A Cup of Ambition subscriber sale and gift guide
Happy (almost) Thanksgiving, everyone!
It may sound trite, but I am truly grateful for each of you and your support of this newsletter. It’s a lot of work to keep this up and running every week, but it’s also tremendously rewarding for me. Thank you for the opportunity to write for you.
As a gesture of appreciation, for the first time ever, I’m running a sale on paid subscriptions! From now until December 10, I’m offering 30% off annual subscriptions. Your subscription entitles you to special subscriber-only benefits like:
Monthly ask-me-anything columns;
Weekly “Subscriber Sips” every Monday. It’s not a full cup of ambition, but it’s a little sip of motivation/education/commiseration to start your week off right;
Full access to the archives;
Subscriber swag (at the annual and founding levels).
Unlimited good karma, since paid subscriptions help keep this ship running by paying for things like books and newspaper subscriptions needed for research and childcare (y’all know what I’m talking about there).
Now, on to the gift guide…
I know everyone and their mother is publishing a gift guide, but I truly love shopping for gifts and giving other people recommendations on gifts to buy. At the same time, my husband wants you all to know that I am—allegedly—the worst person ever to buy gifts for 🤷♀️. I guess I know what I like… and today I’m sharing some suggestions with you!
It goes without saying, of course, that the holiday season is about much more than spending money. And I firmly believe that experiences tend to be more meaningful than gifts. But, nonetheless, it’s still nice to have some items under the tree, next to the Menorah, or wherever you exchange gifts ☺️
Finally, none of these items have been sponsored in any way. These are all items that I have purchased (or plan on purchasing for the holidays this year) and genuinely loved.
For your kids
Women Who Dared stacking blocks: A perfect gift for a baby or young toddler 💪.
Subscription to the Creativity Project: If you haven’t read my interview with Bar Rucci from The Creativity Project yet, you’re missing out. Each month TCP sends a guide (geared towards kids ages 3-8) centered around a big idea or theme. The heart of these monthly guides are the daily art and play invitations that encourage children to use materials and tools in their own way and that inspire new ideas and ways of thinking. These guides provided many hours of inspired art and playtime for my family during the height of the pandemic.
Wireless Express rainbow bling bluetooth boombox: I bought this for my niece and it was a big hit. Santa will be bringing it in a few weeks for my daughter.
Three Little Piggies puzzle game: I love pretty much everything from Smart Games. This puzzle, for kids as young as 3, helps build problem solving and logic skills. This one is Three Little Pigs themed, but there are several themes and difficulty levels to fit your kids’ interests and developmental stage (for example, my son really like the Dragon Inferno one).
ColorKu: This is a lot of fun for the whole family. It’s basically Sudoku but with colorful balls. My son got this last Christmas and could do the easy level puzzles by himself (he had some previous experience with Sudoku puzzles) and we enjoyed doing the more advanced ones together.
MudPuppy jigsaw puzzles (Little Scientists): This brand is our go-to for jigsaw puzzles. The individual people are essentially puzzles within a puzzle, so you can always sort them into smaller groups to make it easier for younger kids. The Scientist one was our first, but we also have Little Feminists, National Parks, and Musical Cats.
Zither: When I was in 5th grade, I made my own zither in music class (I went to a lovely but very unique middle school 🙈) It was a prized possession, so I was thrilled when I found one last year to give to my son. Kids can make up their own songs, but it’s probably best to buy the sheet music (kids don’t have to know how to read music to play it).
PB Kids sleeping bags: My sister-in-law bought my kids sleeping bags a few years ago, and they are still a big hit. They love to play pretend “camping” or slide down the stairs in them for their infamous “Bump-a-Dum” races 🤷♀️😆
For your partner
Regional cuisine from Goldbelly: Delicious food is my husband’s ultimate love language. Through Goldbelly, I’ve ordered him bagels and lox from Russ & Daughters in NYC and ribs and pulled pork from Pappy’s in STL. Like any true Chicago girl, I’ve also been known to order myself some Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizzas over the years 😋 Use this link for $25 your first order.
Goodr sunglasses: I’ve gifted these to several people in my life after trying a pair myself. In my opinion, these are the best sunglasses for running because they stay put. They’re also great in the pool for when summertime rolls back around.
Whiskey making kit: This looks like a lot of fun! (Adds to cart).
LL Bean Venetian slippers: My husband and I both wear these 24/7 in the winter months.
Material steak knives: We need a new set of steak knives and these were recommended by Food & Wine magazine (plus, I love the sleek design).
Away carry-on suitcase: Everyone in my family has one of these—that’s how obsessed we are with them. The kids have the small carry-ons, but I recommend the “Bigger Carry-On Flex” for adults.
Upcycled record coasters: A fun stocking stuffer for a music lover.
Create your own comic book kit: My son has this kit, but I think this would be a fun gift from a kid to a comic-loving Dad (or Mom), as a fun project they could do together.
For your parents, in-laws, & other friends/family
Just the Right Book personalized book subscription: This is the second year now that I’m buying a book subscription for my mom, because she absolutely loved it last year. Run by a (really amazing) independent bookstore near my house in Connecticut, the subscriber fills out a brief survey about the kinds of books she likes, and one of the booksellers hand-picks a book each month that is mailed to the subscriber’s home (no computer-based algorithms here!) My mom has found really great books that she never would have picked up on her own through this service.
My Life Story, So Far: I’m super-sentimental, so I love the idea of grandparents writing down their life stories and passing it on for future generations.
Harney & Sons tea sampler: I’ve never liked coffee, but I’m a huge fan of green tea. This brand has my absolute favorite (it’s worth visiting their store in SoHo, if you’re in NYC), but a sampler is always a good option if you are unsure of someone’s taste.
Sara Fitz mitten serving tray: I stumbled upon this artist on our family trip to Maine a few years ago and have multiple items from her. I think this tray makes the perfect winter gift.
Baby announcement ornament: New baby on the way? Let your family know with this adorable keepsake ornament, made by my friend Kristen.
Backgammon set: A fun colorful set for either kids or adults!
DiBruno’s cheese tray: I lived in Center City Philadelphia for six years, so I can personally vouch for the fact that DiBruno’s is the all-time greatest cheese shop in the world. Luckily, they ship, so you can send a beautifully curated cheese platter to your loved one anywhere in the US.
Donation to the Malala Fund (or another organization that’s important to you): The greatest gift my parents gave me was my education, so a few years ago—in lieu of a gift—I decided to make a donation in their names to fund girls’ education efforts as a way of paying it forward.
For yourself (or other badass women in your life)
Work from home door tag: I have one of these that hangs on my office door at home. It’s a huge help on days when my kids are home.
ReMarkable2 tablet: A client of mine told me about this electronic notepad and it’s become my most-used office supply. I always take handwritten notes, but hate paper clutter. This is the perfect solution!
Dudley Stephens Cobble Hill turtleneck: I’m not trying to be a fashion influencer, (because I’m definitely not that cool!), but I’m convinced that these fleece turtlenecks are the perfect WFH top. They are so cozy but still look polished on a Zoom call paired with stud earrings. If we have a conversation between the months of November-April, there is a greater than 50% chance I will be wearing one of these 😆.
Burn Down the Patriarchy candle: This one is self-explanatory. 💪
Joy Creative Shop to-do list: Because I honestly couldn’t function without my “to-do” list.
Kerri Rosenthal “House Rules” block of love: I have the 4x4 version of this displayed in our living room. I absolutely love the message.
La Neige lip mask: Perfect stocking stuffer for mom—I wear this all day long!
Subscription to A Cup of Ambition: OK, I had to put in a shameless plug 😉. Seriously though, consider gifting yourself—or another working mom in your life—a paid subscription. Especially now that it’s on sale!
Donut teether: Who doesn’t love a cute teether? My daughter had this one when she was a baby and now she uses it when she plays pretend kitchen.
Mermaid terrarium: My 4-year-old is obsessed with these garden kits. She may have accidentally killed the sprouts in the one she got for her birthday 😬, but I think we’ll try it again for the holidays.
Busy Ideas for Bored Kids (Outdoor edition): The perfect solution to, “I’m sooo bored. There’s nothing to do!”
“Lump of coal” sensory slime: A client of mine recommended I take my kids to the Sloomoo Institute when we went to Manhattan this fall, and—wow—did my kids have a blast! I loved this slime, meant to look like a lump of coal, as a funny addition to their stockings.
Kluster: This simple game is surprisingly fun for the whole family. Though the box says it’s for ages 14+, both of my kids (4 and 7) love to play it.
Harry Potter playing cards: My son is obsessed with Harry Potter and card games. This will be going in his stocking this year! (Available in all four house colors).
Ooly puffy paint pens: My daughter loves all things art-related and these pens are a go-to supply.
Thank you cards: Because it’s important to show appreciation for all of the gifts they received ☺️