events from the previous year

Personalized postage stamps

Personalized skins for smart phones or other electronics

Have photos, names, or monograms inserted into a set of Tervis Tumblers

Day 9: Gifts with Tiny Pieces

Barbie sized kitchen playsets

Calico Critter mini animal playsets

Quadrilla wooden marble run

Build your own Lego set

Day 10: Consumable Gifts

Cupcake supplies or other tools needed for a hobby– the other suggestion was unusual spices and rubs for a grill guy (like my husband)

Magazine subscriptions

Food delivery of some kind– Wolferman’s English muffins for Christmas day brunch

Day 11: Gift Ideas for This Year

Flavored olive oil

Personalized dog collars and other pet accessories

Neon cord wrap bracelets with charms

preppy casserole carriers

Custom rubber address stamps

Day 12: Family Calendar

Customized family calendar

On the 12th and Final Day, I Gave a Traditional Gift

Well, it is here. The final post for Christmas gift ideas. This year will be the tenth anniversary of our family calendar. Not only do I include family photos and all of the standard holidays, my family calendar has all school dates and special school events for the grandkids. If it is your birthday or anniversary, a picture of you is on that calendar day. If you have a special reunion or favorite sport event, it is highlighted.

I would be lost without this calendar. I know my mom would too. It helps me keep track of my siblings and their families since we don’t live very close to each other. It also acts like a little yearbook. When I started giving this gift, my second niece had just been born. Now there are 9 grandkids in our family! What special traditions do you have for your extended family?

The Template: I built a massive Word document with tables and text boxes. Each year, I open the old calendar and update the months. I just checked out Shutterfly, and they now offer the option to customize the small “day” squares as well as the photos in the top page where the name of the month is listed. I am sure other photo websites are beginning to offer more flexibility in what you can add to your calendar. I may change over to Shutterfly this year after testing out the options.

The Months: I include pictures that relate to the specific month. For example, April this past year had all of the Easter pictures of the grandkids. If there is a month that does not have related pictures, I can dedicate that page to the grandparents or one specific sibling and his/her family.

The Dates: It is usually pretty easy to go to school websites and get a calendar of the current academic year. I cannot always get the dates for the following academic year, so sometimes school dates won’t go beyond June. I also include items like Final 4 (for my dad and brother) and Kentucky Derby (for my husband) and Mardi Gras (for me). It is fun to add dates that are not national holidays but are special events for my family.

The Photos: I keep a file on my computer throughout the year. Any time a family member forwards a picture, I save it to my calendar folder. OK, I will be honest. I have a main calendar folder with sub-folders of all the past calendars listed by year. Within those sub-folders are 12 sub-sub-folders, so everything can be saved by month.

The Printing: I save the document as a PDF and have it printed at FedEx Office. It is color printed on white cardstock, front and back. I have spiral binding inserted at the top and ask for a hole to be drilled at the bottom for hanging.

Thank You: Thank you, Beth. You inspired me to start this tradition many years ago when I saw a calendar your sister made for all of your family members!