Monday, November 23, 2009

Best of 2009 Showcase - Perfect Thanksgiving Gifts

by Janis Brett Elspas
MommyBlogExpert's Best of 2009 Showcase - Perfect Thanksgiving Gifts features the most brilliant ideas imaginable for kids, families, parents, other relatives, and friends.  From a child's teepee to novel games adults and kids will enjoy playing together on Thanksgiving Day, to some particularly thoughtful gifts for the host/hostess for the kitchen, family table, and the home,  chances are you'll find the perfect gift to enhance the holiday.  Pictured at left are two of our triplets inside the Highlands Tee Pee by Jackson Madeleine.

Something unique and magical happens at Thanksgiving that brings children and adults, young, middle age, and old, and family and friends together, like no other holiday of the year in America.  It's often the season when many look forward to quality time with loved ones who will gather to celebrate.  But if you're like me, it's also prompts some hard thinking about what to bring to avoid arriving empty-handed at the big feast.

In years past, many of us have brought pumpkin pies, bottles of wine, turkey adorned paper plates & napkins, or other traditional gifts to our hosts and hostesses.  This year, instead, consider breaking with convention and bring a gift that is truly novel, something that will be remembered long after the last piece of pie is consumed, the final bottle of wine is emptied, and you have bid your hosts goodbye.

Thanksgiving Fantasy Gifts
The Highlands Tee Pee, by Jackson Madeleine, is crafted of Sunbrella Fabric making it suitable for use inside or outdoors.  This beats any other childhood hideaway hands down and the lucky children who receive it will be enchanted by its  6’ 4” tall, 5’ wide sizeThe ultimate fantasy fall and winter gift, available exclusively from the Taigan online boutique. Watch Mommy Blog Expert for an upcoming Taigan holiday giveaway and an in-depth product review of this item shortly.  $380

Fairy Houses Everywhere by Barry & Tracy Kane is a beautifully-photographed coffee table conversation book intended to inspire its readers to join the craze and design/build their own whimsical fairy mansion or cottage constructed strictly of natural materials.  The inside jacket cover says, "Build a Fairy House and celebrate the child within you," so this is something wonderful that has the potential to bridge multiple generations.  Winner of 10 prestigious awards, this book from The Fairy Houses Series is available direct from Light-Beams Publishing and at select bookstores.  Watch Mommy Blog Expert for an in-depth book review of this title soon.  $14.95 is a fantasy for many birds destined for the dinner table.  But if you love animals like I do, you can make saving a turkey's life a reality by "adopting" one of these personable creatures for yourself or other family member, a friend, or even a child.  Farm Sanctuary  facilitates this year-round program which simply involves making a small tax-deductible donation, offering the public the chance to sponsor a bird from one of their turkey flocks living out their natural lives on either of their two farms in Watkins Glen, NY or Orland, CA.  In exchange, this gift provides the giver and receiver with the peace of mind of knowing that a turkey who might have otherwise been headed to a sadly predictable fate before rescue, will be cared for by Farm Sanctuary for the rest of his/her life.  An added bonus: An adoption certificate and photo of the turkey chosen will be given to the donor or designated gift recipient. For more info and/or to adopt a turkey, click here  $25

Globe Cage Bird Feeder makes sure the little winged friends who visit backyards in every season aren't forgotten, either, because it allows small birds to dine safely away from bullying large birds like jays and crows.  The openings on this stylish feeding refuge are just right for finches and other tiny ones and the latch top stays firm to help keep burglar squirrels out of your birdseed. Sturdily built, this gift to nature holds 1-1/2 lbs. of sunflower seeds.  Available online from  and at Gardener's Supply Company's  two Vermont retail locationsWatch Mommy Blog Expert for an in-depth product review of this item shortly.  $24.99

Thanksgiving Sterling Silver Charm Bracelet can be custom ordered exactly as pictured from Charm Factory's Thanksgiving charm selection or you can choose to have it made with any others from their massive holiday offerings or 100s of other unique charms.  This bracelet will make any grownup lady or tween/teen girl think of this special day whenever she wears it and includes the 6 silver charms adorning it: turkey, drumstick, wishbone, ear of corn, wine glass, and homemade pie; charms also may be purchased individually for less than $5 each.  Available on the Internet exclusively from the  Watch Mommy Blog Expert for some wonderful holiday Charm Factory bracelet giveaways and several more in-depth product reviews of their other novel theme bracelets and charms for Hanukkah and Christmas shortly.  $53.51/bracelet shown, incl shipping

The Thanksgiving Dinner Tie for hard to shop for men will be the talk of the table and the prized possession of whoever wears it, and one tie that you know he'll wear at least once a year but more likely throughout the holiday season as well!  This handmade, vintage style Steven Harris Label polyester tie with cornucopia, pumpkin, silverware, roasted turkey, and more, is so retro and cool and would be suitable (pun intended) for everyone from the budding tween or teen young man, to your holiday host, a loving daddy, favorite uncle, grandpa, or even great-grandpa.  Available via the Internet from ABC Neckties with same day shipping if ordered by 2 p.m. EST.  Watch Mommy Blog Expert for an ABC Neckties giveaway and in-depth product reviews of this company's other novel holiday theme ties shortly.  $12.95

Indulgences for the Hard-working Hostess
Return to Beauty, by Narine Nikogosian, provides many "recipes" for making inexpensive, homemade natural beauty products from the kitchen. This hardcover book has a blend of ideas that will literally make a lady or teen feel pampered from head to toe.  The title includes all the how-tos for using some of the ingredients from the kitchen: Chardonnay Hair Rinse, Pumpkin Harvest Cleanser, Cranberries 'n Apples Masque, Carrot Moisturizer, No Puffy Eyes Potato Cream, Tingly Toes Footbath made with fresh mint leaves, and much more.  Available direct from the publisher at and elsewhere online and at book and specialty stores nationwide.  Watch for an in-depth book review of this title as soon as my girls and I can whip up and test some of these beauty remedies ourselves.  $25

Pumpkin Custard Soapopz is another thoughtful gift for the powder room at Thanksgiving.  This looks almost real, so don't try to eat it.  Seriously, it does smell like pumpkin pie, it's 100% natural, and the design/packaging of this 3 oz. novelty scented soap is so clever, this is likely to be a gift that is received with a smile.  Makes a nice inexpensive present for the entire holiday season, too, and both adults and kids will love them.  Available exclusively from  Watch for an in-depth product review of this item, the various other flavors this is available in, and their other yummy bath items.  $7.95 each
Chocolate A Love Story - 65 chocolate dessert recipes from Max Brenner's Private Collection.  What would a list of indulgent gifts be without chocolate?  In this case, it's an innovative cookbook about heavenly foods and drinks one can make at home, written by Max of Chocolate by Bald Man restaurant fame.  Among my personal favorites that I plan to try during the holiday season: Lipstick Banana Cake Bonbons and Guilt-free Fried Chocolate Truffles.  The later recipe actually suggests these truffles be enjoyed deeply.  Since they're loaded with butter and cream, how can they be anything, but really delish?  A giftable hard cover book with some powerful artwork by Yonaton Factor.  Published by For a list of fine book and specialty stores carrying this title click here.  Also, check out Hachette's holiday gift guide of titles here  $29.99 

Ec0-Friendly Novelties

I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas by environmental activist Anna Getty is a paperback book with gifts, decorations, and recipes to make.  At least that's what it says on the cover.  I think it's a whole lot more.  For one thing, there are ideas that can be adapted for Thanksgiving and other occasions all year.  Better yet, it's not just another eco-friendly craft book -- there's substantial editorial interspersed throughout on green living year-round.  How tos range from saving energy at home to traveling with the environment in mind, to ecologically-friendly shipping practices, and much more to help save our planet.  Printed on 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper and available direct from publisher Chronicle Books as well as elsewhere online and in stores nationwide.  Watch for an in-depth book review of this title after my family has a chance to both implement some of Getty's environmental advice as well as make a few of the lovely items inside.  $24.95

Jacquie Lawson's Thanksgiving animated e-cards set to classically-inspired music are an original,  beautifully animated, and unexpectedly affordable way to send Thanksgiving greetings to loved ones and friends without using paper or postage.  Definitely the last-minute solution when its too late to snail mail a card but they work just as well as post-holiday thank you notes that can be sent and received almost instantaneously.  I've been a paid subscriber to this talented British designer's card service for years and just love the new designs they keep coming out with, usually featuring moving wildlife and/or animated still life. My personal favorites are the cards starring Chudleigh, the chocolate lab/springer mix dog. Take a FREE peek at my favorite, Jacquie's newest Thanksgiving digital card here  best viewed full-screen on computer, with speaker turned up.  Subscribe online at  $15/year
Little Bird Tales is a web-based offering where kids and parents can go to make eco-friendly, economical holiday cards and/or personalized electronic books. If you sign up right away, you could even make something together on Thanksgiving Day.  This service enables kids with the help of an adult, to upload photos custom art, write a story to go along with it, record their own voice over it and then export a slideshow eBook to share with family and friends.  A great way to create holiday greetings and family heirlooms without using ink, paper, or postage.  See the holiday tale demo here or go to for more information and/or to subscribe.  Watch Mommy Blog Expert for an in-depth review written by my four kids, after they try out this Internet service themselves over the next few weeks. Note: As of this blogpost's date of publication, LittleBirdTales has a special offer that allows users to create as many holiday “tales” to share with an unlimited number of recipients. Currently full access to the service for 30-days and a 60 day viewing period is $4.95; full year subscription is also available for $24.95

Entertaining  Gifts

Chat Cards are the original idea of a mom of five that will calm the kids at any holiday gathering and start the conversation among the adults on the right track.  Each game consists of a deck of 50+ cards with discussion ideas that you can place around the table or stash in the car for family roadtrips.  The four different card sets appropriate for Thanksgiving, and any other time adults and/or kids get together, include: Gathering Chat, Family Chat, Child Chat (all pictured) and Teen Chat (not shown).  Available direct from   Watch Mommy Blog Expert for several giveaways and an in-depth product reviews of these Chat Card sets & electronic books by this company shortly.  $15.50 each

Rush Hour Deluxe Edition by ThinkFun for ages 8+ will make everyone forget about the Thanksgiving traffic jam they just drove through.  Sixteen beautiful metallic-colored vehicles come nested in a velvet lined storage box, making this an elegant gift for the solo player who loves brain teasers:  kids and adults alike.  Available online from ThinkFun as well as at better toy stores and specialty shops. Watch Mommy Blog Expert for an in-depth product review of this item shortly.  $24.99

Bananagrams, Toy Fair's 2009 Game of the Year, comes in its own bright yellow zip-up canvas banana.  It is so named because it's the anagram game that will drive you bananas. This will keep children ages 7+ at the kids' table busy for hours.  What's better is it has appeal (pun intended) across multiple generations, since 2-8 participants up to age 97 can play. Bananagrams is available at Target, Barnes & Noble, and specialty toy stores.  Watch Mommy Blog Expert for an in-depth product review of this item shortly, as well as reviews on this company's Apple and Pear games.  $14.95
Pictureka! Flipper, for ages 6+ puts a new spin on Pictureka!, Hasbro's popular picture-finding game, with a battery-operated penguin that spins spins around wildly on the tip of an iceberg while flinging game tiles with wacky images hidden on them.  From Hasbro Games, Pictureka! Flipper requires 3 AA batteries and is available at mass merchandise retailers nationwide.   Watch Mommy Blog Expert for an in-depth product review of this item shortly as well as reviews on other Hasbro gift suggestions for Hanukkah and Christmas.  About $24.99

Thanksgiving Download & Print Games offers age-appropriate activities for kids, teens & adults (that covers just about all possible holiday guests except babies/toddlers and pets).  Eight Thanksgiving diversions are accessible via the Internet as a last-minute gift, such as Backyard Turkey Scavenger Hunt &amp and Escape from the Garden (both popular with kids); other printable fun includes Mad-Libs Poultry Poetry (great for families), Thanksgiving Food Trivia (perfect for teens/adults), and 4 other games created just for Turkey Day.  From Python Printable Games   Watch for an in-depth review on these games when my kids, DH, and I have time to play them during the holidays.  $19.95 for the 8-game downloadable Thanksgiving bundle or $5.95/each game

Fantage World Games might make another fun last-minute gift for kids.  This online game bills itself  as the next generation community for young computer users that provides a safe/pleasant environment for kids.  Cute avatars float on hover boards while kids throw a ball just like in the real world.  Fantage states that its intelligent filtering helps keep this virtual playground safe.  However, parents are encouraged to always er on the side of caution regarding Internet child safety and suitability, just as they would with any other kids' online games since the ESRB does not currently rate any Internet-based games.  Memberships available at ; game cards may also be purchased at stores such as Wal-Mart, CVS Pharmacy, ToysRUs, and others.  Online membership $5.99/month or $54.99/year; gift card prices vary
Extraordinary Ideas for
Home, Table & Kitchen 

The New Thanksgiving Table, by award-winning cookbook author Diane Morgan, is the perfect gift for adventurous cooks.  Unlike any other I've seen, this Thanksgiving-themed compilation represents the true American melting pot.  Among the 70+ recipes included are Tex-Mex Honey Pecans, a persimmon/pomegranate salad, Juniper-Brined Roast Turkey, Pan-Asian Rice Dressing, Cranberry Salsa, Bourbon Pecan Pie, and more -- collectively reflecting the cultural and regional diversity our great country has to draw from. With beautiful photos sprinkled throughout, this book is certain to awaken new taste buds during every course of the festive meal -- from appetizers to desserts to even some innovative ideas for the leftovers.  Available direct from publisher Chronicle Books, as well as at Williams-Sonoma, Powell's Books, Amazon, and other specialty and book stores. Watch Mommy Blog Expert for an in-depth book review of this title as soon as my family and I can prepare and test some of these recipes ourselves.  $24.95

Lenox Owl Salt & Pepper Shakers , new for 2009.  This pair of owls are so simple and modern and yet so classic at the same time. Masterfully sculptured, these salt & pepper 3-inch tall shakers are cast in ivory fine china, hand painted, and accented with 24 karat gold, featuring only the finest workmanship that this fine company has always been known for.  Comes beautifully boxed with Lenox certificate stating this is an original work of art created by hand.  Coverage under the company's lifetime breakage replacement policy included. Available direct from LenoxWatch Mommy Blog Expert for an in-depth product review on this item shortly.  $43 

Decorative Parchment Leaves have the potential to add texture, color, and above all, a natural look to your festive table.  This food-safe packaged set of 20 faux leaves would look lovely with cheese & crackers on a cutting board as shown or they could be used underneath the dessert tray to make a particularly grand entrance.  Available seasonally at Cost Plus World Market stores and online at  $9.99/set

Pinecone Miniature Turkey pictured here with a bottle of Pumpkin Ale -- both from my personal collection.  The turkey was purchased at a local Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Store for $3.99 while I bought this wonderful tasting, pumpkin smelling ale from Buffalo Bill's Brewery at my neighborhood grocery store for $6.99/six pack.  The rustic turkeys, made of real bark, twigs, pinecones and other natural plant materials, carry the back to nature theme well and can work either with the parchment leaves described above as centerpieces down the center of the table runner or they may be used as place card holders for each guest.

Burn Cream MD is recommended by great chefs like Mario Batali & Emeril Lagasse.  A eye-opening host/hostess gift everyone loves to receive "just in case" but hopefully no will have to use.  This burn cream -- packaged in bright red -- was developed by a medical school student who became a dermatologist.  According to Burn Cream MD the product soothes the burn and promotes fast healing and comes either boxed in packets of 10 or as a 2.5 oz. pump dispenser.  The company's brochure states this was tested extensively in professional kitchens for two years as even the experts are prone to burn accidents every once in awhile.  Available direct from  Watch Mommy Blog Expert for a giveaway as well as an in-depth product review on this item later in the holiday season, after I have tried this out -- because every year I seem to manage to get a burn or two while cooking.  $17.99/Box of 10 Packets; $29.99/Pump Dispenser

Pomegranate & Cranberries Candle from The Fragrance Collection by Glade is a beautiful gift that you can pick up at many stores and markets on your way to Thanksgiving dinner or any other holiday occasion where a gift is appropriate. Not only is this pretty, festive, and great smelling, this triple-wick, 10 oz candle is made from soy-based wax and comes ready to give in a glass jar that also encases the candle while burning.  One of newest holiday limited edition inspired scents in The Fragrance Collection by Glade .  Available nationwide at retailers such as Target and in many grocery stores. Watch Mommy Blog Expert for some giveaways from this fragrant candle collection as well as an in-depth product review on this item shortly.

Fairytale Brownies -- which I recently posted a product review about here in response to their retail launch of selected Fairytale varieties at Gelson's markets -- offers ALL their 12 exotic flavor brownies and truffle brownies via the Internet. They also have some lovely gift baskets, too.  I love these mouth watering brownies and perhaps, after you try them, you will too.  Available direct from Fairytale Brownies online in fall packaging, perfect for Thanksgiving, as pictured, but also available in seasonal festive packaging for Hanukkah and Christmas,too.  So far, we've personally tasted Fairytale's original and walnut brands sold at Gelson's.  Watch Mommy Blog Expert for an in-depth product review shortly by my own family about the other Fairytale's fanciful flavors, once we've tried them all.  $36/dozen brownies online
Vintage Look Gift Tags that work for any fall occasion wrap this gift showcase up, literally.  These beautiful old-fashioned style handmade 2-3/4" x 1-3/8" tags in your choice of acorn or leave styles would add a nice personal touch to many of the gifts above. Hand stamped on manila kraft cardstock and packaged in a clear bag for storage or to give as a gift and work for any fall occasion.  They are so retro looking and also available to accent your gift giving for other holidays such as Hanukkah and Christmas, too. Watch Mommy Blog Expert for some giveaways of this company's products.  Available on the Internet direct from the designer Petite Paperie  $2/10 tags 

FTC Disclosure:  For this holiday gift showcase, Mommy Blog Expert received the products and/or services mentioned for test, review and/or to giveaway to this blog's readers.  Exceptions:  No products and/or services were provided by Cost Plus World Market and (this post's writer has a paid subscription to the latter).  Items from Jo-Ann Crafts & Fabrics and Buffalo Bill's Brewery are from MommyBlogExpert's personal collection, and as indicated above, were purchased.  Mommy Blog Expert was neither paid nor received other compensation from any company mentioned in this post.


  1. Happy Thanksgiving! You can also check out the artistic, animated ecards from

    Here is one for the Thanksgiving. It features a family in the garden and a pet.


  2. I'd love to consider the e-cards you've mentioned -- plus the other ones you offer for the holidays -- as I will be posting Hanukkah and Christmas Gift Showcase blogs this coming week. I have sent an email to your company to request these, I look forward to hearing back from you or another employee ASAP.

  3. Very nice article and features everybody's stuff in a professional and clear way. Bravo!

  4. Great round up of Thanksgiving products and services! Thanks for including Little Bird Tales and look forward to your full review with your kids in the coming weeks! Maybe test out a holiday tale to share with family and friends?

  5. Yes, my kids and I would are looking forward to doing a holiday story test with LittleBirdTales. Your concept sounds like a great way for our family to get share their creativity with family and friends.

  6. Really nice post, Janis. It's not easy to find Thanksgiving related products all in one place. Thanks!

  7. Loved all of these unique ideas and will keep a few under my wing for future Thanksgivings!

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  9. Nice post. Keep posting. Giving Gift is best idea. Its really nice way to treat for your loved ones.